Like millions of other people, (John Smith) knew that loving your country and at the same time wanting to be part of something bigger does not make you any less Scottish…
That’s right, Prime Minister, and that’s what I think about Scotland in the EU.
However, you have neatly sidestepped the one thing that defines us as a country – and every other country in the world. It’s called independence. Sovereignty. Self-determination. Home rule.
What you haven’t explained is how a person can love their country but think it isn’t worthy of running its own affairs. If you deny your country the right to be recognized as a nation with its own government like all the others, you diminish your country, no matter how much you love it.
As your own legal advice explains, the British view of Scotland is that it was merged into greater England/Britain 300 years ago and in terms of international law, it literally does not exist. If I said that of England – that there is no England to belong to, it was taken over by Britain and has no separate legal identity of its own, would you agree? Would Conservative voters in England stand and applaud if you told them to keep English identity as a comfort blanket but accept that being an Englishman was now impossible in reality because they are all British?
There’ll always be an England – except in international law. How does that sound? What would your reaction be if Alex Salmond sallied into Oxfordshire and told your constituents they had the same status in the Union as Scots, that the parliament was moving to Edinburgh and their national budget would be set there with monetary policy based on the Scottish pound? Sorry, we’re dropping God Save the Queen but we’re sending you the words of Flower of Scotland…?
Unimaginable, of course. But why? Because England and its champions have assumed the superior status in Union for the last three centuries and conflate the country the Union created, the United Kingdom, with their own England. The two are indissoluble, immutable, indivisible. British sovereignty IS English independence. It requires no further explanation. There is no demand for an English parliament precisely because they have one already. It’s called Westminster.
It leaves us with a problem, though, doesn’t it? We surrendered our independence in order to join together in equal partnership in a new country. We didn’t sign up to be subsumed and to be told the currency we share isn’t shared at all but belongs to the bigger partner. I don’t imagine the Commissioners, those that weren’t bribed, in 1707 thought either that mutual respect would descend through the centuries into juvenile jibes that Scots are paid for by English coin or are incapable of organising themselves to run their own affairs. I doubt if they’d believe a fifth of our children 300 years later would live miserable lives in poverty with little chance of escape or that the parliament we signed up for would so rarely reflect our national view.
What is a country without its sovereignty? When you use the word country, does it not carry the implication of independence, whatever bilateral alliances it has or membership of groupings pooling sovereignty? Of course it does. Only not in Scotland’s case where all the trappings of a country from a parliament and a government to flags and emblems define us rather than the power to run our own affairs.
The idea of joining together to share is a fine one, when you are able to do so from a position of national power – as all 28 members of the European Union do. They share, they pool but they retain their independence.
If Scotland puts the Great into Great Britain, why are we in need of your Treasury subsidies? What Great country doesn’t pay its own way? Your government has dedicated itself to proving that Scotland would be significantly worse off without your feather-bedding and your own supporters sneer that Scotland would have been bankrupted by the banking crisis so are you aware of how insincere it sounds when you praise us as if the past never happened…
And, on the same note, when did a Labour politician become one of your heroes? I do remember you lauding Margaret Thatcher but John Smith? Isn’t that another rather recent conversion? I suspect you’re working hand-in-glove with Douglas Alexander now and having your lines written for you. To be blunt, I’m not convinced that Smith resonates outside the Labour payroll the way they like to think. He had strengths for sure and debating armoury in the Commons was high among them, but I don’t think Scots warmed to him the way they did Dewar. (Perhaps that’s the next lost leader to be paraded).
Smith is your flag-bearer and another Labour man, Darling, is your spokesman. I suppose that’s the Union at work, eh? Cross-party and inclusive, working to keep the system in place that allows you to decimate public spending down to 1948 levels, allows Atos to make profits out of declaring cancer sufferers and war veterans fit for work, forces people out of their homes, caps benefits no matter the size or troubles of families, deliberately plans to make children worse off, forces people into food banks but won’t take European money to pay for them, more than doubles the number of working families in need of top-up benefits and prioritises nuclear weapons renewal… Labour and Tory hand in hand defending the indefensible. That is Great Britain. It is the unholy alliance of right wing zealots penalising working people with the self-righteous Labour Party contorting itself to regain power only to deliver more of the same. Love your country by crushing the people who make it?
I read of people in England ‘fed up with Scottish bleating’. Well, I am too. I’m sick of making the same arguments again and again and getting nowhere. Time to stop complaining and time for action.
You hold John Smith’s hand and proclaim your love of Scotland. I’ll hold the hand of my fellow Scots and demonstrate my love of Scotland on September 18. We show our love of country by bestowing on it all the power and dignity of self-government…and then reversing the despicable policies the British state has imposed. Liberty, egality, fraternity…they all spring from sovereignty. It is the power to act that creates the freedom and equality and the care for others. We can’t wait any longer.by