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“Alex Salmond is right “Cameron doesn’t speak for England, he speaks for a Westminster elite” Go for it, Scotland” – Billy Bragg

The last few days marks a change in the referendum debate. Cameron’s Olympically disastrous intervention (“The United Kingdom has only seven months to “save the most extraordinary, buccaneering, brilliant country in history“), Salmond’s calm systematic response to Matt Frei, Rory the Tory’s bizarre Borders idea, Alistair Darling’s legally precarious anonymous smear, Billy Bragg and Jonathan Freedland’s inputs (and the hysterical reaction of some) are part of a cumulative gestalt switch.

Several things flow. First, tactics should change from the low-hanging fruit of Don’t Know voters (who are coming across anyway) to the soft underbelly of No doubters. Second, Salmond should ignore the demented Lamont and the second rate opposition at Holyrood and respond only to the Prime Minister. The aim should shift from creating the progressive beacon to unstitching the Westminster Establishment, and in doing so unlocking the reluctant Labour Yes mandate.

Jonathan Freedland’s analysis is flawed but hits a high note of clarity. It’s like a penny has dropped in the mainstream English media (If I were a Scot, I might vote yes to independence):

Since 1979 Britain has been breaking away from what used to be called the postwar settlement. Led by an overdominant London and south-east, British politics has been tugged rightward. The prevailing ethos of the past 35 years has been one of turbo-capitalism, privatisation and a shrinking welfare state. Yes, the process was begun by Margaret Thatcher, but Tony Blair and Gordon Brown did little to stop it, and in some cases accelerated it. And Scotland wants no part of it.

Cameron’s precarious place – teetering between the Shires foaming at the mouth with decades-stoked tabloid fervor  and the barely coherent uber-bland Miliband Labour void – propped up by Nick’s discredited Mondeo Party – is the perfect leverage point for Yes to mobilise. To mobilise not just Scottish independence but unlock a new settlement for England and Wales too.

Cameron’s endless shallows has been brutally exposed this week. Here’s Gerry Hassan:

…the continual rhapsody of British exceptionalism and uniqueness with Cameron calling the UK ‘the most extraordinary country in history’, even using the language of the Olympics to invoke this: ‘Team GB – the greatest winning team in the history of the world’.

This is related to the widely invoked meme that ‘the UK is the greatest ever union created by humanity’ which is an incredulous, fact-defying statement. Great for whom and decided by who? It is not great in terms of how it treats its people, whether its poorest, who it demonises, targets and punishes, or the super-rich, who it fawns over and never lectures about rights, responsibilities and its moral and ethical behaviour.

As Hassan points out, whilst the Ukanians try and hold dear to continuity back to the Magna Carta, in fact, the ‘UK’ only dates from 1801, and for Ireland from 1922.

The harsh reality is that Cameron’s utterances lack substance or traction, north or south of the border. His party in Scotland is a dark shadow. His campaign leader is described as ‘comatose’ and his credibility seeps away daily as he avoids debate. The problem for the Prime Minister and his power nexus is the construct they rely on – Britain – is unraveling before their eyes.

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  1. Hen Broon says:

    Cameron proclaims Chris Hoy as a staunch unionist. I wonder what his evidence is?

    His Dad unfurled a Saltire at his medal cermonies?

    Did you also notice how very carefull Andy Murray was to avoid contact witht the strategically placed Union Flag as he lifted his Wimbeldon award?

  2. Sadly, even people like Bragg seem, at times, the mouth piece of the anglo-british establishments world view. When Billy Bragg extols the benefits a South West regional assembly would bring whilst dismissing out of hand our campaign for a Cornish assembly (supported by a petition of 50,000 signatures) it makes me wonder.

  3. Reblogged this on An Sionnach Fionn and commented:
    An excellent examination of the disastrous intervention into Scotland’s independence dabate by the leadership of Greater England. Never has so much self-inflicted damage been wrought by so few people!

  4. steven luby says:

    I strongly suspect that a slow,deliberate retreat is what we are currently witnessing. British Establishment have nothing of sustance,it never really has,this establishment is nothing but words losing its voice in the ether. The media are carrying the sound into our homes and people are now questioning what they hear. That’s what a healthy population should be doing and the establishment know this.

  5. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

    The UK or the United Kingdom of Great Britain came into existence with the parliamentary union treaty of 1706 enacted in 1707. The abolition of the Irish parliament created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. The British State reverted to its original denomination with the creation of the dominion status Irish Free State in 1922. The “united” entities referred to in the treaty are England, to which Wales was annexed, and Scotland. What England, Wales and N. Ireland might style themselves after the UK ceases to exist is a brain-teaser. An attempt will be made by Westminster to claim continuity and succession with the previous state and the right to continue using the style United Kingdom. Given Scottish independence signals dissolution of that state such a claim should be ardently resisted.

  6. BillfaeDenny says:

    If Alistair Darling has any real evidence to support his claim that the SNP Government is intimidating anyone then he should name names, otherwise we can only assume that this is yet more unsubstantiated smearing by Better Together ( which no doubt will receive prominent coverage in the mainstream media of Scotland).
    The only evidence I have of intimidation in relation to universities is that of the BBC aimed at Dr John Robertson of UWS who had the temerity to publish the results of a 12 month study which concluded that BBC/STV news coverage was biased in favour of the No camp. Strange how Mr D makes no mention of this, but perhaps he has no knowledge of the report following it’s suppression by our MSM. (If he is ignorant then I’ll ask for confirmation from the next flying pig that glides my way).
    If I were one of the undecided I would be looking for Mr Darling to tell me why I would be better in the Union, surely there must be something positive he can say about it, or it so barren of positives that he has to resort to fabricating stories to smear opponents?

  7. sean mcgee says:

    The simple truth is that the South East metropolitan area of Uk began wrenching itself away from any union, political, social, economic or aspirational with Thatcher and has continued ever since. Large swathes of disenfranchised England recognise this. Any real union was broken long ago and its spokespersons are speaking for the brutal privatised regime spearheaded by finance capitalism and are now reduced to the desperate debased coinage of “family” and “team” G.B.. it is significant that they have no other vision to offer.

    1. umbra13 says:

      The wrenching away was visible long before Thatcher. Here is Andrew Fletcher on the place of London in the English body politic in 1703: “Do you not think them wronged, in that almost all the treasure of England is yearly laid out in this place, and by that means the substance of the other parts exhausted, and their rents and revenues diminished? (…) For this vast city is like the head of a rickety child, which by drawing to itself the nourishment that should be distributed in due proportions to the rest of the languishing body, becomes so over-charged, that frenzy and death unavoidably ensue.”

  8. As ever, Ian Hamilton QC was there at the beginning of the week: “We may save Scotland by our exertions and England by our example.”


  9. Paddy Scott Hogg says:

    Brilliant piece Mike. Intellect and humanity in cohesive balance of values are the light shining the path ahead for those of us pushing YES forward, with boundaries broader in scope than the White Paper which is essentially a first template of what we plan. You cant show all your cards in one go. Slowly more and more people are realising that Right wing Westminster dominated exceptionalism.has been entrenched since Thatcher. The old Labour consensus politics of 1945 onward was turned into a class war by Thatcher to eradicate union clout and drive down a resurgent working class with unemployment and poverty as its twin engines and weapons to return the class elites of England back to their previous dominance. And the Langs et al of Scotland ground us down here.The new right wing consensus of legitimised greed is as much about silver-back DOMINANCE ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR as it is about politics. Labour has allowed consensus politics of the Bevan era to die and accepted the new Right wing neo-liberal consensus. To shed your political and ideological skins to feed from the frothy trough of media driven slogans whose IQ level doesnt breach a 12 year old’s level is the fate Blair dragged the once proud Labour party down to. They have become;a group of numpties playing marketing games within a media dominated by tabloid idiocy and have not the sense to see the Chomskyian delimiters of political debate were set for them, not set by them.. The right wing New Labour party of the rich elites double-speaking a shibboleth of echoed Socialism.These marketing gurus were lost in the marketing image trees and could not see the real world woods around them, so infatuated by the success of a headline or two as they grinned with iniquity in the mirrored images of their ambition, hell-bent on power. one day maybe Labour in Scotland will find their soul again. After hearing Frank Roy MP in Motherwell last friday I dont hold out much hope. It was like listening to a dumb Tory whose only fear is getting a P45.

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