Engerland swings like a pendulum do

"The flabby, corpulent Greater Englandism of the establishment"

“The flabby, corpulent Greater Englandism of the establishment”

by Irvine Welsh

I’ve lived most of my adult life in England. A fair chunk of my family, in London and the Black Country, are English. I’ve loved, lost, lived with, run with, betrayed, been betrayed by, done every conceivable drug, and travelled to all corners of the globe with more English people than any other nationality in the world, including Scots. Yes, this is another long-winded way of making the dreaded ‘some of my best friends are English’ statement, but in my case there’s no way around it. My politics were formed in Scotland, but flourished in England. I’m a former Labour Party supporter, not conventionally nationalistic, but quietly proud of both my Scottish and British heritage, and saddened that the latter has been taken away from me. I mourn it regularly, especially when I return to London, which I regard almost as much my home as my native Edinburgh. However, I’ve accepted that it’s dearly departed and I’ve moved on.

When I think about where my Britain went, I always stop to consider how it came about. The union of Scotland and England was a marriage of convenience between the elites of two countries in pre-democratic times. The date, 1707, provides the obvious clue that this was not an arrangement intended to further the interests of the populace of either country. Those nations were opportunistically cobbled together to facilitate imperial expansion and industrial development. Since democracy gained a foothold in the early twentieth century, following on from universal suffrage and the growth of trade unionism and the Labour Party, the union has experienced some boom periods, but there hasn’t really been that much change out of two World Wars, a great depression, several recessions and a crushing neo-liberal ascendancy.

One of the few decent payouts was the post-war settlement of the welfare state. This was Britain’s genuine ‘we’re all in this together’ period, where the elites felt that the common people perhaps deserved something back (and feared what would happen if they didn’t get it) after building an empire, dying in the killing fields of World War One, starving in squalid slums, and saving the world from Nazi tyranny.

The welfare state was the deal. As well as the NHS and the eminent nationalised industries of British Steel, Rail and Coal, there was the concept of free universal education, based on ability, irrespective of social background or parental finances. The radical engine of Labour Party Clause Four socialism helped forge this, but it was aided by one-nation Toryism (the Butler Education Act) and old school Liberalism, with Beveridge and Keynes the social and economic architects of the post-war consensus. Like the elements they gave birth to, those ideological forces no longer exist, sacrificed, like their creations, on the altar of a self-serving, reductive neo-liberalism. All that remains of them are the empty platitudes it’s expedient for the political class leadership of all parties to rhetorically spout (half-heartedly these days) in order to convince us that factors other than greed and power-lust are at work in Westminster politics. But the key is that this was more than an economic and social settlement: it provided the building blocks of a democratic, post-imperial Britishness.

But that Britain has now gone, and English nationalism, in all its forms, has been the real powerhouse in its destruction. It long seemed to me that this force would work in tandem with the movement for Scottish independence to first dissolve, and then fragment Britain as a political entity. Without the empire, and with the natural dissipation of World War Two camaraderie, what was left worth saving about Britain was being systematically destroyed by the Tories, with either zero or token opposition, or in many cases, downright complicity from Labour. When those (British) national assets were sold off and stripped for private gain, so much of our (British) national consciousness went with them. Thatcher once memorably stated: ‘never forget that I am an English nationalist.’ Well yes, Scots definitely picked up on that one, but an English nationalist of a certain hue.

It suits neither left-wing, pro-independence Scots nor right-wing, unionist Englanders to acknowledge that Thatcher (and Blair, Cameron and Milliband), to a much greater degree than Salmond or the SNP, are the architects of the disintegration of Britain and the almost inevitable separation of Scotland. In the place of dead Britannia, murdered on the neo-liberal altar, we were offered the notion of the UK as a Greater England. (Or not all offered. By simple definition, there is realistically no place for the Scots, Welsh or Northern Irish at this table. ) This was a worldview dominated by the Tory shires, it’s epicentre the affluent South East. Let’s be clear: Britain might have been dismembered, but the UK is not broken. This reactionary, imperialist residue of the British welfare state is functioning perfectly as a mechanism to transfer the resources of this country to a small transnational cabal of the super-rich.

While all this was happening, the culture was responding: the Union Jack was being phased out all over England by the St George’s cross as the nationalistic emblem of choice. It wasn’t just football that was coming home in England, in the absence of the unifying post-war British institutions of the welfare state, it was English nationalism. The nineties Cool Britainia era, where pop stars decked their guitars, coats and dresses in the Union Flag, was Blairism’s surface retro attempt to compensate for the fact that the punters on both sides of the border were fleeing back to their old Saints.

Europe’s turbulent modern history of imperialism and fascism ensure that ‘nationalism’ is a term loaded with negative connotations. Yet the ideology of any nation state can be based on inclusivity or exceptionalism. It can be about meeting the wishes of its citizenry in a modern democracy, or overly mindful of a ‘status’ it achieved during imperialism and colonialism. Scottish ‘nationalism’ has made its choice, arguably definitively during the independence referendum. It’s always unwise to generalise from your own experience, but here are a couple of self-indulgent anecdotes from last September: when I was out in Edinburgh campaigning, some people asked me to be photographed with the St. Andrews cross. I was happy to be in pictures but refused to have them taken with the flag. I explained that I just wasn’t a banners person of either the Scottish or British variety. A few people were bemused, but everyone, to a man and woman, even in the heat of the moment, when Scotland was on the verge of voting to end the union, listened intently to what I had to say and respected my viewpoint. This brought home to me that the country (with all the usual caveats and exceptions) had grabbed with both hands the opportunity the campaign afforded it to grow from being the least, to the most, politically mature part of the UK.

My second anecdote provides a contrast. When it looked like the Union was sliding away, a nervous English friend said to me: “if you become independent, Scots (in England) will be treated like Poles and Romanians.” This begged the obvious question: how are Poles and Romanians treated in England? The answer is, of course, the same way as in Scotland or in any other host nation; like human beings by human beings, and something less than human by bigoted arseholes. My friend is good guy: he’ll stay nameless, as it was an out-of-character comment that didn’t do him justice. Yet the shrill and snide elements of hurt, fear and exasperation it contains have been regurgitated as staple fare by the mainstream private media, the Conservative Party and often, shockingly, the Labour Party.

Scottish independence is never going to be well received in the populous South East. The weight of history, custom and practice, makes it hard for people there to look at the basic, simple structure of unitary, centralised government, with the location of all its main institutions in London, and accept that the remainder of the UK subsidises all this, and therefore that region. Everything, from the great cultural sporting and vanity projects and tourist attractions, to the overheated housing market, is explained at its heart by that governmental subsidy the rest of the UK gives to the South East. From a standpoint of UK unity, this only became problematic in recent times. It wasn’t so important in an industrial era, as the factories, mills, mines and docks lay largely in the North, Midlands, Scotland and Wales. The class war zeal of Thatcherism turned what was always going to be an inevitable and painful deindustrialisation of the British economy into a festival of exploitation and hate. The neo-liberal template was set, since then accelerated with the ‘austerity’ scam, to exacerbate the regional power and wealth imbalance to the extent of undermining the viability of the UK as a state.

Theoretically, this could have been fixed, perhaps through the reform of government on a federal basis. However, there is no will or leverage to do this in a nation where the wealthiest region holds the balance of power. It suits the Conservatives to have become a regional party – in so far as the South is the most populous and dominant one. And it has led to a different type of politics developing there. Greater economic activity leads to an influx of people, with subsequent competition for housing, schools and services. Therefore, there are opportunities for racist politics based on the Trojan horse of limiting immigration, accompanied by the seductive, if silly, ‘paradise lost’ ballads so beloved of the right. This is the essence of the Greater England project, sometimes sold, (when it cares enough to remember, as in the referendum), as a sham ‘Britishness’.

The English right wing establishment’s current demonisation of ‘Scots’ (who, remember, actually voted no to separation) is largely about an attempt to define English national identity on their own divisive terms. It’s now very little to do with Scotland; for many that country seems to have become a mere tool in a covert battle for the soul of ‘Englishness’. Of course, it’s also the narrative of simpletons: anything that inverts cause and effect generally is. If you believe that the previously harmonious and prosperous UK is being derailed and undermined by Scottish malcontents, then you’re either an irredeemable idiot, or at best, chronically out of touch with historical reality.

Scots haven’t so much been wrecking, or even rejecting Britain, as watching it being dismantled around them. As this has been happening, they’ve (wisely) been getting on with building their own nation. This isn’t the mad demolition spree, rabidly and fearfully spewed out by the London media mouthpieces of billionaire proprietors. That carnage happened long ago: to the post-war consensus that formed the backbone of Britain. Without it, all we have is Trident-and-G7 strutting on the world catwalks as an expensive no-win vanity contestant on America’s Next Top Model Bomb Builder. For the Scots it’s been simple pragmatism: our house is falling down, so let’s build another one, and on more enlightened design principles. With: democracy and accountability. Without: an in-built avaricious elite that hoovers up everything, leaving the rest with the crumbs that very occasionally fall from the table.

The ongoing Scottish independence campaign is a response to such factors. It’s not – or at least only incidentally – down to the ‘bloody mindedness’ of Scots asserting their democratic rights. The notion that political momentum and forces owing themselves to economic and structural factors can be ‘settled’ by a one-off vote is highly erroneous. When I wrote about the aftermath of the referendum for the Guardian, in order to file in time I had to roughly pre-compose two pieces, one assuming a yes and the other a no. The yes piece was actually a bit boring; when you got past the euphoria and triumph, it would be about hangovers, lawyers, and the prosaic trials ahead. The no scenario was far more intriguing, as the issue (failing a definitive ‘devo max’ settlement, which obviously never came) would be left unresolved. Every election, UK, European, Scottish, local, would all, in some form, be a re-run of this debate and therefore a continuation of the independence process.

Thus every ‘victory’ on this issue for the UK ruling class and its lackeys merely unleashes a new set of potentially exhaustive considerations. Every response feeds into and becomes part of this developing story. The reality is that almost everyone is engaged in rebuilding the separatist states of new Scotland and England, even the Sun, with its English edition virulently anti-SNP and its Scottish one mildly and respectfully pro. Our resident fascists, the Scottish Defence League, would a few years back, have been part of a British Defence League. Then they would have been able to indulge in a united, cross-Cheviot bashing of whatever-latest-minority-has-destroyed-the-British-way-of-life. Now they are de facto not wanted in the EDL and have to go it alone – albeit with fraternal support from their southern brethren. When those sorts of institutions are hammering nails into the coffin of British national consciousness, it pretty much says ‘game over’.

The flabby, corpulent Greater Englandism of the establishment might not be able to fit into that Union Jack dress anymore, but England itself still has to make its choice on its model of national identity. My hunch is that any EU referendum, (not the vote, but the debate), could be the watershed. If it has a long lead in time, then the real substantive arguments (not just for and against the EU as both an ideal and in its current mess, but what English identity and political aspiration actually is) might just gain traction over the tiresome and destructive media-hyped ‘wogs start at Calais’ (and now also, apparently, Hadrian’s Wall) hysteria. On Scotland, as with Europe, there’s no doubt which brand of nationalism the UK establishment would like the English populace to embrace. But so what? Let Cameron have his referendum; the process in Scotland backfired by igniting a generation of Scots to new political possibilities. Give England its own opportunity for self-definition: the deranged and inflammatory rants of Hastings, Massie, Bell and the Sun, Mail and Telegraph constitutes only one aspect of this equation.

As the largest country in the imperial adventure, and principal home to a corrupt UK establishment, which, from cover-ups of its organised paedophilia, phone tapping, and Hillsborough lies, to its off-the-scale avaricious greed, is shown to be more unspeakably vile almost daily, England understandably has a greater struggle than Scotland to shrug off the negative associations with the imperial past and reassert itself as a post-colonial nation. But the genuine urge to modernise, despite being led up the garden path by New Labour and Blairism, is at least as strong as the deluded desire to turn the clock back to some rose-tinted version of Victoriana. Not everybody is inclined to sit back complacently as a secretive elite is granted immunity to expropriate the nation’s wealth and kiddie-fiddle while London burns, under the white heat of global property prices.

The fear and subsequent vilification of the vibrant Scots independence movement by entrenched elites is only tangentially to do with ‘losing’ Scotland. Yes, authoritarian politicians of an imperialist or proprietary mindset never like to lose ‘their’ territory, whether measured in Tory land or Labour votes. Of course, it’s also about legacy and ‘not on my watch’ politics. I would seriously doubt that there are any senior Westminster politicians who are intellectually convinced of the long-term viability of the UK in its current form. However, the real fear for the establishment is that Scottish independence will spark of calls for the genuine reform of politics in the rest of the UK, which would really undermine their entrenched power and privilege. The establishment’s big fear is that the English bulldog might just turn on the master who is constantly mistreating it, rather than waste time and energy barking at the Scots Terrier across the fence.

In the meantime, the predictable ‘Greater England’ establishment response to the decline of Britain only serves to keep the Scottish independence bandwagon accelerating. Any Scot who believes in independence can’t argue against the principle of English votes on English laws. This in turn, pushes out the separation envelope further. Eventually England’s politicians will back themselves into addressing the question many English people are now rightly asking: ‘why are we even bothering with all this?’  The idea that patching up a disintegrating union is more trouble than it’s worth, and thank you very much Scotland, but we have better things to be getting on with, must surely (and justifiably) be implanting itself in English minds. This perfectly natural and reasonable response is light years removed from Alan Massie’s Powelite Culloden-Bannockburn fantasies of the Thames running red with blood.

The North of England is probably the key. This most industrialised region of the UK is the last part to emotionally jettison the concept of an inclusive Britishness. Danny Boyle’s Olympic ceremony could probably only have been devised by a Northerner. Paul Mason recently posited in the Guardian that there were now three UK geopolitical mindsets; Scandi-Scotland and the wealthy South-East, which were confident in their voices and objectives. Caught between this was post-industrial Britain, and it’s these voices that so desperately need to be heard, as they will be crucial in the shaping and defining of the future England.

Ed Milliband seems set to fail at delineating and renewing this England, for much the same reason Blairism did. Post-Clause Four, the party is essentially devoid of guiding principles, other than the two main cardinal propositions of New Labour. One: attain office at all costs through staying in the ‘centre ground’. Two: do not, under any circumstances, speak the truth to real power. Cajole, beg, flatter and seduce, yes, but never, ever confront. Perhaps instead of worrying about what the rancid right of the mainstream media are saying, Labour in England should be moving with the times and taking note of the more progressive factions both within and outside of their party.

In the long run the left challenge to Labour in England could come from more than just the Greens. The new English identity might be a regionalist one. The North East Party and Yorkshire First now join the long-established Cornish and West Country advocacy parties of Meb Kernow and the Wessex Regionalists. Those small but ambitious groups in the North of England know the road map of getting the establishment (both Tory and Labour) to pay heed, is the one crayoned out in broad strokes by the SNP, and by Plaid Cymru in Wales. That is, crudely put, to jettison Labour and its careerist dependency on Westminster, and chart your own course.

Ironically, if the Labour Party south of the border decides to embrace a role as a viable progressive left-leaning party of an emerging civic English nationalism, they could do worse than model themselves on the post-referendum SNP. The demise of British nationalism means that Labour’s Scottish ship has probably sailed for good. They sank it themselves by throwing their lot in with the limited Tory ‘Greater England’ UK, and fighting to preserve its elitist and antiquated political structures. The sadness for Labour is that one of the most catastrophic political strategy calls of our time was made with no discussion and debate, and was inevitable, given what the party had become: a myopic slave to the Westminster game. Polls can be wrong, leads can be eroded, but whether the SNP enjoy an avalanche or just a paltry landslide, it is likely that the referendum campaign was seismic. It’s unlikely there will be any return to what the bemused rump of Scottish Labour stragglers often hopefully cite as ‘normal’ (ie: two-party, Westminster) politics. The longer into April the poll gap remains, the more Milliband will write off Scotland with a Blairite pitch to the south, seeking to be the party for all England: more unwitting nation building.

Whatever the SNP do (with 100,000 members, three-quarters of them post-referendum, it’s now to all intents and purposes a new party), England still has its own moves to make. Labeling Scots as the latest ‘enemy within’ isn’t going to alter those broader economic and structural issues shaping the UK, and it’s redesign as an instrument of expropriating the wealth of its citizens for the super-rich. It can only, at best, offer a temporary distraction from the big choices ahead. Scotland as an issue might seem an increasingly persistent and urgent one to English people, but in a country where practically everybody other than the very rich lead a life full of struggle, burdened with debt and job/financial insecurity, it’s far from the most crucial.

The main problem is a variation on an old one: if the English people don’t make their voices heard, the establishment will do it on their behalf. We will always hear the whining, exasperated Tory right/UKIP/Jeremy Clarkson ‘for crying out loud, how much more do we have to take’ voices of the privileged; loudly coming to terms with the realisation that despite their material wealth and indulged status, they fundamentally remain petty, miserable, uptight and resentful specimens. That is a given constant in English social life: the voice of power will always make itself heard through the mainstream media, even –especially- when it has nothing fresh or interesting to say. And they will always assume to speak for England, but of course they don’t, they only speak for themselves.  The ideological battle for Britain is over. Thatcher saw to that, and all we’re doing is indulging in Savilesque corpse-fucking by pretending it ain’t so. But the battle of England is just beginning. As in all matters relating to that wonderful country, I’m on the side of the good guys.

Comments (166)

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  1. John Page says:

    Brilliant summary!
    For me the main trigger for considering independence was Ken Loach’s Spirit of 45……..it was this post war transformation that made my Da passionately support Labour on being demobbed from the 8th Army……..the NHS, council housing and decent comprehensive schools for his sons. He saw a point in Britain
    That Britain no longer exists and the rational answer is to seek a better future in the (no doubt bumpy) path to an independent Scotland

  2. Kangaroo says:

    A very well balanced and interesting article. You should try and get it into one of the Englander MSM productions.

    viva the revolution

    1. alistairliv says:

      I agree- this article needs to be read in England.

      1. DazmoS says:

        Hello all. I’m English and certainly northern. In fact in common with a lot of people in this part of the world I would describe myself as a Yorkshireman first and foremost.

        As pointed out in the article many in the north of england, and indeed elsewhere continue to subscribe to a British identity. Most find they have far more in common with the scots, welsh and irish than with the so-called home counties.

        The analysis of current British institutions is also spot on. We all know they are anachronistic and rotten to the core. The battle I and many others would like to see fought is for a recasting of the UK and Britain for the 21st century…and yes this means a federal Britain.

        Britain and the UK are not synonymous with Westminster, the south east, the tory party, the empire or anything convenient label…they reflect a deeper non-political unity. Scottish nationalism occasionally presents a janus like face. On the one hand offering to be fellow travellers to a new progressive UK and on the other jand rejecting the notion as not worth the effort. You cant engage with the progressive north and reject it at the same time.

        Well progressive Scotland what is it to be ?

        1. Muscleguy says:

          Well that surely depends on you English. Whenever the unionist parties at Westminster try to do the constitutional stuff your papers and the voices complain that it is boring and there are better things to be doing (usually constitutional stuff like leaving Europe).

          Yes, as Irvine Welsh points out there are English regional parties now. But how many of you are going to so much as vote for them, let along join and help them along? Are you a member of one of them? If not why not? and why the fuck should us Scots put up and shut up while we wait endlessly for you English to get your shit together. If the two years of our Independence Referendum wasn’t the starting gun what more do you need? The confected outrage of a Westminster govt propped up by the SNP?

          I’m afraid the dye is cast here in Scotland, too many of us did more than glimpse the prospects of renewal we could smell and taste it, were reaching towards it when 5% too many of our compatriots voted No. I’m in Dundee, the Yes City where we got 57% for Yes. So on my canvassing with RIC I though we had it in the bag. But the dream will never die now, at least until every bright eyed 16 year old who voted Yes in their first ever vote is dead and buried (assuming they didn’t have frustrated younger siblings).

          We sat up here and watched as Lords reform was fudged. After the ridiculous votes it was suggested they run them again on STV terms, numbering the options. But that has never even been tried. Instead there are more nominated peers than ever, making it ever harder to get rid of the buggers.

          I joined Scottish CND in the weeks before the referendum because one of my main reasons for voting Yes was to get rid of Trident. As a 17yo I marched up Queen St in Auckland, NZ protesting against an American nuclear warship visit. The next year we elected a Labour govt which made NZ nuclear free, precipitating an enormous and ongoing snub from the Americans (and Britain) and an Act of War in Auckland harbour when the French sunk the Rainbow Warrior. So how else do you expect me to be?

          Are you a member of CND in England? if not, why not? Westminster is looking to renew that dangerous and immoral weapons system and continue to make Glasgow bear the risk. I don’t see it being stopped unless we become independent. I see no other prospects.

          So, you have a lot to do to make this Yes supporter reconsider. Get to it.

          1. GavS says:

            As DazmoS alluded to, the problem at hand is Westminster, not England, not the UK, maybe if you saw it that way, instead of insisting on reframing it as “us Scots” and “you English,” there’d at least be the possibility of your reconsideration.

          2. DazmoS says:

            Yes, I can understand your frustration at past events and the many fudged opportunities for genuine change. They are shared. There is nothing uniquely scottish about feeling faintly sick about the photo accompanying irvines article 🙁

            To answer your question about the new regional parties. Yes, I am a member of one. They are small and its clearly early days. There is a genuine change taking place here though. Its not a phantom.

            As for trident. Its not a giant concern for me. I’m far more upset by economic inequalities than some cold war weapons nobody would ever dare use. At worst its yet another waste of money.

            The big difference in scotland as opposed to other parts of the uk is the maturity of your institutions. Notably the scottish parliament and its use of PR, but also the vestiges of an independent media. In the north we have no such outlets. This has proved an institutional enabler for new democratic ideas…

            As to why a scot should wait for others. The answer is because its in your best interests. Without rehashing the whole indy ref debate I genuine believe that a real devo max or home rule proposal would give Scotland more room for building the type of society you clearly want to see than genuine independence. Escaping the UK would not allow you to escape economic reality. I came to believe that what the SNP in particular was passing off as independence in the referendum would have been less independent than proper devo max.

            Final thought. Reaching out to the like minded and quietly bringing them on board is almost always a better tactic than angrily railing against a given situation…

          3. Iain says:

            “As to why a scot should wait for others. The answer is because its in your best interests. Without rehashing the whole indy ref debate I genuine believe that a real devo max or home rule proposal would give Scotland more room for building the type of society you clearly want to see than genuine independence. Escaping the UK would not allow you to escape economic reality. I came to believe that what the SNP in particular was passing off as independence in the referendum would have been less independent than proper devo max.”

            Why is it in out best interests? How do you know what our best interests are as you do not appear to even live here. You are rehashing the indy debate and what you are saying is what all the Unionists said then, we should destroy our own means of saving ourselves and wait for others to save us. Their justification basically boiled down to fact they think we are too poor, too small and too stupid to do anything else. Unfortunately they and the “Scottish Cringe” won out (this time).

            Also all this talk of Devo Max / Home Rule being better than independence has no weight because nobody can define what Devo Max actually is. Is it actually the case that you have a preference for it as it is less of a threat to your own understanding of what being “British” is all about?

            As for the comments about the SNP passing off some form of independence-lite during the campaign. Firstly how can independence anything be less than power gifted from Westminister? Secondly this sounds disturbingly right wing and has echos of euroscepticism, what is wrong with standing on your own two feet (in your own right) and working as a full partner with your neighbours on certain shared items? Thirdly and more importantly you misunderstand the referendum and the Yes movement, it was not about the SNP, they are / were just a vehicle and they can say what they like, the key point is that after independence we the people shall decide (with a written constitution and fair voting system) and if that means kicking the SNP into touch then so be it.


        2. FrankM says:

          We have already started DazmoS and you need to make progress down there in order to catch up. You need to vote on principle – not just with one or other of the 2 main failing Westminster options, or the incoherent and unconvincing Lib Dems. Or, God forbid, the awful and bigoted UKIP.

          Muscleguy has nailed it on the head and, as he says, you have a lot to do in order to convince us that you are on the same road. We are voting for our regional party and if you are progressive, you should do the same.

          Alternatively, you have the Green Party to vote for. Their policies should be taken more seriously down South.

          As Irvine Welsh says “The North East Party and Yorkshire First now join the long-established Cornish and West Country advocacy parties of Meb Kernow and the Wessex Regionalists. Those small but ambitious groups in the North of England know the road map of getting the establishment (both Tory and Labour) to pay heed, is the one crayoned out in broad strokes by the SNP, and by Plaid Cymru in Wales. That is, crudely put, to jettison Labour and its careerist dependency on Westminster, and chart your own course.”

          He then goes on to say “Whatever the SNP do (with 100,000 members, three-quarters of them post-referendum, it’s now to all intents and purposes a new party), England still has its own moves to make.” Note the last sentence. All of this requires organisation and effort on the part of activists. I urge you all to get to it.

          Actually, in the last week, the SNP membership has climbed to 105,000 members.

          The SNP does NOT reject the notion as not worth the effort. They are making the effort. Hopefully this effort will produce a large number of SNP MP’s in Westminster, which will help us to define a path that is good for Scotland as a region and will help to moderate whatever else is happening in the rUK. Whatever happens after that is dependent on various factors. However, we don’t expect the ‘chaps’ down there to give us an easy ride. They don’t do democracy.

          Fortunately we have in our SNP leaders, as well as the excellent Patrick Harvie of the Greens, politicians of some worth, integrity and intelligence, who will stand up for what they believe is right for Scotland. The SNP have also proved over the last 7 years to be very capable and democratic in Government in Scotland. So we have alternatives to allow us to vote on principle and that is what many of us up here intend to do. With the General Election, our emphasis is with the SNP in order to have a proper voice at Westminster. We are still part of the UK and that is our route for the moment. However, Independence is an absolute necessity in order to control our own affairs completely and without interference. It is also the only way we can deal with the problem of Trident and stay out of illegal wars.

          The Unionist parties are rotten to the core and have let us all down time after time. It is insane to keep voting for the same old failed parties and expecting a different result each time. There may also be specific, self-serving reasons for doing so.

          1. FrankM says:

            I take your point about the media DazmoS.
            We have the new and excellent ‘Nationalist’ now and also the Sunday Herald, which was with us all the way during the referendum. However, all the others were completely biased in their reporting. The new on-line sources are excellent, such as Bella, Wings over Scotland and ‘Wee Ginger Dug’ as well as some other notables, such as NewsNet.
            Perhaps there should be a ‘Wings over England’ and a ‘Wings over Wales’.
            Maybe some of your guys could get in touch with them and they may be able to help get something off the ground, so that you build up an on-line media.

            Although Trident may not be a big deal for you, you must appreciate that is IS a big deal for many of us, not only in Scotland, but in the UK. Federalism may help, but I suspect that to get rid of it from Scotland, it might be that only Independence will work. I fear the same is true with wars. Westminster is in the pocket of the United States. However, Devomax is never going to be. Don’t be fooled.

            We are with you, but remember that we are further on the path. We cannot pause now. WE must go to the next stage and for the jugular.
            The enemy is Westminster. We know that.
            If the SNP get plenty of seats, Nicola has already stated that we will stand with you for change.
            However, we have a battle on at the moment to achieve this.

            Maybe the North of England should be part of Scotland. Just a thought.
            You would certainly be treated much better.

          2. DazmoS says:

            Many thanks Frank for at least entering into a reasoned discussion. Its refreshing after skimming a lot of the baloney below.

            I’ve pretty much said my piece and made my appeal so little else to say…


            You may yet be surprised on devo max. Clearly the snp want it, but it also suits the narrative of a lot of the tory right. Remember that in the recent negotiations the tory party were pushing for more devolution than labour. Why ? Well not only does it run well with their natural constituency in the south but they also believe the more financial rope the snp are given the more they are likely to hang themselves…

            An unholy alliance of completely opposite views may still make it happen

        3. Assayer says:

          Eh, no thanks fight your own battles.

  3. Big Jock says:

    Excellent article.

    You have hit the nail on the head regarding keeping a comatose nation on a life support. The Union is already dead ,someone just needs the guts to turn the lights off. This slow death is painfull to watch.

    Britain is broken and no-one really believes it is worth saving.

    1. xsticks says:

      Except purring Brenda, perhaps?

    2. mlyons says:

      Apart from the majority of Scots that voted no.

      1. andygm1 says:

        The recent Attitudes Survey showed that only 16% of those questioned voted No because of attachment to the UK state, all of the other No voters did so because they had economic or ‘practicality’ concerns. Long term, these other No voters are persuadable.

        1. Annette says:

          I think it was 25%, according to the Ashcroft poll. Which, as 25% of 55% of an 85% turnout makes it about 13% of the Scottish electorate. It would be interesting to see a demographic breakdown of this section, does anyone know if one is available?

          Most no voters I have spoken to, and that fits with the Ashcroft poll, voted no because they thought the risk was greater than the opportunity. And that is an assessment that might change in the not-too-distant future.

          1. Ann says:

            re the demographic breakdown of the 13% – older age and being born in rUK were linked to higher likelihood of voting No, but don’t know if this was definitely linked to feeling British. Would be interesting to know. (I talked to lots of older rUK born No voters and for all of them it was about feeling British, but there were also a fair few out leafleting for Yes) It could be that from 2014 on, a bigger proportion of the people who move from rUK to Scotland when they retire, or come north for a job and then decide to stay, or who buy land, will be people who feel comfy and happy about living in or owning land in an independent Scotland. Maybe lots of people will come north seeking refuge.

          2. Alex Wright says:

            Have a look at this Annette, if you are interested in percentages.
            The discrepancy of the Argyll & Bute postal vote returns make interesting reading, especially if replicated elsewhere, as alluded to by the sterling work undertaken by the Democratic Socialist Federation in Dunoon.
            Their conclusion is based on a simple premise. There was not enough people eligible for a postal vote in that area, to return a 96.4% take-up
            After the 18th, legitimate questions were being asked as to the veracity of the result. Unfortunately, these incidents of chicanery and jiggery pokery were brushed aside by the establishment and their MSM lackeys, including some of the supporters of independence, (including this site.)
            After reading this report, my ligering doubts, as to the whether the proper procedures regarding the validity of the count was upheld has been reinforced.
            Although the DSF people managed to source relevant data to support their suspicions it was grudgingly made available. Why?
            John Mcternan and Susan Dalgety showed knowledge of the postal ballot results before they were supposedly counted. How?
            Ruth Davidson declared that the no vote had won, again, before they had been supposedly counted. How?
            I think that we should be helping the DFS in their quest for truth, instead of sitting meekly by and accepting what looks increasingly like, an extremely dodgy and potentially dangerous outcome.
            Anyone out there who can help to analyse the data? I will do the leg-work.

  4. Joe says:

    A brilliant piece of writing.

  5. bringiton says:

    Excellent article.
    Last night Murphy,at one point during the debate,stated that Labour would raise taxes to pay for public services.
    Since Labour did all they could during the Smith debacle to ensure that Scotland didn’t have this power,then presumably he was talking about Westminster taxation policy.
    Has he run this past his boss in London?
    Can’t see England’s middle classes voting for this although it would probably play OK to a Scottish audience,except for the Anglo Scottish Tories.
    A clear indication that Scotland and England are on divergent course politically and culturally.

    1. FrankM says:

      Did you not see Murphy’s nose getting longer?

  6. AAW says:

    During the Referendum and during the current campaign I have been arguing that Scotland should be nurturing links with the old industrial areas of England. We have a lot in common with them. We all dislike the rotten-to-the-core South East of England mentality. Thank you Mr Welsh for giving me usable ammunition.

    1. Barraload says:

      And if you do that, which I’d agree with, is it to reinvigorate the vision of the UK, or to separate these regions from Scotland

    2. Ewan Tickle Mcnicholl says:


      social attitiudes surveys consistently show london to be more in line with scoltand and the north of england than to the rest of the south east.

      so your chat about a rotten south east mentality doesn’t really hold up.

      maybe things are more complex than you think?

      1. FrankM says:

        Evidence please! Where is it?

  7. Douglas says:

    Irvine, sorry mate, this reads to me like a love letter to England, the kind of guilty note somebody leaving their partner might deposit on the kitchen table before slipping out of the house, never to return….”it was you who changed, not me”…

    Are you sure about that analysis? It might explain a shift in the Labour vote in Scotland, but it does not explain the drive for indie. Thatcher might have aided a cause, but you cannot aid a cause which didn’t exist beforehand.

    You entirely overlook and ignore the cause of Scottish nationalism. Your analysis overlooks the SNP, Cunningham Graham and the Scottish Renaissance, the Highland Clearances, the systematic Anglicisation of Scotland, the depopulation and relegation for sports of one third of our country, the cultural browbeating of the Scots by England, the stigmatization of Scots and Gaelic, Rabbie Burns, John MacLean, and a glaring democratic deficit… I could go on.

    You also fail to take into account 100 years of broken promises from Westminster. The Home Rule Bill which was scuppered after the Great War, the two million signatures for an autonomous parliament in the 50’s with the Scottish Covenant which was ignored by London, the rigged referendum of 79, and then the design of a parliament by New Labour specifically to shut out the SNP, a parliament with fewer powers than the German Landers or the Basques and the Catalans enjoy….

    Fair enough, given your background, I agree with most of what you say, but it’s only one part of the picture. Given my own background and the hysterical climate in England, I feel no such need to send a love letter to England…

    “After Culloden, the defeated Highland chiefs and their clansmen were butchered like sheep in the field. Had they been merely prisoners, this would have been murder. But as they were INCOMPATIBLE WITH BRITISH CIVILIZATION it was said only liquidation” (George Bernard Shaw).

    Nobody is butchered like sheep these days thankfully, but clearly some of us continue to be “incompatible with British civilization”…


    1. Anon1 says:

      Douglas, the cause of Scottish nationalism (as you define it) didn’t win in the referendum because it has only really held sway with a certain group of people in Scotland. The majority remain apathetic and removed from that history, regardless of how true it is.

      For them Irvine Welsh’s analysis will have far greater relevance – I think for one thing understanding his comments on the post-War British consensus is crucial to understanding why the majority of older people in Scotland (who are old enough to recognise most of the events you mention) voted No.

      As a nationalist of a certain stripe I actually think and believe in the same things you do. I do believe much of Scotland, as with Wales, Cornwall and Ireland, has undergone extensive colonisation by an imperial power based in England. I see the world in those terms – I see British history as a struggle of the small Celtic fringes against the English Imperialist ascendancy. Of course, nothing is clear-cut, and though in your narrative Highlanders and Lowlanders are united in their exploitation by Imperialist forces in reality the burden was very clearly borne by the former rather than the latter, given that the Lowlanders were once an Imperialist force in themselves… in any case, it frustrates me as someone with that mindset that most Scots (or Welsh, and nowadays Irish) don’t give a damn about this kind of thing. The grievance-history (as true as it is) just holds no sway over them.

      Far better to keep this reality at the back of your mind, seeing as it’s the truth, but fully embrace Welsh’s vision because in order to secure independence and do a small bit towards making right those historic ills we need to understand the thought processes of modern British people – Scots and English. Welsh’s focus on England also has great tactical relevance to our cause. Even the Jacobites understood that in order to truly emerge victorious they needed to be a Britain-wide movement – their failure to do so in 1715 and the fact that they could only raise a small amount of troops for their “Manchester Regiment” in 1745 was a source of great discomfort for them, and arguably a fatal tactical error.

      1. Douglas says:

        Thanks Anon1 for posting. Well, I agree with a lot of that, but not that Irvine’s narrative is more likely to succeed. I respect Irvine’s narrative, because it’s a narrative I used to believe in too, but not any more. It’s a kind of colonized mentality, typical of most Scots brought up under the Anglo ascendancy. The Scots who are embarrassed to be Scots and are forever apologizing for the fact, like Boswell to Johnson, “I am Scottish, but I cannot help it”…

        Then I read a number of books about Scotland, and realized that I knew nothing at all about my own country, expect all the bollocks, Kings, Queens, the Bonnie Prince etc…I read Purser’s “History of Scottish Music” and MacMillan’s “History of Scottish Art”, I read Crawford’s “History of Scottish Literature” and I read Burns well and all of the biographies and studies on him. I read MacDiarmid’s “Albyn” and “Scottish Eccentrics”, two cracking books of essays. I read James Hunter’s “Last of the Free”, a history of the highlands and islands, and I studied Gaelic briefly at SMO on a long distance course. I read Moffat and Riach’s “Arts of Resistance”. I read Sorely MacLean – “Hallaig”!!! – and Big Mary of the Song and the story of the Land League. And lots of other books too…lots of Scottish literature…

        I came to two conclusions. One, Scotland has been colonized under the Anglo ascendancy and is a stunted caricature of the country it once was and still could be. Two, the Scots can free themselves by reading. There are people who think independence will lead to the rebirth of the nation. There are others, like me, who believe that independence will be a consequence of the rebirth of the nation.

        The 45 can be the apostles of the new Scotland. They should educate themselves about Scotland, and there is a library ten minutes walk away from most homes. People like Irvine, good people, people I admire, ought to ask themselves, as I have done, if really, all those Nats we used to dismiss as cranks weren’t right all this time after all…I think, broadly, they were right….

    2. Kevin says:

      Douglas, that was a better, more passionate and representative read than Irvine’s. You have to live through a lifetime of subjection to really ‘get it’. I’ve lived through that, and you clearly have, too. We ‘get it’ and so do, it now appears, millions of Scots whose voices have been stifled for a lifetime.

      You should be writing for The National, mate.

    3. jacquescoleman says:

      Well said Douglas.

    4. alistairliv says:

      I think it is better to write love letters now than have to write poems like this later.

      The Stare’s Nest by My Window

      The bees build in the crevices
      Of loosening masonry, and there
      The mother birds bring grubs and flies.
      My wall is loosening; honey-bees,
      Come build in the empty house of the stare.

      We are closed in, and the key is turned
      On our uncertainty; somewhere
      A man is killed, or a house burned.
      Yet no clear fact to be discerned:
      Come build in the empty house of the stare.

      A barricade of stone or of wood;
      Some fourteen days of civil war:
      Last night they trundled down the road
      That dead young soldier in his blood:
      Come build in the empty house of the stare.

      We had fed the heart on fantasies,
      The heart’s grown brutal from the fare,
      More substance in our enmities
      Than in our love; O honey-bees,
      Come build in the empty house of the stare.

      From ‘Meditations in Time of Civil War’, W B Yeats, 1922

      In the notes to this poem, Yeats explains that “In the west of Ireland, we call a starling a stare, and during the civil war, one built a nest in a hole in the masonry by my bedroom window.”

      1. Douglas says:

        I know the poem, Alistair, it’s one of my favourites….I have no enmity to England, and there is no violence in Scotland, the clue is in the title of the poem. There is no civil war in Scotland, no bloodshed.

        I am thoroughly sick of having to justify myself to liberal England, that’s what it comes down to. We need to move onto the next phase, which is to stop apologizing to England for wanting our country back. The English are a fine people. The best among them will understand. And those who don’t want to, tough, get used to it, you never were interested in Scotland for a minute, unless as a holiday resort or as the butt of so many Jock jokes …..I’ve had enough of the insults, the abuse and the slander.

        And I wasn’t going to vote SNP at this election, because I am a Republican. However given the antics of the Daily Telegraph, Nicola has my vote…middle England can go and fuck itself as far as I’m concerned…

        1. Come one now Douglas, you tried so hard to hide your Anglophobia, but let it slip out when you told the English middle class to fuck themselves!

          All the grievances you have with the Union are exactly that, purported and carried out by the British elite, not normal English folk or folk who even consider themselves English first. So shut the hell up you sectarian twat. You want a war with the English people, bring it on fella.

          1. Douglas says:

            Given that the English establishment relishes in Scottophobia, from politicians to TV personalities, to the so called liberal press, I am more than happy to declare myself an Anglophobe, in the same token measure that the bunch of Oxbridge idiots who run the country have declared hostility and scorn against me and my country.

            Right back at you, England…

            Yes, consider me an Anglophobe to the same degree as Cochrane and Jenkins and co are Scottophobes…it’s true….I’m proud to be an Anglophobe…

    5. Gordie says:

      Jesus Dougie son, that’s a wee bit heavy pal? You on the wind up here?

      1. Gordie says:

        I’m from the Highlands and agree with a lot of what you say but the English people are in for a hoor of a struggle to wrest back some control and sovereignty over their own democracy from the state. The state has adopted the symbols of English identity as its own so a lot of English nationalism will line up alongside the overlords. They’ll be divided up, robbed, set against each other, offered plenty of scapegoats and generally fucked about with. I feel sorry for the folk in England actually, it will be more difficult for them to do what we are doing now. In respect of this I like Sturgeon’s stance of looking for friends rather than meeting the state head on, all or fuck all, as the YES campaign did during the referendum. It’s the right thing to do and we’ll see how the tactic unfolds

      2. Sandy Merry says:

        I hope not as he speaks the truth for many in Scotland. Whether a lifelong Nationalist ( or as I prefer to be called “A believer in Independence”) or one who is coming to be one however reluctantly the continual drip, drip of anti Scottish sentiment emanating from the Establishment in London is making it easier to accept that Scotland needs to be independent – sooner rather than later.

  8. macart763 says:

    Superb article Mr Welsh.

    There is an opportunity to be had in Scotland’s rediscovered political engagement, an opportunity for all progressive voices. The problem for these voices? Being heard.

    The elite and the powerful do indeed command the media. The powerful few attempt to define the shape and identity of the many and historically as arbiters of the channels of information have manipulated the perceptions of the populace to suit their world view for as long as I can remember. Scotland’s referendum shook the tree right down to its roots. Internet, social media, grass roots face to face discussion revolutionised and galvanized a nation, engaged people in the process of politics as never before.

    This engagement did not abate in the post referendum period and some thanks for this has to go to the dog whistle politics and anti Scottish rhetoric of the media and establishment parties in this period. The times they are a changin’ and now more than ever communication is the key. People can drive change for themselves, define their own identity and if they will it, define the identity of their governance.

    1. ian says:

      Its been a very longtime since i’ve felt such energy in my country if ever, its a reawakening.I have no wish to see us as a people fading into a shadow like the north american indians and the aborigines where our culture is wheeled out for the amusement of tourists.

      1. macart763 says:

        Nor should it Ian, diversity is to be celebrated not crushed. Engagement should be encouraged and inclusion from the poorest on up the rule, not the exception. We’ve started something in Scotland. We gave the establishment the fright of its life and they are well aware its not over, only just starting.

        Their greatest fear? That this democratic awakening and political engagement catches on, that it spreads across the UK. Interesting times. 🙂

        IMO the greatest gift we could bring to the table in Commons is a bloody nose to the establishment, to show others across these islands what is possible when people get motivated.

        1. FrankM says:

          I wholeheartedly agree macart763

  9. The weight of history, propelled by political momentum and slowed by social inertia, meant that stepping out of the Union of our own volition was always going to be difficult. Now that the ties that bind have been loosened, we can see now that Scotland is more likely to be thrown out of a UK that no longer knows itself, but knows it doesn’t want to be the one getting dumped.

    It’ll come, but we should remember not to take umbrage when Scotland is finally shown the door.

  10. Douglas
    There isn’t a hysterical climate in England. It’s completely manufactured by the media, English people aren’t really that bothered if Scotland goes.

  11. Douglas says:

    I have had enough of apologizing to progressive England and English friends…

    …300 years of MISGOVERNANCE and cultural domination from London, along with 100 years of lies, false promises and outright fabrications….

    If the people of England are as progressive as some say they are, why don’t they get off their arses and actually do something?

    London is this really progressive city? What, the same London that voted for Boris and laps up Paxman – a complete wanker of the first water – and others like him?

    If there is a progressive London, maybe it’s time it showed its face…

  12. John B Dick says:

    60 years ago, Donald Dewar shared with me his vision of a Home Rule parliament. At that timet the SNP were further behind than SGP today. It is both anachronistic and innumerate to imagine that disadvantaging the SNP was any part of the plan.

    1. Muscleguy says:

      Then why tot up the party vote by region? When we the people forced the change to MMP back in NZ (that is how it happened, I was there) it was for a National list, because only then can the system be truly proportional. NZ has 4 million people in a landmass slightly greater than the British Isles. Travel by land is sometimes harder than in Highland Scotland (the North Island main trunk rail has a spiral ascent in it) and regional identity is strong. Yet we have a National list system.

      The only possible reason for the regional lists in AMS were to disadvantage a regionally based party, which was either the SNP or the LibDems. Which was the most likely? Post Independence I would like to see the voting system changed to a national list.

  13. Stewart Smith says:

    Douglas, I’m sure Irvine doesn’t discredit the history of Scottish nationalism, nor is he suggesting that the indie movement was invented by Thatcher. But it’s quite obvious that the catalyst for devolution and the referendum was Thatcher’s dismantling of the British welfare state.
    Also worth adding that Culloden was not about England vs Scotland…
    Characterising Irvine’s piece as a love letter to England is pretty cheap and divisive. We should be working with other parts of the UK to create a progressive alliance and de-centre the political and economic dominance of the South-East. The English left should be just as much part of the wider anti-austerity wave as Syriza or Podemos.

    1. Douglas says:

      No. it’s not quite obvious at all.

      I challenge the myth that the current upsurge in indie feeling is down to Thatcher. It was created by the Scottish Renaissance, and their forbears, they sowed the seeds…

      As Martin Heidegger wrote to Hannah Arendt, “the sudden, whether for good or bad, always has a long period of gestation”…

      We are standing on the shoulders of giants, there are ghosts at this feast, great men and women…

      There are precedents, and you who put it down to political expediency – Irvine included – have not read enough about Scotland, surely a prerequisite for an opinion about Scotland I would say, or does that only apply to other countries?

      As for Culloden, of course you are right, but I think you are missing the point I am making. Nicola Stuergeon and Alec Salmond are the ones these days who are “not compatible with British civilization”…

      …it’s the same line, without the bloodshed…

    2. Douglas says:

      And let me add, I have not the slightest interest in working with the other parts of the UK. when did the other parts of the UK ever want to support Scotland? Where are all the progressive English people arguing for Scottish indie? I can name them on one hand…Ken Loach, John Harris, Billy Bragg…let’s remember those names…..

      Irvine’s mate is much more typical…a guy who has no idea what Scotland is or even existed.

      Hugh MacDiarmid’s hobby was listed in “Who’s Who” for many years as “Anglophobia”. But as he says in his autobiography, “it was much more than just a hobby: it was a lifetime’s work”….

      Exactly! That’s the spirit we need, we’ve had quite enough of you cap-in-handers, pussy footing around English sensibilities…I am a Scottish Republican. What the English think about Scottish independence is of supreme indifference to me…

  14. Barraload says:

    You need to accept the creed of nationalism for this argument to work.

    The UK has been reinvented before – the article says this – so there is good reason to believe that this can be done again in common cause with people of like mind in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    If you accept the polemic about Thatcher- Blair -South East etc, which is oft repeated on here it then seems cruel to cast people in those countries adrift when we could work together for the common good. Why is focussing on the needs of those who live north of the border so clear and so superior? I find common cause with them more than with nationalism

    1. My Cocaine says:

      It’s comments like these that make me laugh. The idea that socialists in the rest of the UK will suffer unless Scotland ‘saves’ them shows the intellectual feebleness and the lack of guts the Left has displayed these last years.

      As Irvine Welsh said in another article, the left had millions of trade union memebrs in the 1960s/1970s, Labour in power at Westminster, and they still couldn’t facilitate decent change for the working man. The left need to look at themselves before accusing Scotland of betrayal.

      I’m only surprised you didn’t mention bus drivers in Leuchars and Liverpool.

      1. jacquescoleman says:

        “the left had millions of trade union members in the 1960s/1970s, Labour in power at Westminster, and they still couldn’t facilitate decent change for the working man.”

        Very true. But the TUs did not use their power wisely and eventually went rogue in the late 70s. They lost much support from ordinary working people. And Thatcher wasn’t averse to using a quasi militia in the form of the police to quell the later rebellion of the coalminers. These facts more or less led to the demise of Old Labour, and the emergence of New Labour. And we all know where that led.

        1. Corporatist Hell says:

          “… led to the demise of Old Labour, and the emergence of New Labour. And we all know where that led”.

          (at the time, at least in the 90s) gathering a broad base of support across the Left, ‘progressives’, centre ground, centre-right and even Conservatives (who were fed up of the ‘sleaze’ at the time / didn’t see Blair as a looney left nutter threat)

          And winning three general elections (including in terms of the Scottish vote) and having the longest sustained period of power in their history?

          (I’m no Labour party supporter / defender. Just sayin’ though.)

          1. jacquescoleman says:

            I was cheering when Blair won. Tories were out and Scotland was to be devolved. Unfortunately Blair went rogue as well when he began to get delusions of grandeur along with his vengeful mate in the White House. It led them to decide to change the Middle East for ever, lying to all and sundry, to get their way. They certainly changed the Middle East. At least 1m dead and still dying and the whole area except the fat cat Arab oil states thrown into turmoil.

            Meanwhile the people in USA and UK were being fooled into thinking it was all OK because “house prices were rocketing”. Alas, dreams built on a mountain of debt. A giant Ponzi scheme which collapsed in 2008. But never mind the Fat Cats are still living high off the poor hogs and the populace are again being led further into debt to start off a new Ponzi Scheme. How I wish Scots had voted YES.

      2. Barraload says:

        I should be surprised, a bit saddened really, that folk like to laugh at the poor in other parts of the UK.

        But I get it. Nationalists don’t care about them. It’s all to do with Scotland being free of all of those English Welsh and Irish who hold us back and even if separation makes them poorer, it doesn’t matter.

        Nationalism in all its forms is -again – revealed as a nasty, beggar my neighbour party lacking compassion and empathy for anyone who is not among the select; the “select” being those who agree with nationalism

  15. Big Jock says:

    Douglas you are correct.

    The referendum was about 3 things and in this order –

    1) Scottish identity,culture and self determination. This is historical and is the lifeblood of any nation. Without this element the referendum would never have come about. Anyone who does not include this is in denial, as we all have an emotional connection to the country we live in. The collective firstly has to agree to a national identity, in order for the question to be asked.

    2) Social justice and anti Westminster alternative political identity.

    3) Hope

    1. YESGUY says:

      Aye am with you Big Jock.

      Great article by Irvine. Says it like it is. History has a lot to play in this and we Scots never gave up our Scottishness for British.. As a young soldier base in England during 80’s/90’s we were always Scots first. And there was quite a few of us. No matter where i am Scotland is my home.

      Food banks and sanction as well as poor support for the disabled etc are factors that show the Uk up big time. I watched the faces of folk at food banks and felt their pain. Kids forced to go hungry and cold , disgraceful in this day and age. We are ashamed. It helps our drive for indi. WM will never change.

      And no matter what we vote England always gets the Govt they vote for. Time for a change.

      Roll on May where most unionist mp’s will get their p45’s …. next ????? indi…..?

      or will WM turn us into a Northern Ireland ? Remember George Square the day after ? Many of them brought over from NI by the Orange Order. And even the Financial Tims is mentioning violence to us upptiy Jocks in an article today. ( Sorry can’t get the link)

      They are a shower of liars and tricksters. We’ve already told them we no longer trust them.

      Tick tock.

  16. Stewart Smith says:

    “The collective firstly has to agree to a national identity”. And what is that national identity? This is pretty essentialist stuff, as if Scottish nationhood and culture are inherent, rather than a construction. Do we have an emotional connection to the country we live in? Some do, some don’t. And one person’s connection will be different to another.
    Scotland like anywhere else is an imagined community, constructing an identity from shared history and selective traditions. That’s fine, as long as we’re aware of it, interrogate it and are inclusive and open to change. But let’s not get into romantic myths about nationhood.
    Many people who vote Yes did so not out of romanticism, but out of instrumentalism – the idea that independence was the best way to achieve social justice. In the past, people saw the Britain of the post-war settlement as that vehicle. As Irvine astutely notes, now that Britain has fallen apart, people across the UK are looking for different solutions

  17. Joseph M says:

    I have a ton of respect for Irvine, and much of what he says in this piece is true. However, I have to agree more with Douglas and his realistic appraisal of the Scottish situation. There’s a big elephant in the room that most of us – especially those working in Scotland’s creative sector – are reluctant to publicly recognise. We have our safe gripes about Westminster, the Tories and neo Labour, but a lot of us dare not admit that England as a whole imposes on Scottish life to an embarrassing degree.

    As most of the people with senior positions in Scottish media and arts are actually English, speaking-up is even more dangerous. Add a rather bloody and servile history all the way to the clearances of the early 20th century to the English wave that pushed-up Scottish property prices (that Victorian on Park would cost twice that in London – I’ll have it!) to the depressing fact that 75% of Scottish Highland land is owned by English colonists thanks to their thieving ancestors and we’re left with a situation where Scotland has allowed itself to become the Baldrick to England’s Blackadder. Thankfully, Baldrick has begun to grow some balls.

    The trouble is, we all have English friends, and most of them are good people. This puts us in a terrible situation where we want to shout about the English interference, colonisation and manipulation of Scotland and its affairs while not wanting our English friends to think we hate them on a personal, racist level. We don’t. So, for now, we have to tread Irvine’s ‘we love you, but…’ approach to England while that big elephant sits in the corner grazing away at twice its body weight.

  18. Mad Hatter says:

    Another great article on ‘post-Britain’ by Welsh and the significant reasons why Scotland s voters opting out of United Bankrupted Britain, looks ever more inevitable every day

    1. Barraload says:

      And vote into an independent country with a nice big deficit. So how do we solve that ? Cuts or tax increases. Taxing rich people in Scotland might suffer a tad if some/many choose to leave and set up businesses etc elsewhere.

  19. The Earthshaker says:

    Excellent article Irvine

    Off topic and hope it’s ok, the Lib Dems in Wales didn’t want us to feel left out of the baseless smears against nationalists, so they’ve accused a Plaid Cymru candidate of calling all English incomers Nazi’s when he, the candidate Mike Parker, born in Kidderminster was a travel writer 14 years ago, his original piece was about the rise of the BNP in Mid Wales and Labour jumped on the bandwagon as well


    Please feel free to share the Daily Wales link if you agree with it, we need al the help we can get

  20. Eugene Ruane says:

    A truly wonderful and interesting piece (I’m not Scottish, I’m from Liverpool by the way). Sadly, I doubt if it’ll be read by too many as there’s no pictures of Patsy Kensit holding a latté or Pippa Middleton’s arse (or whatever passes for political comment these days). I’d personally be happy to join any movement that frees the North from the self-serving London/Home Counties elite. I don’t do nationalism/patriotism or any of that distracting, slight-of-hand nonsense, so given the choice ‘stay as you are, or become part of a new North of England-Scotland alliance?’. I’d choose the latter like a shot (I mean HOW could it be worse?).

    1. Sandy Merry says:

      Come on in – the waters fine. Move to Scotland and vote SNP.

  21. My Cocaine says:

    An insightful article, but it doesn’t explain the myriad reasons why different political groups want Scotland to go independent.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I’m that rare breed – a Conservative who believes in an independent Scotland. The demise of the Labour party does not affect me one jot.

    Even if Scotland still returned a block of pro-Westminster Tory MPs, I still wouldn’t be affected, and I’d still be arguing for self-determination for Scotland.

    It’s the democratic opportunities that appeal to me. In an independent Scotland I’d be looking for a written constitution, low tax, an end to the nanny state, rolling back the state intrusion in people’s lives etc etc

    Even if Scotland was prospering under the Union, I’d still want to break away, so Irvine’s economic arguments don’t affect me.

    My biggest problem is not Thatcherism or Jim Murphy. No, I’m faced with the problem of who to vote for. I don’t like the SNP, but I can’t deny they are the best vehicle for bringing about an independent Scotland, so I’ll be holding my nose whilst putting an X beside the SNP candidate’s name.

    Honest to God, I wish there was a Pro-Independence/Tory party I could vote for.

    1. Corporatist Hell says:

      “In an independent Scotland I’d be looking for …, an end to the nanny state, rolling back the state intrusion in people’s lives etc etc

      I understand your ‘long game’, but still, you’re going to vote for the party of ‘State Guardians” for every child? You aren’t worried about that, esp. if Scotland becomes essentially a one-party state?

      1. My Cocaine says:

        The SNP are a means to an end, and because of proportional representation, I believe that an indy Scotland would be a healthy, thriving, multi-party country.

        I don’t share your concerns over a one party state.

        1. Totally agree. If only more of the “right” in Scotland would stand up and be counted I seriously believe the cause would move forward in leaps and bounds.

          It is a serious myth that Scotland is so much more left leaning than England, The political right in Scotland should be nurtured not be castigated and isolated, mae out as pariahs.

          It isn’t necessary that we all hold right wing views but it is necessary that we should be free to do so.

      2. Pam McMahon says:

        If Scotland became a “one-party state” it might be because there is no relevant or credible opposition?

        1. Barraload says:

          Which will not be the case

    2. Sandy Merry says:

      There will be once we get independence. You won’t have to hold your nose for long.

    3. Iain More says:

      I wish that all Parties in Scotland were pro Scottish Independence.

  22. Corporatist Hell says:

    I’ve got one thing in common with the author – that I’ve lived more than half my adult life in England. There the commonality ends.

    Far from being the ‘well balanced’, ‘superb’ article as suggested by others above, the article is riven with the familiar ridiculous, hysterical hyperbole, one dimensional and linear interpretations of causes and effects, and general complaining.

    And again, as usual, everything, or at least the source of everything wrong is placed squarely on “Thatcher” – and the far greater significance and impact of Globalisation is totally ignored – because it inconveniently conflicts with and interferes with the narrative of externalising all blame from Scottish people and Scotland. (“It is all someone else’s fault”).

    Some of the assertions, including about England and the different people living in different parts of England are plain wrong. Surprising since the author says he’s living ‘most of his adult life in England’ (I think he means ‘London’)

    “there hasn’t really been that much change out of two World Wars, a great depression, several recessions and a crushing neo-liberal ascendancy”

    Honestly, if you think that people’s lives, opportunities, and (broadly) standard of living and quality of life haven’t changed in 70 years, you need to take a long hard look at yourself, maybe even travel a bit and make some comparisons, including outside ‘England’ (or London).

    “the eminent nationalised industries of British Steel, Rail and Coal”

    Yes, and they worked out brilliantly for as long as they were ‘nationalised’ didn’t they? (Again, Globalisation is conveniently ignored).

    “…Keynes the social and economic architects of the post-war consensus. Like the elements they gave birth to, those ideological forces no longer exist, sacrificed, like their creations, on the altar of a self-serving, reductive neo-liberalism”

    No, they haven’t been ‘sacrificed’ …. especially with regards to Keynesianism … the principles are just no longer relevant and no longer apply.

    “£to transfer the resources of this country to a small transnational cabal of the superrich”

    Ah! At last a subtle nod to the existence of Globalisation. But of course, to suit the narrative, it is framed purely as a ‘cabal of the super rich’ and is thus an ‘evil force’ (and not the hopes, aspirations – and envies – of millions of people who want what we’ve had and have – and more)

    “Scottish independence is never going to be well received in the populous South East”.

    I think you’re wrong there. I think it’s going to be increasingly well received, and you’ll increasingly urged to leave (or if there’s another IndyRef and its another narrow No, there will be increasing demands for you to be removed, by force if necessary)

    “The class war zeal of Thatcherism turned what was always going to be an inevitable and painful deindustrialisation of the British economy”

    No, it’s just Globalisation.

    “in so far as the South is the most populous and dominant one. And it has led to a different type of politics developing there. Greater economic activity leads to an influx of people, with subsequent competition for housing, schools and services. Therefore, there are opportunities for racist politics based on the Trojan horse of limiting immigration, accompanied by the seductive, if silly, ‘paradise lost’ ballads so beloved of the right”

    I think you’re conflating ‘the south’ with ‘the fringes of the south, and the East of England’

    “an in-built avaricious elite that hovers (sic) up everything, leaving the rest with the crumbs that very occasionally fall from the table”

    I grew up on a “council estate” in an older industrial areas in central Scotland. My wife grew up on an estate in North Wales. Our household is now in the top 10% of earners. I’m sorry if you and others like you have failed, in a country that (still) offers free education (free University education in Scotland!) and free healthcare to all its citizens.

    “When I wrote about the aftermath of the referendum for the Guardian, in order to file in time I had to roughly pre-compose two pieces, one assuming a yes and the other a no.”

    I remember reading the ‘No’ piece you had to use – more whining, hyperbolic garbage.

    “by that governmental subsidy the rest of the UK gives to the South East.”
    On and on with this rubbish. No-one is subsidising the South East, or London.

    “The North of England is probably the key.”

    Possibly. Only certain parts though – others have nothing to offer anyone.


    Stop dreaming. % of tax revenue since WW2 across GB stuck at about 35%, across Governments and PMs. (Currently 39% under the Tories!). Germany about 40%, nordic utopias high 40s. But – all social attitudes and academic studies show no economic groups, no-one supports tax rises. Or rather they do – as long as they are tax rises on someone else. No-one wants to pay; someone else must pay. You will never, ever have your nordic utopia, because no-one in Scotland is prepared to up their contributions or make sacrifices to make it happen. And you won’t be able to ‘tax the rich’ yoru way to a nordic utopia, as you don’t have enough rich people who are sufficiently rich with accessible income and assets to tax. Stop dreaming.

    “The new English identity might be a regionalist one.”

    No – because there are no ‘regions’, if anything they were a New Labour invention. There are ‘shires’ though, and economic areas e.g. Greater Manchester.

    And in Greater Manchester, the Labour (Party) are seen as part of a centralising problem – not a solution. As wealth grows in GM, the Conservatives will continue to grow stronger.

    It won’t be about regions, it will be about cities. Glasgow (‘Yes voting Glasgow!!!” has seen some sense and joined the Core Cities group.

    And Plaid Cymru are nowhere and nobody. Welsh Conservatives are bigger than them.

    “Thatcher saw to that,”

    On and on and on and on and on and on ….

    “As in all matters relating to that wonderful country, I’m on the side of the good guys”

    And who are they pray tell? And more importantly, who have you decided are ‘the bad guys’ – ?

    And by the way, I fully support the decentralisation of the most centralised country in Europe (starting to happen where I live in return for sustained growth since 2008) and I’m disappointed that electoral reform and PR seems to have dropped out of sight even for the Lib Dems.

    However what I wouldn’t want to see are the rise of the kind of rabble seen north of the border (“Radical Independence Campaign”, that slightly more literate, vaguely educated Ned the SNP have got standing in Paisley, etc.)

    1. Douglas says:

      “I grew up on a “council estate” in an older industrial areas in central Scotland. My wife grew up on an estate in North Wales. Our household is now in the top 10% of earners. I’m sorry if you and others like you have failed, in a country that (still) offers free education (free University education in Scotland!) and free healthcare to all its citizens.”….

      …a great comment, Corporatist Hell, worthy of a psychopath who hasn’t worked out due to a blinding self-ego that everybody is different…

      ….surely, on the grounds of logic, not EVERYONE can be in the top 10% of earners (as if that meant ANYTHING except to the avaricious, materialistic, feeble minded like yourself)?

      Given that is the case, the question becomes something else. How MUCH POORER do the poor have to get before your insatiable smugness and self-satisfaction and obnoxious, moronic self-congratulatory sense of self-worth is fully satisfied?

      None of the wise men, in any religion or philosophy, ever valued material wealth, ever. Any sucker can become rich….play the lottery, play football, scrimp and save…or maybe just get lucky…

      When are the poor in Scotland going to actually DO something instead of marching and voting?

      Occupy Scotland, I say….

      1. Corporatist Hell says:

        “surely, on the grounds of logic, not EVERYONE can be in the top 10% of earners”

        No, but the author’s suggestion that an ‘elite’ ‘hoover up’ “everything” leaving only “crumbs” for “everyone else” is ridiculous hyperbole, propaganda aimed at bitter, angry inadequates who have failed to take life’s opportunities, including those that are handed to everyone on a plate, for free – including education.

        The vast majority of people (of course there are people deserving of extra support, people with learning difficulties etc. etc.) are capable of securing a decent education. Yet there are still schools where approaching one third of pupils leave with no qualifications. How is this possible? Because they don’t care, and their parents don’t care – and their children won’t care either.

        Any sucker can become rich….play the lottery, play football, scrimp and save…or maybe just get lucky…

        Or – you can work hard at school.

        My wife is a hospital consultant. All things being relative her salary makes her ‘rich’ because she is in at least the top 10% of earners. (Though she’s not a ‘banker’ etc.)

        How did she achieve this feat, from modest beginnings?

        Because her parents got it – got the value of education. (Working class father who got an assisted place at Grammar School – which were destroyed out of spite by the Lefties)

        And because she worked bloody, bloody hard at school from an early age, and maintained that commitment – and sacrifice – through her young adulthood, and adulthood, to be one of the best of the best, and secure the straight ‘A*’s needed to get into medical school.

        If you don’t stare out of the window at school (or indeed don’t not bother to even turn up) good things will happen.

        Increasingly, immigrants to the UK understand this more and more. And increasingly, certain parts of the ‘indigenous’ population do not.

        Including your Neds, who teachers in Scotland assure me are multiplying – at an alarming rate.

        “When are the poor in Scotland going to actually DO something instead of marching and voting?”

        You mean like a revolution? Careful – those tend to get out of hand, and don’t think they wouldn’t come for you.

        “Occupy Scotland, I say….”

        Oh, right.

        1. Douglas says:

          Corporatist Hell, you are a swat and miserable small minded class snob….no doubt you were bullied and teased in the school playground…you judge other people – he who casts the first stone – and you look down on others who are different to you are, and sneer at the social workers, the teachers, the NGO workers, the people not obsessed with wealth as you are who make society possible…

          …you know nothing about life, how can you, enslaved as you are to the god Mammon. Two thousand and more years of Western Civilization mean nothing to you. You are a Philistine and a boor.

          You are like a pig on the trail of truffles or black acorns, with your quivering snout firmly pointed at the ground, as you trot through the most splendiferous of forests, seeing nothing except where the trail leads. Nature means nothing to you either, unless it is to make a buck. You see nothing, you hear nothing, except the insatiable rumblings of your swinish belly…

          As for a Revolution, I would say this is one if you know how to read what’s going on…. the SNP are currently in charge if it, I am for diversity….

          1. florian albert says:

            ‘you are a swat and a miserable small minded class snob’
            ‘you are like a pig …with your quivering snout’


            What a nasty bilious response.

            Are you unaware that comments such as those reinforce the belief of the 55% who decided that Scottish independence was not an attractive proposition ?

          2. Corporatist Hell says:

            “You are like a pig on the trail of truffles or black acorns, with your quivering snout firmly pointed at the ground, as you trot through the most splendiferous of forests, seeing nothing except where the trail leads. Nature means nothing to you either, unless it is to make a buck. You see nothing, you hear nothing, except the insatiable rumblings of your swinish belly…”

            Ha Ha. That is brilliant. That is the best insult … I can recall actually. very evocative. Why truffles ‘or’ acorns though. (Why not just truffles?)

            I am definitely keeping that one. I might get a t shirt made (with the ‘you’s’ replaced with ‘I am’ etc.).

            Careful with that revolution though. They have a tendency to get out of hand, those.

        2. bridey8 says:

          Work hard at school – that’s your solution to it all ? Well done to your missus on the straight A’s and to you for escaping the cooncil estate. Rising, rampant inequality is all down to the “Neds” failing to take advantage of the opportunities gifted them. No doubt too busy “multiplying”. There’s a different way of doing things where everyone can benefit. “…In a country that (still) offers free education…” the alternative being ?

          1. Corporatist Hell says:

            “Work hard at school – that’s your solution to it all ?”

            Anyone – anyone who works hard at school will reap their just rewards. You only get out what you put in.

            “Rising rampant inequality” is, in a substantial part, a consequence of generations of people who do not give a fuck about education.

            In a country where it is free, and all you have to do is turn up, it is appalling.

        3. leavergirl says:

          “the author’s suggestion that an ‘elite’ ‘hoover up’ “everything” leaving only “crumbs” for “everyone else” is ridiculous hyperbole”

          Oh, riiight. The system is not set up to funnel wealth to the already privileged? Amazing news. But on second thought, the trolls who barge in here defending the indefensible are showing us the cracks in the walls built by the Hegemon. Carry on, Scotland! My heart is with you.

          (and it’s not only south of the border contagion they fear, but in the rest of Europe too!)

        4. David Agnew says:

          Oh dear – did you just brag about being richer than everyone here and how it was all down to “hard work?” I can tell you are upset that you don’t seem to be getting the respect you think you deserve, being rich and such a hard worker but its clear that you and logic aren’t on talking terms at the moment. I tend to find that the only people who brag about their bank balance, are new money.
          Old money never brags – doesn’t have to. Never has, never will. New money brags because they think it means something. But I think you’ll find that most of us here, well it simply doesn’t mean that much to us that it means that much to you.

          You did well in life, good for you. But what made you think you could piss on a poor mans head and tell them it was rain? Ever since you started haunting this forum, your belligerence is matched only by your utter lack of empathy. Any man who judges another by his bank balance is a pea wit.

        5. Muscleguy says:

          My two older sisters and I worked hard at school and prospered, in large part because we were blessed with good genes making us tallish, athletic, intelligent and with middle class parents. Two of us got degrees, I got a PhD, another is a high-powered nurse practitioner.

          Our younger sister on the other hand, lucked out in the genetic lottery. She had glasses at two, she kept walking into doors. She is not tall, not athletic, not intelligent. Despite lots of support and encouragement at home she left a good school, the one I went to that put a lot of effort into remedial teaching with few qualifications. In her first job she got sexually abused by her boss. She is now in later life a sickness beneficiary (in NZ, don’t worry your taxes are not supporting her) and in photos she is greyer than any of her older siblings.

          So you and your wife prospered due to the same sorts of genes I and my older sisters have. But what about those like my younger sister? Where are their jobs, the ones that pay a living wage, that are not exploitative and with zero guaranteed hours?

          I could be like you, I met a bright girl at university and married her. She got two degrees, then an MBA and is now in later life a working part time PhD student. But we are not in the top 10% of earners because we work in academia, devoted to the advancement and distribution of knowledge. We are not right wingers either. I campaigned with RIC in the referendum. I’m on nodding terms with the local SWP guys (who behaved impeccably during the referendum and helped the cause).

          What did you do in the referendum? Did you skin your knuckles delivering leaflets? (I have new found respect for postal workers), talk yourself hoarse chapping doors in the mean streets? get very tired legs standing the street all day asking folk if they were registered to vote? Sweat inside a panda suit explaining the democratic deficit to passing students?

        6. Regardless of any other aspect of your views, it is surely a vastly over simplistic view to suggest that even with free education that all that is required is hard work.

          To use the vernacular some people, through no fault of their own, are thick as shit in the neck of a bottle. Hard work work by them very rarely brings reward in good measure for their efforts.

          Congratulations on your success but try to rein in your superiority a little.

    2. jacquescoleman says:

      Far too long winded and repetitive. Haven’t you heard of editing? I gave up after 20 lines.

      1. Corporatist Hell says:

        Any repetitions reflect the repetition of various memes and canards by the author.

        The original article is quite lengthy, even by normal standards on this site.

        I’m sorry your attention span is insufficient for you to be able to absorb substantial information.

        1. JBS says:

          Okay, I get it. You are John Galt.

        2. JGedd says:

          I don’t have the time (since I have a life with other interests) to come on here and write lengthy pieces as you do (several times on one thread Corporatist Hell) but I have sometimes reflected, when seeing yet another thread dominated by your contributions, on who you are and what on earth motivates you..I know you tell us regularly with all the bullying bombast you have demonstrated here again, that you are better than most of us because of superior qualities, hard work, innate ability and well, just being from downright better stock than the rest of us. Why do you return again and again to sneer and insult? What on earth is behind all of this sheer dislike of Scots in general and of people who are just not very well off? You do realise that you sound crass and over-compensating.

          Someone of your superior status seems to waste a great deal of time returning again and again to launch the same attacks over and over again. Now it can’t be that you wish to guide us to a better understanding of where we have all gone wrong. It seems more like an immature desire to try and hurt and disparage. If you are the great success which you purport to be, why are you wasting your time castigating us lesser beings? You truly don’t want to engage or converse and seem to be particularly enraged by the idea of Scottish Independence. Perhaps you feel wounded by inferior beings rejecting a status which you have achieved ( such as being in the top ten percent living in England ) and believe you should instead deserve their awe and envy. Is that what annoys? That we are not that impressed despite your trumpeting of your own wonderful success and that you made it in England! My, oh my.

          There is definitely one thing which emerges, which is that success seems to have made you unpleasant and really someone I don’t want to waste any more time on. I have other things to do and will not be returning to read any contributions you make, on the basis that you will still be reiterating the same strident, attention-seeking animadverting about how much you earn etc and how worthless everyone else is who hasn’t reached your dizzy heights. Perhaps this passes for butch behaviour where you come from.. You are welcome to your Corporatist Hell. Hell it would be to live in a world full of boring people like you. I’m off to watch the opera.

          1. leavergirl says:

            Trolls specialize in wasting people’s time. Not feeding them is one solution… then they’ll go and waste someone else’s time. 🙂

          2. Corporatist Hell says:

            “I know you tell us regularly … that you are better than most of us because of superior qualities, hard work, innate ability and well, just being from downright better stock than the rest of us.”

            I have never once said or even implied that I am superior to anyone. If that is your distorted perception of the observations I’ve made, then I’m sorry for you.

            “just being from downright better stock than the rest of us.”

            Better stock? I’ve told you, my parents (and my wife’s parents) were both what is sometimes described as ‘working class’, and I grew up on an estate in an older industrial area in central Scotland.

            I am absolutely not from any kind of ‘stock’, nor was I born with any silver spoon in my mouth. But my parents valued education, I valued education, and I succeeded, moderately.

            “What on earth is behind all of this sheer dislike of Scots in general”

            I have no such dislike. I dislike ‘nationalism’ (and spare me your bleating about it being ‘civic’ and ‘inclusive’) and I have grave concerns about what’s going on up there, primarily because my adopted country and its economy are attached to yours, and I don’t want to see that integrated and interconnected economy disrupted while it recovers from the GFC. (I’m Scottish btw, just to avoid any confusion).

            I admit I also take an interest in challenging distortion, revisionism, hyperbole, propaganda, double standards, hypocrisy and bullsh!t. Or which the ‘nationalist’ movement is awash.

            (I’m no staunch defender of any other political party / movement, or ‘westminster’ etc. I am not a tribalist, I will vote for whomever serves by interests best at any given time / circumstance)

            Some of the articles and commentary on here though is very interesting, revealing and insightful though. (Many articles and the commentary around them are utter nonsense though)

            “You truly don’t want to engage or converse”

            A baseless accusation, look across this history of my time here

            “seem to be particularly enraged by the idea of Scottish Independence”

            Indeed it now seems inevitable, and I’d like to see an end to the disruption of economies. I’d like Scottish independence to happen in a managed way, where you aren’t able to use threats and aggression (directed at the rUK and the EU) to try to get out of your responsibilities and secure endless concessions paid for by other people.

            “really someone I don’t want to waste any more time on”

            Yes a couple of people have said that but they always come back for more.

            “and will not be returning to read any contributions you make”

            As above.

            “how worthless everyone else is who hasn’t reached your dizzy heights”

            Again, if this is your distorted impression then I am sorry for you.

            I am merely providing a counterpoint to the ‘everything is all someone else’s fault (The Tories, Westminster etc.) meme on here.

            You only get out what you put in, in life.

            Neither I nor my wife were born with any privileges or other natural or in-built advantages. We take responsibility for our own success and happiness, and don’t waste our time lashing out at ‘Westminster’ and ‘the Tories’ and trying to blame them for every problem and difficulty.

            “I’m off to watch the opera”

            You enjoy that.

          1. douglas clark says:

            Corporatist Hell,

            You say:

            We take responsibility for our own success and happiness, and don’t waste our time lashing out at ‘Westminster’ and ‘the Tories’ and trying to blame them for every problem and difficulty.

            Well, I wouldn’t either, perhaps.

            If everything has been a bed or roses for you and your good lady, and you have the social concience of a cockroach, why would anyone find Tory or even the Blairite / Brownite policies anything other than a jolly jape? Why are they worthy of challenge? Because they directed much of their power to protect you perhaps? Well that would explain some of your writings.

            Otherwise, for no reason whatsoever that you allow yourself to see.

            Perhaps because ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ are endemic in society and that ‘winners’ are, by definition a smaller group than ‘losers’ and because even small scale, pathetic winners, would rather be on that side than the other, is it a reasonable way – in an unhappy mind – to define oneself?

            “We, darling, rule.

            let the riff raff fight over the scraps.

            Anyone for canapes”

            Yes, there is to my mind an utter failure of common purpose about you, and I salute that. It is as well to know who the enemy is. And the enemy is in an ethical stink-hole.

            In my opinion.

  23. Sean Gill says:

    This article clearly summarizes the post-referendum politico-cultural landscape for notions of Englishness in ex-colonial Britain. However there is one crucial element missing that trumps all such considerations for the English based Establishment and that is access to Scotland’s raw material wealth – primary amongst which is oil.
    It is now somewhat cliched from a Scottish perspective to consider such natural mineral resources as the backbone of the economic case for independence – there are many other reasons to support independence and access to oil revenues is part only of the strong economic case for Scottish statehood. Nevertheless, Scots should be wary of assuming that such nuanced arguments play out in the same way south of the border. England needs access to Scotland’s oil fields for 2 basic and fundamental reasons: firstly; cold hard cash from oil exports to support its economic model; and secondly, availability of a domestic energy source to ensure that it is not wholly reliant on the political whims of other nations to keep the lights on and the wheels turning.
    As a nation, we should never underestimate the importance of Scotland’s mineral wealth to save a hypothetical English state from economic catastrophe. England will never willingly walk away from the UK. There are many valid political and cultural differences that would indicate that England should declare itself free of the Union, but raw economic realities will always trump such fantasy.

  24. Gary Crossley says:

    An excellent and thought-provoking article. I think an independent Scotland is now almost inevitable and the SNP has done a great job positioning itself as a viable left-of-centre party largely in line with the political mood of a majority country.

    The position in England is far more complex and the fall-out after the forthcoming general election will probably reflect this. The Westminster elite is increasingly despised in England but not in the way some (UKIP-minded) people think.

    The recovery in the economy is being driven by younger, frequently internationally mobile individuals who value the diversity and inclusiveness of society in the UK. I don’t mean bankers here – I’m talking about the IT specialists, the engineers, and even the vegetable pickers who work 12 hours a day in the fields round here so that we can enjoy very cheap food.

    Unfortunately this change in society is not mirrored by the Westminster elite. Unless the English political class begins to properly represent the cultural and economic mix of modern England the problems will only intensify.

    Scotland will perhaps be able to look on these arguments from the sidelines before too long. I just hope she does so as a friendly neighbour. We English are going to need all the friends we can get!

  25. This has the accuracy a Hibernian striker can only dream of.

  26. Big Jock says:

    My Cocaine says – :”Honest to God, I wish there was a Pro-Independence/Tory party I could vote for.”

    There is it’s called UKIP!

    1. My Cocaine says:

      A pro-independence, Conservative party,that was favour of an Indy Scotland, was what I meant.

      1. Big Jock says:

        I know it’s my juvenile sense of humour!

  27. Big Jock says:

    Coraparitist – The neds as you call them ,or working class. Are a direct consequence of Westminster Tory and Labour policies, over the decades. Sure you could blame the parents. But who made them?

    The lost generations of the 70’s and 80’s did not choose their life. It was forced on them, by the disintegration of society,collectavism and opportunity. Why do you think they became so enlivened during the referendum.

    It’s a thing called hope. If you take that away from anyone, rich or poor then they lose the will to act. The common man is powerless without the ability to change who rules over them. That has been the case over the decades. Learned hopelessness. The rich want to keep them there, not set them free.

    The referendum offered real change and hope. The middle classes and upper classes took away that hope, by voting no to keep the poor in poverty.

    You ask when will the poor and working classes do something? They tried in September last year. So did the caring people in more fortunate positions. The selfish voted no to look after their own back pockets, and to hell with the meek.

    Hope was not killed as they expected and their chance is coming soon.

    1. Jay Gatto says:


  28. manandboy says:

    Irvine Welsh together with Douglas is my pick and I wouldn’t separate them.

    What they have both written has broadened my mind
    and refreshed my soul with new hope.

    To both, I say ‘Thank you’.

  29. John Page says:

    Ta ta, Bella

  30. Big Jock says:

    Yes Guy -You are correct.

    You only have to look over to the Republic of Eire, to see what happened to them when they rejected Westminster. They were treated like second class slaves of empire. The ones that came over here were persecuted in London, Birmingham and Glasgow.

    London tried to cheat them into staying in the union. They tried to hold back their aspirations. They demonised them as rebels and turned the public against them. “How can I be a rebel for wanting my own nation back!” cried Collins.

    Look what is happening here. We were cheated by the Vow, and the promise of Devo Max. Then they laugh in our faces and offer us local parish council devolution. We reject unionist parties, and they then demonise us! The only difference is there has been no violence, other than the unionist mob in George Square.

    We are a peaceful movement , but the unionists are not and we must never forget that. The revolution is coming but expect more bullying from the unionists. Physical force is their last resort when their empire is threatened. We must always rise above it and never degrade ourselves by sinking to their neanderthol level.

    1. Finlay McTaggart says:

      Big Jock wrote: “We are a peaceful movement, but the unionists are not and we must never forget that’ etc”

      Too true!

      The comparisons with Ireland are interesting. England may never have lost Ireland or more likely it would have left to a more peaceful transition had they given the Irish what they wanted regards land reform.

      Seems they have not learned this lesson and they are having to have their fingers prized off Scotland one by one. Not a dignified sight!

      Their main concern is not what happens to Scotland, it’s how England will be perceived by the world for Scotland leaving that concerns them. To that end I see more draconian measures being deployed by westminster to keep Scotland locked in union. We see that with the collusion of westminster parties, state broadcaster (bbc), London civil service and london press in smearing Nicola Sturgeon. This is likely to prove to be the thin end of wedge post election.

      The parallels with Ireland do not end there, Scottish politics have divided down unionist and nationalists lines, there’s no way back from this.

      1. Barraload says:

        In you reference to Ireland are you anticipating violent revolt?

  31. arthur thomson says:

    A fascinating post Irvine and I am glad you wrote it. It is a valuable contribution to our process of enlightenment. That enlightenment is key to creating a new and better Scotland.

    Sadly, I have lost interest in reading the contributions of trolls on this site.

  32. London is the part of the UK that feels most British – the only part of England that describes itself as British rather than English. The rest of England, including the North, is overwhelmingly English as opposed to British. British identity is more keenly felt in Wales than it is in England outside London.

    1. Barraload says:

      I”d agree. A number of different cultures rubbing along together, with many different languages being spoken. London is one of the great cities along with new york, rome etc

    2. Dean Richardson says:

      I always thought the Welsh identified as Welsh, and any sense of Britshness was only felt very reluctantly.

      1. Barraload says:

        people across the uk and in the world identify with a variety of cultures What is this mono-cultural scottie thing all about. Ah it’s about narrowing minds to the scottie race. Jings

  33. Adrian Small says:

    Ahhhh geeeewizzz. Thanks fro that Irvine. A nice pat on the head from ‘the man himself’ – the cream of the Scottish chattering intelligensia!

    I’m English and frankly could care less if Scotland stays in the union any more (at least after all the abuse hurled our way I can no longer stand the place) The title of this article in point ‘Engerland’ conflated with Cameron? Thought his folks were from a place called Huntly? And Johnson is Turkish/ American isn’t he? Osborne of course is Irish etc.

    Fair enough Scotland, if you see no benefit, no solidarity, no interest in a union with England; if you think we’re all racists or effete toffs, or are all the spawn of Thatcher and like to eat working class babies; are all war mongers, are responsible for the global economic system and crisis, that we colonised you, that modern Britain is simply about historical imperialism, that you only ever want the government that the majority in the west of Scotland want rather that accepting democracy (Most English only occasionally get the govt they voted for also….this is the whole point to democracy!)…..and mostly if you think you’re so different from us, that we share no history and no culture then so be it; that linguistically and sensibly all things miraculously stop at the Tweed, then feel free fuck off and speak only Gaelic or Scots – which of course is not in any way linked to the old/ middle English dialects of Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Northumberland, and brown nose the bloody Norwegians with their right wing government and fucking moose meat and cloud berries and ten quid a pint and the insufferable fucking ‘what the fox say’ song sheet then fine….be our guests.

    But at least have the dignity to do it properly. (And this goes out primarily to the celebs; Frankie Boyle, Kevin Bridges, that Greek prick from Franz Ferdinand, Irvine Welsh, Elaine C Smith and so on…)

    Don’t then assume to profit from England on a person basis, as Welsh did after a genius Englishman turned his dull book into a cracking film. Don’t appear on British TV, don’t sell your books/ records/ shite comedy – actually Bridges is very funny/ Pantomimes in our shops and on our stages and on our TV (after all how could we culturally different English understand them?) Please don’t assume to share anything whatsoever…and we English shall reciprocate by keeping our football, our films, our TV- I’ve heard river city’s great! Game of Thrones however is of course shit and based on English history with mostly English actors, our cities with their energy and our wonderful wonderful music/ youth culture you keep stealing – Mods, Rockers, Punks, Casuals (aye Liverpool)… away ye go lads and lasses; hands off the Stone Roses, the Smiths and the Happy Mondays! Listen to fucking Aha and Ace of fucking base!

    In other words have the decency and courage to do independence properly. And stop being so bloody two faced.

    1. Andrew Brown says:

      Wow ! You should seek help (and a good history book).

      1. Anton says:

        Any chance you could provide an argument against Adrian Small’s post? Which is not to say that I agree with what he says, but it would be nice if you could justify your remark.

    2. JBS says:

      I reckon that the recent Indyref and the current run-up to the GE must have done a lot to thicken my skin, because I don’t find any of this stuff offensive, just hilarious and a tad pathetic.

      Thank you for your input, caller.

  34. Big Jock says:

    Trolls are like mole hills. They appear when you least expect it ,but the weeblighters never reveal themselves. I feel sorry forthem . Their lives are so empty they have to live their lives vicariously

    1. Adrian Small says:

      Who expects or doesn’t expect a mole hill?

      1. JBS says:

        I was going to write something intelligent and witty about Adrian molehills here, but then it struck me that I’m not intelligent and witty so I’d better not…

  35. Mealer says:

    I have never felt British myself,but some of my friends do.I have seldom been to England,I don’t know very many English people but most of the ones I do know are alright.I have a very different experience from the author and find his take on things interesting.

  36. Finlay McTaggart says:

    That England has lost an empire but has still to find a role is a well made and valid point. This not only resonates with the elite in England, it resonates with people of all classes. In part this outdated and romanticised view of the past impacts England’s ability and capability to participate meaningfully in the EU. Thankfully in Scotland this view is held only by a small and sad minority.

    This anglofactured view of the world Is perpetuated by the English education system and media. Why, it’s the elites’ means control and communicating to the English people that they are special. Not just one of the European crowd, but the pick of the litter, “just look at our royals, the envy of the world”. Sadly many beleive this absurd nonsense. Also you can see ther alarm at the possibility of Scots having a pivotal role in the governance othe uk in 2015.

    A few in England still believe days of greatness lie ahead. The principal vehicle to bringing this about is ditching the EU, re-uniting with Australia, New Zealand plus Canada and negotiating trade deals with China, etc. Not the sharpest tools in the box.

    The majority of Scots don’t have the same pejorative view of sharing sovereignty – until recently – when their eyes were opened that being in the uk is not sharing sovereignty, it’s being taken a loan of and being laughed at behind your back.

    I agree with Irvine that the EU referendum is the likely red line for Scots and a possible parting of the ways. I can also see this particular point as being of advantage to England. If Englamd leaves the EU and Scotland remains, Scotland’s membership would provide England a communication channel with the top table whilst she exists.

    The SNP can make this happen by stating in their 2016 Scottish Election manifesto that if Scotland votes to stay in EU and England votes to exit, a refendum on Scottish independence should be held to ensure an independent Scotland remans in EU.

  37. Big Jock says:

    Mealer . Like all people they are a mixed bag. I fell out with a Yorkshire lass at my work. Not because she disagreed with independence. It was more because she felt her duty was to disrespect and trash the country she had moved to i.e mine!

    Had the shoe been on the other foot would I have said the things she said about England. Can you imagine how long I would be welcome!

    1. Dean Richardson says:

      If she hates Scotland that much, why is she still there? And the same principle applies to people anywhere who hate the country they’re in, but still don’t go somewhere else.

  38. Graeme says:

    ehm, just a note to the spurious notion that indyref was primarily about ‘identity’. If we go down that line to its logical conclusion, Yes is dead. I didn’t knock doors for the Yes campaign or leaflet in the name of freeing Scottish ‘identity’. I intend to vote SNP, but I will do so with no real sense of their ability to really push beyond some of the tenets of neoliberalism that Labour have utterly failed to do.
    The idea that 1) problematic pockets and eras in the 300 years of post-union history in Scotland was because of ‘the English’ (as has been mooted in the comments) or because of ‘England’ is historically illiterate and, frankly laughable. Any undergraduate student of Scottish history from the 11th century onwards will just read that and gape. The Clearances, for example: mostly Scottish proprietors, causally attributed to elites ANYWHERE and especially in Scotland, gaming the world capitalist system for profit. 2) Neoliberalism is alive and kicking in Scotland too, don’t think any essentialist idea of Scottish identity suddenly negates or frees a majority from that.
    Otherwise, fine stuff.

    1. Douglas says:

      Graeme, nobody is blaming “the English” for the Clearances. The point is that the Clearances occurred under the auspices of the British State, and indeed, often soldiers were sent in when any resistance was offered, the clansmen bound and chained and put on ships sailing for America…the whole fabric of Gaelic Scotland unravelled as a result…

      As for the identity question, “Scottish identity” is not an expression I would ever use. It’s culture, Scottish Culture is very distinct from English culture, what’s left of it I mean, and culture in the wider sense too, the societal sense of the word.

      You know as well as I do that a guy like Paxman or Boris would never play in Scotland, right? If Boris ran for the most conservative seat in Scotland, he wouldn’t get a vote. What is the words for that difference? You can call it a cultural difference. I would say it’s a cultural difference. We do not subscribe to the cult of the English gentleman – in fact we are just the opposite. Anybody who shows any sign of pretentiousness in Scotland or puts on airs and graces gets taken down a peg or two…

      Agreed these are generalisations, but Boris or Paxman or Cameron are anathema to the Scots. So there is clearly a difference there….call it what you want.

      1. Barraload says:

        How about calling it cultural intolerance.

        It is becoming ever clearer that a nationalist Scotland is one for the pure believers and those who have a distinct and different view on culture are to be treated as “outsiders” and to be distrusted because they are “not like us/me.”

        This is deeply troubling for any democracy. Who’s next to be distrusted after the caricature english and scottish tories? Immigrants? Those of a certain religious belief?

        1. Douglas says:

          Barraload, I find it impossible to take you seriously. You mean, because we don’t vote Tory we are intolerant? What is “your different view on culture”?

          What have you read, which are your cultural references? Let’s hear you…

          1. Barraload says:

            Nope i don’t mean that but you put up a cultural stereotype of Boris or Jeremy simply to knock it down. Many folk in Scotland like them; they may be a minority but good let’s encourage and if need be protect minorities rather than start some pointless discussion about what is Scottish culture and what is not. We are a mongrel people and the better for it

          2. Barraload says:

            PS Douglas. I never have and never will vote tory but i will defend their right to a fair hearing in any debate and will not denigrate and abuse them or any other minority in Scotland. thought you might want to know

      2. Logiemink says:

        At the last General Election Cameron’s Conservative Party received about 28% of the total votes available so to use that as a difference between Scotland and England is not as straight forward as you would like and only highlights why many English viewers had a positive response to Sturgeon in the leaders debate.

        1. Douglas says:

          Maybe so, but that’s not the point I am making. I am not talking about a political beliefs so much as in the sensibilities of the Scots in comparison to England, especially Oxbridge England, the people who run the country.

          Ruth Davidson is a Tory, but she is not a Tory like Boris of Paxman are. That’s the point I am making. Rush is plain spoken and down to earth. I think she plays quite well in Scotland. If Boris was leading the Tories in Scotland, I doubt they would have got 28%, that’s the point I am making.

          Clearly, the biggest difference between Scotland and England which contributes to that difference, is that we do not have elite universities in Scotland. We have five ancient universities which are broadly comparable. England has two elite universities, and these are like finishing schools of the British ruling class, the people that run our country to a great extent. The class system is built into the Union, it is its cement. Why are we being governed by the Oxbridge elite in Scotland? It is a world which is completely alien and unsympathetic to us…

          You can’t tell the social class of an American, a Frenchman or a Spaniard down the telephone. The class system is a British disease.. It’s stifling and leads to mediocrity…you only have to see who is running the UK to spot that….Cameron is the most intellectually limited PM Britain has ever had….

  39. Barraload says:

    After 2 debates we know that vote SNP and you’ll get a party that would want fiscal autonomy now = black hole. Oh and no surprise that SNP want another referendum as independence is what they exist to achieve so no-one should be that surprised on this one

  40. Annette says:

    Fascinating and thought-provoking article!

  41. Big jock says:


    Being a nation is not a financial or economic transaction. It’s not like selecting a party. Your country is your starting point, for any national vote on the future of the land you live in. To pretend that Scottishness has nothing to do with independence is just utter nonsense. You are only deluding yourself.

    All the other things like culture,socialism,collectavism,economic policy. Can only come about after you first agree you are a nation. The journey begins properly once your nation is free to implement it’s own policies based on it’s collective ambitions. Scottishness and being Scottish is what started the independence movement.

    For sure it is now a broad church of immigrants like myself and others. However the reason I want independence first and foremost, is because I feel Scottish and not British. The other things I think are very important. But it’s the old story. You can’t start a journey until you are given the keys to the bus.

    No-one is suggesting that the indy ref was just about being Scottish. However there is no point in independence, if you do not feel you belong to a distinct nation. It just makes no ideological sense.

    1. Darien says:

      I agree. Nationhood is priceless. It is the means by which we can start to repair our nation. It is the way we distinguish ourselves, just like any other normal nation e.g. the Norwegians, the Danes, the Icelanders. To deny our Scottishness is what the unionists want. They want us to deny our nation, and our culture/language which they eagerly suppress and insult. They think we should be extinguished; they believe Scotland was extinguished. As the Tory Ruth said last night – we are “one nation” and she meant that oddity called the UKofGB&NI – to her Scotland does not exist as a nation. So fly your saltire proudly and reassert your nationhood – otherwise we will lose it – and with it our culture, language etc.

      1. Barraload says:

        Complete guff. For centuries many us have been Scottish and British. Some who live here also cling to more than one cultural identity; Irish, Indian, Polish etc etc as well as being Scottish and British. The idea that only nationalists can be Scottish and it is pure and distinct or that someone out there (Ruth Davidson) can extinguish my cultural identity is completely barking

        1. JBS says:

          Can I take this opportunity to thank you, your fellow unionist commenters, and the majority of the mainstream media for the sterling work you are doing in hammering the nails into the union’s coffin.

          I realise that it is a long and tedious task but you have been, and are, unstinting in your application to the job at hand. You are all heroes in my book.

          1. Barraload says:

            You may. Thanks. it would appear that those in favour of multiculturalism are not welcome in scotland. You’ve got to sign up to scottishness. Sad

          2. JBS says:

            You are welcome. An independent Scotland will, of course, be inclusive, not exclusive.

            What is ‘Scottishness’? Perhaps you could elucidate.

  42. Born in the Midlands, it was a long time ago I saw the need for a federated UK, especially looking at the way Scotland, Wales and the North of England were being trashed in the days before they had started on the rest. The more I think of it, the more I believe it might make more sense to set the non-productive financial centre of the South-East free to float off to the the US, while the rest of the UK builds a federation of productive states with the interests of all the people at the forefront.

  43. Big jock says:

    Barraload – You have deliberately missed the point.

    No one suggested you can’t have cultural links to another nation. In this instance we are talking about Scotland. We are talking about why we had a referendum. It was because Scotland aspires to be the nation it once was. Independent and proud. Not a part time nation when it suits unionists to slap on their kilts at Murrayfield twice a year.

    Whether you feel British is irrelevent. Enough of us on the other side feel Scottish first ,second and last. We are the ones that drove the independence movement. Not the Brits or the part time Scots. All my ancestors are Irish and I am a Scot. I don’t feel Irish, but appreciate my origins are Irish. There is a difference between clinging onto the past and moving to the future.

    I was born in Scotland ,live in Scotland and will probably die in Scotland. Pretending that nationhood is not born of identity is just guff.

    1. Barraload says:

      Enough of us on the other side feel Scottish first ,second and last.

      Eh, not enough of you. You live in a democracy which voted to remain in the UK which suggest that this cultural identity matters to them (and spare me the line about they all voted out of fear). Can you accept the judgment of democracy?

  44. Norrie Hunter says:

    Whoof no holds barred and excellent read which i suppose shows why the polls are reflecting a huge gain for the SNP. It might just reflect the enevitable closing door of the union

  45. I used to be on the One O'Clock Gang Show says:

    I’m afraid that Irvine Welsh’s article struck me as reasonably well-written, privileged tripe. It very much reminded me of the kind of language – “lackeys”, “flabby”, “corpulent”, etc. – that you can readily see in museums on Nazism across Europe. Shame on you. You certainly can’t claim – with your promotion of the ever-divisive politics of identity – to be on the side of the good guys.

  46. DazmoS says:

    Sad. This was meant to be a well reasoned debate about an interesting article. Many of the comments above (on both sides) have resorted back to some tired old stereotypes and waffling on about various battles in the ancient past…this is the 21st century people 🙁

    Im English, haven’t been to Eton, aren’t responsible for slavery and/or corporate globalisation and dont own a powdered wig.

    I have numerous Scottish friends. Most do not have left wing politics. Only 1 has shocking red hair. None own a claymore. No-one has struck up a conversation about culloden etc… recently. There is some weird almost universal attraction to irn brew though…

    Before anybody laughts at these stereotypes they are no worse than those being thrown around above.

    1. Barraload says:

      Ah but you’ve got the gist of the type of discussion which passes for political debate up here. Interesting that there has been no comment on the leaders debates; fiscal autonomy, re-run of referendum are topics that might just pop the SNP balloon, but no commentary or comment – so far

  47. Big Jock says:

    Bannockburn has it’s place , Burns has his place , Jimmy Reid has his place, bagpipes have their place , Liz Lochead has her place,Ravenscraig has it’s place. All these things are part of Scotland’s story.

    We should remember the past , enjoy the present and look to the future.

  48. oldbattle says:

    Anent the Welsh piece I urge you all to read a quite remarkable, quietly written, ‘douce’ article in Scottish Review by a retired academic calling for/ urging nothing less than the urgent radical reform of capitalism. Basing much of his thesis on Owen Jones book The Establishment, Seaton is asking/demanding what sounds like revolution in the current system of market driven political economy. I am reminded of a wee song from Bert Brecht’s play of revolution “The Mother’ he writes:
    “If you have an empty plate, how do you expect to sup? Its up to you to change the state, turn it over bottom’s up “

    But Seaton’s piece is a heart felt plea from one who has enough, urging a politics of a new kind that eliminates the growing scourge of poverty; that prevents punishing the sick; that stops the prosecution of the poor or the persecution of the jobless.
    May7th might give us a chance for change. But the result will no doubt see that well kent ‘caw cannie’ approach, bereft of the kind of audacity that ‘logic of daring’ that Edward Said saw in so much of the anti-colonial struggles. But do have a read!


    The enemy within
    Anthony Seaton
    Where is Britain going?
    Scottish Review

  49. Michaelk says:

    History moves in mysterious ways and I always believed the referendum was just another step on the road to full independence for Scotland… regardless of the result. When people in Scotland realized they’ed been truly shafted by the London establishment, the reaction was going to be fierce and profound. Scottish independence wasn’t defeated in the referendum, paradoxically it was strengthend and galvanized, which is illustrated by the surge in membership of the SNP.

  50. Michaelk says:

    I think the pendulum Irvine Welsh is referring to, is actually the great swinging axe in Poe’s the ‘Pit and the Pendulum’.

  51. douglas clark says:

    Och, I meant to say, before going off on one, that this is an extremely good opinion piece. I have not seen the arguement – given the status quo ante – spelt out this clearly anywhere else.

  52. Gordon says:

    Independent Scotland in my lifetime….. Awesome! Looks like it is going that way,

    Surprising really cos’ seems loads of foreign owned UK media and our own establishment with vested interests to keep a status quo…

    let’s face it.. Nobody likes the patchwork of political and social bollocks that exists now. A corrupt elitist Westminster, an NHS and education system driven out to private hands by stealth and back hand. A nuclear money pit our state media says is our independent deterrent when we only lease it and have no control of with authorisation of US bosses

    Nah… Need a new blue print…. Old one has faded and getting torn up with every change of season

    1. Dean Richardson says:

      As Uncle Sam’s in charge of those nukes, he could at least pay for the construction and maintenance of the damn things.

  53. Douglas says:

    Irvine, here’s a question (and a final comment), which sheds light on the difference between Scotland and England.

    Who is the national figure the Scots look to and identify with? I think it would be safe to say it is Burns. which is to say, a self-taught peasant who identified with the powerless, who makes a call for the universality of humankind, and who, or so I read, even sent a canon to the nascent French Republic. A democrat and a satirist of power, and people who put on airs and graces…

    Who is the national figure the English look to and identify with? There, I am struggling. It’s not Shakespeare – as it would be in any other European country; in Spain, it is Cervantes – and the only answer I could offer would be: the Queen.

    The English look to monarchy, the Scots look to Burns…the English look to the peak of the pinnacle of privilege and wealth, the Scots look at the Bard who gave voice to the common man…

    Again, generalisations and hence simplifications, I know. But there is some truth in that surely? Which makes Salmond’s grovelling during the referendum campaign about how Elizabeth “is the queen of Scots too” all the more inexplicable to me….


    1. Darien says:

      “Who is the national figure the Scots look to and identify with?”


  54. oldbattle says:

    Obviously a stimulating opinion piece. Congrats Bella on scooping this and for the power of the many comment contributors.
    There is in much of the current writing in Bella, that ‘logic of daring’ found in the significant anti-imperiliast writing currently being popularised all across social-media throughout Latin America.

  55. junius45 says:

    “The Truffle-Snaffler’s Wife”, bet she’s bored out of her skull!

  56. Martin Baltazar says:

    Jim makes some good points; the drift of power to fewer and fewer people being one, however the glorification of the nationalised industries and how their sale was the beginning of the current situation is a romaticisation. As a gas fitters mate the first thing the gas fitting crews did was go for breakfast on company time! Many a fitter earned more on ‘guvvy’ jobs using stolen pipe than working the standard hours! A friend who worked as a miner earned time and a half for overtime at night but he and colleagues took it in turns to go to sleep! The nationalised industries destroyed themselves through complacency and a complete dereliction of commercial duty!
    Martin Baltazar

  57. Paul says:

    Wow, colour me blown away, great analysis of the current situation.

    1. Paul says:

      Also, what are traditional newspapers there for again?

  58. Sab says:

    I live in heavily socialized France – no Thatcher wrecking ball worked its way here..35 hour mandatory working week, more public servants than you can shake a baguette at, trade unions still very powerful.. but somehow the French working class as still living in slums and are under/unemployed. Tricky bastards to attain these socialist paradises..

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