What a strange time we live in. Narcissistic celebrity MPs strut and pose for personal gain. The times are precarious, the scene nauseous, the principal characters repulsive.
Tory serial dissembler Boris Johnson describes the United Kingdom as a colony of Europe. England, the nation that possessed the greatest empire known in civilisation, a colony? Scotland is a colony and to some extent Wales, but England? What could he mean? He meant England is a colony of Germany. We are privy to a wave of English self-absorbed unhappiness over their self-inflicted troubles.
Boris and his ilk get off with mouthing nonsense because Theresa May is not a strong leader. In fact, she has no personality at all. To this day, I have no idea who she is or what she stands for, her convictions switch week by week.
Who’s the colony here? Us or you?
Scotland as a colony of England is rejected by those who believe in Britain as the best place to live. They cannot accept the notion of political and civil constraint because they judge freedom in superficial ways, in choice of goods and schools and which beer to drink, proof to them they live in an open and free society.
To our history: over 400 English regiments garrisoned to quell the natives, the banning of Scots and Gaelic languages, no tartan or Highland dress allowed, no owning anything that could be construed as a weapon, outrageous taxes levied against the populace, destruction of infrastructure, and eviction from land tilled for generations.
Today the Scottish Anglophile either does not see or warmly welcomes any number of political and cultural restrictions patrolled by an antagonistic media and menadious, aggressive unionist politicians.
As a creative writer my imagination goes into overdrive. I get troubling images of a German dominatrix dressed in Nazi uniform, whip in hand, standing astride a tied and gagged England, Mr Al Bion grovelling at her feet squealing, “Hard Brexit, hard, harder!”
An outrageous idea? Why are they putting themselves through this hell, and the rest of us? It wasn’t so long ago that we watched a television dramatisation of Len Deighton’s fanciful 1975 novel SS-GB, Britain as a Nazi colony. And there was a series set in Guernsey under Nazi occupation, Enemy at the Door. Television viewers are used to episodes of the nostalgic Dad’s Army and ‘Ello, Ello’. Both depict pantomime versions of European stereotypes. The History Channel runs endless repeats of The World at War, and countless documentaries on how the plucky Brits beat the nasty Huns. Why those subjects continue to fascinate the English sensibility is perplexing when we have so many others to choose from that convey contemporary issues? Do Little Englanders really believe EU membership was edging us back into that Nazi nightmare?
British autocracy welcomed fascism in the 1930s, in Italy, Germany, Spain, and England. That authoritarian doctrine fitted comfortably with the English class system of survival of the fittest, expanded to protect their possessions and privileges against invasion by revolutionary Bolsheviks.
Russian revolution in full spate, our own King George V couldn’t bring himself to save his own cousin and his family, Tsar Nicholas II. At first he wrote asking that Nicholas be given sanctuary in England, but later withdrew the offer realising Nicholas might confuse the British proletariat enough to see him as contender for the Crown; best leave Nicky and his family to the mercy of those dreadful socialists. (You won’t find that uncomfortable detail in the English version of Wikipedia’s history of the revolution.)
Is class at the root of the English malaise? It has its tentacles in so much else in society. Could it be the English aristocracy will not defer to European superiority in anything? No earl, baroness or knight was ever underdog to a Herr, Señor or Signore. Perhaps England feels in joining the Common Market it married beneath itself.
End of an empire
Is England’s diminishing influence analogous to the Roman empire? Was the end of the Roman empire glorious or a whimper? Without doing serious research I know from 485 BC (Rome itself had fallen in 476) the Senate was based somewhere in Constantinople, its power whittled down to patricians no longer allowing commoners to take part in the government. They then took control of all civil and religious matters, rather in the form of Westminster excluding Scotland from Brexit negotiations while it disassembles the welfare state that Scotland wants to protect.
Civil wars erupted all over the vestiges of the Roman empire between the traditionalists and the republicans. I have in the back of my mind one of the final acts of the Senate was to agree a statue could be erected to a minor senator, rather like Tory MPs who suggested there should be a statue to Margaret Thatcher. (I’ll stop here before scholars mug me on detail and divert readers from my analogy.)
If ancient historians are to be believed, the Roman Empire lasted just over 2,000 years from the days of legendary founders Romulus and Remus. A rough calculation of the British empire’s days might be 300 years beginning from the Act of Union until 1945. After that we can see a gradual disintegration of the United Kingdom as an homogenous state, life get less and less unequal while politicians talked of a better tomorrow.
If we take the formation of the United Kingdom as we know it from Ireland’s independence in 1922, then against all effort by it neighbour, Scotland is likely to regain freedom as the UK reaches its 100th birthday in 2022. A hundred years, not much of a run to mull over, not even for a friendly game of county cricket.
Teaching other nations how to live
I am sick of hearing Englishmen telling me how to live. I hear it in televised news, in radio discussions, read it in the press and on Twitter, patronising bollocks about why my country needs their input. The condescension isn’t only aimed at Scotland. It is tossed at any country England’s parliament decides is today’s existential enemy, or impoverished socialist state that should have known better than to reject extreme capitalism.
England is falling apart at the seams, stuffing all straw, their argument straw men. I’m told better to be British than Scottish. How odd. One day English display superiority, the next they express an inferiority as part of a Europe. They cannot come to terms with the approaching reality of becoming a small country. English decency, a quality ordinary English were once famous, is junked for xenophobic nationalism and bigotry.
If England cannot exercise its fantasy of showing other nations how to impose law and order it has decided it isn’t going to be a friend to those nations. Over the past decade we watched Westminster replace blacks and Asians with Brussels as whipping boy. The thinking is as obvious as a pimple on your nose: all bad things afflicting British life will vanish overnight if we get rid of Brussels bureaucracy and out of the European Union. If there’s a better example of mass delusion I’ve yet to see it.
How could England descend so rapidly from the nation that taught other nations good manners and chivalry by playing cricket, to one of ferocious xenophobia faced by a productive and prosperous Europe? Racism had to lie at the heart of the English psyche.
Is England a defeated nation in the image of one of its past colonies, “on its back, trotters in the air”, in the memorable phrase of actor Danny Dyer? It’s an amusing concept.
Britain in bondage
I am unable to get my head around Boris’s Britain surrendering to the disgusting domination of an erotic EU. “The EU is pursuing a similar goal to Hitler, a powerful superstate”, he said in 2016, telling us that as far as he was concerned the EU is Germany, and Germany is still the homeland of the Nazi.
Third-rate Tory MP Nicholas Ridley (who remembers him now?) lost his post describing the EU monetary system as “a German racket designed to take over the whole of Europe”. Tory and Labour politician have lined up since to tell us Europe is a land of control freaks. They backed it up with so much hot air you could inflate the Hindenburg with it, or maybe that’s not the best comparison.
Ridley was condemned by the perceptive who understood he spoke for a large section of the Conservative movement. People such as Ridley, and Enoch Powell with his ‘rivers of blood’ speech, were the precursors of Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson, the neo-fascists we thought one-off cranks. How wrong we were.
They’re behind you! No they’re not! Yes they are!
Everything that afflicts English society now it brought upon itself. Everything – destruction of its national health service, communication systems in too few hands, the encouragement of national banks as gambling casinos, poverty and illnesses such as rickets not seen since the Fifties, corporate monopoly of everything, gross financial inequality, food banks, massive over-spending on hubristic projects, the rise of Scottish and Welsh nationalism, shambolic, painful exit from European cooperation, war after war to give England a false sense of purpose feeding its delusion as a world power.
Scotland is the last colony of the British empire resisting England’s overweening, volatile love-hate relationship. We ought to have been the first to leave its political debauchery. Independence from England’s sadism and self-pity can’t come soon enough.
NOTE: This essay is Part 2 of ‘The English Nationalist’: https://wp.me/p4fd9j-nbC