2007 - 2022

Cry Freedom

cameron_1030639aRemember when Scottish nationalists were laughed at for their crude historical references, and the very idea of self-determination was mocked as surely just a stepping-stone to Blood and Soil nationalism, itself only a nudge away from full-blown fascism? Do you remember how Better Together and a host of Unionist Fifth Columnists reveled in the Braveheart gags and splenetic semi-racist anti-Scottish rhetoric went mainstream?

Of course you do. We don’t need to play Dictator Bingo here. The smears against the democracy movement weren’t confined to the red-tops, as Jason Cowley will remember.

Setting aside the permanent embarrassment that is our Foreign Secretary, it’s useful to reflect on how these tropes of nationalism, that we apologised for, avoided, and agonisingly talked-over, are now just meat and drink to much of the fervid Brexit Celebrations.

There are three key drivers to this phenomenon.

First, it simply doesn’t exist and to point it out is to be racist yourself. So an English or a British nationalism just can’t exist, because, well just because. It can’t and doesn’t partly because they are so anglocentric as to think that they, like any other countries and cultures might have A worldview. Their’s is THE worldview.That’s the end of it and John McTernan will explain it in detail if you’re not convinced. “I’m No 1 so why try harder?” as Fat Boy Slim had it – meets “Nobody likes us we don’t care” as our friends on the southside sing.

On Radio 4’s Today programme, the commentators tumbled over themselves to prove the point. Cursing the foolish Foreign Secretary they scrabbled about for more appropriate historical metaphors. One plum lady offered up the Second World War ‘when we all felt better about ourselves’ and then the ”1966  when Britain won the World Cup’. ‘No no no’ interrupted Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins, the 100 Years’ War is a much better example he explained.Eh?

Scotland and England were actually on different sides in the 100 Years War, but never mind Global Britain is amnesiac England. In fact as Simon Brooke’s pointed out: “Archibald Earl of Douglas LED THE FRENCH ARMY.!”

Oh well.

Second a terrible grievance culture has to be imagined and nurtured – from Boris Johnson’s pathetic ‘punishment beatings’ to a line-up of hostile cabinet voices mewing about a ‘terrible deal’, we must pretend that this is all somehow Europe’s fault and not just the inevitable result of a fantastic exceptionalism.

Thirdly there’s a desperate need to conflate England and Britain as if the other ‘equal partners’ (sic) simply don’t exist, which, for all intents and purposes, they don’t. This third element has two functions, It serves to bolster ‘Britain’ into an entity forged in history, unique and brilliant, and it also serves to avoid the terrible moment England looks at itself afresh, just as itself, just as a country, not global, not great, just a country like any other. That is an intolerable, unfathomable taboo. That must never happen.

The conflation of England / Britain is so routine in newscasts, dialogue and commentary it has been embedded as a sort of permanent irritant, but also we have become so inured to it we barely bother. But now it’s more serious. All of this was predicted some time ago.

Reviewing Tom Nairn’s After Britain: New Labour and the Return of Scotland  (Granta) back in 2000, Neal Ascherson wrote:

“The emergence of England is inevitable (‘beyond Blair’s parody of Britain, a renovated England is certain’), perhaps guided by the growing movement for an English parliament, but Nairn has misgivings about what English nationalism will be like. If the English question is too much for the old British system to accommodate, then ‘England will return on the street corner, rather than via a maternity room with appropriate care and facilities.’”

It’s a passage that foresees the Farage NHS bus lies sixteen years in advance.

hippogriff4Ascherson continues that: “he (Nairn) shares the worry of many English observers that reviving nationalism could take the form of a rabid, xenophobic Euroscepticism, a ‘weird hippogriff’ monster which would barricade England against the only transformative force which can rescue and modernise it – the influence of the European Union.”

And so it was.

Thatcher is a moderate next to what is being proposed, a positive Eurocrat.

And here we are hurtling backwards. We didn’t just lose the referendum, we lost the second referendum. Our devolved powers are at risk, at risk of being made meaningless by the roll-back effects of having no control over our Foreign policy, and the knock-on effects of this disastrous anti-European crisis, and our own  identity is at risk by the emerging Anglo-British Nationalism, that has none of the qualms and qualifications that the Yes movement cherished.

This Hippogriff has shown by its actions that it couldn’t care a less about its Northern provinces and as it shrouds itself in the comfort blanket of unspoken nationalism and an imagined grievance culture. In this context it is fantastical to imagine Theresa May & Co offering Scotland a legal-route to referendum. We are essential to their imagined Greatness and their strategic (nuclear) importance, but we are entirely redundant electorally and offer no threat to their power base.

While it’s essential to re-examine and BUILD the case to win a second referendum, it’s also crucial to imagine a route-map that doesn’t involve a legal sanctioned vote.

Comments (8)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Alf Baird says:

    Desperate times call for desperate measures. Time for Scotland’s 56 “roaring lions” tae muive thair airses, an endit thon ane-sidit ‘union’ guddle juist likit wis stairtit in 1707.

  2. Richard MacKinnon says:

    I am getting seriously worried about you. You sound ever more depressed.
    “And here we are hurtling backwards. We didn’t just lose the referendum, we lost the second referendum. ” Correct. On that much we agree.
    “Our devolved powers are at risk, at risk of being made meaningless………..” Wrong. We don’t have any powers. Devolved power is a myth perpetrated by all involved.
    Devolution is a means to an end. It may have been the road to independence but that didn’t work out when it hit a buffer on 18/09/14. Because of that it is now something completely different. If you are a nationalist it has become a trap. If you are a unionists it is a clever illusion, a distortion of the senses that allows in this case a big parliament, the parent if you like, to control the child. Devolution of power to Holyrood is the way a Tory government at Westminster operates in Scotland. Take austerity for example. Nobody in Scotland wants it so how does Westminster implement it? get the SNP government to do it for you – through devolution. That is the trick. It is brilliantly clever in its simplicity. The Scottish government, the Scottish SNP government (note) is the administrator of Tory policy. And the trick is, they the SNP, know it but cant admit to it. SNP ministers know what they are now doing, but they have to keep up the façade or else they will be seen for what they are, like a well paid prostitute. In fact it is worse than prostitution, the SNP government have now got themselves into a position where they denounce Westminster rule, the nasty xenophobic Tory government, Brexit, and the rest, while at the same time they do their dirty work for them in Scotland, ( I wonder if they blush when the cheque hits the bank). Mike, you might swallow the line about ‘protecting Scotland from the worst of Tory cuts………… ‘ but I see it for what it is.
    Mike, this has absolutely nothing to do with the Brexit thing. Stop linking the two. They are separate and completely different occurrences. The only thing they have in common is that they were both referendums, and that you were on the loosing side on both occasions. You were not alone. I was with you as were many others.
    OK I hope we are agreed, devolution might have worked out but it didn’t and is now devolution is a trap and Scotland is snared. The question is; is there a way out? I think I have one. But lets leave it at that for the time being.

    1. Mic11 says:

      Richard that was a lot of words you just killed in a confused diatribe.

      1. Richard MacKinnon says:

        I don’t understand what is confusing, what I am saying is, devolution is a mechanism where by certain powers or responsibilities are delegated to another. It is important, and it is the point I am trying to make, that both parties in this arrangement need to accept who is the superior and inferior partner; the mechanism will not work unless both parties accept their roll.
        And so in the case of the Westminster and Holyrood devolution arrangement we now have a situation where a SNP government is running Scotland and in so doing is implementing Tory policy. Its as simple as that.

        1. Jack Collatin says:

          I’m looking out my pitchfork now, Richard.
          Where is the Freedom Brigade converging to form the Scottish Resistance Army? George Square? The Mound?
          The Ettrick Bar in Old Kilpatrick?
          The SNP is the whore of Westminster? Really?
          What has the SNP ever done for us?

  3. bringiton says:

    Firstly,I have heard this nonsense about Foreign policy being a reserved matter bandied about by May and others with respect to Brexit i.e. keep your nose out Scotland.
    We are part of the EU at present and they will not become “foreign” until at least A50 is triggered.
    The EU referendum result and far more importantly,London’s reaction to it,has writ large the reasons we tried to expound to our fellow Scots during the independence campaign.
    Nothing to do with blood and soil but entirely about the lack of democracy in Scotland and as we can now see the complete indifference to this situation by the London political rulers.
    Englanders cannot say the same thing about their situation as they almost always get the government they want and determine the outcome of “UK” wide referendums,they have what most democratic countries have,democratic accountability albeit in a feudal sort of way.
    The majority of Scots seemed to think that this situation was OK and voted to allow England to continue making decisions on our behalf but now the chickens are coming home to roost except they appear to have morphed into vultures somewhere along the way.
    As you sow,so shall you reap.
    It may still be very abstract and irrelevant to many Scots who think life still goes on regardless but that will soon change once they realise what is in store for us in the new fascist state of England and her colonies.

  4. Stavros. says:


    Mike MacPot calls John Potbull, a nationalist.

    Why is non binary thinking so hard for Nats?

    Fact: More English and Welsh voted to remain than Yessers – most of whom abstained or voted to leave.

    It’s really simple. Other people’s stupid self obessed nationalism doesn’t validate yours. End of.

    Every nationalism thinks it is superior, that’s the whole objection from non-Nats.

  5. Firedept says:

    Ha ha.

    UDI then?

    Do it.

    I want you to.

    I want to see the Neds I remember so well rampaging down every High Street, down every residential street, smashing in doors.

    Popcorn ready.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.