We sold our country a second time.
People voted out of fear thinking No meant nothing changes, but it means the opposite: paying for more weapons of mass destruction; surveillance on citizens by government as part of normal life; approving torture and rendition in far off lands; food banks; artificial austerity to mask the introduction of neo-liberal policies and economics; corporatisation of everything; privatisation of our national health service; withdrawal of free prescriptions and free education; our young men and women used as fodder in endless, unjust wars; the detestation of the poor and anyone with a skin darker than a caramel; and the loss of pride and confidence; for all that and more, our wealthy nation has traded its birthright.
Oh, and don’t let’s forget the loss of prosperity from our oil. Westminster can sleep tight.
Some years ago, in the days when broadcasters had to be well-experienced, proven in the field, respected journalists first, I called upon the journalist and broadcaster, Ludovic Kennedy. His wife, the former ballet dancer, Moira Shearer, answered the telephone.
I wanted him to head a special arts project I had established. My timing was not good. In fact it was inept. He had just resigned in bitterness from the chairmanship of the Lyceum Theatre having failed to convince the board to elevate it to a national theatre. The debate was news for weeks. Lots of Scots argued a national theatre was a luxury we didn’t need, too expensive, and anyhow, we didn’t have the plays or playwrights to fill its repertory, not true, of course, but that was the conventional wisdom.
Back in the day, England ostensibly had three national theatres, the National founded by Olivier, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the Royal Court which specialised in staging new, contemporary work. Kennedy thought Scotland should have one, at least. The reply I got from his wife was telling. She was forceful in expressing her opinion.
“We don’t believe Scotland is interested in higher standards or ideals. I’m sorry, but my husband declines your kind offer.” And that was that. Her words proved prophetic.
For a long time I struggled to raise standards, avoiding conformity, seeking new, fresh and vital talent, commissioning new playwrights, not always making friends in the quest. And when I achieved the national arts enterprise created from scratch, and sustained it and nurtured it at a high professional level with increasing success year by year, (surviving one vicious attack from a London theatre impresario) I handed it over to a new generation of guardians. Within two years it was reduced from a national platform to a diffuse amateur movement. It exists still, doing good, I presume, but almost invisible these days.
Later, after shooting some major drama in Scotland, including a movie set in Leith, I tried to attract investment from the London film funds. All of them had the producer David Puttnam as chairman or influential member. No money flowed north.
I soon discovered all doors were closed to filmmaking solely indigenous to Scotland. My Scottish colleagues accepted the situation with mild annoyance and a lot of resignation. We had to be ‘competitive,’ travel to London, and make our pitch, same as any other from any district of … London.
Until then almost all films made in Scotland were almost exclusively obsessed with child or youth issues, a natural outcome of young directors from film courses having nothing but their own youth to exploit as subject matter. First film made and shown, off they went to London for a career.
Finding no employment for a year, I left Scotland to join an American production company but that scenario was still the case, Scotland was mired in its past, only what followed me was essentially more youth films. ‘Trainspotting‘ differed from the conventional only in having drug abuse as its central story, sadly treated comically, but it stood out from kailyard narratives of the past. I digress.
There is something in the Scottish psyche that takes refuge in mediocrity, that avoids real challenge, that prefers the conventional and the safe. I thought we had found our voice, our confidence in understanding we are best placed to run our own country.
Over three hundred years of subservience breeds compliance. Accepting things as they are means doing your best with the status quo. We saw that writ large when so many, not all Scots, voted to have an alien ideology rule their land. Within hours the promises made to win that vote, the already infamous ‘vow’ written in stone and published, unravelled. London’s party leaders, strange bedfellows until you realise they have a lot in common, suddenly fell out, and broke ranks and trust.
Who knows what they will deliver?
Expect policies imposed from the top down exactly the opposite of what the movement for greater democracy sought to achieve, a democracy fair across all classes of society from the grass roots up. Therefore, we look forward to pretendy powers fit only for a minor region of England, with North Sea oil ring-fenced permanently.
As I write, scores of unionist thugs have invaded George Square in Glasgow, ripping Saltire flags from sorrowful Yes supporters, female and male, shouting abuse, giving Nazi salutes. Let’s call a spade a spade: they’re members of the odious Orange Lodge. Those who voted No voted with the Orange Lodge, the Billy Boys. Do they feel proud? Do they feel safe?
The one newspaper that supported self-determination, yes, only one in our wonderfully democratic British Isles, the Sunday Herald, was fire bombed. Worse is to come. Still, it’s mere childish pranks compared to a man throwing an egg at a mendacious Labour politician, isn’t it? Well, isn’t it?
Gordon Brown and his handmaiden, Alistair Darling, are nowhere to be seen.
The only man with integrity, head and shoulders above them all, who placed democracy for all as his goal, Alex Salmond, announced his resignation, a successor chosen soon.
The thugs waving Union Jacks are the unionists who marched through Edinburgh only a few days ago carrying banners screaming, ‘No Popery,’ the same BBC News described as ‘supporters of the union,’ happy, smiling marchers. The same BBC broadcast made no mention of thousands of Yes supporters massed in Buchanan Street in Glasgow at the same time. BBC’s presentation can fit comfortably into any Soviet propaganda broadcast of the Brezhnev era, or East Berlin’s secret police, the Stasi. I choose my words carefully.
In the hands of trailer trash did a majority of people place their country.
Do I mean the British patriots in George Square after the vote? No. I refer to politicians who represent them, who else? But vile fascism is what we got.
Wishing you had voted Yes?
You’re too bloody late, you fool. You’ve been suckered.