2007 - 2020

Trigger Happy

17522911_10209870280486572_5350974031050372453_nYesterday was a desperate day for the Scottish Unionist bloc. Cornered, frightened and facing obvious defeat, the Conservatives, Liberals and Labour united to try and set the terms of any future referendum to exclude young people and EU nationals from participating. Thankfully this disgraceful form of gerrymandering was over-ruled. Whilst the Section 30 vote was voted for by the Scottish Parliament – and then immediately overruled by David Mundell and his democracy of one, a UK government spokeswoman said: “We have been joined together as one country for more than 300 years. We’ve worked together, we’ve prospered together, we’ve fought wars together, and we have a bright future.”

But aside from opposing the democratic vote of the Scottish Parliament, which takes us into dangerous new constitutional territory, the day showed a Conservative Party culturally and politically detached from the country it rules over. The open contempt which key Conservative MSPs – including their leader – show for Scotland is truly remarkable. Ruth Davidson – much-lauded by the media and feted by her own party down south, was left snarling in fury as the gap between her media profile and her political reality was exposed.

The truth is that the Conservatives seem to be operating in a  sort of political limbo, in which they talk of ‘freedom’ ‘sovereignty’ and ‘taking back control’ whilst openly rejecting the sovereignty of a parliament to which they were elected. Here’s Annie Wells MSP:

Cry Freedom

The political opposition to Holyrood was, it was thought, a historical issue that the Conservatives had overcome. Like so much of today’s political culture however, it seems we are hurtling backwards. Simple political gains have to be re-made, once solid liberties have to be re-fought for. But the Conservatives are now operating in open contempt both politically and culturally. This is dangerous new ground for them.

On the day when Theresa May triggers Article 50, a process that Michael Heseltine has said represents “the worst peacetime decision by any modern postwar government” relations between the devolved nations and Westminster are a shambles. There is an emerging relationship between English ‘independence’ and Scottish self-rule. The more the former is asserted the latter has to be suppressed. This is a dangerous new dynamic being handled badly by an elite high on their own rhetoric and whose judgement is completely distorted by their own myth-making. As Kenny Farquharson – hardly a diehard nationalist – has said:

“Now Holyrood has requested a Section 30 order, it’s unacceptable for Theresa May to deny ScotGov a ref in this five-year parliamentary term. Those who say FM has no mandate for indyref2 are wrong. There was clear manifesto commitment that now enjoys majority backing at Holyrood. For May now to deny opportunity for manifesto commitment to be honoured would show contempt for Holyrood and right of self-determination.”

c7_zt2cxqaevz2cAt the outbreak of the First World war James Connelly famously argued that  ‘England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity’. Today England’s moment of grand self-delusion – driven by a fantasy of grievance culture – is Scotland’s opportunity. The Telegraph’s campaign against “EU Red tape” included the opportunity to right the wrongs of ‘bendy bananas” (right). What a pitiful farce. An economy ruined and union of international solidarity shattered on the back of this level of pettiness and a racism, which has been cultivated and nurtured by an English ruling class is a tragedy. Today among a fanfare of frantic British nationalism and panting cries of ‘Freedom’ that would have wode-smeared cybernats blushing, the functions of democracy are being treated with contempt, belittled by a media narrative and a Tory government that is unaware of the self-damage it is doing to its own credibility and its ‘precious union’. This is a sad day. But it’s a day when the reality of this political fiasco is laid open, for people across Scotland and across Europe to see what has been created.

Comments (27)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. David Mccann says:

    Amen to that.

  2. Jamie says:

    I agree with most of what you said but the EU is also a racist institution, the sugar subsidies is just one such racist policy which discriminates against Africans and that’s before we even get to the treatment of refugees in Turkey, France and Greece all under the approval of the EU. The EU might be better than the UK but that is hardly a glowing testament.

  3. Conrad Hughes says:

    On a side note, I had a look at three of the “five directives” yesterday (I know I must be missing something obvious here, but does it not look as if the Telegraph has lost the ability to count beyond the fingers of one hand?).. The £110 green energy subsidy lacks context that the IMF thinks the UK subsidised fossil fuels to the tune of around £1,000/household in 2013. The fact that Natural England confirmed reformation of endangered species licensing in January rather suggests that the newts were within the UK’s remit all along. Although the EU still regulates the character and quality of fruit, the much-maligned banana regulation, 2257/94, was repealed in 2011. I wonder how long we can continue to run on myth and misrepresentation.

    1. c rober says:

      The straight banana conundrum was due to packaging , for the supermarkets benefit , nothing else.

      Any watching of food production documentaries will tell as much , even the beeb had a program on how the supermarkets define policy on type and size – not just of bananas , just to get the cost down via machinery use.

  4. manandboy says:

    Yeah, like it, Mike. Good job. At your best.

  5. bringiton says:

    The dichotomy expressed by Annie Wells where she recognises the sovereignty of the Scottish people BUT presumably only the sovereignty of the Westminster parliament is a circle the unionists cannot square.
    The sovereignty of the Scottish people is only to be allowed when the sovereign Westminster parliament says so.
    Sooner or later one or the other has to give.
    The union is and always has been just a cover for England’s control of Scottish affairs no matter how their supporters try to dress it up.

    1. c rober says:

      ah the irony of union , from a party that destroyed them , and its abstainer freinds that have forgotten them.

  6. MVH says:

    I’m sorry but I think that the declaration of Arbroath was really ahead of it’s time in the definition of political freedom. There is no comparison to the imperialism and empire of British nationalism. I am sick of the lazy caricature used by brainless unionists when they say ‘Freeeeeedumb’ etc. It is even sadder to see Yessers demonstrating a Disneyland ignorance of their own political tradition and culture. And the cybernat jibe sounds very old, the sort of thing a nawbag might say. Stay classy, Bella.

  7. Alan says:

    The issue is becoming more stark by the minute: Do the people of Scotland have a say in the union or is Scotland just a colonial outpost that does what it’s told by the re-centralising and increasingly authoritarian British state? The hypocrisy of May and the Brexiters is breathtaking and is only outdone by the craven and lickspittle behaviour of Scottish unionist politicians in the face of it.

  8. Kenny Smith says:

    Great article Mike, I wish I could speak as well as you write, I always have to try and stay calm when talking about all this, especially to people who know better but just shrug the shoulders and say the cop out line ” I don’t know enough about it ” I mean for ****sake this is your country and people and your family that’s being treated to this. I have to say I say the Annie wells interview and just thought that’s a Joanne Lamont moment. The mask slipped big time there what a wretch. Iv said it before but now it really is true but the Tories have furthered the cause of independence more than the SNP ever could on their own. We need out, pronto

    1. Thanks Kenny. I agree – I’m not sure how they live this down. We’ll be asking for comment tomorrow.

  9. James Dow says:

    Forget all the speculation and the millions of words. The reality is that the pen Teresa May held in her hand was symbolically the greatest lever Scotland has ever been handed to finally annul the 300 year old devious union. A union conceived in deceit finally destroyed by the same period of abuse and misuse. A doomed contract from the day of its issue. A union of equals that looked like this, one for you, two for me, no prize for identifying who the two were for.

  10. Willie says:

    ” We have catch’d Scotland and will bind her fast ” so said the Speaker of the English House of Commons in 1707. And today in 2017 the same diktat appertains. No surprise then that the democratic will of the Scottish Parliament and its people is rejected and ignored.

    1. Waiting for Scotland says:

      One ring to rule them all, eh. No wonder she calls this “Union” her preciouuussss.

  11. john says:

    Good piece Mike , hope you keep ramping these kind of issues up , very few others are doing it . We are seeing a different kind of Tory at Holyrood now , none of them are Scottish Tories , they are Westminster through and through , they want to destroy Scotland .

  12. SleepingDog says:

    The public gaffes that the article refers to are suggestive, but what about the really revealing back-room discussions that will lie in secret official vaults and on GCHQ digital storage media for maybe twenty years or forever? Assuming that the British establishment would be up to its usual dirty tricks that in the recent past have included running terrorist movements and cells, then there would be a time-bomb at the heart of post-Independence Anglo–Scottish that could be detonated the moment that Scotland got access to EU intelligence sharing. It would be in the interests of peace to defuse that time-bomb by leaking the record beforehand.

  13. maxwell macleod says:

    Mike
    I am a Unionist, almost all my friends are Unionists, most are in business. I don’t know a single one who feels cornered, frightened or facing defeat. And I am not whistling in the dark or taking a bold ” Come and get me ” fighting stance. I don’t like these on line spats, but I do love Bella for its often excellent writing and the way it reflects so much of the creativity, application and self sacrifice that has exploded from Scotland in recent years, most of it I am happy to grant you inspired by the brilliance of the Independence movements utter genius, a genius which make my own side look dull, desperate and pathetic. So that’s why I read it. But speaking for myself yes I am sad and aghast at the state we are in post Brexit. Ten years minimum of negotiating with twenty seven countries and maybe the same again watching new systems bed in is a hideous prospect. I am almost tempted to advocate a quick deal to clear our feet, but am in no position to make such a valued judgement. I have no glib solutions, but one I am sure is not wise for our people and beloved country is one in which we have to build an armed border and have naval patrols ( and a separate currency ) to separate us from the country where we do such a large part of our trading. I would hope that we would seriously consider the remarks made by Theresa May yesterday ( I haven’t seen them but have heard of them) offering a strengthening to the devolved powers, and yes this time not just a promise but stated in full and delivered. Forgive me Mike but I must now creep back to my corner to feel frightened and facing defeat. Not. Best as ever Maxwell

    1. Mathew says:

      ‘most are in business’…..LOL
      ‘and yes this time not just a promise but stated in full and delivered’….LOL

      1. maxwell macleod says:

        Yes,most of my friends are in business. And your point is? And this time not just a promise but stated in full and delivered. Again your point please.

    2. Kenny Smith says:

      A unionist why exactly Maxwell? I have said it so many times I’m actually boring myself but in 2013 before the ref campaign I wasn’t anti British or anti union as such. I considered myself Scottish 1st, nothing wrong with that but growing up in the Thatcher years and feeling completely let down by new labour I guess I’d always would have a leaning towards Indy especially as I got older and learned more about the 1979 vote, the McCrone report, the moving of the sea boundary etc but even after all that I still started out no hoping the union would modernise to a proper federal model, let us shake the pocket money parliament tag but still keep the UK in tact and in my opinion if it had done that with good will on both sides I honestly believe maybe the union could have lasted but even if ref2 is a no the union will always be one step away from breaking because what Indy ref, everything that came to pass after and now brexit has shown is this is not a union its domination. 6 months into Indy campaign I was aghast at the way my country and my people where ran down, putting it bluntly I was offended by bt’s entire campaign. There was part of me hoping they could still win me back but they made me hate their idea even more. I’m now even more determined now for independence than I was then. This all boils down to whether you see yourself as a region no more than Yorkshire or Devon or as a country. I just don’t see any arguments left that can be reheated on the unionist side but I know people like you will try and the armed border bullshit has been blown out the water, you either disrespect our intelligence or sorry to say but you lack the concept to see past the daily mail headlines, are we to stop and declare our glass bottles of irn bru as soon as we reach Carlisle? If your friends are in business surely they can see the benefit of an Indy Scotland inside EU/EEA because if we believe the brexiteers Westminster will secure a deal and if they don’t then as England scrambles round the world looking for anyone who will trade then why cut out a main market of goods in both directions because it is a 2 way deal we do buy stuff from them as well. The total elephant in the room is Ireland. Its main trading partner is the UK, Westminster has stated no hard border, maintaining common travel area, to keep on trading and that’s them with the unworkable Euro that would somehow be forced on to Scotland. All unionists have left is intimidation and a compliant media. Scotland and rUK could get along quite nicely but judging from May’s attitude to everything she’d probably use a shotgun to scratch her nose. After everything you know and have learned tell me about your beloved country because I don’t see it.

      Over to you mate, I expect a long list! 🙂

      1. maxwell macleod says:

        Well I am most encouraged by this. The armed border argument has been blown out of the water. Delighted to hear it. Put me out of my misery and tell me how we can have one country, Scotland, in Europe and England not in Europe and not have a border.
        I understand that there may be a bit of wriggling over clever contracts, but even so it doesn’t sound very convincing. This is not a debating gambit, I genuinely want to know how you envisage it. Mate

        1. Kenny Smith says:

          How can May stand there and promise the things I mentioned above but for Scotland there will be barbed wire and armed guards? Where’s your list of all the things that are great?

    3. Hi Max – thanks for coming out of your corner, briefly Max to post a comment (!)

      I was of course specifically referring to the politicians in Holyrood who seemed to be in a very odd state this week. My point was that faced with numerical defeat the three political parties didn’t know what to do. Ruth Davidson seemed on the verge of spontaneous self-combustion while Labour backed itself into space where it tried to refuse the vote for 16 and 17 year olds and EU nationals. Whatever you think about the referendum, in the circumstances of having one it seems extraordinary to narrow the franchise from the previous poll. That would seem just like an exercise in cynical politics of exclusion, which is of course what it was.

      The idea put forward by Theresa May that this process will create a more ‘united country’ I find laughable, as her parties recklessness has put at risk the peace in Northern Ireland – an act that even the most staunch unionists on that island are finding to be an extraordinary betrayal.

      Bella wants to appeal to people beyond a narrow appeal and so you are very welcome to come and read and write and comment …

      1. maxwell macleod says:

        Thanks Mike, both for your reply and for being courteous enough to have printed some of my articles in the past. If you didn’t know I was someone who didn’t believe that beheading Britain for the sake of its health was a good thing before I can only apologise, I have been writing strongly against nationalism for years, I have many faults, hiding in a corner has never been one of them.
        Yes you are right, I didn’t interpret your remarks as only applying to the political parties, maybe I should have, but they are pretty much in line with many of the remarks made about Unionists by the nationalist side, that we are unpatriotic, insulting to Scotland, incapable of realising this counties potential, and then of course there are the vile attacks made on folk by the nationalist nutters., of whom I do not include you or so many fine and noble pro independence activists. But I have seen houses being stoned in council estates, not just on the television but in reality. Grotesque attacks on line, children who tell me they have been spat at school because their parents are English. God how I do loath what nationalism and all its evils often , but not always, does to communities, I have seen it in Ireland ( where I once very briefly had to carry a naval rifle ) In Israel, in Scotland and in America. My one complaint about you wonderful organ is that it fails to confront some of the cancer in the movement, but other than that my respect for your organ is sincere and profound. I suppose I had better admit that sometimes in recent days I have felt cornered frightened and defeated, but that has been because of the dreadful situation we now find ourselves in regarding the Brexit talks. Not because I still feel that Britain still keeping its head might be wise.
        Very best.MM

        1. john says:

          Ah well Maxwell , it is comforting to me personally that I , in my travels all over Scotland , have never witnessed , from the ordinary man in the street , any of the kind of behaviour you speak . I have however seen disrespect for our First Minister at FMQ from all Unionist parties , most of it bordering on the hysterical , perhaps you could have a word in their ears about manners and truth , and don’t you just think the Scottish Government is doing a wonderful job for Scottish business , I do .

        2. Kenny Smith says:

          I’m sorry Maxwell again your treading the boards of propaganda and I’m sorry it won’t wash. I agree with John I never saw any fear or intimidation coming from yes supporters. The way people like you go on it was like Mosul up here which is utter tosh. Police Scotland and the electoral commission both agreed it was gold standard, in fact the only actual convictions were unionist supporters and of course we remember George sq on the 19th. You just can’t help yourself throwing in the anti English pish either. Have you been to an Indy rally? There you’ll see English for yes flags, people who hate Westminster as much as we do joined hand in hand not hand to hand combat. You push the lines like you have been told wake up man!! Whether I like it or not I’m being forced to choose between 2 nationalisms and I choose 1 that’s open and welcoming of others and who only want to make decisions for themselves not 1 that excludes and forces others to their will. We won’t need the UN for Indy 2 unless Westminster deploy the tanks. I have to ask please answer this how do you and your friends square the argument that we are such a terrible burden but they won’t let us leave?

  14. Hi Max – well you’re very welcome here – we want as broad a range of viewed and civilised discussion as possible -despite us disagreeing on the constitution. I utterly deplore any of the abusive behaviour you describe.

    I hope you realise my ‘hiding in the corner’ comment was 100% a joke!

    I wonder though if part of your sadness comes from realising that the pre-2017 Britain used as a model in the 2014 referendum – Britain as a multicultural, outward-looking, internationalist Britain, the brand projected at the London Olympics (Mo etc) and soon on, looks increasingly difficult to use credibly?

    Do you not have a sense of that Britain having gone?

    Thanks again for commenting.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.