2007 - 2022

Possession & Independence

The British Empire has its foundation in overseas possessions ‘claimed’ for, and trading posts set up by England in the 17th century. From the 1707 Act of Union onwards the empire was expanded, reaching its maximum extent in 1922. It covered almost a quarter of the land mass of our planet and encompassed almost a quarter of its population. It was the largest empire in history.

In the twentieth century, almost all of the dominions, colonies, protectorates and mandates the UK colonised, invaded or otherwise accquired have gone their own way. By negotiation or proclamation, they have gained their independence.

To imagine that the United Kingdom of 2017 could ever rebuild or reclaim such a staggeringly, shockingly large empire is either laughable, offensive, or both. Similarly laughable and offensive is the idea that to leave such a backwards-looking country as the UK would be somehow foolish or unprecedented. In the past century alone, sixty-four countries have managed to do so. Not all of them negotiated their independence with the UK Government and not all of them had an optimistic outlook for their future. Yet they got their independence and not one has sought to be re-admitted to the empire.

A country looking to and living in the past, will never see the future coming. A Scottish lifeboat heading with surety towards the horizon, is better than a British frigate sailing merrily towards the unseen edge of a flat earth sea.

Comments (9)

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  1. bringiton says:

    The London establishment is blinded to reality by arrogance and public school history education which says nothing about the empire post 19th century.
    It’s as if the events of the 20th and 21st centuries never happened.
    However,they know that the game will truly be up if they lose their last colony north of the border and are going to do what it takes to maintain the fantasy world they have been accustomed to.
    There is more at stake than simply Scottish resources,their perceived self importance is what is driving the current bunch of maniacs in Westminster.

  2. Roland Laycock says:

    They will never let Scotland leave, they will spend millions telling lies and promising prosperity for all and as a last push fiddle the figures as they have done in the last election

  3. Charles L. Gallagher says:

    I take it that you have all heard that Hurricane Oil has just announced a billion barrel oil field in the Atlantic Margin sixty miles west of Shetland. The price of oil will recover and you can bet it’s with discoveries like this that the Tories intend to finance their post Brexit holocaust. This will be why they won’t let go without a fight.

    The original piece forgot to mention that many of those previous empire countries had to fight for their Independence. Just hope that we don’t have to follow that route???

  4. john young says:

    Scots were the cornerstone of the Empire,if we could only garner our natural affinity for advancement/education e.t.c. we could sore higher and higher,the problem for me is that we can do it for others yet are hidebound when it comes to home.

  5. Crubag says:

    I think the English empire goes back further to disputes with continental Europe and the Holy Roman Emperor/Pontiff during the middle ages.

  6. Alan says:

    A country looking to and living in the past, will never see the future coming.

    Looking to the past is fine if you understand it and can extract meaningful lessons for the future. The problem is that the predominant British understanding of the past is highly selective and fantastical. A point made by a columnist in FT today:
    Brexit reinforces Britain’s imperial amnesia

  7. Alex M says:

    Unfortunately, many people refer to the Act of Union. This Act followed the Treaty of Union, which recorded the agreement to suspend both the Scottish and English Parliaments, and form a new Parliament for Great Britain. The English have never honoured the Treaty, and have arrogantly treated their Parliament as continuing. Scots should abandon the English description of an Act and refer to the Treaty. Indeed there are no other examples of a Treaty being “renamed” an Act!

    1. Legerwood says:

      There were two Acts – one passed by the English Parliament and one passed by the Scottish Parliament – ratifying the Treaty of Union.

      This is a good article about the Treaty and Acts


  8. SleepingDog says:

    A useful geographical list, but decolonisation needs to be put into context. The British Empire did not wish to relinquish power along with independence, so it tried to engineer friendly successor governments by means of coups (for example, in British Guiana), destabilisation, hiding the past by destroying or removing colonial files, conducting terror campaigns, training and backing dictators, grooming presidential candidates (for example, Kenya), trapping emerging nations in debt and militarism with loans to dictators to buy weapons to suppress their own people that had to be paid back when the dictators were overthrown, invasion (for example, Egypt 1956), securing corporate interests at local expense through partnerships in international organisations like the IMF, selling arms to all sides, assassination and other covert means, soft power cultural exports and so on.

    A flavour:

    The remnant British Empire will cling to any rock that gives them:
    seabed mineral rights
    naval bases
    strategic positions near trade route pinch points
    listening posts
    bases to launch seabed cable intercepts and other covert missions
    offshore tax havens
    weapon testing grounds and missile launch sites
    fishing rights
    the chance to cosy up to the USA by leasing them land enough for airstrips
    hemispheric influence

    Now supposing that the British establishment is making plans for Scottish independence, what measure might it already be putting in place? I don’t recommend witch-hunts, but I do recommend ratcheting up transparency in all aspects of Scottish society.

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