2007 - 2022

The Empire Fights Back

CNahP0BWwAAIOYt-458x600Prestonfield House has been the location for some grand moments in recent Scottish politics. It was here in November 2004 that Baron Watson of Invergowrie set fire to the curtains in the Yellow Room – following the Scottish Politician of the Year awards, for which he was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment. He’s now their spokesman on education in the Lords. It was here too that Alex Salmond gave his victory speech in 2011 after securing a historic landslide victory at Holyrood. After his helicopter landed in the grounds, Salmond gave a speech that concluded: “Our eyes are on the future – and the dreams that can be realised.” Here too Nicola set off on her own campaign in 2015.

It was the location too for Scotland in the Union’s recent grand fundraising dinner [the Union obviously refers to the Union between Scotland and England, not the European Union, which we’ll be leaving swiftly].

Scotland in the Union claim to be ‘a non-party movement which unites people around a positive view of Scotland in the UK, and assists them in taking action’ (!) They aim to ‘help people understand the reality of Scotland’s situation and history’ and ‘showcase the positive aspects of shared kinship and economic ties within the UK’.

We’re told that Alistair Darling and Willie Rennie were in attendance at the dinner which seemed to have some sort of Colonial Revival theme.

Snipe and Woodcock

The Times reported one bashful guest: “The event felt more like saving the British empire than saving the UK.” Among the touchtones of colonial icons – the ‘prizes’ included: a four-day “extravaganza of polo and amazing parties in Jodhpur for two . . . rubbing shoulders with the maharajah”, a Swiss skiing holiday (including chalet girl), deer stalking at Fort William, salmon fishing in Glen Lyon, the chance to bag some snipe in Argyll and “holiday of a lifetime” in a private game reserve in Botswana for 10 people.

If this sounds like something out of a John Buchan novel, the event is said to have raised £300k. While the Edinburgh branch of Made in Chelsea might be completely unconscious of the propaganda gift their lifestyle-bash creates, they probably don’t care. This is hard cash. Someone is getting organised.

It suggests that the next time the referendum lands like a salmon coaxed onto the riverbank, the lairds and the hedge fund managers, the double-barrelled and the ermine-clad will be ready. It’s worth those of us living happily within the indy-bubble to clock these people as the unreconstructed elite glories in newfound victories and takes relish at the prospect of sealing the deal.

As Christopher Silver writes in Newsnet: “…the great strength of the networked social movement is also its weakness. The deep emotional conviction, the bringing of everything, doesn’t afford much room for calculation or critical distance…so great is the sense of euphoria juiced up on rediscovered agency that it can obscure basic political judgement. Older and less sincere movements: like the eurosceptics, have the major strategic advantage that the right has always had – damaging the lives of working class people is a price worth paying, the ends justify the means.”

Those attending the Prestonfield fund-raiser have deep pockets and shallow convictions.

Our movement has the reverse, but the more passionate we get the more we are likely to lose the plot. Silver concludes:

“In 2014 the Yes campaign lost. It didn’t lose because of a hostile media. It didn’t lose due to UK government duplicity at the eleventh hour, nor because of frightened pensioners. These were all contributing factors to the final result: but the Yes campaign lost because its case wasn’t compelling enough. The sheer level of commitment might make this hard to thole, but if we don’t separate out the case and the movement, there’s a risk that we become isolated in virtuous defeat.”

28FDD06800000578-3792060-image-a-40_1473984805459Rule Britannia

If this all seems like some kind of weird return to the 1950s, when we were sticking it to the Mau Mau and Princess Margaret was boozing it up on Mustique then Jake Berry’s idea that the Royal yacht should be restored as ‘a floating embassy for ‘trade talks’ might feed the fear.

The Tory MP for Rossendale and Darwen claimed that £500million was ‘secured on behalf of the City of London’ aboard Britannia in 1980 while she was in the Bay of Naples, and added business leaders would be ‘unable to resist’ the opportunity to discuss proposals aboard the exclusive yacht.

Michael Heseltine has said: “She was a symbol of many things about this country we have now not got.” Indeed she is.

This sort of fantasy used to be the subject of Jilly Cooper novels and Jeffrey Archer’s idle moments in Belmarsh – but now it’s our new reality as Westminster takes us out of contemporary Europe and back to Britain They Yearn For.

If it all seems far-fetched apparently our Foreign Secretary loves the idea.  The Telegraph reports he sees Britannia as “a great symbol of global Britain” and that MPs in favour of the plans believe it would boost links with the Commonwealth.

MPs will debate the new plans on October 11 with a feasibility study also to be conducted.

This is actually happening.

“Our eyes are on the future”.

It’s been an instructive week and I think we are all nearer Scotland in the Union’s key aim of helping ‘people understand the reality of Scotland’s situation and history’.

Comments (19)

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  1. picpac says:

    And this “contemporary Europe” that this article encourages to yearn for, stay attached to … what is it in reality? A tool of US imperial foreign policy in its new ‘Cold War’ against Russia, which might very well soon become very unpleasantly hot.
    A “Union” allegedly based on solidarity, but one which is complacent when one or more of its members is demonised as “shiftless” and subjected to obscene ‘austerity’ measures imposed by an illegal and entirely undemocratic junta (the ‘Troika’).
    A “Union” that has accepted the illegal coup in Ukraine and which has done nothing to stop Kiev’s “Anti Terror Operation” – perversely labelling the peaceful people of Donbas as ‘terrorists”; people who are trying to defend their homes against the war crimes of the illegitimate Ukrainian government’s forces, which include thousands of neo-Nazis.
    A “Union” whose controlling elites want to sacrifice Europe to the predatory whims of global corporations which care for nothing other than maximising profit.
    A “Union” that is a black hole of democracy.
    And we are supposed to be anguished at the possibility of being left out of it?
    Let’s get real. There is a potential for Europe to be a continent of solidarity, of peace, and of a prosperity that rejects a so-called ‘liberal capitalism’ that benefits only the few and sacrifices the rest. But that’s not the kind of Europe the SNP favours.
    It’s time Scots woke up to the reality of Europe/EU and joined with the democratic forces in Europe – the kind that put 320,000 people on the streets of 7 major German cities to denounce the TTIP and CETA trade deals which the SNP doesn’t oppose.

    1. I couldn’t agree more picpac

  2. bringiton says:

    Tory HQ has obviously been on the phone to it’s minions in North Britain telling them that they do not have the resources to fight a campaign against Scottish independence and England’s European independence at the same time,so must do all they can to stop the former from getting off the ground.

  3. DialMforMurdo says:

    Shitting crikey that dinner sounds like a League of Empire Loyalists rally.


  4. Thrawn says:

    Given that the aim of the evening was to raise money…I’m not sure how you criticise them for using once in a lifetime luxury holidays to do that. Most normal people will not spend too much to compete for the types of holidays you might find acceptable – week long residential seminars on Marxist theory in Minsk. To me your piece reveals far more about your class based prejudices than theirs

    1. Robert Graham says:

      Listen Ruth or is it Jackson this week no one takes yer pish seriously why bother , at a loose end ? try gardening or hill walking in yer tweeds while you can .

    2. Graeme Purves says:


  5. john young says:

    No matter what positive points about independence you will not shake the majority of nos they have a solid circa 45% that won,t ever change,didn,t anyone witness the adoration tholed out to the “British Army” at Ibrox on Saturday it was cringeworthy to say the least but resonates with a whole hog of our population,we have inmo a window of around 10% to work around,not much is it.We should emphasise that weare not going to be separated from anyone in these Islands that life will go on more or less the same as it has for ever and a day,all it means is that we are going to govern ourselves,all the other tits/bits are meaningless,this might give a bit of courage to the “fearties” of whom there are I,m afraid many.

  6. Interpolar says:

    ‘“In 2014 the Yes campaign lost. It didn’t lose because of a hostile media. It didn’t lose due to UK government duplicity at the eleventh hour, nor because of frightened pensioners. These were all contributing factors to the final result: but the Yes campaign lost because its case wasn’t compelling enough.”‘

    Yes, exactly. And this means building a broad vessel for independence campaigning. Bells raises some interesting ideas, but for the most part, the centre field will not feel comfortable with most proposals here. The narrative has to become more “inclusive”.

    1. Robert Graham says:

      Did you read that before you posted it ?

  7. MBC says:

    Mike, do you not think that Sunday Times article was maybe a spoof? See how gullible we are? I mean, the maharajah…

  8. MBC says:

    I actually feel sorry for the Queen, and for what remains admirable about our British past and history.

    Have you ever been on Britannia? It is very instructive. It’s tiny compared to today’s fabulous super yachts built buy Russian tycoons or Middle Eastern oil sheikhs. The Queen was a frugal woman. She had the same shabby dfurniture she had in the 1950s. Britannia cost a fortune to maintain, but not because she lived in opulence, but because Royal Navy divers had to check out daily if any devices had been attached to her hull and there was a Royal Navy band which played which had to change its uniforms several times a day, etc., etc.. Despatches flown in by helicopter, printed menus.

    To use this aged, tatty hulk to advertise modern Britain?

    1. Robert Graham says:

      Aye down to her last few palaces and someone takes her boat away the heart broken masses are crying as they queue for free food , lifes a bitch eh ? .

      1. MBC says:

        I meant that Britannia is an embarassment. And the British monarchy only has prestige (for those who count that sort of thing) if Britain has prestige.

    2. Graeme Purves says:

      You are right that Britannia is a dowdy shrine to post-war austerity and Bakelite Britain, but the Queen liked it that way. It reminded her of happy times with her family when she was a girl.

  9. Robert Graham says:

    Oh f/k i have entered the twilight zone , all the things mentioned were just contributing factors according to Silver , but the main reason was the YES side lost was their argument was not compelling enough , does this Silver really believe everyone apart from him is totally stupid , the whole of the British State was on a War footing ,The State was being threatened , every single Embassy throughout the world contacted the Government of the country they were based to enlist support , we had propaganda masquerading as News bulletins on a hourly basis for months , world war three would break out , armageddon was on the horizon , but our argument was not compelling enough , aye ok we must try harder next time to avoid the impending end of the World any suggestions , once your care order finishes .

  10. Justin Kenrick says:

    It’s a weird one

    As Robert Graham says, it’s not helpful to do the status quo’s work for them by just blaming ourselves for only almost winning (having started from 30% and with the power of the State against us); yet it doesn’t help to not reflect on what we can do better.

    One thing we could do better would be to acknowledge that we did extraordinarily well against all the odds last time, and that we are far better placed to succeed next time. Another would be to acknowledge that we will be up against a far more savage status quo (since this time they know they could lose, whereas last time they ridiculed the idea until the last week suddenly woke them)

    1. Alf Baird says:

      Thon British State’ll agin shuirly fund anither five hunner thoosand jubous postit votes somewey.

  11. J Galt says:

    The idea that the old tub could be resurrected for anything less than an astronomical amount of cash shows an ignorance of maritime matters.

    Mind you I would welcome her going – she’s an insult to the people of Leith – however her fate would be the scrapper’s beach in Pakistan after the pin-striped scum’s inevitable fall-out over who actually pays for the nonsense.

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