2007 - 2022

Goodbye Scotland

Lead letter in today’s The Times and The Sunday Times reveals a huge gaping hole in Labour Unionism. It’s from Louis de Berniéres, author of mid 1990s bestseller Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. I’ve no idea of his politics but I suspect his letter reflects a pretty solidly middle England opinion. ‘Oh those whining Scots, take our subsidies, hate us in return’.

And while stereotypes can be misleading I’ll just float this thought, having been a traveling England fan, home and away 1996-2012, the one section of the English population absolutely solidly convinced Scotland is a separate country are England fans, so what might the ‘Red Wall’ think of waving goodbye to Scotland, p’raps not a lot, or sooner the better.
The Tories sacrifice next to nothing losing Scotland, in terms of seats, and everything to gain at Labour’s expense. Oh that suffix ‘and Unionist Party’ read my lips, all Johnson care about is staying in power, just look how the DUP were dumped as soon as it was expedient to do so.
Which potentially leaves The Labour Party’s unionism up somewhere without a paddle, lone defenders of a fast disappearing Union. And with the Tories 2014 Indy little helper Gordon Brown, delivering the 2010-2015 collapse from 41 Scots seats to 1 as Labour’s go-to adviser on constitutional matters, yeah that will work.
Labour has one chance, in the window of opportunity after the SNP and Scots Greens secure a pro-indy referendum majority in the May Scots Parliament election with Labour way behind. At that moment Keir needs to make the speech of his life.
Recognise that the Union is over, commit to a referendum if the Scots parliament votes for it and Scots Labour to campaign for independence should they vote for it. A speech to welcome, a new era of our countries, Wales will follow shortly to work together. Labour as the party that can make three nations on one small island a reality. To commit that as in Scotland and Wales Westminster, for however it remains, thereafter an English parliament, Commons and new second chamber, elected by Proportional Representation. Labour as a modern, democratic reforming party with an economic reform programme to match, the two are indivisible. Will he? With the current Scottish Labour leadership campaign singularly ignoring every mistake they’ve made since 2014 , I’m not holding my breath.
If Keir doesn’t tho’ Johnson my well tear Labour apart with the smartest move of his career yet, goodbye Scotland.

Comments (31)

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  1. Graeme Purves says:

    The letter is remarkably obtuse for a man who wrote quite perceptively about the end of the Ottoman Empire in “Birds Without Wings’ as recently as 2004.

      1. Graeme Purves says:

        His novels, of course, are firmly in the Durrell tradition of affectionate condescension towards the lesser peoples of the Mediterranean.

  2. james gourlay says:

    Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was a well written and captivating book in my opinion. The text here can only be described as a load of bollocks. Who paid you to write this? Stick to writing novels. Perhaps fantasy novels; you seem to have a good grip of that genre here.

  3. Cathie Lloyd says:

    It’s a while since I read that book, but my lasting impression was a virulent anti- communism. Little nuance in that.

  4. Foghorn Leghorn says:

    If you read what he’s actually saying in essence here, you’ll find he agrees that the Union is no longer sustainable and that Scotland should be allowed to go its own way; that Unionists are flogging a dead horse.

    I find it surprising he’s being castigated for this.

    (BTW I’m a huge fan of his Latin American trilogy and Birds Without Wings.)

    1. Axel P Kulit says:

      I disagree with some of the assertions he makes about the economic status of an independent Scotland and about anglophobia. I also think that if we rejoin the EU the brain drain, if any, will not be to England.

      1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

        I think Kenneth’s ‘typical English git’, below, is an example of the sort of anglophobia to which Louis was alluding. Replace ‘English’ with ‘Jewish’, ‘Pakistani’, ‘Afro-Caribbean’, ‘Irish’, etc. to see how casually racist towards the English we can be.

    2. Mark Perryman says:


      What he’s arguing for is a reactionary English nationalism to ditch thecUnion in England’s interest.

      I’m an English memberof a Unionist Party, Labour committed to Scottish, and Welsh Indepedence, a United Ireland too.

      It is for the English Left to shape a democraric reform response to Louis De and his ilk, but nothing should stand in the way of Scottish independence, if his view holds sway amongst Tory English nationalist as it may well, it can only hasten that day Scotland breaks with the Union. He’s not an ally,but neither is he an obstacle.

      1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

        Is arguing to ditch the Union in Scotland’s interest, therefore, by virtue of the same argument, a reactionary Scottish nationalism?

        1. Mark Perryman says:

          There are many different versions of nationalism. Even the SNP’s most bitter opponents would be hard pushed to describe it as reactionary.

          Of course the cause of Scottidg Independece is bigger and broader than the SNP there is nothing reactionary abourf breaking up the Union, there is a long history of the progressive case for this, Tom Nairn being the obvious case to cite.

          English natonalism isn’t necessarily reactionary either but it is dominated by the kind of views expressed by Louis de Berniéres, meanwhile Keir Starmer talk of a progressive patriotism while wrapping himself in the Union Jack.

          1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            Well, I don’t know about any of that. All I know is that Louis is being castigated for writing that perhaps the Union is past its sell-by date and Scotland should be cast off its crumbling pier, which is peculiar coming from folk who believe that the Union is past its sell-by date and that Scotland should be undone from it. The rest sounds like anglophobic girning, grudge-and-grievance nationalism, ressentiment, which hardly redounds to our credit.

          2. Mark Perryman says:

            Like I said, he’s not an ally but nor is he an obstacle.

          3. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            So, he’s irrelevant and your article’s thereby gratuitous.

  5. jane shallice says:

    Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was an appalling novel which had not a clue about the struggles which took place in Greece during the war (and afterwards in the Civil War) where the communist forces were the spine of the resistance and which were then destroyed by Churchill and the British and the Soviet Union. He is a man who reeks of the sanctimoniousness of the English middle class.

    1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

      Aye, but it was very well written.

    2. Andrew says:

      Captain correllis mandolin was a good book till the crap ending.
      It was like he got bored and couldnt be bothered writing any more

  6. Kenneth G Coutts says:

    Pass on Michies poem friendly fire, Scotch verminous race, published in the spectator when Johnson was the editor.
    Replace Scot, Scots, Scottish with Jew, Muslim, afrocarribean, etc and then at the end , the final solution, see how racist and hated we are.
    Typical English git.

    1. Geoirge Muir says:

      Have a look at TWH Crossland’s, The Unspeakable Scots, and tell me the English love the Scots. Have a look over the comments of Rabbi David Green, an ex-pupil of an English public school who came away with the clear impression that the English upper classes hate – “Blacks, Jocks and Jews’. The experiences of my Scottish father in the armed forces through WW2 back all of this up.

      1. Guy Dreich says:

        Most English folk don’t have a deeply considered view on ‘The Scottish Question’, why should they? Even those casually expressing reaction opinions such as this are surely ripe for education & conversion into allies.

    2. George Muir says:

      Have a look at TWH Crossland’s, The Unspeakable Scots, and tell me the English love the Scots. Have a look over the comments of Rabbi David Green, an ex-pupil of an English public school who came away with the clear impression that the English upper classes hate – “Blacks, Jocks and Jews’. The experiences of my Scottish father in the armed forces through WW2 back all of this up.

  7. Blair says:

    “goodbye Scotland”

    As Scotland falls dead, it will arise like a pheonix as described here:



  8. Alan Bissett says:

    The Tories will not willingly let Scotland go for four reasons:

    i) Loss of international prestige (such as it is, post-Brexit). Theresa May recently admitted that England on its own would no longer be guaranteed a seat on the Security Council.
    ii) Scotland’s natural resources, mainly fresh water and oil, and the contribution of Scotland’s exports to the balance of payments.
    iii) The Queen and the British ruling class in general own large tracts of Scotland’s land.
    iv) Finding a new home for Trident would be a massive pain in the arse.
    iv) Culturally, many Tories are bound up with British identity, and that necessitates Scotland also being British.

    1. Alan Bissett says:

      Okay that’s five reasons! Haha.

    2. Mark Perryman says:

      Five (!) good/bad reasons and you mayhbe right but all Johnson is interested in is staying in power, his entire career is based on that, everythnig else is expedient, including your list .

      I’m nor suggestng Louis de Berniéres position is a racing certainty to be adopted by the Tories but he is not alone and I suspect such vioces, from the English nationalist Right, will become ever louder.

    3. These are all historically strong reasons, but they’re not immutable over time.

      i) Such is the strength of over-hyped self-belief post Brexit it’s possible that the ‘Global Britain’ euphoria could morph into an Greater England nationalism (more MEGA than MAGA).
      ii) Water might be more important than oil. Many older nationalists cant face this but oil is a declining resource, both as a mineral that you can afford to extract from the North Sea and as an asset in a Zero Carbon world. Its far more important to see our renewables industry as the asset (an asset we’re squandering by not having the jobs bonanza we should be getting).
      iii) This is a problem but one that other countries have over come. We can legislate on this. See also: https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2007/11/19/balmoral-buyout/
      iv) Not our problem
      v) Again, not our problem

      “The Tories will not ‘willingly’ let Scotland go” – it is true – independence will be a rupture and a struggle, for some of the reasons you’ve outlined. But its important not to overplay their power over ours, in doing so we lose agency and disempower ourselves.

  9. Robbie says:

    There has been many things written and spoken degrading the Scottish people by the English upper classes ,however it’s the expressions on the faces of Westminster bunch such as Reese Mogg,and his lot when anything Scottish comes up,or the deeply contemptuous looks Teresa May would give Snp Ian Blackford That showed their true feelings for the Scots, no love lost there so let’s stop f*****g about and SPLIT ASAP.

  10. Tom Ultuous says:

    The tories could have spared themselves and everyone else a lot of grief had they went for an English independence referendum instead of an EU one. At risk of boring everyone again I submitted this petition to the gov.uk site in July 2019.

    Revoke Article 50 and give the English an independence referendum.
    You cannot leave the EU without tearing up the Good Friday Agreement. If that happens the UK mainland will be an open goal for the IRA.
    Consider craters on port roads, bombs planted on lorries, drones over airports, foreign drivers refusing to pass through British ports and the same shell and pea game that gave us the headline “for the price of a few phone calls the IRA have brought the city of London to a standstill”. Spare yourselves a decade of humiliation which will inevitably lead to the breakup of the UK and either stay in the EU or sod off and leave the rest of us to get on with saving the planet.

    It was rejected on the basis it was “a joke”. So far they’ve avoided the disruption I spoke of with their “deal” but what will they do if the loyalists in Ireland decide to take up arms over the border in the Irish sea? Appease them by going WTO, introducing a border inside Ireland and awaiting the IRA backlash? Or, do they think telling the Scots to suck it up and letting them have a go will distract the Irish? To inflict this, as well as the disruption and financial implications of Brexit, on your people for the sake of a commons majority and avoiding an EU tax investigation defies logic. That working class people facilitated it gives stupidity a bad name.

  11. J. Davidson says:

    This argument should be pushed hard in England – just as the Union is pushed hard in the Scottish MSM. Get the English population on our side – get them to pressurise their politicians to support Scotland leaving. I don’t know where he gets the figure of 3% better off as I can’t find up to date figures on how much WM spends on Scotland’s behalf. But if that is his belief then the English population need to know how they are being bled dry.

    1. Wul says:

      Yup. That 3% would give them an extra £350 million/week to spend on the NHS for example…no brainer.

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