An Act of Self-Interest

AA1.jpg

The Act of Union – a law allowing nobility to profit over the masses. So, what’s new?

The tenets the 1707 Act of Union are as plain as the nose on your face – admittedly part of your anatomy difficult to see from where your eyes sit, unless viewed in a mirror.

The Act states unequivocally:

… “Two Nations”.

It does not state in any manner, way or form that two nations shall become one and lose identity, junk their name, act as one in all instances, indistinguishable one from another.

There is nothing in the Act about one nation taking second place, being the poorer nation and remaining so, or having no place in world affairs.

Nor does the Act contain caveats that one nation shall control all power over the other. It makes clear the two sovereign nations shall remain as before in everything but trade, banking, and the rights of peers. Gross inequality grew out of decisions resting in one parliament, one nation monopolising voting numbers. And in creeping integration.

I repeat: it does not legislate that the greater the population in number, the greater the say in domestic affairs, and all international political matters.

Equal and Sovereign

The discussions leading to the Act state clearly that “both nations shall be equal and sovereign”. How else would they put it? One nation shall be slave to the other? Hypocritical unionist politicians have ever since corrupted the phrase to “equal partners” as if they meant it.

What it doesn’t record is the brutally honest, self-interested remark of one English member of parliament the day after the signing: “Good. We have Scotland on the wrack now.” The Speaker  joined in the chorus, “We have catch’d Scotland and will bind her fast.” He was right, up to a point.

I am reminded of this as we pass the second anniversary of Scotland’s plebiscite to secure genuine democratic representation, to address the glaring, unjust imbalance in power, a movement demanding sound constitutional change in favour of the people, not an elite.

September 18th, 2014, is what I refer to in my darkest moments as Epic Fail Day.

AA1.jpg

Signatures to the Articles of Union 1707

If you twist my arm I’m sure to say yes

Let no one try to convince you that Scotland sold itself willingly. The population weeping in the streets is well recorded by observers of the day, and by painters since. There were celebrations in England, but none in Scotland. Scotland fell silent.

Scotland had a population about one-eighth the size of England, probably the equivalent of Switzerland, and as nothing to the population size of Spain where today Podemos the protest group of Catalonia masses tens of thousands at the pitch of a marcher’s whistle.

After the massacre at Culloden, Scotland had no army one could talk of as a powerful resistance force. Scotland was vulnerable to attack in an age which didn’t have tanks or machine guns or bombs, only foot soldiers and men on horseback dispersed around the countryside, and without leadership or the will to come together.

Scotland’s urge has always been outward

Though voluntary migration was underway, the infamous Highland Clearances had not begun, a black episode in our nation’s history akin to genocide by forced emigration.

It was a time of English legal ingenuity that contrived successive laws to strip clan chiefs of territorial power, and turn them into renting landlords. British nationalists claim some did so willingly, but then who would not denuded of influence and wealth?

A lot of Scotland’s population still lived in our highland glens. Back then we still had large tracts of land where arable farming could  support a decent existence, the grassy slopes of more mountainous areas left to cattle farming. Perthshire today is a much contracted area. Records show about half of Scotland’s population lived north of the River Tay, not as now, where the Clearances caused the vast majority to live one on top of the other in the central belt, crowded in tenements. (English architects are noticeably amused by Edinburgh’s five storey tenements built without an elevator-lift.)

The typical Scot was a country dweller, our national poet, Robert Burns, the perfect example. One estimate suggests that in 1700 only five per cent of the population lived in towns. You only need read of the history of our nation to see how Scotland lagged behind more urbanized societies such as those in England, France or even Spain, and was on a par with the Scandinavian countries of the kind we are fond of using as examples to follow for a modern small state.

People forget how much the Scottish population lived off the land, an agrarian society, including fishing communities, in order to cultivate food and store supplies.

The times were ripe for a take-over.

1704

A brazen lie is a crime perpetrated on a nation

We are forever reminded that ‘Scotland bankrupt’ was the outcome of the disastrous Darien adventure. This is a lie.  To begin with, no British nationalist will remind you that the scheme was designed to establish an international trading post for Scotland, constructively thwarted by Westminster conspiracy to block our trading routes and retain them for England. Banks and individuals were warned against investing in the scheme.

The Darien Scheme is the first line of ridicule by ignorant British nationalists and the media – which is probably one and the same. Bankruptcy has no basis in historical fact. Scotland had enough currency circulating to sustain it. England knew that, that is why it had the luxury of raising our taxes to pay for the loan – it wasn’t a freebie, it wasn’t a grant for “subsidy junkies” – it was a tax guaranteeing the English Treasury would regain what it offered, and with huge interest.

Even so, we only got half the loan, the other half offered in worthless company debentures – England still at war with France was the nation near bankruptcy!

We paid for the loan in onerous taxation – a sure fire way of keeping a population indebted and meek. You could argue we paid for the sale of our own country.

You can also argue we paid for it a second time when Westminster grabbed oil in Scottish waters to spend on its own interests, and squander on eradicating democratic institutions it still dislikes, such as collective bargaining by unions.

aa1

An evicted family, Lochmaddy, 1895. The Clearances continued until 1958, some say longer

Unionism in all its nastiness

Besides  the need to refill their empty bank accounts, two things swayed the Scottish nobility that negotiated and signed the Act of Union.

The first was, the notion of a Union was not an alien idea. We were in a union of sorts when  Cromwell swept north of the border, putting resistance to the sword, (over 2,000 in Dundee) and swathes of Scotland under English placemen. Our English cousins are apt to overlook that little skirmish in our history, telling us we never had it as bad as Ireland.

The origin of Cromwell’s appearance lay in the Regal Union of 1603 when James VI of Scotland succeeded Elizabeth I to the crowns of England and Ireland. (I live close to the brig where James V was attacked by robbers and driven off by a farmer, but I digress.)

James was eager to go all the way, and in 1604 commissioners from England and Scotland discussed a union of parliaments and a scheme of common citizenship. Anybody who wants to study that period will be surprised by the comparisons with Alex Salmond’s vision for an autonomous Scotland, one conjoined with England’s Crown, and its trade.

Despite James’s keen support, the idea foundered. The Scottish nobility feared a loss of influence in a London parliament, while the English were concerned that the Scots would be favoured in the new arrangement by the presence of a Scottish king and master. Let no one say Scots resentment is a one-way street. English parliamentarians have always been wary of a Scottish accent in their corridors of power.

There’s little difference between that attitude and today’s English votes for English laws.

AA1.jpg

A Highland battalion in World War 1 – Scotland has a long history of fighting and dying on behalf of other countries

Westminster rule sucks, okay?

It might seem odd to us in this age that there existed a time when rule from Westminster was considered practically, bureaucratically, and politically, impossible to institute.

Professor Tom Devine puts it succinctly in his history of Scotland: “The difficulties of ruling Scotland from Westminster soon became apparent in the latter stages of James VI’s reign – and even more so during that of his successor, Charles I, when they were instrumental in provoking the crisis that led to the outbreak of the Civil War. Union was enforced between 1652 and 1660 by Oliver Cromwell, but at the Restoration of 1660 and the return of Charles II it was dissolved, to the relief of the majority in both countries.”

The second weakness for Scotland lay in its harvest. We depended on a good crop. A bad harvest meant buying food from others, hence the need to find new avenues of trade and barter. The Damien Scheme was an attempt to alleviate that predicament. Faced with the proposal of a union the population was still susceptible to tales of the devastating famines of the 1690s when food prices rocketed way out of the pockets of ordinary folk.

Also several landed estates were devoted to producing substantial quantities of grain for export not for internal consumption. Scotland could easily feed itself, but our economy was not organised to do that.

An alien Act

There is one other  aspect of our history worth remembering when asking why  Scotland submitted to English rule. On 5 February 1705 the House of Commons in London passed legislation which would alter the landscape of relations between Scotland and England. The Alien Act recommended to Queen Anne that commissioners be appointed to negotiate for union between England and Scotland and, if the Scots did not comply and if discussions were not advanced by Christmas Day 1705, severe penalties would be imposed. [My emphasis.]

All Scots, except those living in England, were to be treated as aliens. (How different is that from the spiteful warning made during the Referendum Scots would be ‘foreigners’.) Our exports would be blocked. You don’t get a more naked piece of economic blackmail than that designed to bring the Scottish parliament to the negotiating table.

“Leave the United Kingdom and you leave the pound” warned the  effete chancer and chancellor George Osborne. English politicians enjoy  using force to gain advantage.

Those days are gone.

If anything came out of the national debate over self-governance regained, it was the truth that an autonomous Scotland can be self-sustaining, given that it retains links with other nations. Trade is open season for all countries. Domination by a neighbour state, told what to do and how to vote, is a forced choice we can jettison in the 21st century.

It has nothing to do with free will. And free will includes deciding or not to remain part of the European Union.

British nationalists have their ambitions arse over tip. They are ruled by a colonial mentality they cannot shake off; they revel in the past and the dubious benefits of a British Empire, slave trading and all. Today they want employees on no hours contracts, profits stored far away to avoid legal taxes, and the right to raid your company funds and pension and sail away. England has voted to reject the rest of the world that does not share its values, while happily remaining under the thumb of the United States of America.

Meanwhile small nations prosper, none screaming independence is a bad thing.

Let gatherings of the like-minded celebrate freedoms to be won, freedoms to come, and dignity regained, not commiserate about lost opportunities.

I, for one, refuse to believe we’re so craven, so fearful of tomorrow, that none of us feel ownership of our country is worth fighting for, no matter the odds.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Scottish Independence Referendum. Bookmark the permalink.

80 Responses to An Act of Self-Interest

  1. TheItalianJob says:

    Good article and a very concise history of why we Scots have been so trodden on for over 3 centuries.

    If anyone still believes we should be subservient to Westminster rule. Then they are truly deluded.

  2. socratesmacsporran says:

    Possibly the best piece you have written Grousey. I learned one or two things of which I was unaware, as regards the relationship between Scotland and England.

    Way past time we cut the cords which bind us to them.

  3. seanghirl says:

    Absolutely fantastic piece.

  4. diabloandco says:

    Magic stuff Grouse Beater.

    I found a quote many moons ago when everyone was quoting Gandhi’s “First they ignore you…..”

    “Fear has its use but cowardice has none” Mahatma Gandhi
    -C’mon Scotland!

    • Grouse Beater says:

      I’ve picked up historical facts over the years researching material for costume dramas, and then later went back to read up at length. Some things stick in you memory, other things get blurred. I hated told Scotland was bankrupted by the Darien Scheme and discovered it never was. A loss of a quarter of currency circulation doesn’t constitute bankruptcy.

      On the other hand, fighting decades of a war with France is a money draining business, as England found out to it’s severe cost … and is still at it!

      I like the Gandhi quotation, Diablo

  5. Bob Dobalina says:

    You’d never guess you didn’t study history!

    • Grouse Beater says:

      The shelves behind me in my office groan with history books, but I’m crap at dates. I have to check; hence an essay can be written in an hour, date checking takes another hour of searching, plus ensuring quotations are accurate. I dislike marking reference books with marker or pencil so I flick through endless pages back and forth. Correcting errors and typos takes a whole day!

      To historical record. The main elements are the bits worth remembering, after than you form an opinion. On forcing Scotland to submit to England’s will, there’s too much evidence extant to equivocate. Our attempts to regain nationhood can be counted on one hand; England’s attempts to corral and constrain Scotland are legion.

      • Grouse Beater says:

        I use to crowd pages with coloured stickers, and still do for books I am quoting from. But I’ve too much respect for good books, the ones I keep, to mark them, and indeed, I regard the ones behind me (as I type) my entire wealth in all sorts of ways. But thank you for the practical advice … and welcome to my lowly essays.

  6. Andy in Germany says:

    Trouble is, the majority of the ‘English’ (which at one time included people who called themselves Welsh, but were also ignored) were as much at the bottom as the Scots. It was the Elites, always the elites, running the place for their own benefits, from the viking turned french pirate who declared himself king in 1066 through to todays squabbling desecndents determined that the peasants should remain subservient to them and lose the protection of the EU.

    The irony is that to do this they have to make us forget we are all part French, Celt, Viking, German and several others, and turn us all into ‘British’ nationalists…

  7. Orri says:

    Think you meant emigration rather than immigration.

    The English weren’t simply discouraged from investing in Darien. It was made illegal for them to do so and on that pretext funds were withdrawn from it ending an slim chance it might have of success despite its rocky, or should that be swampy, start.

    As to Cromwell. Alistair Darling certainly remembered him. That where he lifted his bit about Salmond considering he might be wrong in one of his debates. It was part of a letter prior to his invasion of Scotland to the commanders threatening them if they persisted in acknowledging Charles 2 as king. The very man that the English later restored to the throne.

    • Grouse Beater says:

      Ah, damn! I type fast, but always forget to correct at least two errors in the day’s chores. And of course, you’re correct, investing in Darien was illegal.

      “As to Cromwell. Alistair Darling certainly remembered him. That where he lifted his bit about Salmond considering he might be wrong in one of his debates.”

      Aye, a second-rater, Brown’s deputy, Darling wasn’t able to muster an original idea, ever.

      • orri says:

        I also forgot that it was taken one step further in that English citizens and merchant or naval captains were banned from actually helping or rescuing the colonists already there. So not only were the funds cut off but the poor souls already in place were left to whither and die.

  8. Cloggins says:

    Finally a clear, concise and well written rundown of Scottish history without colourants, fillers and other distracting additives. A great read, I enjoyed that.

  9. In 1850 Robert Knox published The Races of Men which asserted the inferiority of the Celt compared to the Anglo Saxon races.

    The view that the economic failures of the Highlands were due to the shortcomings of the Celtic race was shared and expressed by the two most important Scottish newspapers, The Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald – and even the more northerly Inverness Courier.

    In 1851 The Scotsman wrote that
    “Collective emigration is, therefore, the removal of a diseased and damaged part of our population. It is a relief to the rest of the population to be rid of this part.”

    No change there then!

    Great read GB, thank you.

    • Grouse Beater says:

      Remarkable. The “diseased part” is best dumped in somebody else’s country! Meanwhile, that country is saying the same about their poor.

  10. Well, that country’s main MSM, is promoting unionist propaganda about their poor, as it continues ever thus.

    The unionist media and politicians are now promoting Ruth Davidson as their new Queen. STV poll declaring her more popular than our First Minister. Holyrood Presiding Officer Ken’s reaction to the Ruth Davidson NHS debacle, when questioned on a point of order, he ruled erroneously in favour of Davidson.

    The National purports to support Scottish independence, yet, I’ve just read an article today, in which it reports the STV poll as truth, whereas the poll was debunked in the first hour of publication. The last word is given over to the unionist commentator.

    On and on and on and…….

  11. Scots Wa Hey says:

    Scottish debt 1706 was £600,000 a years tax.

    English debt was £18 Million and that’s in 1707.

    On Signiture of Union, two years of protest followed put down by force, Deportation & hanging being common, Scotland took a share of England’s debt £2.5 million.

    Such was the level of Tax imposed by Westminster, that all the Scottish MPs asked to leave the Union in 1714, the first of four requests to be told by the Speaker “We have caught you and we will keep you”, followed by the Exchequer “We bought you, and we will tax you.”

    It was never a Union of equals then and it’s not one now

  12. Grouse Beater says:

    Many thanks for that (Ken?) Go for it, right enough!

  13. Karen Gray says:

    Reblogged this on thistleyroses and commented:
    Says it all really.

    • Grouse Beater says:

      Many thanks for distributing the essay. In spite of earlier comments it’s not my best; I’ve cherry picked the most compelling evidence of the English parliament’s perfidy. As soon as I see 1800 words I have to stop, otherwise some folk will just not read it. But thank you again, Karen.

      • Karen Gray says:

        Preaching to the choir mate. I wrote the first book in my saga in the run up to the 2014 indyref. Anyone politically minded will likely realise that. Otherwise it’s just a great story.

        But yeah. I’m pro independence all the way.

        I think you picked wisely. The points you have are well explained and clear. I think you did a great job with it. This is also automatically sent to my Facebook, Twitter and tumbler blog so it’s 4 shares for the price of 1 will be following your blog from now on.

        So thank you for writing share worthy material

    • Grouse Beater says:

      Gulp! 🙂

  14. scotclogs says:

    Great read Grouse. love your blog.

  15. Good summary of this ongoing act of treachery

    • Grouse Beater says:

      A compliment from GHG is praise indeed! 🙂

      The sad thing is, there’s so much historic animosity to choose from…

  16. Dave Cormack says:

    This very history is being rewritten in the WikiPaedia by someone.

    Apparently we became the Kingdom of Britain in 1707 and the current queen is the Queen of Britain. Look up Britain in the Wiki.

    How many impressionable people are reading this and saying “If it in the wiki it must be true” because lots of people do that.

    • Grouse Beater says:

      A Brit loyalist, no doubt. There must be a way to alert Wikipedia authorities to the fabrication.

      • Dave Cormack says:

        I don’t know how it all works but they seem to be standing aside from any editing issues. Basically washing their hands of anything untrue.

        The problem is anybody can edit pages. Change it and it can be changed back by the original author if he/she is determined enough.

        I don’t have the historical knowledge to fully assess what is the true history.

    • Grouse Beater says:

      It’s bit like those encyclopaedia they used to sell door to door. They were written by a thousand out of work hacks who barely knew what they were writing about. Some of the books are collected as real curios.

  17. faolie says:

    Aye, it’s a period and and a series of events that deserve much more scrutiny than it’s had up to now, so good on you for your analysis.

    After the treaty signing, there was the matter of the first UK parliament sitting, on October 23 1707, and the observations made by Sir John Clerk on the lot of the Scottish peers and commoners are instructive: “To find themselves obscure and unhonoured in the crowd of English society and the unfamiliar intrigues of English politics, where they they were despised for their poverty, ridiculed for their speech, and ignored in spite of the votes by the ministers and government.”

    • Grouse Beater says:

      There’s a wonderful Danish film on late-night television as I write, A Royal Affair about their version of the Enlightenment. It appears based on a love affair, sadly, a movie convention to attract a female audience. Anyhow, it reminds me how Scotland has an ocean of historic incident to fill a movie studio for decades, yet none dramatised by our so-called broadcasting companies, and all ignored by the English film industry.

    • Grouse Beater says:

      Your response is one of many knowledgeable contributions. Thank you. I hope readers visit it. I thought my essay one for obscurity but it has taken off as if on a magic carpet.

  18. Davy says:

    A thoughtful article on our past, our history is part of us and for Scotland the more accurate it is the better the chance of ridding ourselves of that damned Scottish cringe.

    I have never been able to understand why so many in this nation of ours would rather believe the worst being said about us by outsiders, than seek the best about us from our ane folk.

    Perhaps it is one of the reasons I believe our independence will offer our youth a chance to see their Scotland in ways we could never have imagined. No more chips on the shoulder, no more embarrassed laughs about scots and whisky with “see you jimmy” quotes thrown in.

    I am jealous of my son and his mates, they and their kids are going to get to touch the sky with Scottish independence.

    Our job is to help lift them up.

  19. You are hardly Grouse Beater the Obscure, sir. A lovely concise piece.

    I recall a recent BBC 2 Documentary recently( Ken Stott ?), where it reported that half a million Highland scots returning from WWI were denied narrow strippets of land as crofts by the Landed gentry, and shipped to the ‘colonies’; Canada, Australia, and new Zealand.

    The depopulation of Scotland is ongoing of course. I cannot fathom why we allow the ancestors of robber barons to hold on to vast tracts of our land while we pile the Proles on top of each other in high rise hells in our cities.

    Thanks for this inspiring abstract of history as seen by the ‘vanquished’, not the so called ‘victors’.
    We shall be free, and soon.

  20. Grouse Beater says:

    Thank you, Jack.

    My knowledge of history issues from almost a decade researching the Glencoe massacre, and then another three years on a screenplay for a Highland Clearance film.

    I’m always surprised so many independence supporters are unsure of historical detail, but I can see what I thought would be a ‘least read’ piece, has become one of the most popular.

    Maybe I should write more?

  21. John McLeod says:

    I really enjoyed reading this historical essay – you have highlight so many key facts that tend to be forgotten.

    I particularly appreciated your brief mention of what had happened in Ireland at around the same time. It was not just Cromwell’s campaign in Ireland, but many centuries of almost genocidal violence before that, triggered by shifting power bases in London.

    It is surprising that there has not been more discussion, within the indy movement, of the historical role of Ireland as an example to Scots of what can happen – not just in far away places like India and Kenya, but closer to home – when the London ruling classes are threatened.

    Another fascinating parallel has been the capacity of the indigenous Irish culture to assimilate so many peoples who have attempted to control it (Vikings, Normans, English).

  22. kininvie says:

    I think you are wrong aboout the Act of Union 1707, I fear. The first provision is :”That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England shall upon the first day of May next ensuing the date hereof and forever after be United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain.” I don’t find anything in the text about both nations being equal and sovereign. I’d like to be proved wrong though – what’s your source?

    Moving on though, the Act (not surprisingly, given the times) has nothing to say about the status of the ‘people’ of the new Kingdom, and of course nothing about citizenship. So the legitimacy of the result of a pan-UK referendum – such as on EU membership – applying to everyone is open to question.

    We are maybe on firmer ground with article 4, “And that there be a Communication of all other Rights Privileges and Advantages which do or may belong to the Subjects of either Kingdom except where it is otherwayes expressly agreed in these Articles.”

    Depending on your reading of do or MAY (which I read as including rights acquired in the future) I’d say there were grounds for arguing that acquired rights – such as from the Convention on Human Rights – or most pertinently, from European Citizenship cannot be legitimately removed from Scottish ‘subjects’ against their will, since the article specifically refers to ‘either Kingdom’ at this point.

    • Grouse Beater says:

      I used to think that way, in the same way hard-line unionists aver today, that the first and last Articles stitch things up once and for all, Scotland is no longer a country. They don’t of course, suggest England has a similar status.

      In reality the Act is a dog’s breakfast, a cobbled together bunch of Articles to protect the privileges of peers, with next to no thought given to the future thus leaving it open-ended.

      It isn’t what is in the Act but what it leaves out that is significant, and also what is specified in accompanying history and proceedings of the House Of Commons at that seminal time.

      You need to steer your way through Volume IV, 1704 to 1713 to read all the reassurance that both nations will continue as before, essentially without competitiveness in trade goals. I’d have to take time off to illustrate the equal and sovereign in detail, two aspects neither country intended to lose, or give away. (Or call over a constitutional expert to talk to you familiar with all the surrounding documents, Woody Allen fashion!)

      For example, the Act did not legislate for the abolition of the Scottish parliament, which, in reality, soldiered on for a few months before Scottish nobles realised they duplicated Bills and discussions debated by the English parliament. I like to believe that’s why the speech reinstating our own parliament was preceded with the words, “The Scottish parliament … is hereby reconvened.” It did not talk of ‘reinstatement’, or established as a new institution.

      In successive debates and letters nobles and peers are quick to ensure the two countries keep traditions, language, culture, and law systems. If you think about it logically, the Act only has one way of functioning, otherwise the length and breadth of the UK would have been renamed Britain – full stop, with ‘England’ and ‘Scotland’ deleted from existence.

      Hence my emphasis of what was not made null and void. You begin to understand why so many before 1707 found such a state of mandatory co-operation a complicated nightmare.

      Successive historians and constitutional lawyers have shown how the two nations were meant to remain separate in all but assembly and general election, though, as you imply, it was obvious from the start one nation with the greater amount of MPs and peers will always be the more powerful.

      And yes, constitutional experts agree with your view that Article IV opened the door to each state acquiring rights and privileges later to suit their own purpose, such as Scotland and Human Rights, none of which can be removed by the other nation unilaterally. So, in that regard you are acknowledging a separateness always existed.

      Once you remove the blurb written to protect nobles’ wealth and rights there’s not much left one can call substantive withdrawals of nationhood by either country.

      Finally, and I hope you agree with me on this, what’s wonderful is how easily a hotchpotch of rules can be overturned by one simple Yes or No referendum. In that, the Act is rendered nigh-on useless.

      There was an excellent lawyerly critique of the Act published not so long ago, explaining things better than I manage, but I’ve lost an hour of the day trying to find it for you.

      • kininvie says:

        Sorry to have wasted an hour of your day 🙂
        I’m happy to read up on anything you think relevant. Volume IV of what?
        Nevertheless, I maintain my position that your statement: “It does not state in any manner, way or form that two nations shall become one, act as one, or should be indistinguishable one from another.”
        …is untrue, because Article I categorically lays down just that.

      • Marconatrix says:

        —-
        “The Scottish parliament … is hereby reconvened.” It did not talk of ‘reinstatement’, or established as a new institution.
        —-
        Is it not very significant that those words, which are on record and should be very familiar by now, were allowed to pass without comment, qualification or denial by the UK government?

  23. Grouse Beater says:

    I expected you to maintain your position. My interpretation isn’t novel.

    Don’t forget, both nations retained their separate law and education systems, a first clue to each retaining a unique hegemony. Church ideology was untouched. Nor does the Act demand one nation cease all international trading in preference to the other.

    The Act of Union is essentially a no-barrier, no wars, trade and property Act functioning under a single title, ‘Great Britain’, meaning one Crown, not one nation. It allows taxation to be collected by a single Treasury, the English Treasury, and distributed from there. (A major error of judgement on the part of both nations.)

    It did not extinguish cultures. It did not remove territorial borders. It was never meant to. Had it legislated for that it would state Scotland did not exist, nor England too. Ergo, it’s an amalgam of nations, and provinces, Northern Ireland pretty well functioning in an autonomous way. That it did not demand closure of Scotland’s parliament is a signal our two nations were able to function separately.

    To have demanded the abolition of two nations would render it unacceptable to both sides. If you look at it from the English point of view the only thing England has accepted under the Act is Scottish-born prime ministers, and even then grudgingly. The rest is creeping integration. But as we have so sorely noticed, we are still subjected to wars and laws alien to our enlightened views.

    From Scotland’s side of the bargain – ever the democrats – we submitted ourselves to English votes that were always going to swamp Scotland’s interests and block our progress. The only reason we have made small steps forward is because, without Scotland, England becomes a very small country indeed. And boy, do they know that. (PS: I was referring to Hansard.)

    • kininvie says:

      I commend to you ‘England, Scotland and the Act of Union 1707’ by Michael Fry, if you haven’t already come across it.

      There’s a lot of fascinating stuff, and he makes the point that the clauses inserted concerning the kirk and the Scottish legal system effectively turned the Act from an incorporating union into a (kind of) federal union. That fact alone has enabled us to retain many of the distictive functions of a separate state – and makes our case much easier to fight in international circles…

      By 1703, London had effectively lost control of the Scottish parliament. You miss commenting upon the ‘Act anent peace and war’ which was a wonderful rebellion, effectively stating that the monarch must have the consent of the Scottish parliament before declaring war, (something that still has not been achieved by Westminster). Arguably, it was the insufferable nature of this that led directly to the Alien Act…

      I think, when looking at the political context of the time, that putting it all down to bribery and corruption is to simplify matters too far. There was a real danger of war breaking out – and one which Scotland was in no position to fight. There would have been people living who remembered Cromwell’s invasion and annexation – and that might all too easily have happened again…

      (That’s one very good reason for an independent Scotland remaining in NATO btw. You never know…)

      • Grouse Beater says:

        I almost recommended Fry’s observations to you in my last remarks! Yes, a fascinating thesis of the times.

        His book was much criticised when published for crediting the Scottish nobles with too much political guile, his claim being they secured a better deal for Scotland than is generally held to be true today. I don’t agree – his summations go too far down the road of convenient revisionist history – but the details he gathers for his argument are worth a read, even if his conclusions are dubious.

        I agree about a general apprehension of another war, but that makes people susceptible to bribery. It gives them a ‘noble’ reason for selling out their country to ‘save souls’.

        Not sure about joining NATO, for lots of reasons, but it is pleasant to discuss ideas with you and find we are sometimes parallel but not at odds.

  24. Tricx says:

    Hi , I really enjoy reading your blog , I’ve learned a bit . Can you direct me to the text in the act of the union that states both countries are equal and sovereign . I can’t find it anywhere , it would be a great help .

    • Grouse Beater says:

      It’s in the coming together of the two sides to compose the Act.

      The Scottish nobles understood from the start that numerical numbers in London’s parliament precluded the two countries from creating a balanced union, but it was put to them in a benign way, that England would be “primus inter pares” first among equals.

      Then again, that did not trouble them much for they were not joining their mortal enemies to help spread democracy throughout Scotland – the same enemies who had by threat and laws constructively engineered their financial situation.

      They were replenishing their coffers after investing in the Darien Scheme, an adventure that was spread over many years and voyages. (It is usually portrayed as a one-off voyage and disaster. It took years before it fell apart. Incidentally, and significantly, large quantities of gold have been discovered in Darien this century.) The nobles hoped to extending their power base and influence. That brought with it elevation and bribery to encourage support for England’s interests before Scotland’s needs.

      I am in the middle of a major project, and that together with my shaky Latin, has me calling in an eminent ‘Yes’ historian to give us context, an authority on the subject with greater veracity than I have. Be patient. When he does respond I’ll visit the National Library to get the detail.

      Oddly enough, I am not the first to write about the ‘sovereign and equal’ handshake. Unionists have quoted it too, some bemoaning the outcome as the source of our grievances rather than gloating over a Scotland in handcuffs.

      Incidentally, I prefer to allow access to contributors whose real e-mail address sits behind their internet moniker. False travellers have turned out to be snipers well armed.

  25. Tricx says:

    Thanks fot that . It is my real email address promise . After the Yahoo fiasco it pays to be careful. I left a link to a blog over on the comments on Wings , I think it might be of interest . Thanks for letting me post .

  26. What I find invaluable is your knowledge in such matters. Despite being involved in the campaign for Scottish Independence for many years, it continues to amaze me just how little I know about Scottish history. Over the last few years, in between canvassing and leafleting.

    I have tried to read as many independence-minded websites as possible, and the wealth of information imparted by these commentators is to me, astounding. Yours is one of those, so please keep writing as the more facts we are aware of, increases our chances of convincing the electorate the only way forward for, especially future generations, is a fully independent Scotland.

    • Grouse Beater says:

      Thank you. My motivation to acquire knowledge is no different from you. There are gaps in it I must fill, and each day brings another reminder to do my homework!

  27. Macart says:

    A fine piece of work.

    That’s a keeper Grouse. 🙂

    • Grouse Beater says:

      Trust you’re well and fighting fit, Macart! (I always look out for your posts.) I’m hoping Brexit gets us a second Referendum for its consequences for Scotland are dire. But I’m just as convinced we have to look again at who votes, if not born or living permanently in Scotland. Relying on incomers being scunnered by Westminster’s antics is too passive.

      • Macart says:

        I’m keeping fine Grouse. I haven’t been posting or commenting as much these days, but still read a good spread of opinion on our new media daily.

        On a second indyref or its timing: Its all going to come down to the brexit deal. The softer the brexit, the longer the wait for a definitive answer as more avenues are explored and more people require convincing. Of course the opposite is true of a hard brexit scenario. I’d hazard that a hard Brexit, coupled with Hammond’s fiscal reset will speed legislation along a bit and make indyref2 almost certain.

        The dates and timescales theorised by Mr Salmond and Wings recently would seem pretty credible in those circustances. The long and the short of it though, is that I can’t see any other way of the issue being settled. Two referendums, held back to back, with results which are constitutionally incompatible. There is no cake and eat it scenario here for fence sitting. A choice has to be made and in a popular sovereignty that means only one thing. Back to the ballot.

        On the voting franchise: I can’t honestly see the SG doing other than follow the precedent set of residency and presence on the electoral roll. How and ever, there may be something in the nature of any second referendum which makes our diverse 21st century population work in favour of independence this time round. Last census I read (going back a year or two, so memory may be a little shaky), there was something like 130k+ of residents claiming continental Europe as their point of origination or were immediate 1st/2nd gen descent from i.e. children, grandchildren of …

        They were made some hefty promises and assurances regarding their links with Europe and the EU two years ago. I’m guessing that they are watching current events unfold very closely indeed.

        Worth thinking about.

    • Grouse Beater says:

      Aye, many a an empty promise spoken as if hand on heart, the result worth thinking about. And you’ve posted a thoughtful repose, Macart, the sort of reasoned contribution that provides confidence to others.

  28. TheItalianJob says:

    Great historical piece of research and writing GB.
    You educate us and inspire us all so much by your skilled writings and knowledge.
    I salute you sir.
    Keep up the good work.

    • Grouse Beater says:

      Oh, too much!

      I came to some understanding through the cinema. I’ll explain. My knowledge – by no means detailed – is a collection over years of research for projects. I try to make sense of why we’re such an admired country yet in thrall to the nation that has governs us so badly, sometimes with extreme prejudice. My first cherished history books belong to Canadian historian and Scotiaphile, John Prebble, the man who wrote the screenplay for … ‘Zulu’.

      • Kangaroo says:

        “I try to make sense of why we’re such an admired country”.

        Easy answer – because we are very highly educated, both academic and trades, and have a “can do” attitude.

        It never ceases to amaze me how slack people are over here. Even when you want to buy something from them, they never follow up and very few even return phone calls. Its quite bizarre.

        Encouragingly, per capita GDP in Scotland is only sIghtly smaller than Australia, and I can assure you we live really well here.

    • Grouse Beater says:

      Your comments are much appreciated, Kangaroo, especially the last. Welcome.

  29. An education indeed.. enlightening, a revelation and certainly was never taught in school. Well written without the flowery distractions. Thank you.

    • Grouse Beater says:

      There’s no doubting how much Scotland benefitted from the Union in terms of its commerce; it established countless companies overseas out of it, but it’s really in the last 150 years that we have seen creeping colonialism gradually erode Scotland’s capabilities, and suppress its ambitions by the simple tactic of controlling what money we have to spend, and how we spend it.

      The question heard a lot is, “If we are allegedly so poor as unionists claim we are, why does England hold onto us?” And the answer is, because without Scotland, England would be a very small country indeed.

  30. andygm1 says:

    Picky I know, but it wasn’t James VI who was rescued by a farmer at Cramond Brig, it was his grandfather, James V, who liked to go wandering about the country dressed as a commoner.

  31. Economy=pyramid scheme says:

    Enthralled and captivated, I closed my eyes at a point and tried to imagine that fragile life the ordinary people were going through, while these two forces were battling for supremacy on the world stage at the same time undermining they’re right to exist.

  32. Pingback: An Act of Self-Interest – Ewen A. Morrison ~ ewenart

  33. tashaposts says:

    I like the message of your article, but I’m wondering why you felt it necessary or acceptable to refer to Osborne as “effete”. The context suggests that you regard being “effete” as a reason to look down on someone. Do you really feel that way? Is a person’s possible sexual orientation a source of concern to you or a reason to despise them? I would sincerely hope not.

  34. Tarisgal says:

    Your article (and all the comments made) have really been interesting to read, thank you!

    I grew up in Canada (though Scots born) and while British history was on the school curriculum. It had a distinctive English ‘bent’ to it and the Darien Scheme never mentioned!

    I have heard of it since those childhood days, though I haven’t gone into it deeply enough, so this post was an intriguing reminder that I should go check it out! Also – I am not as au fait with the Act of Union in a way I’d really like to be. So again kudos to you for piquing my interest, and I will start doing more research on this subject (when my expected Canadian visitors wend their way home in a couple of weeks)…

    One paragraph in particular you wrote, really struck a cord with me:

    “If you look at it from the English point of view the only thing England has accepted under the Act is Scottish-born prime ministers, and even then grudgingly. The rest is creeping integration.”

    I did a Uni paper on ‘Aboriginal peoples: Integration vs Assimilation… and in retrospect, I see now I could have been writing on the Scottish situation…

    On reading your comment re ‘creeping integration’, it reminded me of my research and how devastating integration is when the ‘comprehensive entity’ doesn’t want ‘assimilation’. England didn’t want us – just wanted what we could give them our natural wealth, ie land, etc… and still doesn’t want us. Just our oil, our revenue etc… Thus it has always been – and always will be, wanting us for whatever ‘riches’ comes Scotland’s way.

    Following yours and other very knowledgeable Scottish bloggers, I am discovering so much more about my country’s history than I previously never knew. And while I’ve always known through living in various countries that Scots are highly regarded, it’s always been a wonder to myself and others how we came to be part of this totally unequal relationship with England.

    I did, of course, know about the Act of Union, but not the specifics. I’m sure a lot of people in the same position as myself will be glad of the details of how we came to be in this unenviable position!

    However, I’m hoping that that position will be rectified in the not too distant future! Hopefully others that are currently swaying about the way to go in IndyRef2 will understand why Scots once again wish self-determination.

    Making choices for our own people just doesn’t seem too much to understand…

    • Grouse Beater says:

      There must be many others like you who know the gist of signpost history, not the detail. Scotland’s adversaries of our full democracy stop short at the myth!

      (PS: You’re essay has no errors of the kind you signify.)

  35. Great read.

    I’m curious about one thing. When I went to school, 1954-1963 Scottish history was taught, Scottish songs were sung. I lived in Aberdeen, was it the same all over Scotland and more importantly when did they stop teaching Scottish history?
    I suspect it might coincide with the discovery of oil but that’s only a guess.

  36. Grouse Beater says:

    Hello Al
    It all depends on the school one attended. Some were well steeped in Scottish history, teaching place, time, context, and key players, others reduced it to a few basics, Bannockburn, Mary Queen of Scots, Fleming discovering penicillin, and reading Burns poetry only one week before the annual Burn’s competition, ignored the rest of the year.

    You might have a point about the advent of oil; you’d assume decades of creeping integration accelerated at that time, but that might be a perception rather than the reality. The remarkable thing is how tenacious Scots are at holding tight to identity, for over 300 years in the face of determined Anglicisation aided by too many Scots.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s