History teaches us that it was always going to be a Scot who betrayed his country. In the event we got two, Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling.
Two. Is that what people mean when they say Scotland always punches above its weight?
Only days after the Referendum was lost by a large percentage of Yes voters losing their nerve, switching to No on believing a last-minute, vague promise of more powers for Scotland given by Brown, endorsed by Cameron, Clegg, and Miliband, we are told there will be a new War in the Middle-East. Scotland has no veto over England’s foreign policy. Prepare for more austerity to pay for them – England: Endless wars ‘R us.
Sir Ian Wood
Sir Ian Wood, a man who made his millions from serving the North Sea oil industry, who can’t get his oil reserve figures to match one day to the next, surprise, surprise, is awarded the fracking contract for Scotland only a few days after the vote went his way. Suddenly there is more oil in the sea and under our feet than was thought a day before the vote. Now he is silent, and happy.
For all the old-age pensioners who voted No out of a false fear of losing their pension, and who tried to pursuade their grandchildren to do the same, the Labour party has voted to raise the retirement age, and cap child benefit. Roll on a food bank at every corner.
For a year Scotland was the centre of the world’s attention. The air was electric, the buzz in the streets a wonderful mixture of open political debate and camaraderie, friend with friend, stranger with stranger, young with old. It was as if we were all on holiday abroad, relaxed in the sun’s warmth, anxieties thrown off our shoulders, confident and mature and enjoying life. The Scottish ‘cringe’ had all but gone. What a wonderful time that was.
The flaky fly-by-night historians who rubbished Scotland’s history were forgotten, the might of the British Establishment of no significance, a hostile press put to bed, ridicule from puerile comedians and low-rent pundits dismissed, for soon the people of Scotland would be sovereign.
To boost our high hopes even more, Scotland’s most eminent historian came out in favour of self-governance. And by god, he knew his facts. Justice was on our side. Professor Sir Tom Devine had arrived at the conclusion the United Kingdom is broke in so many ways, and like Humpty Dumpty can’t be put together again. A vote for the people of Scotland was the only solution.
BBC says “I didn’t do it”
Many blame the BBC for its role as state broadcaster rather than public broadcaster. It certainly helped skew the debate and skewer the brave. It gave a tremendous amount of uncritical air time to Gordon the Hapless, (in one instance an entire hour to rant upon the stage) but not a similar amount to the man elected to fight for Scotland, Alex Salmond.
However, it’s individuals who choose to do what they do, not institutions. Institutions compose a set of guidelines by which employees must behave, they toe-the-line, or are reprimanded. It takes courage to step out and speak up, so you speak the company line.
For the BBC it was pop-eye hack, Nick Robinson.
In the last days of the campaign he announced in a question to Salmond that captains of industry – by that he meant banksters and businessmen – are to be trusted as upstanding members of society, while politicians are not. They are wholly dishonest.
“Why should a Scottish voter believe you, a politician, against men who are responsible for billions of pounds of profit?” asked Robinson of Salmond, as if politicians are not responsible for billions of pounds of taxpayer funds. It was a truly dumb question yet full of light. Here was neo-liberal ideology writ large – trust the unaccountable rich people who evade tax and crush unions, don’t trust your elected representative.
It was the hoary-old neo-con doctrine of ‘small government’ is best, meaning weak, unable to uphold democracy and protect the people, no regulation on banks and businesses. Of mendacious politicians he has a point, but he meant Salmond, the one fighting Scotland’s corner, not Brown or Darling, fighting for their unsavoury lives.
Lizzie joins in
Even the Queen got in on the act. Supposedly ‘Strictly Come Neutral’ she let drop her anxiety on the way to chapel and the Almighty – the only person above her – that Scots should think ‘carefully about their future.’ It sounded more of a monarch’s warning of vile punishment than a personal fear, but in the end she ‘purred’ with pleasure down the telephone to Prime Minister David Cameron on hearing her subjects are to remain in serfdom. Scotland is returned to an English playground and tourist resort. Praise the Lord, and be upstanding. Let us sing, Hymn 25, ‘Jerusalem,’ “And did those feet in ancient time, walk upon England’s mountains green.” Your Majesty, you may remain seated.
Is the No vote a Pyrrhic victory?
Some say the Yes campaign energised too many people determined to vote No, the ones who normally stay at home or never vote, or duplicitous, claimed to be undecided but were really No voters. They might not be there next time around. Some say the thousands who voted No are incomers, non-Scots, aliens. They could be right, but no analyst dare state ethnic origin for fear of accusations of racism. Of course, the unforgivable disdain expressed by so many English towards Scots throughout the debate, certain to continue in the backlash of victory, was not racism. It was the rough and tumble of petty politics.
Unionism rules – okay?
The Unionist parties, Labour, Tory, (almost all voting No) and the Lib-Dems all advocated for retention of a United Kingdom parliament, Labour getting the biggest shock when its core supporters voted Yes overwhelmingly in Glasgow, Dundee, Inverness, and West Dumbartonshire, the latter clearly unworried about the loss of Trident. Labour betrayed them all. Disillusioned then, disenfranchised now. Labour is in serious trouble.
Well, more powers are promised but it’s a poisoned chalice. Give too many and it’s akin to independence, give too few and Scotland’s government will be hamstrung again, unable to make any real progressive prosperity. British newspapers keen to show their politicians are fine chaps call it Devo-Max, or federalism, or Home Rule. It is none of those things for no one knows what they ‘new’ powers will be, least of all those who promise them. And if they manage to put pen to paper they might not be in government, or if they are, able to get their beck-benchers to support more responsibility for we bare-arsed savages.
Vow? What vow?
As I write all ‘vows’ are off the table, together with Brown’s ludicrous timetable of delivery. Westminster is never going to allow Scotland to get anything close to independence, even if the unlikely acrid triumvirate of Cameron, Clegg, and Miliband made their vow in panic when they ought to have stood their ground, confident of a No vote.
Still, almost half of Scotland demanding self-determination together with a proportion of No’s wanting more power is not something to be ignored. It is a feast to renew the human spirit and attain the ideal.
In the end the loss of Scotland’s freedoms, its humiliation, for it was that, boil down to two men, two who hated each other so much they rarely referred to each other by name but who came together hating Scotland more. Brown and Darling, surely among the worst UK chancellors ever, lied and lied, and dissembled, but who came together when they thought there was a chance to redeem their rancid reputations. There were others but they were small fry, second-rate, camp followers, nonentities.
And once more, as in 1707, the people wept in the streets.
Brown and Darling are men who look for compromise that suits their ambitions. They are dog shit that sticks to our shoes.