The Genie of Aspiration

genie-of-independenceThe thing about aspiration is that it’s a tough genie to get back into its bottle.

This must be the conclusion of any mythical, dispassionate, possibly extra-terrestrial viewer when examining the current state of political affairs in the disUnited Kingdom. Less than two years ago a referendum was held which was explicitly intended to slay the Scottish nationalist monster for once and for all — sentiments reflecting those of the spectacularly unforesightful George Robertson when this whole journey began and his party found itself obliged to offer Scots a parliament of their own. Yet the genie is far from banished and if anything is more bumptious than ever.

The ‘wee pretendy parliament’ just growed and growed and now its roars — if still distant and ill-understood — have begun to frighten the gentle people of the far south, the colonial overlords of the disUnited Kingdom. Yes, frighten: for the first time since Churchill sent tanks and troops to quell the people of Glasgow, the English establishment has been rattled by events in Scotland.

For them the Scots’ discontentment is a profound mystery, one which they will probably never grasp. For the southern English, the Union is indeed a great thing. It achieved most that it was intended to. It established a militarily secure platform upon which the British Project — to make the world England — could be built and for centuries that project was a success; the Anglo-Saxon patriarchy was spread across the globe by it, taking, somewhat unfortunately, all the prejudice and insecurity of the English middle class with it.

Then again, for the southern English — and not a few Scots who have joined them — London and the south-east of England is the finest place in the world to live. It is a land of fabulous opportunity where all one has to do is work hard and one’s personal streets will be paved with gold. And they are not mean with their largesse: why anyone, from whatever uncultivated backwater of the disUnited Kingdom, may move to London and there spend their days serving the Great British Project, to the betterment — so their apologists attest — of all. Why, look at the money these people can send back to their poor relatives still living in frightful places like Inverurie or Campbeltown.

And this arrangement ideally suits the southern English who are approaching the end of their working days. London’s economic primacy over the disUnited Kingdom means that they can sell their ridiculously overpriced two-bedroom maisonettes and with the money thus liberated, buy a manor in Dunkeld or Aberfeldy. After all, the poor indigenes of these places have not the resources to compete. And if they should complain, then they must come to London, where they may, after a lifetime of slavery to the British Project,  earn enough to buy homes for themselves in the places they were born and raised. That is the free market. Yes, the system is equitable and works for the benefit of all.

Look you, the English even build roads and railways so that the impoverished Scots can travel south to where they should be, and there serve the British Project. How could anyone complain or deny this generosity? Continue reading “The Genie of Aspiration”

Labour’s Zombie Blues

Zombie BluesThe last few weeks have been intensely busy for me, with four books to be finished by a deadline of the 30th May. This has restricted my time for other things, notably this blog.

Anyway, in that time, much has happened. The UK General Election has come and gone and left a surprising, polarising and challenging result. Labour, at the UK level, now looks in as parlous a state as it was in the 1980s, when it had become ‘unelectable’. This is despite a radical lurch to the political right. We must now ask whether this lurch actually won Tony Blair his historic majority or whether in fact voters in England were just so fed up with Tory corruption, greed and downright nastiness that they could stand it no longer. Continue reading “Labour’s Zombie Blues”

It’s Not About the Economy, Stupid

It's Not About the Economy, Stupid
See: We really do like you. Pic:Rod Fleming

The unending and apparently increasing hysteria of the London commentariat in response to the spectacular rise of the SNP in Scotland continues to dominate the UK media. It is clear that many of the pundits – many of whom, amazingly, are actually of Scottish origin – really don’t get it.

Again and again the argument devolves to ‘why do the Scots hate the English so much?’ clearly implying that the only reason Scots would not wish to be governed from 400 miles furth of their borders must be that they dislike the English. It is both a petty allegation, because it offends the basis of democracy, and plain old wrong.

When I was 17 I left home and went to London, like so many other young Scots. The story of my time there is not germane, but I was amazed by how obsessed with money the people were. It seemed to be all they ever thought about. In later life I came across the same attitude not only from Londoners but from others in the South East. ‘You have to go where the money is.’ Even more strange, to me, was that amongst the most profoundly affected by this notion were expatriate Scots (who managed to add an insufferable air of superiority into the mix; but that is also another story.)

The rise of the SNP since 2014 cannot be explained in terms that someone whose sole measure of value is monetary can readily understand. The good folks of London and the southeast, who apparently have swallowed whole the lie that the economy is ‘booming’ – we are curious as to what kind of ‘boom’ it is that can only be achieved by subsidising the richest companies in the country by £11 billion a year in order that they can underpay their workforce, but, hey. Anyway those good folks clearly cannot comprehend why the Scots would even think about getting off this (imaginary) gravy train.

So they think we must not like them. Continue reading “It’s Not About the Economy, Stupid”

We Live in Interesting Times

flag-saltire
Pic courtesy of Bella Caledonia

We live in interesting times, as the proverb says, politically speaking at least. The ‘United’ Kingdom’s lack of unity is being demonstrated once again and the whole beast now seems to be in the throes of a terminal case of dyspepsia.

For decades the right-leaning south of England got its way; it elected Margaret Thatcher, a puppet of the patriarchal hegemony, and the decline has gathered pace ever since. Even when a government calling itself ‘Labour’ and playing the socialist card was elected, under the repulsive Tony Blair, it was soon shown to be Tory Party Lite.

The result of decades of rightist government has been the almost complete abandonment of any controls on the behaviour of business and in turn the consequence of this has been a string of boom-bust cycles each worse than the previous. The most catastrophic came in 2008 and is still, seven years later, being paid for. Remember, that was a right-wing financial collapse brought about by right-wing economic policies. Continue reading “We Live in Interesting Times”

How Osborne’s Currency Roulette Backfired

roulette
Pic: Rod Fleming

Well, what a fascinating weekend we just had in the Scottish Independence campaign. After weeks slowly getting redder and uglier, the boil of the ‘No’ camp – often known as ‘Project Fear’ – burst and showered its surroundings in a thick layer of pus.

 What happened was that an allegedly senior but unnamed Tory Minister admitted the truth: George Osborne’s assertion that there would never be a Currency Union between England, Wales and Northern Ireland (EWNI) and an Independent Scotland, was a lie. It was just another filibustering bluff, the latest in a long series of such from the bottom-feeders who slither along the corridors of Whitehall.

 This admission, that the second most senior member of the ‘British’ Gummint, had been barefacedly telling porkies, was made to The Guardian newspaper, which ran big with it, and yesterday’s Sunday papers, well, the Scottish editions, followed suit. The Mondays are full of it.

 Project Fear had seen its Belgrano torpedoed. Even the doughty Scottish First Minister said Project Fear had been ‘holed beneath the waterline’ and sinking ships analogies are flying thicker than Exocets around the Falklands. Continue reading “How Osborne’s Currency Roulette Backfired”

Archaic Humans Discovered in Scotland

Homo-heidelbergensis
Homo heidelbergensis – could these still be alive and well in Scotland?

Scientists all over the world are turning their attention to Scotland in the wake of a shock discovery that ‘archaic’ humans may be alive and well and living there.

The discovery came when one of them was filmed saying that they ‘were not evolved to make political decisions’.

Professor of Anthropology Farquhar Mc Farquharson of the University of Aberdeen explained: ‘All modern humans – Homo sapiens – have evolved highly sophisticated social behaviour including the ability to arrive at complex decisions within a formal political framework. The discovery of a population that lacks this ability, apparently living alongside more developed hominids, is very exciting.’ Continue reading “Archaic Humans Discovered in Scotland”

Tryst on Februar Fowerteen – A Scots Allegory

a-tryst-tree
Pic: Rod Fleming

A fell cauld wind wis sauchin ower the muir as the bonny wumman gart her wey tae tryst her jo. For the necht wis Februar the fowerteen, an aabody kens at’s the necht for luve.

She wis winsome eneuch, tho the first blush o youth, it maun be said, was left ahent her a lang while syne. A body mecht hae speirit at himsel how comes a lass o sic natral attractions hidnae been wad this mony a lang year.

At last she reached the spot ablow an auld aik whaur she an her jo hiv met this necht mony mair years nor either of them wad care tae hink on. Her jo wis aaready there, a puckle fashit, ye mecht hink, wi the wye he wis stridin up an doon, his een flashin faniver he luikit up.

“Ah, here you are, at last,” he intoned, as the lass presented hersel. Continue reading “Tryst on Februar Fowerteen – A Scots Allegory”

The Vampire Rises : Roads to Referendum 3

thatcher-at-torness
Pic: Rod Fleming

Eight years after Scotland voted ‘Yes’ to Devolution, but had seen this victory snatched away by Westminster, things were very different.

The most hated Prime Minister in recent history – possibly all history as far as the Scots are concerned – Margaret Thatcher, had focussed minds on the fight against her all over the UK. Scottish Labour rode high on this wave of anti-Tory sentiment, and lost no time in asserting that it was the only way to be sure to get rid of the Tories. A vote, they claimed, for any other party, was a ‘vote for the Tories’.

But it was a gamble. Thatcher’s popularity in England had increased radically since she first had been elected. In England, though far less in Scotland, her resolve in fighting and defeating the Argentinean invasion of the Falkland Isles, had played well for her. She called an election in 1983 and found her majority increased.

In 1987, Thatcher called another General Election. Continue reading “The Vampire Rises : Roads to Referendum 3”

The Empty Palace: Roads to Referendum 2

old-royal-high-schooloDuring the 1980s, Scotland’s political scene was polarised by a cathartic and visceral detestation of the UK Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This, for perhaps the last time, caused a genuinely British response, in that many Scottish opponents of Conservatism, badly discouraged by the calculating and dishonest way which the Home Rule that Scots had voted for had been snatched away by a self-interested Westminster, fell back to old loyalties, and threw their weight behind the familiar Labour Party, in an effort to rid themselves of the hated Tories. Continue reading “The Empty Palace: Roads to Referendum 2”

The Roads to Referendum: 1

scotland-referendum
A campaigner in the 1979 Scottish Devolution Referendum

This year’s Scottish Independence Referendum is  one of the most important political events in the lives of most living Scots. It outweighs in importance, for Scotland, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. It outweighs the powerhouse rise to prominence of a rejuvenated China or an India that is on its way to being not just a regional, but a global, superpower. It is even more important, though perhaps less so, than the accession of the UK to what was then the EEC and is now the European Union. In this series of articles I am going to outline the history of the Referendum, as I saw it evolve.

The coming Referendum is the single most significant event to occur in Scotland since the end of World War Two. That event brought about the end of the Imperial era, in which European states used their military strength to dominate the planet. With Europe in ruins, and the United Kingdom pauperised, the control systems that had held empires in place collapsed. The British Empire, which Scotland had been a part of, was consigned to history. Continue reading “The Roads to Referendum: 1”