Last week I learned of Westminster’s plans to save the United Kingdom after they finally twigged that twenty-one successive polls for Yes weren’t just a blip but something dangerously close to the settled will of the Scottish people. When you throw a fairly recent Ashcroft poll into the mix – the one that had seventy-six percent of Brexit voters happy to wave Scotland goodbye and seventy-four percent see a reunited Ireland if it meant reaching the Brexit sunlit uplands, it becomes clear that it will take a lot more than Union Jack festooned number plates and the relocating of a C-list royal to Edinburgh (ideas considered apparently in all seriousness) to shore up support. Then further add to this unholy brew the devolution wrecking Internal Market Bill and the Shared Prosperity Fund – even the names are euphemistic half-truths – and it’s clear that they are in big trouble. And to think only a few short years ago the propaganda no more sinister than tatties from Auchtermuchty finding out that they were in fact Brits, not Fifers. Now they’re throwing the kitchen sink at it. To borrow from the title of a popular football fanzine from back in the day, It’s Half Past Four and they’re Two Goals Down.
Part of the strategy – if it can even be called that – is to have a much bigger presence in their North British colonies than they did previously. Much of that presence takes the form of a seven storey UK Government hub in Edinburgh, with another soon to be built, at great expense, in Glasgow. The buildings will be staffed by thousands of civil servants who will relocate from England and who will, along with growing number of staff in the Scotland Office, tell us what a great thing the union is; that we are utterly dependent of the largesse and munificence of our benevolent neighbours; that we’d never been able to deal with Covid, far less find a vaccine or find the money to mitigate against the pandemic, without their broad shoulders to stand on. And then, having weakened devolution through the Trojan horse of the Internal Market Bill and starved us of funds they will then tell us to be grateful for the many projects they will pay for on our behalf, whether we want them or not, like the tunnel from Portpatrick to Donaghadee. Given Boris Johnson’s world renowned reputation for delivering on big capital projects like the new runway on the Thames, I have no doubt I’ll be driving to Northern Ireland by this time next week – if my journey is deemed essential, of course.
Historians have a theory that what will be the biggest factor in the end of the United Kingdom will be that the three strands that held Britain together – religion, war and empire – are largely or completely irrelevant in the twenty-first century, so its raisons d’etre have gone forever. But the British ruling classes were always very good at getting the colonialists to do the heavy lifting – and this is what is happening here. What really gars me greet is that my own taxes are being used to build a case against the kind of self-governance that everyone else in the world don’t see as unusual but as mundane normality. My own money is being used to peddle the narrative that we are too poor, too wee, too stupid to go it alone. In short, we are being forced to fund our own belittlement.
There’s an old adage among political campaigners. “If you’re explaining, you’re losing”. It seems to be that there’s a hell of a lot of explaining going on. Good.
Firstly, the very existence of a union unit, or whatever they’re calling it now, is proof positive that the game is up. It’s over.
Secondly, there’s no other way to dress this up: the Internal Market Bill & shared prosperity fund – are clearly incompatible with a devolution settlement that they all wish had never happened. Direct rule is their endgame.
And the third thing is just how tone deaf they are. The natives are a bit restless? Send Boris. Send a minor royal to live in Edinburgh. Put a Union Jack on number plates.
I find it uniquely odious. Below Boris Johnson’s carefully choreographed buffoonery lies the leader of a deeply reactionary, amoral group of charlatans – who you strongly suspect actually hate us on the rare occasions they even think of us at all.
A final thought – it must have surely crossed their minds – losing Scotland (not that it belongs to them) would actually see the Tories in power pretty much permanently. His support base, as we’ve seen, would happily see us go: after all, they’ve got their Brexit sunlit uplands. Why bother with all this rough wooing?
The answer is the same as with every other country they have ever colonised.
Money. Just as Thatcher couldn’t have afforded foreign adventures like The Falklands and the post-industrial redesign of Britain without oil revenues, so the neoliberal, post-Brexit, rule Britannia Empire 2.0 Little England project can’t happen without Scotland’s actual and potential wealth. That, I think, is what is driving this unprecedented propaganda campaign.
And I’ll leave you with this.
What will end the UK in its present form won’t be Scottish nationalism, but English nationalism. Scotland hasn’t voted for the Conservatives in sixty-six years. In the last forty years, they have been in power for twenty-nine of them. Jeremy Corbyn offered some kind of sane alternative, so they destroyed him and brought in a less threatening alternative. The Tories moved to the right and shored up the Brexit Party.
England has made its choice. Scotland either has to suck it up – or make a different one.
In the end, it’s up to us.
We just need to keep the heid.
Stay safe good people. I’ll meet you further on up the road.
“The buildings will be staffed by thousands of civil servants who will relocate from England and who will, along with growing number of staff in the Scotland Office, tell us what a great thing the union is;”
That made me flinch a bit, Alec – sounds very like drumming up anti-English- in-Scotland feeling.
Being of Irish descent, I fully understand anti-English feeling stemming from past events. Ireland is now mostly free – there are still the six counties under, as the song says ‘John Bull’s tyranny’. I was saying to Mike how much the term ‘The four nations of Britain’ is being used. But Northern Ireland, doesn’t even have a separate name – it’s called…Northern Ireland. The clue is in the name. It’s not called ‘Western Britain’.
That just me, having an her-umph moment.
Back to my point – there are many, many English people who have chosen to live in Scotland because it’s such a good place to live. Many of those Civil Servants might have done just that – they’re not necessarily flogging the dead donkey of The Union.
Don’t tar everyone with the same brush. I’m surprised at you!
I didn’t read it that way. What I understood is people helicoptered in who do not really want to be here – a bit like what was done in Iraq, but without the weaponry.
Same here Jane. It looks like a colonial power bringing in its staff to run the colony. Was the new title of the Scottish Office not the UK Government in Scotland?
Hello Jane – I was thinking about your response, and one thing I’ll say is this……..
How many of the ‘English’ people coming to work in the Government buildings in Edinburgh and Glasgow, are likely to be ‘English’? How many are just as likely to be of, for example, East European, Irish, West Indian, Asian descent? All groups of people which have had to gain their freedom for outside rule.
Considering the mixter-maxter which is the British population today, it’s likely that these folk would be just as likely to support Scottish Independence, as not.
What you say, and what Alec said, smacks of Trumpist divisiveness – “If you’re not one of US, we don’t want you here.” It does, it just …does, and I am surprised at Alec writing this way, as he is an intelligent, thinking, reasoning man.
Trouble is, Alec writes so well, and, if what he writes presents resentment against a group of people, it can produce the kind of response you had, Jane.
Please, people – think – put your thinking caps on – don’t just follow what you read and start snarling at and about strangers.
Please – just THINK before you reject people that you know next to nothing about. Racism is racism, whatever form it takes.
Stating a fact, ie the UK government are transferring English civil servants into Scotland, for their purely political agenda, is NOT racist.
Any racism within the UK is being hyped up against Scotland and the people of Scotland. The hatred at times is vicious, you just have to look at the utterly disgraceful behaviour towards SNP MP in the HOC’s for a start!
Your accusations here are uncalled for. A distraction from the points being made in the article.
As someone who has lived in Scotland for over thirty years, originally from England, and certainly not anti English, nor a racist I find your comments really quite insulting.
and like Saigon,I look forward to them being helicoptered from the roof of their egg-stained buildings
Like and agree with your reply.
Not Anti English! Anti Westminster especially the Torys and British nationalist, who are far far far right Torys! We feel so very sorry for the people of England! Torys have split all Labour constituencies so Torys win!! P R is desperately needed there!! Last election all major English cities including London voted Labour!! Torys 43%, Labour 37%! No way should Torys have got an 80+ seat majority!!
Bernie. This has nothing to do with anti-Englishness and everything to do with anti-colonialism. Being of ‘Irish descent ‘ something I would have thought you might understand. In essence everything written here is simply the truth and I would go further to say the extent to which the English colonial establishment are undermining native moves towards independence goes much deeper and permeates every possible avenue of control, mastery and ownership of Scotland. The relocation is not nor will be limited to posts at the SO, but as we already see the disproportionate influx of hand picked colonists to administrative posts throughout our civil service and bodies of influence (BBC etc) and on top of that the relocation extends to an ever increasing number of ‘opportunists settlers’ encouraged and facilitated directly by agencies of the English colonial establishment. This is history repeating itself. A process instigated in many of their former colonies to shore up their control. I grew up in a former colony, on both sides of the fence. I know intimately how it works. Allow yourself to be sidelined into the ‘racist’ debate and you are playing their game on their terms. BTW most English I talk to in Scotland, open up to me because I have a posh English accent …. most reveal a very different position to the one they express publicly when it comes to the union. Be warned. This is not a ‘jolly hockey sticks’ game. They will stop at nothing to secure Northern England, in the same way if necessary as they did in Northern Ireland. The stakes are too high for them to simply keel over to the democratic will of the natives. From a seat on the security council of the UN to the credit rating sustained by ownership of North Sea oil, that keeps them afloat. Scotland is a ‘resource’ they cannot loose if they are to maintain any dreams of being a major global player.
I have nothing against the English people, my daughters have an English mother and live there. In fact most folk down in England are subject to the same mind control and social engineering that keeps them in their place and are equally misinformed. My truck is with the exceptionalism of the elitist, entitled English colonial establishment that is sucking the life blood from my country.
Hmmmm…I’m just thinking about Priti Patel – and realising that my argument has some holes in it!
I saw, what I saw as, an unfair statement, and that always makes my hackles rise.
And I recognize what you say about accent, from the other side of the coin. I sound Northern (English – now ‘from South’!), colloquial and a bit too forthright – there’s a whole set of people who shy away from that.
Maybe being idealistic, but…I honestly believe that Scotland will achieve independence and it won’t matter two hoots who is in an office in Edinburgh. It’s going to happen, it is. It has to.
India did it, with whole battalions of Civil Servants rubber-stamping for all they were worth.
But yes, Priti Patel just about scuppers my argument.
One hundred per cent agree with every word you say!
There is no mention of “English” the quote is “civil servants who will relocate from England”. That is true, Governor General Jack will preside over a huge number of Civil Servants whose sole im will be to promote he idea that Scotland is unable to survive without UK. the nearest country to Scotland is surprisingly India as it was denigrated for centuries while the UK sucked approximately £45 trillion out of its economy. At the other end of the country in Dumfriesshire we have many “immigrants” from England who contribute mightily to our society. Many of them support “independence” (I prefer to call it “Treaty renegotiation” as that is essentially what it should be at root). We will have to act quickly before the IM bill takes full effect as the UK Government will quickly legislate further to emasculate devolution.
Mea Culpa – you are absolutely right – the word ‘English’ wasn’t used. Maybe I’m a bit touchy about that.
And there’s me, advising folk to think about what they read before jumping to conclusions.
Mea Culpa. Mea Culpa. Mea Maxima Culpa.
I could say – maybe I should refrain from flying off the handle, in print, anyway. But, well, it did prompt some discussion, didn’t it?
Distraction, excellent means of undermining the points being made in the article, luckily there are many astute people here to make relevant comments.
All colonial admin was always run by ” ex-pats” and not by the uncouth savage natives. Why would you imagine the continued Scottish Raj to be any different
Where those appointed to the new civil service Glasgow outpost ‘come from’ is irrelevant. What is relevant is they will be active agents of the London based Tory Government, who will serve its colonial interests and not those of the Scottish People.
As a very (USA) outside but emphatically pro-independence observer of Scottish affairs, I find this piece highly informative. Sure, I read a lot: print subscriber to iScot and subscriber/automatic donator to The Orkney News, even a patron of the Random Scottish History blog (domestic media have typically given UK news little to no coverage except in the case of Brexit), and it’s all helpful and enlightening in the aggregate. But the points made here give to me a most succinctly drawn picture of where things stand now and how they’ve gotten that way. Thanks for this.
I’m now very fed up with English people (and I acknowledge you are not) insisting that self determination for Scotland is somehow anit English. It is particularly garring when they live here and state,’ I can’t understand the need for Indy Scot’ etc.
If I were in England, imposing a Scottish Government upon the people there, against their democratic wishes, and ensuring my Government was asset stripping the natural wealth from England under their very noses, it would be a colonial act.
And colonialism is when you get your government to do the racism for you, so that you can plead ignorance.
Thanks Alec, I needed that
A great read, many thanks.
‘Shared Prosperity Fund’, euphemistic? Imperial Japan had its ‘Co-Prosperity Sphere’, Nanjing being a notable ‘beneficiary’. Empire 2.0s intentions are clear. God save us from euphemisms.
Alec, you live in a Conservative held seat in Dumfries and Galloway. I rest my case.
And what is your “case”, exactly?
An excellent read, being Scottish born and bred going back generations your story lifted my spirits and although an ancient guy now comments like this need to be spread especially about the injustices.
A little footnote to Bernie Bell, The British Government defines Britain to the “United Nations”, as two Countries.
Scotland & England…1 Principality, Wales….1 Province, Northern Ireland.
Why Bernie Bell are we not four Countries, or classed as four nations…I too have Irish blood and I deeply resent the facts that the British establishment do not recognise Ireland asa Country in it’s own right!
My Lord! Don’t start me on this one. The Meeeeja used to tend to refer to Britain – I noticed, recently, suddenly it’s nearly always ‘The four nations of Britain’, usually re. the very disparate Covid statistics.
In my eyes – there is England, there is Northern Ireland ( which is part of Ireland), there is Scotland, there is Wales.
Re. the point that you make – how many times on the telly, are there programmes about, let’s say the Castles of Britain, and someone goes over to the Republic of Ireland and visits a castle!!! Every time, steam comes out of my ears, and I putter at Mike about it – it’s wrong, in every way.
The British Establishment can say what they like – we all know who we are, and, as well as being of these nations, we are all Jock Tamsin’s bairns – all – people. Why we don’t work together, recognizing our differences, and the benefits those differences can bring to the whole, is beyond me.
I have been told that I am naïve – I think I must be.
Have they not changed Wales yet to a Country. I remember reading some time back that some Court or other authority deemed they did not have a Prince (obviously Charles does not appear to have figured), they could not be a Principality and ergo, were a Country.
It’s not necessarily the bods who come to work in these offices. It is the high heid yins that pull the strings. Think BBC Scotland who have Scottish presenters and how many in Scotland no longer trust their London centric output. They will just do as they are told. Westminster will try every dirty trick in the book whilst we Scots, correctly, hold ourselves up to a high degree of scrutiny. But we must not lose sight of our ultimate aim and turn the fight on ourselves aided and abetted by Wminster propaganda.
Will they have a vote in Scotland these civil servants? Will they use SNHS? Will their kids get free Uni tuition, the employees have already started buying up houses in Edinburgh. If there are say 2000, that’s quite a few houses needed. Or, will some commute over the border each week, probably not.
They will do as they are told yes. For the EngGov to have spent public money on a huge new building smack bang centre of Edinburgh, next to council offices, and
daubed the whole building with the (union fleg) butcher’s apron, is imo extremely sinister.
It’s certainly not there to promote democracy for Scotland as part of the UK, quite the opposite.
Much as I agree with the article I can’t help but wonder if it was wise to include this,
“There’s an old adage among political campaigners. “If you’re explaining, you’re losing”. ”
It seems a bit self defeating.
“Distraction, excellent means of undermining the points being made in the article”
I genuinely don’t see where you get this impression from – I have no dispute with the main content of Alec’s article – you have read pieces by me in TON – you should have some idea of my views.
I think I brought all this anger down on my head, because I dared to pick up on one point, and not ‘toe the line’ of what was expected to be the response to this article.
Is that forbidden? That is a rhetorical question.
I am tempted to stop bothering to question when I see something which strikes me as questionable – but – that’s no way to be. It’s a form of living in fear – I defy those who would want me to do so.
Nicola’s “roadmap” to a second independence referendum is just a smoke screen to placate her die hard supporters who demand independence next week no matter what.
She knows it’s complete nonsense, but necessary, if she is to head off the braying mob who would otherwise demand her head.
I thought the purpose of the new UK gov ‘Hub’ in Edinburgh (and Glasgow) was to concentrate civil servants already in Scotland in one building rather than spread over a number of buildings. The ‘Hubs’ are a UK wide initiative.
Perhaps all the contributors should read Tom Harris’s article in todays Telegraph.
It will save all this effort and blather from the anti English prattlers.
The Spectator is well-known as a propaganda mouthpiece for the right of right-wing Tory government. Certainly not the paper I, or anyone seeking an HONEST portrayal of Scotland’s political situation, would begin to contemplate reading.
Another brilliant summation and a great read, Alec. Spot on accurate.
CATASTROPHIC b******t… Scotland’s “current and future wealth”?! What broken child’s abacus is this guy using?! OK, reality time: 1. setting aside that North Sea oil reserves are dwindling (just 1.2Bn last year), Scotland wouldn’t become the sole beneficiary of what’s left anyway if – big if – it became independent, because the infrastructure and North sea territorial agreements are between the UK government and Norway, and the massive infrastructure was a UK investment, not a Scottish one. 2. Worse for Scotland, England’s GDP per capita is just over £43,000; in Scotland it’s just £32,000. 3. And what’s worse even than that, Scotland’s gross GDP is supplemented by the Barnett Formula, by which the devolved governments/assemblies of Scotland, Wales and NI get an increased amount of funding from central government BECAUSE their per capita GDP is so low; therefore, 4. an independent Scotland would suddenly find a 14Bn shortfall in its budget – equivalent to nearly £2,600 per capita, so even IF Scotland somhow got all the revenue from oil (fyi it won’t) that would cover under 8% of that shortfall, Oh, and the Falklands war was one driven by political, ideological and nationalist imperatives and would’ve been undertaken, North Sea Oil or not – the height of Afghanistan and Iraq conflcits together have cost many, many times more than the cost of the Falklands, and with far lower oil revenues than in the early 80s. Sorry, but this piece is absolutely dislocated from any economic reality in just about every point it makes.