Finding ourselves

Since there’s fireworks going off all over the place and I have to stay indoors with the dog to make sure that he doesn’t freak out, I thought I might as well write another blog article. Dog owners don’t get to have a social life on the 5th of November. So Ginger’s misery is your gain. Actually he copes quite well with the noise, better than any other dog I’ve had, but he does get a bit worried and needs his daddy to be with him to provide reassurance that the nasty noises aren’t going to come and get him.

Anyway …

There was another article about Scottish independence in the Guardian. Only it wasn’t so much an article about Scottish independence as a not so thinly veiled warning to voters in the rest of the UK that they need to vote Labour because the Tories will break up the UK. The piece told readers that if Boris Johnson wins the General Election, Scottish independence becomes an inevitability – the only way to prevent it is to vote Labour. the logic appears to be that if people in England don’t vote for one party that the electorate in Scotland has rejected but instead vote for another party that the electorate in Scotland has rejected, we’re going to rethink this whole independence idea.

Funnily enough, if you open the pages of a Tory leaning newspaper, you’ll most likely find an article warning voters in the rest of the UK that they need to vote Conservative because Labour will break up the UK. Which means that it doesn’t really matter who voters in the rest of the UK vote for, Scottish independence is nailed on, it’s just that the two main UK parties disagree about who bears the responsibility for causing it.  Hint – you’re both equally to blame.

Reading the comments in English based newspapers on articles about Scottish independence are a recipe for frustration. It’s always the same old tropes – Spain will veto you, deficit, hard border, the EU doesn’t want you, how can you be independent if you want to join the EU which won’t let you in anyway, once in a generation, you don’t know what currency you’ll use but you’ll have to join the euro, leeching off English taxpayers, breaking up is hard to do, you hate the English, Scexit, defunct mediaeval artificial construct, but London didn’t want Brexit either, and on and bloody on. No matter how often or how detailed independence supporters give responses to these non-questions, the same old ignorance constantly rears its thick skull. It’s like being stuck in a time loop and being forced to watch reruns of Better Together’s Patronising Woman for all eternity. Only without her wit and charm. Now eat your cereal. Paying for it has contributed to Scotland’s deficit.

The fact is that, at least judging by the comments of those who are engaged enough with the issue to bother posting a reply in the online edition of a newspaper, most people in the rest of the UK simply haven’t got a clue what it is that drives the demand for independence in Scotland and are equally ignorant about the issues around the debate. The tectonic plates have been slowly shifting for decades, ever since the Scottish cultural renaissance which began in the 1970s, Brexit has merely sped the process up.

Many of the answers to the questions so earnestly posed by those posting on articles on sites like the Guardian are staring those posting them in the face. Given that both the Conservatives and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party are hell bent on taking the UK out of the EU as quickly as possibly after next month’s General Election, the only answer to the question “When will an independent Scotland become an EU member?” that is remotely relevant is “A damn sight sooner than the rest of the UK.”

Since Jeremy Corbyn is currently stomping around the country telling those attending his election rallies that this General Election is a once in a generation chance to get a radical Labour government then there’s also an equally obvious answer to the ‘once in a generation’ claim. Can we presume then that if Corbyn loses this election that the Labour party will not stand in another General Election for another twenty years or so? Because unless the Labour party is proposing to dissolve itself if it loses this election and never to stand for Westminster again, we’d like to hear a lot less from Labour MPs in Scotland about how there shouldn’t be another indyref for a generation.

Mind you, we’ll be hearing a lot less from Labour MPs in Scotland after the General Election because there won’t be many of them left. Although to be honest we haven’t heard that much from them until now because except when Hugh Gaffney sticks his foot in it they’re a pretty invisible bunch. Martin Whitfield, Ged Killen, and Danielle Rowley have got an even lower public profile than Shadow Scotland Secretary Lesley Laird, which is a bit like being less famous than the vetinary nurse who expresses your dog’s anal glands. And unlike the Labour party in Scotland, when she makes an arse of things she’s doing it on purpose.

The reason that Scotland is heading for independence is because the union is and always was a great political pretence. The unitary state that told Scotland it was a union could only maintain the fiction of union as long as Scotland was politically on the same page as the rest of the UK, and that was the case for much of the 20th century. Scots could pretend to themselves that our country wasn’t a subordinate part of a Greater England, but an equal partner in a family of nations. But politically Scotland and England are increasingly divergent. When Scottish voting habits began to diverge from the rest of the UK in the 1970s, a development which was not unrelated to the renewed critical interest in Scottish culture which began in that decade, the fiction became increasingly difficult to maintain. Scotland could no longer pretend to itself that it helped to shape the UK, instead it became clear that Scotland gets what its much larger neighbour votes for. It became clear that Scotland isn’t a partner in forming the political priorities of the UK, the UK deforms Scotland.

That was bad enough when we were subjected to lengthy bouts of Conservative rule that Scotland didn’t vote for. Scottish voters could always comfort themselves with the hope that at the next General Election, or the one after that, we could once again get a Labour government and Scotland would again feel represented. Then Tony Blair happened and Scotland learned that the only way Labour could get into power in England was by dressing in Tory drag. However we did at least secure the prize of a Scottish Parliament, and that provided Scotland with an alternative political focus to Westminster. At long last, for the first time since 1707, Scotland was able to debate Scottish politics on Scottish terms.

Then there was the 2014 referendum, when people in Scotland thought that the question before them was should Scotland become an independent nation, or should it remain a part of the UK. Most believed the pleas of the anti-independence parties that Scotland was loved, was wanted, was needed.  They were prepared to give Westminster one final chance to prove itself.  But the Westminster parties weren’t dealing with the same question as the voters of Scotland, the question that Westminster thought Scotland was answering was “Should Scotland bugger off or shut up?”  Much to the shock of the anti-independence parties, Scotland has refused to shut up.  If we are indeed going to be a part of this construct that we were told is a union, then it bloody well ought to behave like a union.  Clearly, it has not.  At every turn, Scotland has been treated with contempt and disdain.

Brexit has been the final nail in the coffin of the great pretence. A new British government comes along at most after five years, but Brexit is forever. Brexit has concentrated minds in Scotland. It has made us realise that we can no longer pretend to ourselves that we live in a country which is a partner in a union. We’re a subordinate and marginalised region which must do what it is told.  We see Ireland within the EU and realise that there is indeed one nation in these islands which is an equal partner in a family of nations.  It’s not Scotland.  And we say to ourselves, we’ll have some of what they’re having.

The slowly shifting tectonic plates of Scottish politics and culture were always leading to this conclusion, but Brexit has created an earthquake which has brought the end about far sooner than it could otherwise have happened. It was however always going to happen anyway. That’s what those who write articles for the UK press blaming Labour or blaming the Tories never seem to grasp and which is beyond the ken of those who infest those newspapers’ comments sections. It’s not about England, and it never was. It was always about Scotland finding itself.

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42 thoughts on “Finding ourselves

  1. Entertaining and informative as always.

    It seems that the only difference that is likely to be made in the forthcoming debacle will be that Scotland sends more SNP members to Westminster – unless the moronic greens fuck it up (am I allowed to say that?). In fact, the way the media is setting it up, anything but a clean sweep from the SNP will be seen as failure. And we will be nowhere nearer actual independence.

    In England, nothing at all will change. There will still be a hung parliament. The country will still be hideously divided, turned in on and against itself. Nothing will be resolved.

    Is the only hope for us in Scotland that a large SNP representation at Westminster coupled with any refusal of a Section 30 request will be so unacceptable to public opinion that the powers that be will relent and grant permission?

    We appear to be entering very dark times.

  2. Damned if they do damned if they don’t. If the rest of the UK vote Tory. Scotland goes Independent. If they vote Labour Scotland goes Independent. If they vote LibDem they deserve everything they do not get. More Tories. Scotland goes Independent. All ways lead to Independence.

  3. The UK Union was a forced union 312 years ago. Westminster has had these 312 years to create a proper and decent democratic union. It didn’t even try to do so. It didn’t care. England was in control and that was all that mattered. It’s time to end this Union that never was a Union.

  4. By most normal media standards articles and TV programmes would be produced explaining why so many Scots want to end the UK Union. In the Britnat media world there is nothing. Plenty of articles and programmes about why Scotland is too poor, too wee and too stupid to be independent but never any asking Independence supporters why they want independence.

    The truth is too scary for the Britnat media. Only the National and bloggers like the Weeginger dug address this. Britnats stay well clear like vampires and garlic. The truth is too dangerous for them. It’s their silver bullet.

  5. Do we really need the UK media to give us a fair representation? Seems to me Boris Johnson is aiding us quite well, what did he say in parliament? …that brexit negotiations had nothing to with the SNP, and by extension Scotland. And then threatens Scotland with removing control from us of our Scottish NHI.

    The imperative to gain political authority, and international recognition for the drive to independence is to target all of the General election seats for the SNP, and what does the Green Party do… decide to go on a vanity trip, put forward candidates for 20 SNP held seats,possibly diminish SNP votes and pave a route for Unionist MPs. “Ah the Greens will lose their deposits”. Just maybe it is not a concern to them, and maybe it isn’t a vanity trip.If so,why?

    • I don’t know what’s making them tick Velofello, but whatever the case they’re being extremely shortsighted as many, many Scots won’t ever forgive them. Won’t ever forget.

  6. The number of articles in the msm referring to Scottish independence is slowly increasing. Most of them, especially those produced from within the M25 bubble of myopia, express an opinion which was viewed through a half-mirrored lens reflecting distorted preconceptions. Yes, it is irritating that the old tropes are rolled out, as Paul observes. Yes, it is irritating that it feels like whack-a-mole. Yes, it is irritating when, and you know it must be getting serious, a ‘senior political commentator’ dumps a polemic from within their own safety blanket. And we will know it is really serious when Polly it released from Toynbee house and dispatched north from Euston.

    However, there is a positive aspect to consider; darn sarth independence is becoming normalised as a subject. Indeed, we know from polling that many of the denizens of Englanshire would be quite happy to see the subsidy junkies from way up north, north of green England, more north than black England, there be dragons (and maybe unicorns), cast loose. Maybe the commentariat from within the M25 should be encouraged to continue their scribblings. Maybe a few hares need to be set running, just to wind them up, or have they all been shot on the pursuance of so-called sport?

  7. Talking of Guy Fawkes Night, does anyone else get annoyed that it is celebrated in Scotland? I can’t be the only one who sees it as another way of anglicising Scottish culture. Apart from that it is a sectarian celebration. Has me raging every year.

    • Yes I see it as entirely non-Scottish, and kind of imposed Anglicisation.

      I twice went as part of a band to the Lochgilphead lantern parade which is a few days after 5th Nov, they have fireworks and stuff, apparently they dont do Guy Fawkes and this is some far older tradition, I guess pagan or whatever pre christian thing. I was told nobody in that area does 5th Nov. Quite right too. I guess that was when I first actually thought about it and another piece of veil was lifted.

    • Me too.
      I tell my friends and relatives the historical nature of it , they were unaware.
      Hardly anyone in Scotland knows that it’s a sectarian celebration or why guy fawkes was trying to do what he was trying to do.

      • Should point out that Guy Fawkes was intending to carry out an act of violence which today we would call terrorism and that he personally was very anti-Scottish which was one reason that he wished to kill James VI.

        However, I certainly would disapprove of the bonfires of 5th November in modern times being called Guy Fawkes, as a celebration of the death of a man, not just because it is a misrepresentation of an ancient festival but it is also barbaric and offensive. In the interests of civilised sensibilities it would be better recognising it correctly as an ancient agricultural festival. Or in the interests of safety we might dispense with it altogether?

        • It certainly is offensive and barbaric to get children to make effigys (guys) of a person to be burnt to death on a bonfire.

    • It is actually all that remains of ancient festivals marking the end of the fertile season and the coming of darkness. It would not have been celebrated on one day but over several – hence why Hallowe’en is so close to the bonfires of 5th November as these were all enactments of the same great agricultural festival which would seem to have involved the rites of the ancestral dead and the cleansing of the earth. ( Thus, the skeletons and masked participants of Hallowe’en and the fires which consumed the last stook of the harvest, ensuring a good crop next growing season.)

      Festivals like this would have continued into the Christian age but imbued with a different narrative. 5th November was later co-opted for political reasons as Guy Fawkes night. I always told my own children the true story of these festivals so that they early on understood how original narratives can be subverted for political purposes. That goes also for the political roles often played throughout history by religion.

      • Aye, JGedd, Bonfire night is the old (proper) name. Surplus beasts were slaughtered for a feast before winter set in and the bones burned – bone-fires – to produce fertiliser for the next year’s crops. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s an English ‘Guy Fawkes’ festival. Claim it by its right name – Bonfire Night.

      • While it is true that many celebrations have pagan origins, the tradition of marking the failure of the Gunpowder Plot was initiated by the passing of an English Act of parliament, The Observance of the 5th of November Act 1605, which required people in England to attend a service of Thanksgiving. The Act was repealed in 1859. The fact that the 5th is celebrated in Scotland is preposterous, and a clear case of the anglicisation of Scottish culture.

      • A bit like Guisin, Hogmanay and Fire Festivals too. Not to forget Auld Lang Syne brought to public song in Canada, courtesy of Scottish immigrants many moons gone by. It was then romanticised, hijacked and anglicised as THE song for New Year celebrations, when it wasn’t even connected with bringing in the new year. And then there’s tartan, Highland Games, Highland dress and on and on and on it goes…
        I had the misfortune to hear a short bit on the biased broadcasting spouting on about a survey of 2,000 people who all favoured the ‘full English breakfast’ ‘English country pubs’, ‘British roast dinners’, ‘British bangers and mash’….I mean seriously….wonder where the survey was carried out…

  8. One of the so called arguments that Unionists are going to deploy against our self governance campaign is going to be “Look how difficult it is to leave a union of 45 years (Europe’s) and leaving a 300 years (England’s) one will be impossible”.
    The EU is a political union whereas the UK isn’t,a union that is.
    The EU have said that it will not stand in the way of any state wishing to secede whereas England appears to be telling Scotland,over their dead body.
    No comparison whatsoever.

  9. Day one of GE campaigning ( I know , Parliament only dissolved – if only it would – at midnight ) and there was not a mention of Scotland/SNP in any’national ‘ news program .

    Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn and a Smirking F*cking Swinson ( did I get her name right ? ) on every news channel . Already we are being saturated/brainwashed into the idea that only these three gobshites are the choice . They are even pandering to Smirking F*cking Swinson’s wet dream that she is a contender for PM ! FFS !!

    Six weeks of this moronic drivel to go and every day there will be these three gobshites grinning out at us from every news program pretending that they actually care about us . Do they F*ck !

    Where is ”I’m a Celebrity get me out of here ” when you need it most ? I’d start a Crowdfunder to get them all sent to some remote island – is Gruinard still a affected by anthrax – that’ll do nicely !

    • I used to think that I wouldn’t ever come across anyone (politician) that I disliked more than Ruth Davidson but by God, hypocritical, ignoramus, Jo Swinson, Tory, beats her hands down.

      She’s now to be involved in debates with Corbyn and Johnston whilst Nicola Sturgeon is being excluded by SKY. Reason being that she doesn’t represent a UK wide political party. No point in pointing out that the Libdems, Tory and Labour don’t stand in Northern Ireland, that the SNP are the 3rd largest party at Westminster or that Swinson’s constituency (neglected by her) is based in Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon is being excluded because she was seen to be the “star” previously in debates, IMO, and would give them all a bl**dy showing up.

      On a positive note, Swinson who suffers from delusions of grandeur, will make a right ar*e of herself. So roll on.

      And what’s to happen with the BBC? Will they be excluding Nicola Sturgeon too? Broadcasting wasn’t devolved to Scotland with the understanding that our country would be treated equitably, aye right, and of course the Scots fork out over £320 million every year in license fees. In fact as per usual are subsidising rUK with this too.

      If Nicola Sturgeon is snubbed by them we should kick up a real stink and in fact if you haven’t stopped paying for a license fee … think again.

      • I wonder if the SNP should be starting legal proceedings (or threatening them) against the Beeb and Sky for racial discrimination. It certainly seems like there might be a strong case there for it.

        How silent all the English Remainers who were begging Nicola to support a People’s Vote have suddenly gone.

        Hey ho.

        Re Paul’s article, in 2014 I had a discussion with an English person re the upcoming Ref – and he said, ‘I’ve never thought of myself as English, always British’ – the ownership is indentured and un-noticed for most of them.

        Their second default position is to admit the system is slightly unfair to Scotland and ‘gift’ us a Left wing parliament for a while to appease us. The Socialists are as much English Nationalist Colonialists as the Tories, just one stage further away from admitting it.

        And lastly , along with the indentured sense of ownership, there’s a sense that Scotland is ‘being really selfish, in taking away all the left wing voters, and abandoning England to the Tories’, as if we are somehow their voting Conscience…. an attitude also resurrected for the People’s Vote. Doesn’t seem to register with them that if England doesn’t want Tory Governments, its up to them to stop voting for them – red or blue.

      • Adam Boulton on Sky during interview with Pete Wishart tells his viewers that the SNP are not included in the SKY leaders debate because they are not a UK wide party. Pity Wishart wasn’t on the ball enough to tell him that in fact there are NO UK parties at all. Conservatives and Labour do not stand in N. Ireland.

        SKY totally out of order. The UK is a farce of a democracy.

      • The SKY Leaders debate.

        The diddy that is Willie Rennie ” We are a party that’s standing right across the country so we’ve got a UK wide platform” No you don’t Willie. No Lib Dems in N. Ireland Willie. It’s amazing how the people who say they are unionists never seem to be clear on what the UK consists of. Ignorance and arrogance are the common features.

  10. Another great article that spells it out for us, Paul. And yes I totally agree that, it has been “all about Scotland finding itself.” Most of us on here have already done so, we get it. What we need to do now is to continue to dispel the myths, as you clearly do, and help to educate unenlightened Scots as we know that the MSM ain’t going to do it for us: Rather they seem determined to keep the stupid Scots, from poor, wee Scotlandshire, in the dark. Worse still their key objective is one of brainwashing and gaslighting millions of individuals into “finding Scotland” totally wanting. Crippled, cognitively and emotionally, to the point of clinging onto that Great British Westminster myth.

    Try out this quiz to ascertain how much you know about Scotland and if you care to, and can afford to, buy “Scotland the Brief” to hone your own skills.

    Consider buying Paul’s book , “Barking up the right tree” and his forthcoming Ginger Book. And of course it won’t be too long before the WBB is released too.

    Knowledge is key to winning this battle.

    • Crace is acerbic at the best of times, but his comments on her delusions are widely shared opinion.
      Swinson’s arrogance will ultimately be her undoing, if Dumbarton’s electorate don’t dump her first, her shallow ambition will be stripped away through the media exposure she craves to reveal the shallow and nasty individual beneath.
      Under her stewardship the Liberals are abandoning the centre ground, so aside her Art50 “wheeze” there are 3 Tory parties running in England led by Swinson, Johnson and Farage, none of whom should be trusted to run a bath let alone a country.

  11. Thanks Paul. I will be very tempted to break a self imposed rule not to respond to the BritNat trolls on the National’s comments pages, and direct them to your article. If only they would read it!

  12. Brilliant as ever!

    As far as fireworks are concerned there seemed to be fewer this year . Personally I would have banned them many years ago but then I’m a nasty spoilsport.

  13. I’ve just about heard it all now. Jo Coburn on BBC Politics Live was discussing fake news and edited videos. They cover the story of the Tories doctoring the video of Keir Starmer making it look as though KS couldn’t answer the question put to him. Sanctimonious, hypocrite, Jo Coburn seems to be disgusted at the Tories for actually doing that.

    Too bad that someone on her panel didn’t remind her of the practically identical example of BBC propaganda perpetrated against Alex Salmond, which involved the BBC’s Political Editor Nick Robinson :-

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