Posts Tagged ‘British Nationalism’
Dreaming of a Different Scotland: Alt Independence and Alt Unionism
Open Democracy, February 26th 2013
Social justice is everywhere north of the border. It has always been about, but now it has become more explicit, as the debate on Scotland’s independence referendum hots up, the Westminster Government’s welfare plans show their character and the Tory intent at inhumane social engineering, while the market fundamentalist project of the last three decades proposes at the moment of crisis and doubt, to go into over-drive.
The last week has seen Anas Sarwar, Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour give an important speech on this terrain, followed by at the close of the week ‘Yes Scotland’s’ mini-summit on social justice and its response (1) to the STUC’s ‘A Just Scotland’ document (2).
In-between we have had another litany of grim statistics telling the familiar story: of the inequality, poverty and exclusion in Glasgow and parts of the West of Scotland (3). And the now well-trodden path of politicians and public sector professionals saying they have learned from the past and embraced new thinking. Read the rest of this entry »
The world after Saddam, Blair and the Iraq invasion
The Scotsman, February 16th 2013
February 15th 2003 was a moment in global history: a rare articulation of political connectedness and consciousness.
From London to Glasgow to Ullapool to New York, Paris, Berlin, Rome and Tokyo, people took to the streets to protest about the Blair-Bush march to war with Saddam Hussein’s brutal Iraqi dictatorship.
Bush and Blair were determined on war; Bush to complete the job his father didn’t in the first Gulf War; Blair as a true believer in liberal intervention and enlightened imperialism investing his political being in the notion of the power of military force to do good. This was an intoxicating fix that Blair had earlier got in his Prime Ministership due to the Kosovo and Sierra Leone conflicts.
At the last minute with the clock ticking, Bush offered Blair a way out for Britain militarily, only for Blair to respond, ‘I’m here to the very end’. A self-obsessed Alastair Campbell recorded in his diaries on the day of the marches after a run, ‘I bumped into the end of people coming back from the march faces full of self-righteousness’. Read the rest of this entry »
Scotland’s Place in the World and the Problem with British Isolationism
The Scotsman, November 3rd 2012
Europe has been in the headlines in the last two weeks. There was Salmond’s little legal controversy on EU matters, followed by David Cameron’s problems with his backbenchers on Europe, while some Labour politicians charged Ed Miliband with opportunism for siding with Tory Euro-sceptics.
If it is possible to rise above Scots insularity and petty partisanship which we have seen in the last week, it would be helpful to note the wider European and international dimension in which the Scottish self-government and independence debate, is now located.
This is about how Scotland sees itself and its geo-political position, or to put it more simply, how it sees its values, relationships and alliances across the European continent and globally. Read the rest of this entry »
The Continued Legacy of Britain’s South Atlantic Adventure
The Scotsman, March 31st 2012
The 30th anniversary of the beginning of the Falklands war is next week, a conflict that matters to this day.
Like many at the time, I had to first find the South Atlantic islands on a map, then put them into my leftist anti-Thatcherite view of the world, and then observe the mood of a Britain I barely recognised.
The Falklands war raised so many questions then and now. Was this a war of principle or pride? What did this say about Britain’s self-image and who ‘we’ were as a ‘people’?
Would Margaret Thatcher have survived without retaking the islands? And would the Tories have won in 1983 without military victory? Definitely not and arguably; Thatcher herself concedes the former in her memoirs. Read the rest of this entry »
The Twilight of the British State:
Alex Salmond, Scottish Independence and the European Question
Open Democracy, October 28th 2011
This is a fascinating and fast moving period of politics, at a global, European, British and Scottish level, challenging many of the most deep-seated and unexamined assumptions held across the political spectrum.
In the last week we have seen the euphoric SNP conference at Inverness showing a party on the crest of a wave which seems to think that the future is within its grasp.
Then we have at Westminster the return of the popular bogeyman – Eurosceptism – and its capture of the mainstream of the Conservative Party with the biggest ever backbench Tory rebellion on Europe.
What is seldom explored is the interconnection of these two issues: Scottish independence and Euroscepticism. Both illustrate the multi-dimensional nature of the crisis of the British state, and tensions and faultlines in the existing order with its mantras and folktales of parliamentary sovereignty. And in both, the centre of gravity has shifted significantly in recent times; towards an environment favourable to Scottish self-government, and a Eurosceptic agenda. In the first, the debate is now between full fiscal autonomy and independence, and in the second, the Tory mainstream debate is between repatriation of powers from Europe and complete withdrawal. These two dimensions could in the future influence each other in ways seldom stated or explored. Read the rest of this entry »