Behind Enemy Lines

I do wish you Scottish Nationalists would learn to accept the result of a referendum. You’ve lost twice now. So what’s your problem? Still bleating about a re-run of September 2014 and now you can’t live with the Brexit result. It’s called D.E.M.O.C.R.I.S.Y.

The people of our united island voted to kick out the foreigners and the scroungers and send them back where they came from. Next time they’ll be met by the strong arm of the British bobby demanding to see their papers. No blue passport? Sorry, matey. It’s back to the garlic fields for you.

Honestly, you’d think Britain was a charity for the rest of the world. We’re supposed to offer the hospitality of our sound economy to every queue-jumping chancer escaping their own failed countries – Germany, Sweden and Bulgaria. It’s bad enough having to bail out the Scots.

There’s a limit to our patience. We’ve been tolerant for too long and where’s it got us? Our communities flooded with strange faces and voices, a changed culture – multi-culture something or other – and our national wealth feather-bedding them all.

It’s possible that re-negotiating with trading partners will come at a cost, maybe £66 billion or so. But isn’t it worth lost jobs and lower incomes to win our freedom and take our country back? And when I say OUR country, I mean the United Kingdom because the defeated Celts, the Picts and the Shovels, are ours whether they like it or not. We won. And we’ll go on winning. We built a mercantile nation, conquered half the globe and it’s time we reminded the world of it.

Gosh. That feels better.

Just trying to imagine what Tories are telling themselves as the doubts over Brexit mass on the border of reason and new alliances of cross-party interests are heard challenging what is beginning to look like at least the silhouette of a coup. The referendum went for Leave but did it mean demonising Europeans already living here and working in essential jobs? Did Leave mean stopping all formal agreements with the 27 including the single market? Did the Leavers endorse the loss of nine per cent of the economy? Did they vote to hand over to a Prime Minister with no personal mandate the absolute power to shape our relations with our continental partners without parliamentary scrutiny?

Did Scots, including those who support independence outwith the EU, believe their country would have no say in the deals done on their behalf?

Now I have to admit that not much of this comes as a surprise because, as a Scottish Nationalist, I’ve never thought a Westminster government would go out of its way to accommodate the Scots. Whatever warm words you hear – and you could fill your bath with them during the indyref – there is at base an institutional belief that we are appended to England borne under sufferance. In every dark corner the message emerges…from the memoir of Liberal MP David Laws on Cameron speaking about Scotland after indyref (‘I just don’t care. We’ve only got one Conservative MP north of the Border. Let Labour sort it out. It’s now their problem.’) From the frothing mouth below-the-line comments in the Press to, yes, the instinctive slur of John Cleese. We mattered when Blair realized that failure, again, to deliver devolution would bury his party in Scotland and we mattered when the threat of us leaving became real two years ago. Contrast Cameron’s ‘We want you to stay’ then with his words afterwards. The pattern couldn’t be clearer. You’re welcome so long as you behave.

I’m not sure when in our shared history things went wrong. Although antagonised at first by the loss of sovereignty, Scots made the most of the first century of Union and we still revel today in the enlightenment that emerged. We took to empire with military relish and exploited the international trading opportunities in tobacco and slaves. As Murray Pittock points out, for many years it was the educated, competent Scots who adopted a patronising air of superiority over the English. The collective endeavour and sacrifice of two wars united us more powerfully than ever. But it seems to me that something lay dormant throughout the Union years, a sense rather than an argument, struggling to find form. I credit Margaret Thatcher with igniting a common sense of resistance among all non-Tory Scots which inflated Labour’s vote and led in time to devolution. And it was the collective cross-party effort required to produce the new parliament that showed the people what could be – progressive leadership shaping home-grown policies with an indigenous voice. Was it identity or just pride that made us feel good about ourselves? Devolution opened the door of possibility. But I still don’t think more than a clear minority – 30 per cent? – thought in terms of independence 15 years ago. I see how a steady release of powers and responsibilities to Holyrood could have contained the movement and stilled the resistance. I don’t mean the silly hoo-ha of Calman and Smith with their grudging, heavily qualified concessions (‘we’ll throw in control of road sings’) but an agreed, staged hand over through the years until Scots felt they had as much as they could handle and accepted that to function effectively the British state needed to command the levers of macro economics, most foreign affairs and defence. The most corrosive force in the Union isn’t nationalism or antagonism but intransigence. It is the continual sense of denial, the refusal to surrender wilfully; that everything is in London’s control and will only be conceded if you prove you’re a good boy first. I still fume at the three stooges denying us the pound. We are not equals. Not in their mind. We are barely worthy and can be bought off with baubles and smiles.

Not the UK you recognise? Well, I may be going a bit far but from my side I look today at the headwinds confronting the economy two years before Brexit and wonder at the airy dismissal of concern. There is nothing to worry about as our European partners plan our punishment, the currency bombs, the Treasury warns of tens of billions in lost earnings leading to tax rises and spending cuts with price rises hitting the poorest. But what did the same people say to Scots when independence loomed? Dire consequences were predicted in rising supermarket prices, the value of shares falling, the pound dipped (crisis!), our European place would be lost and the markets closed to us. Now the very thing – uncertainty and rising costs – we were warned against by taking control of our own affairs is blighting the whole UK. Where is Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown? Oh yes, working in international finance.

Scots were bought off with threats that they now have to confront regardless. No wonder many in England think we are gormless. We never learn the lesson.

Britain isn’t equipped for Brexit. We don’t have a sound economy broadly based earning its way. If London becomes less attractive for overseas investment – a real possibility – the inflow of money that keeps the UK afloat will start to run out.

Even the most basic part of the Brexit vote, immigration, is in trouble because the Tories have so decimated the Border Force that it can barely process people movement today. When everybody from the EU has to undergo checks at ports and airports, it will reach breaking point. Four thousand high-risk flights already come in without any checks.

None of them seemed to think in advance about Ireland and the risk to the peace settlement posed by removal of EU law.

To be told now that another bid for independence would just cause more disruption is about as insulting a remark as any that Mundell has conjured. He really is London’s agent, preparing for his humiliation in the history books. (The man who said Scotland no longer existed)

I don’t know how strong the bonds still are that tie Unionists to the UK but I’m suspicious that they are suffering an internal struggle. The signs to look for are references to extremism which they use as a kind of rhetorical shield to hold logic at bay. Thus, when Sturgeon said there was a higher point to independence than the economy, there were immediate references from Unionist opinion to blood and soil. This is deeply offensive and plays no part in modern Scottish nationalism whose template contradicts that of most European nationalisms in being based on civil society irrespective of ethnicity.

The other one I’ve noticed is the claim of Anglophobia. This seems to be logical at one level because of history but never stands up in reality. I know of no one who can be so described and can recall no discussion with any nationalist I know who has said anything racist about English people. Seriously. Never. It isn’t even something which anyone is ‘careful’ about. I don’t feel it and never have. But it is true that England is different in key ways from Scotland as a look at the Guardian today will confirm.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/10/england-rebranded-nation-bigots-intolerance

People writing about blood and soil and Anglophobia know it not to be true, much as they’d like it to be. But they project it as a way of saying words to the effect of… ‘no matter how much I loathe what’s happening in England right now and I want to distance myself from it, I can still push away independence by pretending it’s too loathesome for me to contemplate. They’re bigots, you know. So I can maintain my distance and deny the logic of what they’re saying.’

The pretence of extremism is the disguise they wear to deflect from the Brexit mess the Union has made.

It’s not easy, or pleasant, getting into the mind of your opponent. But sometimes it’s worth a try. Just remember, however it goes in the end, we’re all still Scots together.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

24 thoughts on “Behind Enemy Lines

  1. Great article Derek. The John Harris piece needed to be said. It is interesting times in which we live. Hopefully there are enough of those decents in England like Harris unwilling to succumb to the tyranny of the kippers and xenophobia. During the indyref I had a long email conversation with an English chap who went by the name English Honour who was aghast that Englishness was being characterised by the kippers. That wasn’t his liberal, tolerant England. We talked about how English identity was becoming more self-conscious but was confused about what it was and being hi-jacked by Farage and the far right but that was not reflective of the vast majority of decents. There are some signs of a cross-party alliance to demand that May does not use the royal prerogative to trigger A50 until the Commons have had the say on what form they would like Brexit to take.

  2. Insightful stuff…..so the argument against Scottish indy is “we’ve all seen what a nasty mess British nationalism as made of the UK, and Scottish nationalism is just the same….no point doubling our error”

    Makes a lot of sense as to what is in some folk’s head. But as someone who thinks indy is our only escape, this cheers me up greatly. It feels like a pretty weak argument which lacks the robustness needed to withstand proper scrutiny and thought.

    It only needs a few % to change their minds – surely enough minds must be changing to reflect our new bleak reality.

    • British nationalists, in the last couple of years, have shown beyond doubt their racism and hatred for foreigners. Yet they accuse the SNP and its supporters of being decisive. Britnats actually believe their extremism will somehow keep the so-called united kingdom together. They may have fooled some Scots once during the first independence referendum; it will not work during the second.

      • “Devisive” not “decisive”. Although the SNP and its supporters are decisive in their rejection of extreme british nationalism.

  3. “Scotland was extinguished and absorbed into a Greater England.” Never forget that. That is the Union to our Lords and Masters. It should be on every billboard in the country for as long as money can be raised to put it there. I think all but the most twisted Loyalists would see the offence in it.

    (The other thing would be to ask why Wayne Rooney being on the bench was a NEWS story on the Six last not, not a sport story, but the Scotland game was not even mentioned. Or why you can almost always see England games on cooncil telly but almost never see Scotland games. Or why everyone in the UK pays £100m for English football but less than £4m for Scottish football. I think things like that are the most obvious, relatable example of how the Union diminishes Scotland and strengthens England.)

  4. Hit the nail on the head with that one Derek and no, I don’t don’t think it’s bias speaking on your part. The UK you describe is very much the one I recognise.

    I don’t believe they even see their own (far larger) contribution to the current societal and constitutional crisis. The arrogance, ignorance and sense of entitlement married to outdated power structures of the establishment have proven a major driving force behind the Scottish electorate’s continued political engagement. The unionist establishments misuse of the media, their dismissal and marginalisation of both Scotland’s representatives and the Scottish electorate have been massively public affairs.

    In an age where social communication across a population base is instant, information cross checked and verified by the public themselves and new media can counter mainstream output same day, there is no respite and no hiding place. There is no shut up and eat your cereal anymore and no mushroom politics. People don’t like to be kept in the dark and fed shit by their ‘betters’ today.

    The institutions of public management, Westminster and the mainstream media, are no longer trusted with caring for, or informing the public and why should they be? Trust is something you earn and by their own actions, apparently something you can casually throw away on a whim.

    When, not if, this political union ends. Let there be no doubt that those most responsible for its ultimate demise were those who claimed to cherish it most.

  5. Alasdair Macdonald.

    A good article.

    We should never underestimate the potential for self delusion amongst some unionists (and, of course, amongst some pro-independence supporters, some animal rights activists, some feminists, indeed, just about any cause).

    The most common ‘defensive’ strategies are based on the philosophical fallacies of ‘the straw man’ (create some image of a post independent Scotland, which few, if any pro independence Scots have ever advanced), the ‘perfectionist fallacy’ (unless X is eradicated completely, then the independence has failed), the generalising from a particular (one of the best known YES supporters up oor close has done time in jail, do we want his kind to rule us?) and the ad hominem attacks, principally on Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond. You can have a mixture of these, too.

    However ludicrous some of these seem to us, they are, nevertheless fairly potent for those advancing them and so challenging them – and it must be done – requires a number of diplomatic skills. Attitudes can be and are changed, but logic alone is seldom enough.

  6. Ok, where is Scotland largest port? One that can take good out/in from EU?

    The one thing, almost certain, is we will need infrastructure as it will not move through England anymore. It cannot be trusted to reveal the correct costings.

    As for the yOOn class. Unfortunately they are never going to get it. Its the Irish North they should be thinking of, not the English South.

    • actually, Scotland is very poorly served by ports and our infrastructure is not of a good standard relative to our neighbours eg: Ireland. Alf Baird wrote a piece for the Jimmy Reid foundation on this.

  7. I remember reading Colin Kidds book; union and unionism’s, where he made the startling statement that the success of the union in Scotland for the last 50 years, was down to it being utterly banal. He said this as if it was a good thing. But in reality it was a shocking admission that the union was by this time, not so much cherished as tolerated. A tolerance borne out of a realisation that you could not do anything about it.

    Its that this point you realise the huge assumption being made here, and why ultimately the vote turned out the way it did. That absence of any meaningful debate prior to the referendum was taken as a larger endorsement of Union by the No camp when Indyref got underway. It relied on sheer scare tactics as it had literally nothing good to say about the union when that sheer drab reality was revealed to them. There was no positive case they thought – only there was. A small nation that provides so much to the UK and shoulders it share of a burdensome debt created by feckless WM governments. A nation whose industrial muscle was the engine of empire. We led the way in so many other areas including trade. In times of conflict Scotland was there – usually at the sharp end doing the heavy lifting. But how did better together choose to celebrate Scotland in the Union? As a nation that had no language or culture to call its own. That could not do or achieve anything without the UK to lend a helping hand. A nation that has lived on 300 years of pocket money as an English appendage. What still appalls me is that we lost to this narrative. The first nation in living memory that had a chance to forge its own destiny and allowed itself to scared into voting to be a kept nation of scroungers. It is sobering to recall how feart people can be when they have been relentlessly told how worthless they are from cradle to grave. At what point did Scotland acquire this inferiority complex? for if its not that, then what we are talking about is one of the most cruelest hoaxes ever perpetrated on a nation by many of its own citizens. When did this rot set in? When did we go from leading the way to relying on pragmatism to existing in some banal unionism?

    But back to the indyref, lets be frank: it was not an overwhelming win – despite the scaremongering. The could barely manage slightly more than half. The nation on the constitutional issue of independence is split.

    Thats got to sting for a unionist. To have this conversation and realise that almost half of the electorate don’t want anything to do with the union or being British. Thats why they are so desperate for us to shut up and angry when we don’t. It’s why they feel their vote has to be respected and that respect has to be in the form of abject craven acceptance to the idea of being British. You lost they crowed – get over it. Never before have I seen anyone use their identity as an insult or weapon to bully people. Do they really think yes voters could accept Britishness if the very concept is used as a cosh?

    To their chagrin, we did get over it. We then went on to take nearly every seat held by a British politician in Scotland. That wasn’t on the script. We were supposed to be dejected, crushed and utterly defeated. We were supposed to go “hame to labour” – only we didn’t. Maybe if they had won a victory of around 70/30 or 80/20 that is what would have happened. But the 45% aren’t going anywhere and they certainly are not embracing Britishness or going back to voting for British parties in Scotland anytime soon.

    The anger I think, stems from the fact that they don’t know how to win any of us over. They failed because Better together *was* their message of reconciliation. If they had approached it in a non partisan way, by saying essentially – Being Scottish is what made me British and Scotland has helped make Britain the success it is today. They might have had a better time of it. But they cast Scottishness as inferior to Britishness. To accept it in those terms was to accept that somehow you were worth less as a person by being Scottish. I could not accept that. I could never vote to be seen as that by the inhabitants of the rUK. I certainly don’t want to represented by a politician who thinks that as well. But at the end of the day they won. Their victory has cast Scotland in such a poor light that it may never again stand tall in the Union or the rUK as a whole.

    Scotland the Brave? Scotland the shite bag more like. And that’s what makes me angry. That’s what keeps me going. To have this conversation again and win. So I will keep voting for Scotland. Not Britain. And when the indyref comes around again – I will vote yes again and keeping voting yes til we win.

    • “Scotland the shite bag more like”,… Did make me laugh David!

      In fairness, let’s not forget how far we’ve come in – frankly – a very short time? The 30% becoming the 45% and now 50/50…. I hear your pleas and feel your anger and frustration, but we ARE getting there, and the more we travel down this rocky road toward this ultimate UK folly, the further it advances the case for independence. I’d imagine that not before too long we’ll have the naysayers throwing out little olive branches as they finally come to realise that they made up the largest part of those ‘shite bags’. 🙂

    • Been voting SNP at every available election since 1968. In the GE1970 the SNP gathered 306,802 votes. In GE2015 the SNP got 1,454,436 votes. The Blue Tories UK wide got 13,145,123 in 1970 and 11,300,109 in 2015. The Red Tories UK wide got 12,208,758 in 1970 and 9,347,324 in 2015. Keep voting for Scotland is a really good strategy and I’m sure we are very close to the tipping point for victory for independence.

    • I believe we won the Indyref but lost the count. This report would seem to back up that idea…………https://archive.is/AZCyP

      • A good informative post that really needs a wider audience so much relevant work can’t be allowed to disappear, this along with delivery in unmarked vans to the chaotic receiving centre in Glasgow that was witnessed and recorded, where did they come from who escorted them did they deviate from route who knows, I believe we won and were swindled out of a historic result, remember watergate wasn’t uncovered by accident it was hard work like this that toppled a president.

  8. The Three Stooges who denied use of the pound has been replaced by the Three Brexit Stooges.
    That was bad enough but it was the Scots who revelled in the denial and now expect the Scottish Government to make up the loss of EU funding that I’ve come to despise.

  9. “The other one I’ve noticed is the claim of Anglophobia. This seems to be logical at one level because of history but never stands up in reality. I know of no one who can be so described and can recall no discussion with any nationalist I know who has said anything racist about English people.”

    I came to Scotland in 1968 (aged 18) to go to university, and I have lived here ever since. My accent is East Midlands working-class, with a lot of Scottish words and intonations added over the decades. For the first 20 years my accent didn’t matter; it sometimes attracted a polite enquiry but nothing more. Then things changed; the comments became more frequent and at best insulting, at worst abusive. I could be minding my own business, ordering a pint in a pub, and a nearby stranger would hear my voice and come out with a snarky comment. On one occasion I was forcefully told that the English were “the mongrels of Europe”.

    That lasted for a dozen or so years and then gradually tailed off during the “noughties”. I have received no comments on my accent in recent years, but that period of Anglophobia was very real and still lives in memory. Where did it go? I think that the Scottish nationalist movement simply grew up and became outward looking: the very opposite of what a nationalist movement usually is. The movement for Scottish independence is now mature, rational and open in its outlook. I am glad to be a part of it.

  10. You muse, Derek,” I’m not sure when in our shared history things went wrong.”
    I’m a Baby Boomer, born in 1947, Clyde built.
    I spent my formative years immersed in ‘English’ popular culture, literature, the social and intellectual revolution .
    I write from embedded memory, hegemony if you like, of the Angry Young Men, Ealing Comedies, Boulting Brothers satires, Ken Loach /Bryan Forbes/ Mike Leigh productions challenging the post war status quo of the ‘English’ Establishment.
    Through a combination of farce, satire, and Cinema Verite, the New emerging Britain seemed to be rebellious, eloquent, striving towards a more equal faire society. An exciting and promising future lay ahead for the Common weal.
    The haves would no longer have it all.
    War veterans would no longer doff their caps to their betters. They had seen the world.
    How were the Belted Earls and Bankers going to keep them down on the farm now that they’d seen Paree?
    The rise of Democratic Socialism with teeth, and the NHS, state pensions, education for all, a living wage, Trades unions, was inevitable.
    We watched Ealing comedies which lampooned the Upper Class, a constant theme of the Little Guy taking on the Big Guy, and exposing the elitist pre WWII hierarchy for what it was, a Ruling Oligarchy of inherited wealth and status which benefitted the Few at the expense of the Many.
    Ealing churned out classic comedies:- ‘The Man in the White Suit.’, ‘Passport to Pimlico.’, ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets.’ Mill Owners, the hereditary Peerage, Food and Clothing Rations, were mercilessly lampooned.
    The Boulting Brothers searing satires:-‘Private’s Progress.’, ‘I’m Alright, Jack.’ had a go at both sides. The chinless wonder Officer Class, the spiv conscripts, the chinless wonder ‘gentlemen’ Officer Class, and the crooked Old School tie wasters, and the ‘everybody out’, British Diseased Bolshie Shop Stewards mini dictators, looking forward to visiting Mother Russia.
    Peter Sellars’ as Fred Kite, the doughty old TU Rep, and Ian Carmichael’s gormless toff Stanley Windrush reflect the ‘them and us’ struggle today, never mind 50 years ago.
    In tandem with this ostensibly light hearted tilt at the Establishment, there emerged a whole raft of post war authors, playwrights, directors, and film makers who were hell bent on raging against the Machine, dubbed, the Angry Young Men (and women); John Osborne, Allan Sillitoe, David Storey, Keith Waterhouse, Shelagh Delaney, Nell Dunn, John Braine, Harold Pinter, Kingsley Amis, and so on. Cinema Verite with an English twist, and kitchen sink dramas.
    Osborne’s ‘Look Back in Anger’, and ‘The Entertainer’; the sheer power of a young Richard Burton’s Jimmy Porter railing at the moon, and Laurence Olivier’s masterful performance as the faded jaded Archie Rice in the Entertainer.
    Shelagh Delaney’s, ‘A Taste Of Honey’, and ‘The L Shaped Room’, and tackling formerly taboo subjects like extra marital working class sex, homosexuality, and portraying young women as free thinking individuals.
    Alan Sillitoe’s, ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.’, ‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.’
    Albert Finney and Tom Courtney. Finney’s powerful performance as Arthur Seaton, sweating over a lathe in a Nottingham Bicycle factory (Raleigh’s?) by day, boozing and chasing women by night, with a don’t give a feck bad attitude. ‘Don’t let the bastards get you down’.
    Keith Waterhouse’s, ‘Billy liar’, ‘The Family Way’ ,’Whistle Down the Wind’ and, yes, ‘That Was the Week That was’.
    David Storey’s, ‘This Sporting Life.’ With a young Richard Harris as a raging bull.
    John Braine’s , ‘Room at the Top’, with Lawrence Harvey as Joe Lampton who will stop at nothing to climb the greasy social pole.
    Kingsley Amis, ‘Lucky Jim’ (Merrie England), ‘Only Two Can Play’ (That Uncertain Feeling.) Ian Carmichael and Peter Sellars again.
    Bill Naughton’s ‘Spring and Port Wine’, where James Mason excelled as the traditional Bolton Head of the Family battling against the changing 1960’s world of his offspring.
    Rodney Bewes appeared in this , later to star as social ladder climbing Bob Ferris as counterpoint to the inverted working class snobbery of James Bolam’s Terry Collier in Dick Clement’s and Ian La Frenais’, ‘60’s TV comedy series, ‘The Likely Lads’, and ten years’ later, ‘Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads.’
    BBC’s Wednesday Play brought us Ken Loach’s ‘Cathy Come Home’, one of the most harrowing pieces of TV Drama ever screened, starring Julie Christie, Nell Dunn’s ‘Up The Junction,’ and ‘Poor Cow’, about the not so Swinging London of the ‘Sixties.
    The courageous risks taken by ‘matinee idols’ like Dirk Bogarde in ‘Victim’ as a married barrister who gets caught up in a gay blackmail scandal, the first time (1961?) the word ‘homosexual’ was spoken in a British film.
    Or Peter Finch as a successful openly homosexual man in ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’’.
    Great courage, and conviction, smashing down barriers, chasing out taboos, questioning the old Institutions ‘morals and value.
    ‘The Boys From The Black Stuff’, ‘Auf Wiedersehen, Pet’, ‘Our Friends Up North’, ‘When The Boat Comes In’, ‘Abigail’s Party’. Magnificent stuff.
    Further back: HG Wells’ ‘Food of the Gods’. D H Lawrence’s ‘Sons and Lovers’. George Orwell’s ‘Road to Wigan Pier’, and Burmese Days’.

    They are all part of my shared ‘British’ experience with my English, Welsh, and Northern Irish neighbours. They helped shape me.
    John Lennon’s English ‘Working Class Heroes.’
    Joe Lampton, Fred Kite, Terry Collier, Bob Ferris, Archie Rice, Jimmy Porter, Billy Liar, Frank Machin.
    But we also had, The White Heather Club, Dr Finlay’s Case Book, The Maggie, Whisky Galore, The Black and White Minstrel Show, On the Buses, Love Thy Neighbour, Bernard Manning,
    Kenneth More was Douglas Bader, Richard Todd was bustin’ dams as Guy Gibson, and Jack Hawkins manned the decks on the Cruel Sea, singing ‘Who do you think you’re fooling, Mr Hitler, if you think Old England’s done?’
    Gordon Jackson was always the token Scot, playing second fiddle to Richard Attenborough’s Big X in ‘the Great Escape’.
    Alec Guinness’ Lieutenant Colonel in the Bridge on the River Kwai insists that as per the Geneva Convention captured officers are exempt from doing manual labour and working alongside the enlisted men. The Class divide.
    Perhaps the embedded ‘shared’ history described above accounts for so many over 65’s voting No and Leave?
    Where did our shared history go wrong?
    Ted Heath? The Three Day Week? The ‘British Disease’ of strikes and Far Left Union Leaders?
    Maggie Thatcher?
    The de-industrialisation of the Midlands, and the North of England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and of course Scotland?
    Privatisation, millions unemployed and on the scrap heap?
    It may be argued that Thatcher, and her Ultra Right Wing Avenging tory Party were the real ‘separatists’.
    London had always been the centre of the British Empire.
    In the past 40 years we have been thrown to the wolves by WM.
    We are second class citizens.
    The Brexit xenophobia merely brings it to the fore.
    I have always been Scottish. But these days, I no longer look back in anger, only forwards in hope.

    • What a post, Jack, agree with every word. But what happened? Maybe the euphoria waned a bit, the discourse shifted, the world elite got wind of what was happening, and soon people weren’t looking forward to being free to work just enough to live, they were back to worrying whether they had a job at all, and everything changed.

      • Marga, I pulled every reference, films, books, and plays which I set out in this post entirely from memory, with the odd dip into Wiki for a spell check, and chronology.

        The ‘English’ view of post war Britain is firmly embedded in my psyche, up until that is, as a young married, I was eating by candle light in the early ‘seventies, and Maggie Thatcher emerged from the pack and sold off our telephone, railways, gas, and oil.

        No such thing as society, only the individual.
        The rat race. Dog eat dog. Let the markets decide. Private good, public bad.
        Tony Blair spawn of Thatcher. No such thing as a job for life. PFI: The Iraq war: Introduce competition to the NHS.

        It had all gone sour and selfish.
        I still have the Corgi and Penguin paperbacks in my rambling library.

        Sillitoe, Storey, Waterhouse, Orwell, Osborne, they helped shape my teenage years.
        I write not , ‘pour rechercher les temps perdus’.

        Nostalgia’s not what it used to be.

        However I no longer feel that I have a common bond with the proverbial ‘mechanic in Liverpool.’

        I have an overwhelming sense that culturally, socially, economically, we are on different paths now.
        QT last night seems to confirm that.
        Self Determination as a member of the EU seems the only option .
        Peace and love, Marga.

  11. When I was young – Canada?South Africa? Australia? Wherever you fancied, and anyway jobs were plentiful here in the “UK” should you prefer to stay at home. Such opportunities are gone, and so we, in Scotland must move on.

    I remember a school gym teacher saying to a lad who wore a ring from his girl friend ” Don’t you know a sixpenny pie will now cost you a shilling?” And that’s where Scotland is – the allocation of scarce resources, but determined by Westminster and Scotland is not allowed to comment/determine the allocation of said resources, yet we have different priorities, social values, aspirations from England.

    Way back when life was much more stable – a steady job, a council house, most folk were content, and voted Unionist/Conservative. That way of life is gone, my generation needs to vote for independence, to support the generations following on.

  12. This time, the establishment Tory-Ukip and acolytes in Labour dahn sath have gone over the top. Somme tactics, cold steel, up and at them, but against whom?
    The Brexit step has put them on the outside. They have now to chap the door and ask to be allowed entry to discuss “better access” to the single market than we had as EU members with a veto.
    Now the 27 have the veto and are already enraged by the presumptuous mouthings of the “three” who think they can outfox johnny foreigner.
    The fall in the pound has not even caused tremors in Number 10. And we are still in the EU!!
    For the first time in 100 years Westminster will not be baled out on the global stage by others. The US in 1917, the US and the Soviet Union during WWII. We have no empire to draw on, colonies to bleed dry, and the industrial giants in the UK are foreign owned.
    What next?
    England will become in reality an insignificant archipelago of the former UK on the periphery of continental Europe. A Ruritanian throwback with bunting, toy soldiers in fancy uniforms, faux-archaic customs and language in its parliament and weapons of delusion.
    The hark back to a new Yacht called Britannia steaming from coaling station to coaling station round the globe signing trade deals with the natives underpins the delusion. Johnston refers back to Palmerston and the 19 th Century and conjures up stories about the Russian bear. Need one say more?

  13. The Duchy of Grand Fenwick, John.
    England needs psychiatric help.

  14. And now we learn that the WM cabinet committee in charge of Brexit will only have Scotland, Wales and N Ireland Secretarys present if the PM calls for them, and not as a matter of right. Somehow, I think that the “consultations” with the Scottish Government that Theresa May has in mind over Brexit will be more like the consultations I had with my mother when I was six years old.
    ” I know you don’t want to leave the party, but we’re going now. Mummy says so! So come along quietly and please don’t make a fuss!”
    Childhood is not a democracy, but we have to prove to her that we still live in one.

  15. A bit late reading this wonderful article Derek, but aren’t the comments fantastic. All these film and book references from Jack had my head reeling as I was back there in that time too. I was born in Glasgow in 1948 so shared his cinema going, book reading experiences.
    Looking back I see Thatcher as the catalyst. She caused such division within our country and communities.She didn’t want miners in mines, she thought it was a dreadful job, why would anyone want to do that? She wanted London to be “the financial capital of the world”. Well that’s going to work out well.
    My husband is English and with his background should be Tory but thankfully is not.
    We had lived in Devon and West and East Sussex before moving back to Scotland 15 years ago. He recognised that I was treated as a “foreigner” there but he had not had that experience in Scotland. Strangely his experience is of people’s amazement at him being a member of the SNP and a campaigner for Yes. Just this week three individuals in our village, all Unionist, have said to him, ” but you’re English!” Then proceeded to question him about his ancestry, and shocked to find that he has no Scots blood in his veins- as far as he knows- and he can trace his ancestry back to 1580!

Leave a Reply