My Country to Govern

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The association of achievement and a Saltire sits ill with some Scots

If a Scot anywhere says, give me my country to govern again, he is judged a fool, and everything is done to demean him and mock him.

When an Englishman says he wants his country back to govern again, and shouts freedom into the face of Europeans, his countrymen praise him and applaud.

Freedom for the people of Scotland is attained through the struggle to regain the civil rights we don’t have but English do, and all those we have lost and should care so much that we’ve forfeited.

Handball not football

Scotland is allowed the small things, the also ran, the junior sports event, the touring production, the amateur show, the provincial television station, a parliament with next to no economic power. The charade does not make us feel we are a proper nation.

Westminster warns they will punish us if we use the very pound sterling we helped create, or they will place border controls to corral us if we resist their rule, or they will fine us, reduce the allowance they give us from our taxes if we do anything they dislike. And then they have the effrontery to demand they know what it is that makes us feel we are constrained or oppressed.

We have an England that saw fit to use Scottish men and women in two world wars to fight and die for liberty and freedom, but will not allow us to govern ourselves. What kind of freedom is that?

We have an England that saw fit to use Scotland as a guinea pig for unpopular policies. What kind of friend is that?

We have an England that destroyed a nation’s industry rather than support it. What kind of ally is that?

And that tyranny says, stay with us, for together we are Utopia.

A different reality

The English have a set of assumptions, a reality, that is different from Scotland, shared by some Anglophile Scots. Their reality is based on a century of empire, wars and battles, heroes made, territory captured, ruling waves, a domination of foreign cultures. And yet they do not understand why we Scots do not see things as they do.

To English, the Scotsman or woman, you and me, standing before them, protesting, holding  a placard, is stupid to resist their system to which the think we owe our identity. That’s how they see us, and scorn our demand for better values.

They defend an English system, an English reality. It isn’t one constructed by Scotland for Scotland. They dislike what they see as European supremacy imposed on England, but think nothing of English supremacy imposed on Scotland.

Once we were warriors

There was a time last century when the Labour party, always a Unionist party committed first and foremost to England’s might and ambitions, that actually fought hard for Scotland’s corner. There existed Scots who felt Scotland had a right to a share in the United Kingdom’s wealth that Scotland helped create. But here’s the rub, they had to fight for it. It wasn’t Scotland’s without asking, it wasn’t Scotland’s by right or by deed.

Back in the 1960s even the Conservative party recognised they had ignored Scotland’s material and social plight for too long. Too long was two hundred years. The British Treasury was draining Scotland of its earnings, squandering it on imperial wars and weapons to enhance the status of greater England they liked to call Britain

The British Treasury gave Scotland £600 million to help clear our city slums, to rebuild, to create outer city communities, to encourage entrepreneurism. The Highlands and Islands Development Board was set up. The whole of Scotland – except Edinburgh – was considered a priority development area. We got a fast breeder reactor, an aluminium smelter, a second Forth Bridge, a Tay Bridge two years later, and the promise of 10,000 jobs created at a monster coal pit called Longannet. Life looked good.

Our new found hyper-activity was mirrored in our culture. The Edinburgh International Festival of the Arts grew in all directions in activity and fame. Our artists were feted in London. BBC Scotland adapted and produced some of our greatest novels. New, bright filmmakers and writers were everywhere. James Bond was a Scotsman.

And there’s more

The flow of money didn’t stop there. A brace of universities sprang up, or perhaps a mortarboard of higher education: Heriot Watt, Dundee, Stirling, and Strathclyde.

And following the new elite there came the intuitions to teach the teachers to teach, Ayr, Hamilton, and Falkirk, the dominies who would attain a lectureship in the new universities one day and a few be principals.

The working class were still called the working class but saw a ladder to middle-class if they were willing to take it.

What happened next?

None of those advances did any good for Labour in Scotland. They won Westminster but at each general election they gained no more than a handful of seats from the Tories.

England’s parliament couldn’t sustain the expenditure. They took back everything we had built with the money given us, one by one, except our bridges, and they might have removed them had they not been cemented down hard, pile driven into Scottish bedrock.

An incontrovertible harsh reality opened before us. Those who gift take away again.

Running even the remnants of an empire is a costly business. By handing largesse to the Scots, Westminster had raised expectations it could not sustain, nor could their local staff, the Scottish Labour branch. Labour had no alternative means of income. They had no power. Every gain evaporated, or regressed.

The British government discovered they couldn’t balance their books. So they took to stealing Scotland’s oil. Sticking their name on it doesn’t make it any the less theft, no two ways about it. Only, when it’s billions upon billions of pounds it’s grand larceny on a scale hitherto unknown between two nations.

Same old, same old

Unemployment did not reduce, talented youth did not stop emigrating. In 1967 over 47,000 left Scotland. Scotland’s social problems were  unsolvable by showering short-term money at each problem. Scotland’s ills were as unmanageable  as Cromwell’s parliamentarians said they were, before setting Scotland free again.

The Scottish electorate became disillusioned, disaffected. They looked at the SNP and its policies as a potential champion for Scotland’s needs. That is where we are today, with a rump Tory party none actually elected to Scotland’s parliament, and a useless, spurned Labour party still holding tight to Britishness.

But one compensation emerged: we have food banks for the destitute.

What of the individual?

By the time a person was mature, in their thirties, they saw themselves as not quite part of the English fraternity. They felt somehow second-class, not wearing the right school tie, never part of the right rugby club, second-rate in some painful cases, or just not worthy. And they began to consider what that would do to their children.

It affects us all in unconscious, subliminal ways in our daily lives. We might not notice it, but others do when we cringe on hearing some Scot make good, be accepted, praised, or merely speak in a Scottish accent.

“That can’t be so”, we say. “I kent his faither.”

Where are we now?

We are witnessing another awakening of English imperialism and the intolerance that rides with it at the expense of the people of Scotland.

Next comes calls for more taxes to be spent on more weapons of mass destruction, and the rekindling of the Cold War – there has to be a constant enemy to keep the nation in perpetual anxiety, ready to do the power elite’s bidding.

Add to that more neo-conservative austerity and Brexit and we –  democrat and unionist – are in a serious fix not of our making.

But there is hope, real hope.

The youth of Scotland want absolute change and see it through the SNP.

Whilst a proportion of the elderly are locked into nebulous ‘Britishness’, fearing a mythical loss of pensions, we adjust knowing they are passing on. Meanwhile, optimistic youth grow in number.

England, your England

Our English cousins have to ask themselves, why they want to keep hold of Scotland in the first place when so many of them think we are a stupid people, a burden on their state, persistent litigants.

If all they want is our oil – and they do – then let’s sit down at the table and make a deal over who gets what oilfields, agree, call it a day, and each go govern our great nations as equal friends, not one as mendicant and the other as thief.

Who are we?

On the days you wonder what your role is in Scotland, and what your future is in it, and the future of your children, remember this: you are not and never will be English. But you might just be accepted if you say you are British.

When you say you are British you have given up the fight for political and social equality. You are saying it is a consolation, at least you are not completely Scottish.

If you are happy to kneel before inane, irrational, grotesque colonial cruelty, ready to die for another nation’s wars, no one but you chose that destiny.

The rest of us have had enough. We choose to govern our nation again.

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58 Responses to My Country to Govern

  1. Grouse Beater says:

    Thank you for all the kind things you have had to say.

    Yes, wisdom comes with age and after making bad choices. I am not the dashing young film maker I was ten years ago, but I carry no walking stick either.

    And though I use a pseudonym because i have no wish to become a TV pundit, if anybody feels they can collect an audience large enough to make my journey worthwhile I am happy to give a talk with Q&A that spreads hope.

    More essay’s published after midnight tonight.

    Warm regards
    GB

  2. Carl Jenkins says:

    Excellent article and while I can see the sense in giving England some of our smaller Oil fields – as if the.y haven’t stolen enough Oil Revenues already, I personally would resist such a move.

    Personally I would like to see comparisons made with Norway who discovered Oil around the same time as we did (late 60’s coming on stream in 1975) and the Arab countries, who, like us watched the USA and UK ‘administer’ their Oil funds for 40 years with only a few Sheik Families benefitting before the formerly dirt poor Arabs took matters into their own hands, kicked the USA and UK out and went onto become the richest group of countries on the planet.

    We could also compare London pre Oil and Post Oil/Gas. The early/mid 70s was the time of the 3 day week when England didn’t have enough power to run the factories or people’s homes. Rubbish piled up in the street as did BODIES in the Morgues – not enough Gas to power Crematoriums.

    Let’s list all of Londons achivements since 1975 including their share of the Channel Tunnel up to today’s Crossrail Project and complete renewal of their sewage system, all costing BILLIONS of pounds – but no problem they were awash in OUR OIL REVENUES.

  3. Grouse Beater says:

    A valuable response to the essay. Many thanks.

  4. Well said. Our time is coming.

    Keep up your work!

  5. MY SALTIRE INDY YES 2 Arrived yesterday, I’m on my way !

  6. Grouse Beater says:

    We stand united. (Some might take the bus.) 🙂

  7. Pauline Smith says:

    Wonderful. Much needed given yesterday was the day it was. Made my heart break and swell with pride in equal measure.

  8. Grouse Beater says:

    Well, you’re too kind, Pauline.

    There’s been so much clap-trap and obfuscation thrown into the debate to confuse, it was only a matter of time before someone would separate the garbage from the nutrition. It really is a simple matter of recognising Scotland as a separate nation, renegotiating the Treaty, and co-existing with our neighbours in a better, mature way.

    Thank you again for your comment – I hope you’ll pass the essay to others, and join me here often.

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