Scottish independence would leave Brexit England small, isolated and alone, unable to avoid the truth that it’s neither great nor exceptional.
First published in October 2021.
The Conservatives, as we all know, have a deep and abiding aversion to giving government money to those they deem poor or feckless – although of course if you are rich and feckless that’s quite a different matter. The Tories fall over themselves to give tax breaks, grants, and civil list payments to the obscenely wealthy even as they snatch a measly £20 a week away from the poorest families in the country and refuse to pay for school meals for kids living in poverty. These modern day Scrooges who believe in squeezing the low paid and the poor in order to subsidise the wealthy who support and fund their party are entirely transactional when it comes to the expenditure of public money, they only support it when it provides an immediate benefit for themselves.
These are people who have slashed the foreign aid budget and who refuse to pay the full rent in a social housing home where there is a spare bedroom. Yet they also insist loudly and vociferously that Scotland is a massive drain on the UK Treasury requiring the transfer of billions of pounds of English taxpayers’ money in order to keep those ungrateful Caledonian natives in deep fried heroin mars bars and the worst state pension in Europe. And we are supposed to believe that they do all this out of charity and altruism, seeking nothing in return even though Scotland remains stubbornly immune to the dubious charms of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and so resistant to voting Conservative that the patrician idiot Alister Jack was their best option for the post of Scotland Secretary and the remaining Scottish Conservative contingent make your mad alcoholic uncle’s Facebook page look like a bastion of logic, wit and reason.
Of course it is a lie that Scotland is an economic basket case utterly dependent on the largess of Westminster and uniquely incapable among the nations of northwestern Europe of providing a decent standard of living and adequate public services for its citizens. Scotland has an embarrassment of natural and human resources and there is every reason to believe that an independent Scotland freed from the warped tax and spend priorities of Westminster could marshal those resources far more efficiently to provide the people of Scotland with a higher standard of living and better public services than they currently have as a part of the United Kingdom.
However the real reason that the Conservatives are so desperate to hang on to Scotland has got nothing to do with what is best for Scotland. The Conservatives care as much about what is best for Scotland as Johnson does about taking personal responsibility for his own failures, or indeed for his own children. What is best for Scotland doesn’t even enter into their consideration, or their awareness for that matter. If they had any consideration for Scotland at all they would not have imposed a damaging hard Brexit on Scotland, a Brexit which we learned this week has had a catastrophic effect on Scottish exports, which have dropped 14% in the past year alone and there is still no sign of the much vaunted trade opportunities which the Conservatives promised us.
The reason the Conservatives want to keep Scotland has everything to do with their own Anglo-British nationalism. Scotland is of course a highly convenient site to park the UK’s nuclear Viagra, the trident missiles that allow Anglo-British nationalist politicians to pretend that the UK is still a global power and not just a tame adjunct to the Pentagon. The loss of Scotland would most likely bring about the loss of the UK’s military bases on the Clyde and that in turn would threaten the UK’s claim to a permanent seat on the UN Security council and the veto this gives the UK on UN resolutions.
Scottish independence has the potential to set off a chain of events all of which would do serious injury to the ego of British nationalism and make the delusional myth of British exceptionalism impossible to sustain. Scottish independence could make the reunification of Ireland more likely. It would undermine the claims to Britishness of those in the north who base their British identities on their family origin in Scotland as well as creating in an independent Scotland another country with a strong interest in finding a permanent solution to the problems created by the British state on the island of Ireland.
Scottish independence would also put rocket boosters under the campaign for Welsh self-determination, and create an empowered and enthused independence movement in Wales.
The independence of Scotland could have as its eventual outcome an England shorn of the countries and territories that Anglo-British nationalists regard as appendages properly ruled over and dictated to by Westminster. That would be an England which was unable to maintain the Anglo-British conceit of greatness. It would be a country of just 130,279 sq km (50,301 sq miles), smaller than Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Spain, Italy, Greece, Romania, Belarus, or Bulgaria, and with 56 million people it would have a smaller population than France, Italy, Germany, or Turkey. Furthermore it would be an England which had alienated itself from its EU neighbours. Even with the extra clout provided by Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the UK has failed to find a post-Brexit role for itself. That’s a task which will be so much more difficult when England is stripped of what Anglo-British nationalists see as its last possessions.
When the Tories warn that Scotland is too small too poor and too powerless to go it alone, it’s really their fears for England that they are airing. An independent Scotland wouldn’t be going it alone, one of the most pressing reasons for Scottish independence is so that Scotland can restore and rebuild the close ties with Europe that Anglo-British nationalists severed with Brexit. Scottish independence would leave Brexit England small, isolated and alone, unable to avoid the truth that it’s neither great nor exceptional and facing the realisation that it is utterly incapable of imposing its will on other countries, even the smaller nations of this archipelago. Many supporters of Scottish independence want independence in order for Scotland to be a normal country. Being a normal country is what England’s Conservative Anglo-British nationalists fear above all else. That’s what England would be after Scottish independence, and that’s why it’s the Tories’ worst nightmare.
— AUTHOR —
▫ Wee Ginger Dug, also known as Paul Kavanagh. Blogger.
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[This piece was originally published in Wee Ginger Dug’s blog and re-published in PMP Magazine on 14 October 2021, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]
(Cover: Geograph/P L Chadwick. - Welcome to Scotland sign on the A7 road, near Scotsdike, Dumfries & Galloway. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)