It’s a hard life being a Scottish Tory. There you are, doing your utmost to be subservient and telling everyone and anyone that Scotland is a pathetic bankrupt mess that depends utterly on the good graces of the British Government in order to be able to wipe its own arse. You go on social media, and share prettily coloured graphs which purport to prove that Scotland is financially worse off than Moldova, only with worse weather. You spend your time and energies in trying to persuade the world and yourself that your own country is a pathetic basket case which only managed to struggle into normality once it had hitched its wagon to the British Empire and reduced its identity to wearing a kilt at a wedding or during the Edinburgh Tattoo. And you prove your Scottishness by naming your son Alister or Rory, carefully misspelled because we’ll be having none of that Gaelic orthography nonsense that might confuse the Ruperts, the Sebastians, the Borises, and the Nigels.
You torture your vowels and speak with the strangulated voice of a person who’s desperately trying to hide their true origins. You scoff at Gaelic and Scots as a dead language and as uneducated neddish slang respectively. You get more offended at the sight of Gaelic on a road sign or a police car than you are at the thought that an important part of Scotland’s culture, history, and identity might disappear forever. Yet you’re the first to insist that history matters, to give a donation to Neil Oliver’s National Trust. Because history only matters when it’s British, when it’s safe, when it doesn’t challenge the supremacy of the British state. The state that has given you and your upper middle class family a comfortable life.
You spend your days on social media insisting that there’s no border between Scotland and England and that if the Scottish Government introduces health checks and quarantine measures on people travelling from England into Scotland it’s a sign of disease with far worse consequences than a coronavirus which only kills people or leaves them with permanent lung damage – it is the disease of Scottish confidence which causes British nationalists in Scotland to feel terribly offended. We’re looking at you there, Andrew Bowie MP. Andrew thinks that imposing health checks on travellers from England is a form of ‘othering’ motivated by vile anti-English racism. God knows what he thinks of his own government othering the people of Leicester which is apparently the city with the highest proportion of Hindus in England. By Andrew’s logic imposing a local lockdown in Leicester is motivated by religious prejudice against Hindus.
You wave a union fleg and march down the streets of Scotland’s towns and cities singing lustily of your hatred for cafflicks and god saving the queen. But you’re not a bigot, because culture. Your logic is the logic that says that something that’s morally reprehensible cannot be morally reprehensible because your parents and grandparents did it too. And besides, you’re British, and being British gives you a free pass from exclusive nationalism. Nationalism is what those tarriers do, those nats, those separatists. Then you go and stand in George Square to defend statues because statues’ lives matter but the lives of your living and breathing fellow citizens who may be a different race from you, or from a different religious tradition, not so much. You struggle on a miserable wage, but these days it’s all the fault of the foreigners and the migrants and the Muslims, just as in your grandfather’s day it was all the fault of the Irish and the Catholics. And you wave your union fleg and sing God Save the Queen.
You do all this, you hate your own country, you ape the language and culture of your neighbours, and then you discover that the object of your affections despises you for it. An opinion poll carried out for Yes Cymru that was published this week found that almost a half, 49%, of Conservative voters in England want English independence. They have heard you talk about how Scotland needs their tax money, and they believe you. You do all this for them, and now you find that they’re just not that into you. The rest of us would feel sorry for you if it were not for the fact that you’ve brought it all upon yourselves, Scottish Tories. It’s only what you deserve.
It’s not just in Scotland where support for independence is growing. However in England it’s Conservative voters, older voters, pro-Brexit voters, who are most likely to support an England that divests itself of those rebellious and cantankerous Celtic nations which stand between England and a pure Brexit. It means that there is a very large and very significant body of Conservative support and membership which is not desperate to hang on to Scotland.
In Scotland we always think that the refusal of Westminster to cooperate with an independence referendum will be absolute and unyielding, but we sometimes forget that the British Government is not composed of political giants. It’s made up of short termist pygmies like Boris Johnson. People like Johnson would not stand in the way of Scottish independence if he thought that it would serve to boost his standing and position in England. And now we know that half of his own English voters would not want a Scottish independence referendum to be blocked. The position of Westminster is not as hard and unyielding it wants Scotland’s independence supporters to believe that it is. It is hollowed out from within.
The resolve of a Westminster Conservative government which sees half of its own support base wishing for Scotland to go away in order not to pollute the purity of their Brexit and because they believe that we’re a drain on their resources is not going to withstand a concerted campaign from Scotland for another referendum. When the Scottish Government has the moral and political authority from the people of Scotland to pursue a referendum by another route, Westminster is quite likely to cave in in order to maintain a semblance of remaining in control of events. The Scottish Government will have that authority after pro-independence parties win a crushing majority in the next Scottish elections. We will be pushing against a British Government whose unionism is hollow, fragile, and brittle.
Meanwhile spare a thought for those poor British nationalists in Scotland. All that their subservience, miserabilism, and claims that Scotland is too poor and too helpless have achieved is to make England turn against them. It serves them right, and it’s our opportunity.
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