It’s hard sometimes to comprehend what we are confronting. When you look at the full array of opposition to self-determination and its mesmerising spangle of tools you wonder if it is in any way coordinated.
The edifice is riven with fissures and contradictions. Daily, sometimes by the hour, the message changes. One moment Labour tells us that women are the biggest victims of the Tory-led Coalition’s austerity measures, the next Margaret Curran tells us advances by women will go backwards if we escape the Tories’ clutches by becoming independent.
Oil is dangerously volatile with its price veering up and down, the next it is in long-term terminal decline with diminishing receipts.
Oil is a worryingly dangerous industry which requires London’s expertise to husband it – the same London whose Chancellor brought it screeching to a halt with an unexpected tax hike…the same London that hasn’t invested a penny of hundreds of billions over 40 years.
Oil as a golden egg is finished except when the Prime Minister flies to Aberdeen to identify himself with billions of investment by BP or to Shetland for a potentially massive new field discovery. Which is it….?
We will all be poorer if we vote Yes yet the evidence daily is that we are already historically poorer under Union and our incomes are falling further behind prices – except for the super rich whose wealth has gone in the opposite direction.
England loves us –until we vote for independence when they will punish us as hard as they can for desiring to raise our own taxation, run our own affairs and be nuclear-free.
They want to retain Union but when an explicit offer is made to share one of their most cherished belongings, they spit. Not only will they refuse currency arrangements to make trade flow to mutual benefit, their politicians will promise in their manifestoes to vote against it even if it is in the national interest…the politics of stupid.
And for every Ronnie Corbett and…(Christ, I can’t even remember the others…) who plead with us to stay, there are nests of online reptiles hissing hate-filled spite and scorn, willing our destruction and humiliation in anti-Scottish tirades. Anti-Scottish, mind you. Not just anti SNP. These English furies don’t differentiate – they hate Unionist Scots just the same, no comfort here for Labour and their warm words about English people being ‘just like us’.
Of course Labour has to take a lot of the blame for this hostility because for years none of their proud MPs has ever stood up in the Commons and denounced attempts to paint us as anything other than dependants reliant on English tax money. They too have laughed and pointed with the Tories and the Ulster Unionists at the small group of SNP members and dismissed them as cranks rather than duly elected representatives of a legitimate and respectable cause. Their current pantomime of gold chocolate sweetie coins is the most accurate depiction of Labour’s intellectual state – manufactured, artificial, sugar-coated and childish. It is little surprise that English imbeciles think of us as second-rate no-hopers when they look at the majority of MPs we send to Westminster.
They offer us more powers but refuse to put their option on the ballot paper. They promise to deliver but won’t say what. They cut corporation tax but decry the same policy in the SNP. They favour nuclear disarmament but will renew Trident.
Which is it…?
They pretend not to hear Plan A and demand Plan B but what is their plan for a Yes?
And so it goes on. There is in reality no coherent Union plan. It starts and stops with one objective – Stop Salmond. Beyond that there is nothing but hint, vague promise and suggestion eked it out to give just enough so they can tell people there will be more powers but not their nature and not what might be removed. There is nothing on revised spending which is inevitable in Britain’s bankrupt state.
How will the Union cope with its rising debt mountain?
How will people cope with the cuts still to come and the extra £25 billion now added in?
How high will tax rises be after the next General Election?
What is the Plan B for an exit from the EU? How many business will move, how many jobs disappear?
If Europe is our biggest trading partner and currency is important why don’t any of our European partners use sterling? (It isn’t just that no one complains about exchanging with the Euro – there are 12 different currencies in use in the EU, none of them causing difficulties for British exporters).
Every time you try to pin down what the British line actually is on any specific subject, it moves out of reach. It is amorphous. Its shape is determined by the moment.
I’m coming round to the idea that what hangs all of this together isn’t coherent political narrative at all but something more akin to corporate branding. If you ask a Scot why he believes in Union, there is little more than platitude. It is because Scotland is too small, Britain works, the war, it’s too complicated…They don’t say it’s socially just or there’s even distribution of resources or it has an outstanding record on human rights and social mobility. They don’t say it’s a fair society or it’s democratically run or it looks after its elderly, respects workers’ rights or leads the worldwide green agenda. It’s as if Britain does not need to be explained. It just IS.
This is a kind of revered status that marketing companies kill for. It puts your product beyond criticism into a unique realm where there is no real challenge to its hegemony.
So it could be Coca Cola, Google or even Kellog’s, something that dominates and has acquired kudos that transcends the mundane. Explaining that it is carbonated water filled with sugar or industrially-cooked corn in a cardboard box doesn’t cut it. It is so much more than that because we have bought into the marketing and allowed it to take over part of our thought process.
We have accepted the promotional message that it is a force for good even against all the evidence – Coke kills through obesity and rots young teeth and almost all the health benefit of eating cereal comes from the milk, not the sugary flakes. But who cares? You can go to any country on earth and say one word: ‘Coke’ and be served the drink (Careful with that in Colombia).
The word Britain does something similar in many places because of a centuries long story of international involvement leaving even countries that were conquered, controlled and exploited still amenable to the British Crown and Country concept as we witnessed at the Commonwealth Games.
Britons, when they see their state under threat as it is today from Scotland, draw together in defiance and overlook the inequality, the poverty and noblesse oblige and prefer instead the pride of tradition, of flag and a mystical notion of their brave country doing right in the world. They back the brand. They know its faults but when the enemy is at the door, faults are ignored in the interests of the greater good. The Scottish Unionists buy into this and by doing so prove they are Britnats putting the UK first and Scotland second. That is where Labour is currently located – backing Tories and UKIP, applauding the bankers and Duncan Smith welfare cuts and the case of the people of Liverpool and Manchester before the Scots – because they too buy the brand. Like the BBC, Labour is a thoroughly British organisation with Britain at its heart and British interests as its priority. Even when its policies are anathema to everything their party was founded to uphold, they are mesmerised by the brand. They hold the British loyalty card and it is the most powerful motivation left to them.
Personally, I don’t buy it.