The British Government hates us, at least according to Shahmir Sanni, the whistleblower who exposed Vote Leave for breaking electoral rules. Speaking in a podcast for Not Another Fake NewsCast in association with Bella Caledonia, the whistleblower told Scots to get out of the UK as soon as we can, because the Brextremist Conservatives who dominate the party at its highest levels hate Scotland and Wales. As far as they are concerned, we are simply troublesome natives who need to shut up and be kept in our place.
Let’s be honest here, this is not a huge surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the way in which Conservative governments have treated Scotland. The contempt and disdain is naked, and there’s little attempt to disguise it. We saw it in the immediate aftermath of the independence referendum when instead of attempting to reach out to Scotland, David Cameron told us that it had really been about England all along and reduced Scotland’s MPs to second class status with the introduction of EVEL.
We saw it again all the way through the Brexit process when the British Government made no attempt to involve Edinburgh or Cardiff in its negotiations with the EU. In fact Brexit was used as an excuse to wrest powers back from the devolved parliaments. The Scottish Government was often left to discover what the British Government was doing via press reports. Absolutely no effort was made to accommodate Scotland’s interests during the Brexit process, and no recognition whatsoever was made of the fact that Scotland had voted against Brexit by a considerably larger margin than it had voted to against independence.
We see it yet again during this coronavirus crisis as the British Government has prioritised English users of PPE, sidelined the Welsh, Scottish, and Northern Irish representatives in SAGE meetings and prevented them from participating fully. Again there is no consultation or negotiation with the devolved parliaments as the British Government makes unilateral changes to public health advice leaving the devolved administrations to play catch up and to fire fight the confusion caused by Westminster.
What this represents is a consistent pattern of behaviour from the British Government towards Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Despite the rhetoric of union, the British Government never acts as though it is governing a union of nations. It acts as the government of England which seeks to impose its will upon the smaller nations. In this it displays the underlying right wing English nationalism which has always existed within the Conservatives, and which particularly animates the Brexit wing of the party.
In a real union, the political and cultural differences of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland would be recognised, celebrated, and reinforced at the level of the UK Government. Because as the government of a union, it would seek to ensure that it was bigger than mere English nationalism and the agent of England’s political priorities. Of course that’s always going to be a difficult balancing act in a so-called union where one nation is considerably larger in population terms than all the others combined. However the demographic reality merely makes it all the more important that the UK Government is seen to be taking into account the diverse interests and needs of the smaller nations, because there is going to be an expectation that the interests of England will speak the loudest.
The Conservatives in Westminster don’t even bother trying. There is not so much as a fig leaf of pretence that Scotland’s interests are being taken into account. For the Tories, union means incorporation into a British nation which is to all intents and purposes identical to England. Furthermore they harbour a deep resentment of any attempt from what they regard as the Celtic fringe to assert its own interests, identities, or priorities. The sole role of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in the Conservative vision of Britishness is to provide a spot of ethnic colouring which allows English nationalism to maintain its delusional exceptionalism and its self belief that it is a more transcendent form of nationalism which is above and beyond the petty nationalisms of lesser nations.
The Brexity Conservatives who have seized control of the British Government and the British state do not hate all Scots equally. They have no issue with the house jocks, the quasi assimilated Michael Goves and Fraser Nelsons with their strangulated vowels and their willingness to pour contempt upon their homeland for the greater British good who serve to reinforce the metropolitan and Home Counties sense of superiority. They have no issue with the ProudScotsBut who seek to reduce Scottishness to a kilt worn at a wedding or as part of the uniform of a British army regiment but who cringe at any other manifestation of Scottish culture or identity and who fully buy into and propagate the myth that Scotland is uniquely incapable of looking after its own affairs. They have no issue with the staunch working class brigade who define Scottishness as a subset of Britishness and who march proudly to celebrate their own oppression.
They have an issue with those of us who stand up and say enough. Those of us who point out that Scotland is being held back. Those of us who demand that Scotland be treated as a nation and not as a glorified English county. They have an issue with those of us who insist that Scottishness means something, that it has political relevance, and who tell the truth that Scotland is either an equal partner in a union of nations or there is no union at all. They have an issue with those of us who expose the myths of Britishness.
Those of us who have seen the truth about the nature of the British state don’t need to be told that Brextremist Tories hate Scotland. We see it for ourselves in every action of this British Government as it shambles and shuffles its way through a crisis that is taking tens of thousands of lives. Even now, in the midst of all this tragedy, they can’t help themselves. They can’t help but reveal the ugly truth that lurks at the heart of the British myth of a family of nations, that it means the domination of all of us – Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and England too – by a small cabal of wealthy and well connected upper class people.
And we know that Scotland will never achieve its full potential as long as it’s being held back by a Government which doesn’t have the interests of Scotland at heart. The union that the Conservatives preach about is founded upon a lie. They hate us for exposing it. They hate us for telling the truth. They hate us for being ourselves and not the distorted tartan theme park that they want us to be. And they’re going to hate us even more when we bring this farce of a so-called union to an end. The contempt is mutual.
And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…
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