Posts Tagged ‘The British State’
History in the Making: The Battle for Scotland’s Future
National Collective, November 20th 2013
The campaign on Scottish independence has reached new levels – a battle of competing specialist documents – firstly, there has been an Institute for Fiscal Studies report, matched by a Scottish Government paper on the economic independence, and next week the much anticipated White Paper on Scottish independence.
The latter is a milestone in the pro-independence debate. Whatever its content, style and persuasiveness things will never quite be the same again. A devolved administration in part of the UK lays out the case for independence and for formally ending the 300 year old union which has bound Scotland and England together.
Yet beneath these is a contest between two competing technocratic versions of the world, shaped by faith in conventional economic growth models which are globally growing more threadbare and discredited by the day. This is the rationalist mindset, illustrating by the actions of both campaigns the limits of such an approach and politics.
Then there is the mainstream media. The IFS report was greeted by what can only be called near-hysteria by some of the pro-union newspapers. The Scottish edition of ‘the Daily Mail’ shouted ‘BLACK HOLE: Report exposes SNP economic gap: They’ll have to raise income tax or slash spending’ on its front page; the ‘Daily Telegraph’ that ‘Separation would deal £6bn blow, impartial study finds’. We have had two and a half years of this one-sided Pathe News style propaganda and clearly it is only going in one direction: towards a date with Armageddon on September 18th 2014. Read the rest of this entry »
What is the point of Scotland’s Westminster Politicians?
The Scotsman, November 2nd 2013
Once upon a time Scottish politics meant one of two things: what your local council got up too, and Scottish MPs standing on College Green talking on BBC and STV about what often seemed far-flung issues.
The latter were our only articulation of national party politics. And while it now seems a long time ago it did produce a sort of effective politics and a range of ‘Big Beasts’ – from Tom Johnston and Willie Ross to George Younger, Malcolm Rifkind and Gordon Brown, to name but a few.
This was the age of what was called in polite circles, ‘the Scottish lobby’, but which also went privately by the names, ‘Scottish’ or ‘tartan mafia’. The romantic version of this is the folklore of ‘Red Clydeside’ and the 1922 general election when the city of Glasgow saw ten of its fifteen constituencies return Labour MPs for the first time. Upon their departure from St. Enoch railway station with crowds singing the ‘Red Flag’ they went south to change the Commons, but in the eyes of left-wing critics were more changed by parliament themselves. Read the rest of this entry »
The UK is not skint – it is a playground for the rich and privileged
The Scotsman, September 21st 2013
It has been Scotland’s week in the news with British and world media flocking north to cover the story of one year to the referendum.
Such coverage paints a particular Scottish story by necessity and tends to leave the wider picture of what has changed and what needs to change at a British level.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a strange land; not technically a nation but a state. It is a unique hybrid, neither the unitary country often cited, but far removed from confederation or federalism.
It is a country which invokes the past but has a very shaky grasp of its own history: 1,000 years of lineage often being referenced by its mostly English politicians (and the occasional Scots and Welsh one). Its character and date of formation are obscure, held together by a series of unions and landmark changes: 1603, 1707, 1801, and its current borders dating from as recently as 1921 (when Ireland secessed). Read the rest of this entry »
Unionists, come out and declare your ‘nationalism’
The Scotsman, August 10th 2013
The story is familiar: there is a pesky, partisan, immature nationalism out and about influencing our body politic.
This is the account of Scottish nationalism put forward by a range of commentators and public figures. Yet it could as easily be articulated about the ideas of unionism because unionism is at its heart a form of nationalism – British state nationalism.
Scottish nationalism has its faults and limitations. It is cautious, conservative and shaped by the characteristics of the society from which it was born. It is also a nationalism, but at least it understands itself as such and is seen as such a phenomenon by everyone.
Unionism doesn’t comprehend that it is a nationalism. It is an obvious point when you think about it. What state does unionism declare its allegiance and loyalty to above all else? The British state. Yet unionism is in denial that it is such a thing as nationalism; it thinks nationalism is about others and not about itself. Read the rest of this entry »
Britain – no longer the land of the future, but one living in the past
The Scotsman, July 27th 2013
Once upon a time many years ago, like many other Scots, I believed in Britain.
Britain seemed the future: it had appeal, appeared modern, progressive and full of promise.
That now seems a world away from the Britain of today: one which looks to have given up on the future and instead appears content to live permanently in a fictitious past.
This is the fantasyland Britain we see before us this week – of a society, culture and media obsessed with celebrating the birth of Kate and William’s royal baby and third heir to the throne. And this Sunday is the anniversary of the onset of the First World War which will be officially commemorated next year. Read the rest of this entry »