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Zombie Britain



A report out today confirms what has motivated the independence movement for years: the realisation that Britain is an archaic, centralised society based on privilege and the hereditary principle that closes doors to the many and paves the way for the few. A new report by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission which studies the backgrounds of more than 4,000 business, political, media and public sector leaders, describes the UK as ‘deeply elitist’. It outlines how small elites, educated at independent schools and Oxbridge, still dominate top roles, and that these key institutions do not represent the public they serve.

This is a Zombie Nation, ruled by hereditary principle, behind closed doors, away from the light of day and the honesty of open and equal competition based on merit.

The commission says its findings are based on one of the most detailed analyses of its type ever undertaken.

It found that those who had attended fee-paying schools included:

  • 71% of senior judges
  • 62% of senior armed forces officers
  • 55% of permanent secretaries (the most senior civil servants)
  • 53% of senior diplomats.

While just 1% of the population were Oxbridge graduates, 75% of senior judges, 59% of the cabinet, and, amazingly 47% of newspaper columnists went to Oxford or Cambridge.

This elitism leaves “leading institutions less informed, less representative and, ultimately, less credible than they should be”, meaning they focus “on issues that are of salience only to a minority but not the majority in society”.

This won’t be a surprise to many people, but it does destroy the case for ‘business as usual’, it does smash the case for complacency that is ‘UK:OK’. Read the report ‘Elitist Britain’ here (pdf). 

But Britain is ruled by the Undead in more ways than the stultifying manner in which the elite blocks the path to meritocracy. The entire image and identity of Anglo-Britain is based  on looking backwards to past glory; it’s the driving force behind its militarism and it’s the psychological driver behind the obsession with Trident. A country committed to WMD is a country enthralled to a death-cult.

This Culture of the Undead is why the Better Together campaign has been so incapable of presenting a future-looking prospect for the UK.  It’s why we still venerate the celebrity feudalism of the monarchy. It’s why Ian Duncan Smith is allowed to take us back to the Victorian era of poor laws, and why the long-ago-abandoned House of Lords reform leave us stranded in a hereditary democracy. It’s why half of the country’s privately owned land is held by just 432 owners and a mere 16 owners hold 10% of Scotland: this is a zombie culture.

Behind the closed doors of the elite is the place where the culture of backhand deals are done, where expenses are brushed through, where celebrity sexual abuse remains unexamined, where key institutions like the police, the media and military are allowed to carry on unchecked and where deregulation allows the bankers, spivs and speculators to trash the economy.

The time for breaking down the door of elite rule is long past. Independence represents the best opportunity to begin to transform this dead culture of privilege.

This is expressed in how we do politics too. How closed party machines rule Westminster. It’s a vision that has been handed over wholesale to Labour to front, define and articulate, after the assumption that the Tory brand was too toxic for the task. The truth is that post-Blair we have been handed Brown’s Britain, patented slogan: ‘Better Yesterday’.
As Tom Nairn has put it:
Brown was not of course elected, parachuted from On High, or installed by an indignant mob: over many years he materialized in fits and starts, glimpsed intermittently like a ghost from times past, brooding but saying almost nothing. Then suddenly the spirit was there, seated all too comfortably in the Anglo-Brit living room, account-books and Britannic sermons to hand. The armchair’s previous occupant had left for Jerusalem. Such is death in life.”
Since then David Cameron has been resplendent in Olympic and Jubilee ceremonial, testimony to the past and Chief Celebrant of the Undead. It’s time for a real live democracy.



Comments (20)

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  1. Eviscerating work on the Zombies, Mike. Just stumbled across this whilst trying to shake the undead out of Simon Pia (some hope but we must keep trying)- Hughie Green spouting blood and guts and calling on Scots to Stand Up And Be Cunted http://youtu.be/64z16Vd69Vs

  2. Let’s not forget that these elitist and unequal institutions currently receive taxpayer subsidy.

    The poor are paying for the privilege of the rich to send their children to private schools.

    I have recently started a petition to the Scottish Parliament to remove charitable status from private schools, please sign here if you agree.


  3. Christine Wood says:

    This should really say elitist England, where are the schools, unis, judges etc of scotland in this list, where are they accounted for?

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      True – I think the research focuses on the Anglo-British elite, but I wouldn’t kid ourselves that a Scottish equivalent doesn’t exist too?

      1. Clootie says:

        They run London and London runs us. They only visit for shooting and fishing.

  4. Tog says:

    If Britain = Zombie Nation what does this make Edinburgh? I suspect the dominance of a small self selecting elite is stronger here than any other part of Britain.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Possibly true. Do you think they will remain unaffected by the break up of the British state?

      1. Tog says:

        No, I suspect within about ten years they will probably be running the country. The biggest opportunity for them since the break up of the empire.

      2. Adam Neilson says:

        Comprehensive land (and tax) reform will go a long way to remove that elite from their positions.
        Anyone who’s read Andy Whightman’s ‘And the Poor had No Lawyers’ can see what needs to be done – and that that can only happen in an Independent Scotland.

        I’ve said this before, but with AW coming out for Yes – I’d put him in charge of land reform.

        I’ve no idea how he’d respond to that. Perhaps Bella can ask him ?

        Now that could cause some serious worry among those who own far to much of Scotland, and who’s ancestors wrote the laws protecting them from genuine reform.

        1. bellacaledonia says:

          I asked him that very question last Friday in Biggar. He agreed.

  5. Clootie says:

    I have every confidence that the new “public political ownership” which emerges from the foundation laid down by the YES campaign will not allow Scotland to hand over control.

    If we become a mini-UK then what was the point of the change.
    A more equal society is the goal, correct?

    The common weal must be the direction of travel away from the current model.

    We are heading back to the 19th. Century UK at present.

    1. Adam Neilson says:

      Clootie : Shortly after the last Westminster GE, it was Andrew Neil who fronted a TV documentary that proved Westminster today is the most elitist, wealthiest, privileged, and ‘Christian’ (the right wing ‘fundamentalist’ version) UK Parliament since WW1.
      Sadly AN is a comprehensive school lad who’s now become a part of the wider London elite.

      There’s also very interesting 2011 report from the Electoral Reform Society called ”Women’s Representation in Wales and Scotland”.
      The report looks at political representation in all the UK parliaments, and while Wales and Scotland get a ‘very good, but could do better’, Westminster gets a ‘woeful’, and Northern Ireland gets ‘even worse that Westminster’.

      Combine that with the lack of public schoolboys and girls at Holyrood, and the fact that most SNP, Labour, LibDem, Green, and Independent MSP’s come from very ‘ordinary’ backgrounds, and I think we’re getting there.

      I’ve met many SNP MSP’s who are passionate supporters of the Common Weal project, and the biggest attendance at any fringe event during the 2013 Autumn Conference was at a ‘Common Weal’ event sponsored by STUC Yes supporters.
      Over 300 attended – almost all SNP activists or MSP’s – and heard passionate speeches from Robin McAlpine and Christina McKelvie.

      I wasn’t the only one who considered that event my ‘conference highlight’.

      Has there been anything similar at a ‘Scottish’ Labour conference ?

      I’m confident that there will be no ‘mini-uk’ at Holyrood, and although it will take time (I doubt if I’ll see it), we will see a confident, successful, fair and equal Scotland based on those Common Weal principles.

      It’s why most of us will be voting Yes on the 18th September, and we aren’t going to simply disappear after we win.
      In 2016 I’m expecting to see new faces and new parties entering Holyrood, and we just have to look at the wider Yes campaign to identify the likely candidates.

  6. Adam Neilson says:

    Had quick look at the ‘Elitist Britain’ report (it’s mostly graphics) and was disappointed to see yet another ‘UK/British’ report that’s exclusively about England.
    In fact it rarely leaves London !

    It even refers to ‘the national rugby team’ and ‘national cricket team’, and I didn’t find a single Welsh, Northern Irish, or Scottish contributor to the ‘how I got to where I am’ sections – making the report just as elitist as those individuals and institutions it’s pointing accusing fingers at.
    Then again, it IS Alan Milburn, and anyone who reads his Guardian pieces will be very aware he doesn’t recognise Wales, NI, or Scotland.
    He actually thinks there are things like ‘the UK education system’, the ‘British police’, the ‘British legal system’, a ‘UK NHS’ and dozens more Milburn examples taken from several hundred (over last year) of ‘England is the UK’ articles I’ve kept a record of. – and Milburn is among the Top 5 offenders.

    No mention of politics outside Westminster, which is a shame. Direct comparisons would have been very revealing as the last time I checked, of the 25 or so Holyrood ‘Ministers’ only two went to private schools, and it’s much the same in the Labour seats.
    There are only two Old Etonians, and both are Tories.

    I think we should be very proud of that (and I’m English) !

    1. Dean Richardson says:

      Part of the reason why the Westminster/Whitehall classes refer to ‘UK’/’British’ when they should be saying ‘English’ is that they refuse to recognise England as a nation in its own right. If they started referring to the English NHS, the English education system, they fear that English people will start to wonder if their public services and institutions are different from their counterparts in the Divided Kingdom’s other nations. They simply want us in England to think of ourselves as British, rather than English. Bit late for that, I’m afraid, as the last census showed.

  7. Douglas says:

    I wonder what the numbers are for top arts administrator jobs in Scotland are?

    No, in fact, I don’t, I know the answer: maybe 80%?

  8. Sooz says:

    August 28, 2014 • 14:48

    I asked him that very question last Friday in Biggar. He agreed.


    Yay! That’ll put the wind up ’em. Can we mention Land Tax?? (I can hear the querulous whinnying of the aristocs from here).

    Terrific article – in both senses of the word. Time we left them to it.

  9. barakabe says:

    I tend to find among many Anglo-Scot Unionist types that when my similar criticisms of the British State are quietly interpreted as disloyal to the Nation; often met with the riposte of bragging exaggerated patriotism in “How Britain made the world”- revisionism isn’t just in the Fleet Street columns but alive in well in the conservatories of middle Scotland. This sort of narrow Unionist patriotism is the bad blood that feeds much of the pompous arrogant & overblown Brit Nationalism we see so much of down south; indeed it’s this hubristic cultural chauvinism that is the most deadly blind spot at the very heart of the elite establishment, & the main reason the UK lags so far behind most other northern European nations in terms of social progress- “Johnny foreigner & his funny ways can teach us nothing” sums up the Telegraph & Daily Mail mindset. This explains much of the Anglo-xenophobia, the obsession with “foreigners”, the Brit-Nat racial chauvinism & comical pride of their nationalistic narcissism. The Unionists also pay absolute homage to wealth ( viewed as it is as a final seal of approval from their Mammonite God) & this veneration of wealth borders on religious fanaticism- the lowest class of Unionist would rather be represented by a mediocre rich man than by a gifted man of lower status; hence the reverence over opulent clowns like Boris Johnson & Nigel Farage. The bottom line is the account margin for the Unionist: everything must yield a profit, even the NHS, says the logic of the shopkeeper & the accountant. Know the price of everything, including the limits of democracy. This is the reason the Unionist Press have conditioned the English public to the idea of Scotland as a subsidy junkie, as a distant region of scroungers- there’s nothing worse in the mind of a Little Englander than someone who isn’t solvent. And the thought of Scotland reneging on their share of the debt is the stuff of horror stories to such types. Everyone must pay their way. A man only has himself to blame for his condition. There’s a terrible stigma attached to being born poor or coming to poverty through misfortune- this is the reason we see the callous treatment of the most vulnerable in our society among the Unionist establishment. Yet the Establishment undermines itself on all fronts with the short term nature of their unregulated greed- at one time the very foundation stone of the establishment was the absolute right of private property ( an Englishman’s house is his castle etc). But even this is secondary to money & profit- you only have to look at what’s happening with Fracking & how Westminster & the establishment are steamrollering private property rights in order to extract the black gold sitting between the seams under the earth- as I said earlier: The bottom line is the account margin for the establishment- everything else, including the reward of ermine, is mere smokescreen.

  10. brian mitchell says:

    A friend is manager overall of 5 British factories he says the CBI confederation of British industry tie his hands so he cant employ british workers, he said the emphasis is to employ foreign first, he said the government tell the CBI and they pass it down the food chain, this i think from our own government is disgusting but why do they do this please anyone ??

    1. Dean Richardson says:

      It’s because the entire British establishment, from Westminster/Whitehall down, is full of treacherous vermin, and has been for decades, certainly most of the post-WWII period. Sometimes I can’t help wishing the people of this kingdom were a bit like the French people of 220-odd years ago, or even the Romanians of 25 years ago. it was no wonder that one of the first pieces of legislation of the Bliar regime was to take the death penalty for treason off the statute book. They knew just how traitorous they and nearly all the denizens of that scum hole by the Thames are.

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