It’s over. Nothing says ‘end of empire’ as much as the closure of Britain’s military presence in Scotland. Today’s announcement that the MOD naval base in Rosyth is to close down, along with a further eight military sites in Scotland over the next 16 years is as sure a sign of Britain’s ending as the shambolic Brexit exceptionalism and neo-nationalism of the ascendent British right now foaming at the mouth on all frequencies.
Sir Michael Fallon today confirmed major army bases at Fort George in the Highlands, Glencorse Barracks, near Penicuik, and Redford Cavalry and Infantry Barracks in Edinburgh would shut. Stirling’s Meadowforth and Forthside Barracks as well as Craigiehall Barracks in Edinburgh will also go.
That we still have whole towns in the highlands named ‘Fort George’ and ‘Fort William’ is barely even recognised as a historical legacy. Militarisation became normalised over time. History was forgotten.
While the cuts represent a major setback for whole communities who have become dependent on the military for their sense of self and their livelihood, and represent a final failure for the Better Together propaganda campaign, they also represent an opportunity to re-imagine a different Scotland. End times are scary, if we can’t step in with ideas, innovation and alternatives the right will continue to step into the void. The demilitarisation of Scotland is overdue.
Brexit and Trump are two sides of the new right on either side of the pond.
Nigel Farage tweets: “Is this Brexit day in the US? I hope so.”
The mood is angry, bordering on hysterical. The misdirected anger of economic failure, cultural emptiness and social collapse has been exploited by the right and the far-right and prime-pumped by the tabloid press and the the likes of Fox Broadcasting Inc. Fear and blame are the dominate themes of the day, intertwining like snakes. As the French writer Albert Camus wrote: “Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.”
“What we seem to have here is a case of the normalization of the deplorable. It is a sinister sight to watch. Masses of people shout racial slurs against Hispanics and our black President, they call for the lynching of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and they hurl anti-LGBTQ epithets.”
If Trump wins we are in deep trouble. If Clinton wins we have only moved the crowds back a little, only side-stepped the first run. It’s worth remembering that between the release of the first FBI letter and the 2nd correcting it today, around 65% voted in Florida. The FBI played a blinder.
“Shoot the bitch! Hang the nigger!”
This normalisation of racism and political violence isn’t going to go away. As Andrew Sullivan has written;
“The most frustrating aspect of the last 12 months has been the notion that we have been in a normal, if truly ugly, election cycle, with one extremely colorful and unpredictable figure leading the Republican Party in an otherwise conventional political struggle over policy. It has been clear for months now, it seems to me, that this is a delusion. A far more accurate account of the past year is that an openly proto-fascist cult leader has emerged to forge a popular movement that has taken over one of the major political parties, eroded central norms of democratic life, undermined American democratic institutions, and now stands on the brink of seizing power in Washington.”
Any Other Questions?
If a politician of the left had made the statements Farage has he’d be lynched. Talking of “political anger the likes of which none of us in our lifetimes have ever witnessed in this country” and evoking the notion of “disturbances in the street” has moved him from being a rich man’s Nick Griffin to a more jocular Enoch Powell.
The rampant misogyny and homophobia is a common theme of both the Trump and the Brexit campaigns and their cheerleaders in the media.
And if the lady in the blue hat was called Fatima or Khadija how quickly do you think she’d be arrested? pic.twitter.com/UrJSOsyrOC
— yvonne ridley (@yvonneridley) November 8, 2016
If Trump has little understanding of or reverence for constitutional democracy, neither do our own patriotic Brexiteers who are clearly developing ‘taking back control’ into a slogan for their silent coup. In a state without a written constitution and in which political literacy has been dumbed down and eroded and infantilised by our moron culture, the possibility of a popular march on parliament is now facing us. The twin slogan on the other side of the Atlantic is ‘Drain the Swamp’ – from a society weened on conspiracy theory, high on Chem Trails and reduced to a sort of political nihilism. The only project that wins in this culture is the right and the further right.
‘We Want England Back’ and ‘Make America Great Again’ sing across the ocean to each other. The world has gone so crazy that even Nick Clegg has it right:
“Now ‘it’s Parliament and the people versus the Brexit establishment’ – ‘a role reversal’.
But in this world you wouldn’t fancy your chances, would you?
If Farage wasn’t such a comedy character we’d probably be more worried. But let’s make no mistake, his plan to lead a 100,000-strong march to is an extraordinary attempt to intimidate the Supreme Court – and is coupled with veiled threats of violence. We’ve never seen a right-wing riot, but we might yet.
Its into this maelstrom of populism and chaos that the Scottish Government step. Nicola Sturgeon today stated:
“The Scottish Government is clear that triggering Article 50 will directly affect devolved interests and rights in Scotland. And triggering Article 50 will inevitably deprive Scottish people and Scottish businesses of rights and freedoms which they currently enjoy. It simply cannot be right that those rights can be removed by the UK Government on the say-so of a Prime Minister without parliamentary debate, scrutiny or consent. So legislation should be required at Westminster and the consent of the Scottish Parliament should be sought before Article 50 is triggered. Let me be clear – I recognise and respect the right of England and Wales to leave the European Union. This is not an attempt to veto that process. But the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland and the national Parliament of Scotland cannot be brushed aside as if they do not matter.”
This will be treated with contempt and hostility in England, and in the atmosphere of xenophobia and political chaos, there is no certainty that this won’t trigger further constitutional crisis. But it’s still the right thing to do. In Guy Verhofstadt, Sturgeon and Scotland have an ally and an important figure. If Theresa May’s government continues to treat Scotland with contempt, we can rest assured that that feeling is mirrored across Europe for Britain’s actions.
We’ve gone from “Bathgate no more. Linwood no more. Methil no more. Irvine no more…” to “Glencorse, Redford and Meadowforth no more” in thirty years. This is British decline and failure witnessed over a single lifetime. Britain can’t survive this level of sustained and public decline.
Drain the Swamp
Farage has already won, he doesn’t need to be elected, but Trump does.
The consequences are beyond awful on all levels. This isn’t just a domestic affair however much he promises protectionism. The consequences are global.
As Mogens Lykketoft the former President of the UN General Assembly, writes:
“If you look at the global agreements on sustainable development and climate change that we passed at the UN during my presidency last year, it was only possible to reach a global consensus because the world’s two major economies – the United States and China – were working together for ambitious changes to the way we produce and the way we consume. They were both willing to try and make those regulations and taxation systems that we need to have in the future to balance the long-term needs of humanity with the short-term profit goals of private actors. The United States is crucial here and if we have a climate denier as President then it will not be possible to reach the goals we have set up in the international community. That’s one of the reasons why it would be detrimental if Trump were to win in my view. The second reason is that this man, if we take his statements at face value, has an ambition to start a trade war with China.”
I have no faith in the ‘checks and balances’ of the US political system keeping Trump in check. This is liberal wishful-thinking and delusion.
As May travels to India and argues for repatriation, this febrile world could just get even crazier. We’ll know tomorrow.