Independence Day

It’s Independence Day today, though you might not have noticed and your home may not be festooned with bunting. Brexit is (and can only be) a disaster. It is a childish fantasy of Anglo-British nationalism high on its own propaganda. Brexit remains a process that its politically impossible to retreat from, but we all know to be an economic disaster.

One year on after the Brexit vote the contradictions pile up.

As Gerry Braiden reports on the implications for food and agriculture: “A FLOOD of cheap imports after Britain leaves the EU threatens to cripple Scottish farming, devastate rural communities and undermine the UK’s ability to produce enough food to sustain its population, sector leaders fear. As the UK environment secretary Michael Gove moves to reassure Scotland’s food sector with claims Brexit offers an “historic” chance to reshape agricultural policy for farmers and consumers, experts warn new international trade agreements will see domestic markets swamped with produce not prepared to current British standards. Moving to World Trade Organisation (WTO) arrangements, it has been claimed, could also fatally undermine a sector which supports 75,000 business and 360,000 jobs in Scotland.” Read the whole piece here.

Our entire fruit and seasonal food picking is based entirely on seasonal workers.

Food is quite important.

The Vote itself was a demeaning experience for many people who had lived in the UK for years excluded on the basis of nationality. It was the polar opposite of the independence referendum when an inclusive residence-based criteria was used. The campaign itself brought a new low to British politics with naked disinformation lies and propaganda masquerading as political debate. One year on and in the aftermath of the shambolic general election and the Queens Speech acting like a giant Pantomime Advert for a Scottish Republic, the feeling of deference and enforced fealty seems to have accelerated in the British psyche. In one of the many binary opposites that are emerging, we have people radically sceptical of all and any politicians, an approach verging on political nihilism, and others engaging in blind-faith, cleaving to a particular view and then demanding strong leadership, almost willing themselves powerless, an approach verging on cultish fascism.

Here’s Wendy from Plymouth who is firmly of the latter group:

“None of us need to know”.


“The country don’t need to know it all yet …when she’s got what she needs she can let us know” is a sentence you might not find entirely reassuring.

This is an expression of extreme deference. I

It’s as far away from Taking Back Control as it’s possible to imagine. It’s as if the Leave slogan was: “Let’s give away any control we possibly have in blind faith to professional politicians who have our best interests at heart”. If Wendy was in Penicuik not Plymouth she’d vote for Ruth Davidson. She’d love the explicit exclusion that the Scottish Conservatives promise.  The t-shirts almost print themselves. On the front Ruth: “We said no and we meant it.” On the back Wendy: “None of us need to know”. The swamp remains distinctly un-drained. This is a country defined by submissiveness that postures behind a Bulldog Spirit. Jeremy Corbyn was again lambasted for not grovelling sufficiently to the sovereign.

The Sun helpfully circled the scoundrel:

The far-right blogger Guido Fawkes tweeted: “Unforgivable. A final demonstration of why he must never be allowed to be PM – he does not respect what it means to be British. #despicable” In this outlook “What it means to be British” is defined as grovelling. Failure to grovel sufficiently puts you beyond the pale for a blog. But the reality is that this is a broken dysfunctional elite who don’t really know what to do if their naked attempts at self-service are revealed to the general public whom they treat with open contempt. This is we’re told ‘Independence Day’. Illustrated here by two unelected leaders, some celebrity royals, a politician dead for half a century who fought not just for Britain but for Europe, and a Pound Shop fascist.  

Many of the right-wing commentators that gleefully immersed themselves in the patriotic fervour of a year ago predicted the European projects imminent end. Johnny Foreigner would either follow Britain’s brave lead, or come to their own conclusion that Europe was broken, bust and useless. The Netherlands, would follow, then France, then Germany (probably). None of that has happened. Not just contagion but common sense has prevailed and the right-wing populism that drove us into this debacle (and that these people revelled in and shaped) – has been fought back against and rejected elsewhere. As Timothy Garton Ash has written: “The rest of the EU, by contrast, is making a credible stab at pulling itself together. Ever since French president-elect Emmanuel Macron marched out in front of the Louvre to the strains of the European anthem, on the night of his presidential election victory over Marine le Pen, and even more since his success in the legislative elections, there has been renewed optimism about the Franco-German couple getting the European project back on the road. The eurozone economy grew faster than Brexit Britain’s in the first quarter of this year. Following the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump, popular support for the EU has increased in many member states. Angela Merkel famously remarked in a beer tent in Munich that Europe has to look after itself, since it can no longer rely on the United States and Britain. Leaders in Paris, Berlin and Brussels are now completely focused on their own tough challenges. For most of them, Brexit is an irritating sideshow. One well-informed German source says that when Macron and Merkel met for the first time, they spent about 60 seconds on the subject.”

Brexit Culture

But if the toxic Brexit Culture has been at times overwhelming, if ridiculous (it gain its power like Trump not from reason or policy but raw untrammelled inchoate emotion) it is not all powerful. It is part of a quickly shifting surge of populism as systems failure kids in and old answers and structures and individuals lose any credibility. We have entered a period that are some describing as being ‘Radical Uncertainty’. The political crisis is reflected  in a media crisis. As the writer Dougald Hine has commented: “The regular mechanisms of political narration are breaking down. The pollsters lose confidence in their methods, the pundits struggle to offer authoritative explanations for events that they laughed off as wild improbabilities only months before.” So we are living in a period of real disorientation where sense-making has become a vital craft, not an indulgence.

Dougald Hine: “We’ve just had an election in which the full weight of The Sun and The Daily Mail was thrown at destroying Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party — and, by any standards, failed to do so. This is so big that, among the rest of the post-election turmoil, I don’t think we’ve grasped what it means yet. Since the 1980s, British politics has been locked in a basement by a gang of abusers, systematic perverters of democracy, chief among them Rupert Murdoch and Paul Dacre. 8 June, 2017 should be remembered as the day that we escaped. But the point where it became undeniable was the 1992 election and the famous front-page claim: ‘It’s The Sun Wot Won It’. Whether that was true hardly matters — for the next 25 years, British politics has been conducted on the assumption that it was. Until last Thursday.” Fear of the Sun has been a real thing. But now there are signs of this power diminishing.

This week we saw the Daily Mail branded “an open sewer” and responding in hysterical terms and descending into a frantic hissy-fit against the Guardian: ‘Fake news, the fascist left and the REAL purveyors of hate’ Technology, media literacy and 30 years of shameful publishing has taken its toll with young people in particular bypassing the whole media circus and finding their news and their sense elsewhere.

Here’s the Daily Mail being laughed out of court:

In these confusing and dark times this sort of rebellion, small as it is, could be important. The same people who lied to you about Brexit lied to you about indyref. The same forces who manipulated Project Fear in Scotland manipulated racism for their own ends in England. The same papers who smeared Salmond went on to smear Corbyn, But Corbynism isn’t the enemy of the independence movement, deference and conservatism is.

  Scotland needs a real independence day, but so does England too.

Comments (19)

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  1. jack elliot says:

    In the Union of the crowns

    Scotland is not entirely dependent on England

    Scotland is independent of so much and yet could be more successful if were given that which had been taken away.

    Movement of the people is a cry heard in Scotland amongst the farmers and factory owners.

    Scotland should have a say in the control of its borders as a cornerstone in the development if industry, commerce and Scottish hospitality.

    1. Wul says:

      Whats the sketch here Jack?

      Every article on Bella, you post a wee advert for your own blog. It a bit irritating.

      1. Wul says:

        Apologies for my grumpy post Jack. The more voices the better.

  2. jack elliot says:

    In the Union of the crowns

    Scotland is not entirely dependent on England

    Scotland is independent of so much and yet could be more successful if were given that which had been taken away.

    Movement of the people is a cry heard in Scotland amongst the farmers and factory owners.

    Scotland should have a say in the control of its borders as a cornerstone in the development if industry, commerce and Scottish hospitality.

  3. Bert Logan says:

    Excellent article.

  4. bringiton says:

    The Britnats are finally going to have to accept that the empire is gone and come to terms with their over inflated opinion of themselves and their importance in world affairs.
    This is going to be a very hard lesson for them once reality sets in.
    Murdoch and friends have finally got what they have been seeking for many years,the UK out of Europe,however their other objective of dismantling the EU looks to be a complete failure.
    Anyone who thinks the EU is just going to stand idly by as the UK attempts to undermine their market through lower labour costs is living in cloud cuckoo land.
    Countries who trade with the EU are not going to jeopardise that with dodgy agreements cobbled together by the Brexiteers.
    The UK has,until recently,accepted the reality that trading with Europe is vital to our national interests which was why,when De Gaulle refused to allow them into the EEC (we can see why now) they went off and formed a rival trading block,EFTA.
    Having dumped both EFTA and the Commonwealth in their desperation to join the EEC in the 1970s they can hardly expect to be welcomed back with open arms.
    I am afraid,this time,Blighty is really going to be on it’s own with all the consequences that will bring.
    Truly despicable people.

  5. IJM says:

    The ” doff your cap” to your “betters” mentality is ironically, amongst a certain age group
    strengthening due to the turmoil taking place. When their nice wee hoose costs more , when
    their job is threatened, when the money in their pocket is worth a lot less they instinctively
    turn to the very people who caused all of the above.

    Strange indeed. Better to blame foreigners than the real culprits. The majority IMO are very
    happy to absolve themselves of any responsibility for their life . Wether it be religion, tribal
    politics, football teams etc..etc..etc.It is self affirming to be in the club.

    You would think that when all their beliefs go **** up, they might reconsider their
    positions re. these choices. What I am seeing is the opposite. The enemy, in their eyes,
    be it politically or socially, are those of us who question, who oppose, who want to change
    the unjust situation.

    I am lost for words. Better the devil they know, it would seem.

    These people have fed the system because it was a safe life. These ,who still insist that
    the same system will save their safe life are deluded, they will vote angrily for the culprits
    to punish and isolate the innocent, and they will always bend the knee.

    Land of Dope and Tory. Disgraceful

    1. Pogliaghi says:

      You have it a nutshell. The critical task now is to figure out how to negotiate around this problem. Consensus politics was already flung out the window, first with a lie-based Brexit being rammed through on a 2% margin, then with the DUP deal, and God knows what other depredations to come in the near future. Now is the time to stand up and fight but instead we (the so-called Yes movement) are having a lie down after the shock of losing a few SNP seats at Westminster (which, technically of course, “we” never needed anyway). Not to mention the “shock” of rediscovering that Tories exist in Scotland. Fairy tale based politics is over. Do we have the stomach for Realpolitik?

  6. Monty says:

    If only Corbyn had campaigned for remain we would not be in this mess. His partial success in the general election left a bitter taste as it showed he could campaign but choose not to in the referendum. If he could not then see the implications of Brexit for the left and the UK he is indeed not fit to be Prime Minister

  7. Frank says:

    Good article although I’m beginning to notice amongst left wing friends and colleagues the emergence of a new unionist consciousness linked with Corbyn. At a Radical Indy meeting in Edinburgh the other night prominent radical indy voices openly attacked Sturgeon and the SNP whilst shouting their very vocal support for Corbyn.

    Something’s changing and those hard left voices are going back to what is a natural Brit-left position. I’m not a socialist but I have always found it odd that socialists support independence.

    Is their still a British road to socialism?

    1. MBC says:

      Yes, with Scotland at the back of the queue. Same old.

    2. GreatClunkingFist says:

      Interesting. Surely it’s a strand of utilitarian nationalism which saw indy as the best way to be rid of the Tories. But given how hammered progressives have felt since, well, at least the 2015 GE, I don’t blame people taking some sustenance from Corbyn’s modest advance.

      Is there a British road to socialism? I just can’t see it. But I do feel more people south of the border are starting to see the differences in Scotland with a “why can’t we have that” attitude rather than a “you shouldn’t have that” one.

      The attitude to the EU is also changing; the ease with which people are tacitly accepting Brexit is sickening.

    3. Al Harron says:

      “I’m not a socialist but I have always found it odd that socialists support independence.”

      It isn’t odd at all when you contextualise independence as a stage towards socialism, as Marx did for Ireland, India, and other nations:

      “Ireland is the bulwark of the English landed aristocracy. The exploitation of that country is not only one of the main sources of the aristocracy’s material welfare; it is its greatest moral strength. It, in fact, represents the domination of England over Ireland. Ireland is therefore the great means by which the English aristocracy maintains its domination in England itself. If, on the other hand, the English army and police were to withdraw from Ireland tomorrow, you would at once have an agrarian revolution there. But the overthrow of the English aristocracy in Ireland involves as a necessary consequence its overthrow in England. And this would fulfil the preliminary condition for the proletarian revolution in England” (Marx and Engels on Ireland, 1971, pp. 292-3).

      1. MBC says:

        Right on. Scottish independence is a left wing liberation movement.

  8. Charles L. Gallagher says:

    Independence Day – more like ‘DOOMSDAY’.

    It is said you should learn from history, well in the 30’s cheap food flooded into the UK from all across the world. Then through 1939 to 43 U-boats sent most of this to the bottom, extremely well fed fish but the UK nearly starved. If it had not been for the generosity of Irish farmers, who would have been quite justified in my opinion to send us nothing given their treatment previously by the Imperial British State.

    Over next couple of years watch the number of agro and fish processing businesses that fold and I’m dreading what will happen in the NHS and Care sector, nurse applications from EU are already down 90%.

    The whole business is heading for one unmitigated disaster.

    1. J Galt says:

      In WW2 stealing the Grain from the mouths of the starving Bengali’s helped good old Blighty pull through as well.

      Millions died in Bengal, however as the the great man Churchill said, it was their own fault for breeding like rabbits!

  9. Alf Baird says:

    “…when an inclusive residence-based criteria was used”

    Even the UN would doubtless argue against such a naïve dilettante approach, given what it describes as “the scourge of colonization”; e.g. at least one third of No voters in 2014 were not Scots, and they were not from the European Continent either, they were from rest-UK. The UN has a permanent committee devoted to decolonization; if Nicola and the SNP were serious about independence they would have had Scottish Government representatives at the UN already, reflecting Scotland’s indy majorities at both Westminster and Holyrood. Scotland has already achieved democratic de facto independence for goodness sake, yet the SNP still plead with England’s Tories for their permission to hold another dubious referendum, yet with an excessively open and loaded franchise weighed against them. The SNP leadership really need to find some backbone, and expert advice; they should ask ex ambassador Craig Murray for guidance.

    1. David Allan says:

      Alf I’m afraid the SNP don’t take or listen to expert advice ! that’s likely why Craig Murray wasn’t allowed to stand as 2015 SNP GE Candidate.

      Craig has to much experience and the SNP Leadership can’t allow themselves to be undermined. A potential fatal flaw that more people are beginning to recognise. People from both sides of Independence debate.

      Frank above comments on such a theme .

    2. David Allan says:

      Alf I’m afraid the SNP don’t take or listen to expert advice ! that’s likely why Craig Murray wasn’t allowed to stand as 2015 SNP GE Candidate.

      Craig has too much experience and the SNP Leadership can’t allow themselves to be undermined. A potential fatal flaw that more people are beginning to recognise. People from both sides of Independence debate.

      Frank above comments on such a theme .

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