2007 - 2022

Empire’s End

businessman-grenade-head-stencil-1It’s over. Nothing says ‘end of empire’ as much as the closure of Britain’s military presence in Scotland. Today’s announcement that the MOD naval base in Rosyth is to close down, along with a further eight military sites in Scotland over the next 16 years is as sure a sign of Britain’s ending as the shambolic Brexit exceptionalism and neo-nationalism of the ascendent British right now foaming at the mouth on all frequencies.

Sir Michael Fallon today confirmed major army bases at Fort George in the Highlands, Glencorse Barracks, near Penicuik, and Redford Cavalry and Infantry Barracks in Edinburgh would shut. Stirling’s Meadowforth and Forthside Barracks as well as Craigiehall Barracks in Edinburgh will also go.

That we still have whole towns in the highlands named ‘Fort George’ and ‘Fort William’ is barely even recognised as a historical legacy. Militarisation became normalised over time. History was forgotten.

While the cuts represent a major setback for whole communities who have become dependent on the military for their sense of self and their livelihood, and represent a final failure for the Better Together propaganda campaign, they also represent an opportunity to re-imagine a different Scotland. End times are scary, if we can’t step in with ideas, innovation and alternatives the right will continue to step into the void. The demilitarisation of Scotland is overdue.

Brexit and Trump are two sides of the new right on either side of the pond.

Nigel Farage tweets: “Is this Brexit day in the US? I hope so.”

The mood is angry, bordering on hysterical. The misdirected anger of economic failure, cultural emptiness and social collapse has been exploited by the right and the far-right and prime-pumped by the tabloid press and the the likes of Fox Broadcasting Inc. Fear and blame are the dominate themes of the day, intertwining like snakes. As the French writer Albert Camus wrote: “Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.”

“What we seem to have here is a case of the normalization of the deplorable. It is a sinister sight to watch. Masses of people shout racial slurs against Hispanics and our black President, they call for the lynching of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and they hurl anti-LGBTQ epithets.”

If Trump wins we are in deep trouble. If Clinton wins we have only moved the crowds back a little, only side-stepped the first run.  It’s worth remembering that between the release of the first FBI letter and the 2nd correcting it today, around 65% voted in Florida. The FBI played a blinder.

“Shoot the bitch! Hang the nigger!”

‘Shoot The B*tch!’ ‘Hang The N*gger!’: Unfiltered Rally Videos Show Trump’s America

This normalisation of racism and political violence isn’t going to go away. As Andrew Sullivan has written;

“The most frustrating aspect of the last 12 months has been the notion that we have been in a normal, if truly ugly, election cycle, with one extremely colorful and unpredictable figure leading the Republican Party in an otherwise conventional political struggle over policy. It has been clear for months now, it seems to me, that this is a delusion. A far more accurate account of the past year is that an openly proto-fascist cult leader has emerged to forge a popular movement that has taken over one of the major political parties, eroded central norms of democratic life, undermined American democratic institutions, and now stands on the brink of seizing power in Washington.”

Any Other Questions?

If a politician of the left had made the statements Farage has he’d be lynched. Talking of “political anger the likes of which none of us in our lifetimes have ever witnessed in this country” and evoking the notion of “disturbances in the street” has moved him from being a rich man’s Nick Griffin to a more jocular Enoch Powell.

The rampant misogyny and homophobia is a common theme of both the Trump and the Brexit campaigns and their cheerleaders in the media.

If Trump has little understanding of or reverence for constitutional democracy, neither do our own patriotic Brexiteers who are clearly developing ‘taking back control’ into a slogan for their silent coup. In a state without a written constitution and in which political literacy has been dumbed down and eroded and infantilised by our moron culture, the possibility of a popular march on parliament is now facing us. The twin slogan on the other side of the Atlantic is ‘Drain the Swamp’ – from a society weened on conspiracy theory, high on Chem Trails and reduced to a sort of political nihilism. The only project that wins in this culture is the right and the further right.

‘We Want England Back’ and ‘Make America Great Again’ sing across the ocean to each other. The world has gone so crazy that even Nick Clegg has it right:

“Now ‘it’s Parliament and the people versus the Brexit establishment’ – ‘a role reversal’.

But in this world you wouldn’t fancy your chances, would you?

If Farage wasn’t such a comedy character we’d probably be more worried. But let’s make no mistake, his plan to lead a 100,000-strong march to is an extraordinary attempt to intimidate the Supreme Court – and is coupled with veiled threats of violence. We’ve never seen a right-wing riot, but we might yet.

Its into this maelstrom of populism and chaos that the Scottish Government step. Nicola Sturgeon today stated:

“The Scottish Government is clear that triggering Article 50 will directly affect devolved interests and rights in  Scotland. And triggering Article 50 will inevitably deprive Scottish people and Scottish businesses of rights and freedoms which they currently enjoy. It simply cannot be right that those rights can be removed by the UK Government on the say-so of a Prime Minister without parliamentary debate, scrutiny or consent. So legislation should be required at Westminster and the consent of the Scottish Parliament should be sought before Article 50 is triggered. Let me be clear – I recognise and respect the right of England and Wales to leave the European Union. This is not an attempt to veto that process. But the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland and the national Parliament of Scotland cannot be brushed aside as if they do not matter.”

This will be treated with contempt and hostility in England, and in the atmosphere of xenophobia and political chaos, there is no certainty that this won’t trigger further constitutional crisis. But it’s still the right thing to do. In Guy Verhofstadt, Sturgeon and Scotland have an ally and an important figure. If Theresa May’s government continues to treat Scotland with contempt, we can rest assured that that feeling is mirrored across Europe for Britain’s actions.

We’ve gone from “Bathgate no more. Linwood no more. Methil no more. Irvine no more…” to “Glencorse, Redford and Meadowforth no more” in thirty years. This is British decline and failure witnessed over a single lifetime. Britain can’t survive this level of sustained and public decline.

Drain the Swamp

Farage has already won, he doesn’t need to be elected, but Trump does.

The consequences are beyond awful on all levels. This isn’t just a domestic affair however much he promises protectionism. The consequences are global.

As Mogens Lykketoft the former President of the UN General Assembly, writes:

“If you look at the global agreements on sustainable development and climate change that we passed at the UN during my presidency last year, it was only possible to reach a global consensus because the world’s two major economies – the United States and China – were working together for ambitious changes to the way we produce and the way we consume. They were both willing to try and make those regulations and taxation systems that we need to have in the future to balance the long-term needs of humanity with the short-term profit goals of private actors. The United States is crucial here and if we have a climate denier as President then it will not be possible to reach the goals we have set up in the international community. That’s one of the reasons why it would be detrimental if Trump were to win in my view. The second reason is that this man, if we take his statements at face value, has an ambition to start a trade war with China.”

I have no faith in the ‘checks and balances’ of the US political system keeping Trump in check. This is liberal wishful-thinking and delusion.

As May travels to India and argues for repatriation, this febrile world could just get even crazier. We’ll know tomorrow.



Comments (29)

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  1. bringiton says:

    In UKOK land it is going to be Swamp the Drains,once the Tories dispense with public expenditure.
    Those Scots who think that an independent Scotland outside the EU is a great idea need to waken up.
    We are going to have a hostile,belligerent,bullying Southern neighbour whether we vote for independence or not and are going to need all the friends we can muster to prevent them from destroying our country.

  2. Scott Young says:

    Great article

  3. Frank says:

    What made me angry was the complicity of much of the socialistic left in the Brexit vote, most notably indy campaigners such as Jim Sillars, Tommy Sheridan, the left wing nationalists who write for the Point see, https://www.facebook.com/DGS.network and Alec Neil to name but a few. At a time when hate crime is on the increase, when EU nationals feel unwelcome, it’s disgraceful that many on the left voted leave. In fact, given what’s happened post-Brexit, its hard not to avoid the conclusion that leave voters are more reactionary than no voters.

    1. Graeme Purves says:

      Spot on, Frank! It has been utterly shameful, displaying a complete absence of any moral compass.

  4. muttley79 says:

    I have no faith in the ‘checks and balances’ of the US political system keeping Trump in check. This is liberal wishful-thinking and delusion.

    Never thought I would be saying this given much of the history of this organisation, but there is always the CIA you know…..

  5. Nick Jamieson says:

    When in your uncritical zeal for all things EU-related you’re casually describing Guy Verhofstadt, the Eurocrat who in September spoke about “the cancer of nationalism”, as an “ally” of the leader of the Scottish Nationalists, you’re well and truly jumping the shark. The man is an out-and-out opponent of nations and nationhood, not just nationalism, and is at the far end of the spectrum of people who see the European Union as a United States of Europe in the making which will supplant the independent nations of the past which he sees as the root of all evi. In that same speech he presented this future as the only “cure” for nationalism that he was determined to see applied. A Europe with one sovereign government is perfectly intellectually-coherent view, of course, but it is impossible to square with anything that could ever honestly be described as Scottish Nationalism or indeed as “independence”. Since the end-game for such people is very clearly Scotland being just like Arkansas or Nevada, which are not noticeably independent nations, how and why is the SNP leadership aligning itself with Verhofstadt (if true) something about which you’re so relaxed? Or is it just the principle of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” and Scottish Nationalism can cordially stab him in the back and repudiate his federalist dogmas once he’s usefully helped stuff London?

  6. Willie says:

    Bringiton. Your comments about a belligerent and hostile southern neighbour are bang on. Their total disregard for accepting the Scottish electorate’s democratically expressed mandate is already turning to utter resentment of their Scottish neighbours. Soon it will be hatred, if not already. So yes, we do need our European friends to protect us against hateful neighbour.

    1. interpolar says:

      I agree. In turn, I fear it will take a more than a conscious effort to maintain the inclusive, civic nationalism which was crafted by Salmond and propagated by practically all Indy 1 groups. I fear that an increasingly belligerent and bigoted England could yet bring out a nasty side in the people of Scotland in response.

      1. Yan says:

        “I fear that an increasingly belligerent and bigoted England could yet bring out a nasty side in the people of Scotland in response.”

        Imagine that bigoted nasty side of inarticulate buckfast drinking Wee Scotlanders demanding to leave the union and be free to make their own trade deals, enough to put the fear into any civic nationalist and send them homeward to their bourgeoisie safe spaces. 🙂

    2. Muscleguy says:

      A restatement and widening of the Auld Alliance.

  7. Yan says:

    “Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.”

    This is exactly what this article is doing demanding respect based on fear.

    Way off the mark …

    The only person I could ever imagine taking Nick Clegg seriously is a delirious mortgaged to the hilt champagne socialist.

    1. Graeme Purves says:

      How many monkeys are working on your keyboard now?

      1. John O'Dowd says:

        Just one.

  8. chris says:

    tbh , the clans died a long time ago .

  9. c rober says:

    So the great unwashed in England are waking up to their elected masters , and of course their masters. But we at least have to congratulate them , they rejected project fear , while the Scottish bravehearts and Judases did not.

    40 years of a common market , and in the last 5 it somehow hates it , even if it is in a favorable position. 300 odd years of the true same , not merely a cultured media perception , of empirical rule portrayed as a union , and yet no change in Scotland.

    Wee Nic , or Jannette in the English owned media , has somewhat found a footing of beared teeth – but perhaps she should be doing the same with Scottish Legislation again the machine , in hammering benefit staff for civil rights removals , of tackling the SBBC and the siphoning off of licence fee to England , and lastly if not the most important punitive measures on the media including the printed press for lies.

    I do hope this walk lightly she has these days also means she is carrying a big stick…. and one that may need to find its own glenn at times within the walking dead of her own party also.

  10. George Gunn says:

    Personally I welcome the closure of all military bases in Scotland and especially the Highlands. The fact remains that the Highlands and Islands are still very much a militarised zone as far as the British state is concerned. I would now propose dismantling Fort George stone by stone.

    1. John Robertson says:

      I’m going out on a limb here, I know, but why don’t we think differently about this and similar historical sites? You could see them as places best forgotten rather than preserved. I began to think this way during a visit to North Wales with it’s impossible-to-ignore string of massive Norman castles. They are big ugly and physically dominating things just at face value but if you think what they were for, it’s much worse. These 12th Century monstrosities were built to dominate the Welsh, to remind them of their inferior status and were places of torture and imprisonment. It’s important to remember too that they were part of a wider domination of the Anglo-Saxons/English by a brutal French-speaking warrior elite just at the beginning of their imperial expansion.

      More than four hundred years later, that imperial project had just finished off the last element of resistance in mainland Britain, the tribes of the Scottish Highlands. After victory by an imperial army at Culloden in 1746, the clans were ‘pacified’. This brutal process of punishment, humiliation and killing is today well-known. As with the Welsh, centuries before, Celtic cultural expression was banned and a chain of great forts was built to maintain control of the ‘tribes’. They are still with us today as Fort William, Fort Augustus and Fort George. Going further in the humiliation for the local population than was the case in Wales, they take the names of British aristocrats and have become the place-names of the settlements they stand in.

      Less than two centuries later, a more fully genocidal project but with its roots still in Anglo-Norman imperialism was to put down many more forts across the lands of the aboriginal tribes of North America. Fort Apache is the best known but there are many more.

      Is Fort George just our Fort Apache? Would the descendants of the Apache like to pay taxes for its preservation, I wonder?

  11. Alf Baird says:

    Nicola hid better get thon rid cairpet oot fir President Trump, now the most famous Scots-American ever. I think a large quantity of humble pie is called for. Maybe we should ask for President Trump’s help to secure our independence?

  12. w.b.robertson says:

    The SNP needs every friends it can get…so it was not clever to slag, in advance, the man who has made big investments in Scotland`s tourist industry and who now turns out to be the new President of the USA (looks to me like Nicola looking gift horses in the mouth.)

    1. Trump is a disgrace of a human being. Opposing him was the right thing to do. We don’t need Trumps money.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        Ed, there is a big difference between ‘opposing’ someone and insulting them. Recent comments made about President Trump by every one of Scotland’s supposed political ‘leaders’ (and a whole raft of PC neoliberal ‘intellectuals’ even here on Bella) raises questions about their competence and integrity. We now need to find someone from within the Scottish political classes who has not insulted him (and the millions who voted for him) to welcome the President of the United States when he inevitably next lands in our country. If I were Trump, I would be looking to make all of these political numpties and amateurs look even more silly than they evidently are. It is no wonder they have all run for cover. If ever Scotland needed to welcome anyone it is this man, a man who actually loves Scotland, whose mither came fi Scotland, and who is now the President of the United States of America. He could and should represent a major influence on Scotland’s journey to independence. So Nicola, make your apology as sincere as you can.

        1. Yan says:

          In international diplomacy Sturgeon has made a fool of herself and the people of Scotland on the world stage.

          Kicking a man on the way down is plain bad, kicking him on the way up is super dumb.

        2. I’m baffled. Who are the ‘PC neoliberal ‘intellectuals’ writing on Bella?

          Why should Sturgeon apologise?

        3. Frank says:

          On a day that a racist president takes office Alf Baird’s comments qualify as the most offensive, ignorant and distasteful remarks ever posted on Bella. It seems that ‘Alf’ would rather attack Nicola Sturgeon than criticise a man who has offended muslims, Mexicans, women, the disabled and so on. What a warped moral universe ‘Alf’ must live in.

      2. c rober says:

        Unsurprisingly the “not in my golf course front yard” Trump is gearing for total american independence from middle east oil – so we must watch for his banana trade war tactics against Scotland to get a foothold for those American companies. That will mean the removal of eco generation from the climate change denier.

        Scotland will be on his list of visits sooner rather than later , expecting the kissing of his feet from Nic and the SNP.

        As for increasing Scottish economy , Hardly , golf isnt big in the overall income of tourism from his holdings , nor are his hotels.

        Trump is reportedly worth about 3 billion dollars , not so bad for a multiple bancrupt , but somewhat ironic that his personal wealth is about 200 million , where he gets just like Branson , who I reckon may well be on the phone to him today , so he is others to finance it – OPM. But again somewhat ironic that the people that voted for him somehow believe he is anti wealth!

        Rather than look to scifi and horror movies , one should just look at the wizard of oz and see the value of the curtain.


  13. Gordon Benton says:

    Of course the situation has now changed since he has been elected, and we in Scotland will give due respect to the station. But that does not mean that SNP or anyone else in this country can or should respect this very damaged fellow just because he is Lord God Almighty of someplace or other.

  14. Wull says:

    “We’ve never seen a right-wing riot”. That would have been the Countryside Alliance assault on Parliament in 2004.

  15. angus says:

    One small observation… Fort George is not, and never has been, a town. It’s only a barracks.

    1. c rober says:

      stop talking barracks

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