The auto-sneer which is attached to George Osborne’s face and is nature’s warning to the commonality that evil spirits lurk within took on the extra girn-layer of a skelped arse last week when that well known revolutionary body the House of Lords voted against his planned £4.4 billion cuts to “tax credits”. Now that “Gideon” has slimmed down so that he can be used as Satan’s pipe-cleaner he has become more like the Bond villain of a bad dream. I am reminded of the haiku by the 17th century Japanese master Basho which roughly translates as
“Year by year,
the monkey’s mask
reveals the monkey.”
In truth, with the British Conservatives, there never has been much of a mask to let slip. There is no repressive measure they will not endorse if it benefits their clique. There is nothing they will not betray if it means their class gains an advantage. Even within that scenario there is no individual who will not be readily sacrificed if it means power, wealth and influence remains with those who are “entitled” to inherit and wield it. From the crowned heads of “this sceptre’d isle” to the toff wanna-be’s of the nouveaux riches there is no myth sacred enough that it cannot be trashed, no belief so sincerely held that it cannot be abandoned, no reality so blatant that it cannot be denied and no weakness so human that it cannot be exploited for pecuniary accruement. The Tory Party and the ruling class they represent despise empathy, are allergic to sympathy and value nothing other than their own advancement.
It is not just this current crop of “British” Bullingdon Club barbarians hand fed on the livers and kidneys of the poor that we have had to contend with, the Scots – especially in the Highlands – have had to wrestle with successive bands of marauding “mi’lords” ever since the Battle of Waterloo. They have enclosed our land, swallowed our resources, evicted our people, legislated against our culture and emasculated our political life in feudalism and privilege. We can convince ourselves, on a good day, that the current Scottish Government and the Parliament in Edinburgh both represents and protects us from the worst excesses of these voracious and corrupt pirates but in truth we are kidding ourselves, just as we are fooling ourselves that the House of Lords “revolted” against Osborne’s proposed tax credit cash grab – they did not, they just postponed the inevitable for a while.
The Scottish Government is an administration: the real power still lies in London. London cares for nothing but London and it is in the City of London where the Tories financialise their policy to suit their paymasters. If the monkey mask slipped then it slipped on the 19th of September 2014 when David Cameron announced his scheme for “English votes for English laws” and displayed that there was nothing he would not cynically trash, including the Union, in order to hold onto power.
The Treaty of Union in 1707, in reality, was a consolidating manoeuvre by the establishment – in England this was a Whig affair as the Tories were generally against the Union of Parliaments – to retain power and develop an empire. Now the Tories are the Conservative and Unionist Party and how they have changed and how they have stayed the same! They hang onto the myth of the British Empire while at the same time selling off the commodities and manufacturing capacity of the British State to whoever pays the most, most recently China. They mouth platitudes about their beloved Union while, consciously or not, are undermining its very fabric with their every act. The Whigs, who became the Liberals in the 19th century, these days – as we saw in the coalition of the last UK Government – are no better. In fact political parties, to the ruling elite and the barons of finance, mean very little. In reality the mask is called Principle and when it slips the monkey face of money is what is revealed. Wealth is Principal in London and nothing else matters and there is no such thing as Principle. Wealth is power and nothing else will do. Any opposition to the power of wealth and the elite who enjoy it must be undermined, ridiculed, opposed and destroyed at all costs. That is the lesson from “British” history – which is, to paraphrase Stephen Daedalus in James Joyce’s Ulysses, a nightmare from which we are all trying to waken. It is the on-going conspiracy of the government against the people. The elite conspire against everybody and everything that stands in their way, including government if needs be. The democratic mask slips and reveals a tyranny.
The monkey mask on the face of the British establishment is made of iron. The current branding and fetishizing of the royal family is a case in point. The reality, on the other hand, is a bit different. On August 25th in 1942 an RAF Sunderland “flying boat”, carrying amongst its crew of 12 and the 3 passengers on the manifest, a certain George, the Duke of Kent and brother of King George VI, ploughed into a hillside not far from Morven in the eastern Caithness Highlands killing everybody on board except the tail gunner who, on impact, was flung clear. What has this got to do with the mask of tyranny, you may ask? Well, quite a lot.
Fifteen dead bodies were identified, including that of the Duke of Kent. Yet with the surviving tail gunner Andrew Jack, who was recovered some time later wandering concussed and confused in the hills, this made 16. So who was the extra body? There is a theory that it was none other than Rudolph Hess, Hitler’s Deputy Fuhrer who had “mysteriously” flown solo to Scotland in 1941 to negotiate a peace deal with Britain. But surely, you may reasonably ask, did not Hess stand trial at Nuremberg after the war and was he not sentenced to life imprisonment in Spandau? The conspiracy is that the real Hess who was captured in 1941 was replaced by a body double and it was this double who acted as Hess at Nuremberg and that before he went on trial he was drugged by the British security services so that his testimony was so rambling and incoherent that it made Hermann Goering laugh.
Whether this is just a conspiracy or not what is known is that the Duke of Kent and his elder brother who abdicated as King Edward VII had real pro-German, even Nazi sympathies and that prominent figures in the British establishment in 1942 were conspiring to depose Churchill who they blamed for the loss of Singapore and the reverses in North Africa. In truth they feared “Bolshevism” more than they did the Nazi’s. At the height of World War Two, in its darkest days, it is sobering to think that instead of “us all being in this together” elements of the aristocracy, of landed gentry and certain politicians were contemplating betraying the people of Britain. The conspiracy runs that instead of going to Iceland where he was ordered to go the Duke of Kent had picked up the “real” Rudolph Hess from Loch More on the estate of Archibald Sinclair, then Air Minister, and was heading for Sweden for a parley with the Germans in order to broker a peace deal. The neighbouring estate to Sinclair’s belonged to Victor Cavendish-Bentinck who was the 9th Duke of Portland and who was also Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee of the Chiefs of Staff which oversaw and co-ordinated all British intelligence agencies. It was in Cavendish-Bentinck’s lodge at Braemore the “real” Rudolph Hess was supposed to have been staying. The conspiracy then develops its wings, so to speak, and suggests that Churchill rumbled all of this and had the Duke of Kent “taken out”.
Now I am quite prepared to admit that this may be a load of old bollocks and as a story would have more purchase on a stage as a play than as an episode of real history. However the actual cause of the crash of the Sunderland flying boat into a Caithness hillside in August 1942 has never been satisfactorily explained. Nor what it was doing there in the first place, travelling over land where it was forbidden to fly, and proceeding in completely the wrong direction. Andrew Jack, the surviving tail gunner, was forced to sign a silencing order as he lay recovering in hospital and the extra body has also never been explained. The other depressing aspect to this is that the Strathmore estate, where the Sunderland is alleged to have landed on Loch more, still belongs to the Sinclair’s as does the Braemore estate to the Cavendish-Bentinck’s.
Ten years later another set of Cambridge educated toffs, Burgess, Maclean and Philby, actually did betray Britain to the Soviet’s while MI5 were looking for subversives within the ranks of the politically organised working class. I am confident that history will show us just who hates who and despite what David Cameron may allude it is not the Jeremy Corbyn’s of this world who are likely to betray the people they are supposed to represent.
As I write this it is the 1st of November which is Samhain, the first day of Winter in the old Celtic calendar – the day when the spirits of the dead walk upon the earth with the spirits of the living. Last year, between December and March, 22,000 deaths were registered in Scotland according to the National Records of Scotland, the highest number since the Winter of 1999. This increase was 4,060, up from 1,600 the previous year and out of this increase 1,940 were in the 85+ age bracket with a further 1,240 among those aged between 75 and 84. Although there is no single direct cause for this mortality increase Theresa Fyffe, the director of the Royal College of Nursing Scotland has said that it is “indefensible” that some of the country’s most vulnerable people were still living in cold or difficult to heat homes. She has gone on to say: “Nurses are on the front line of caring for patients and are all too familiar with the stories behind these winter-mortality statistics. Ending cold homes and cutting fuel bills through improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes should be a priority for political parties.”
Well, it is not. George Osborne’s planned, and inevitable tax credit cuts will cost the poorest Scottish families an estimated £400 million. No Tory flannel about a “living wage” and no amount of Labour abstentions will compensate for that. Once again duplicity is spun as progress. How many more vulnerable and innocent people are going to have to die before we see through the political myth of the “deficit” and see it for what it is: a rouse to rob the poor in order to pay for the follies of the rich? Manufactured poverty and needless death is the real conspiracy.
Year by year, as Basho reminds us in his haiku, “the monkey’s mask” is slipping and the emerging anti-democratic agenda of the ruling class is being seen for what it is: the enemy of the majority. The Tories in Scotland are the un-dead walking the political night. Labour, for all Kazia Dugdale may have said in Perth, are their doppelgängers. The sooner we in Scotland, metaphorically speaking, plunge our democratic stake through the heart of the matter the better. The SNP can take no comfort from any of this because they have displayed the same bad habits of power and if they do not address this slippage, when independence comes, they too will go the way of all corruption. The value of political representation is in the truth and conspiracies against the truth will always eventually fail. The monkey will always be revealed. Even if he does, unfortunately, have a face like a skelped arse. At least when he is seen in the daylight of truth the monkey will have stopped sneering.