2007 - 2021

Reporting from the Glorious Wilderness of the Land of Haggis and Bagpipes

 

Another week another slew of articles announcing the imminent break up of Britain.

From Simon Jenkins (Boris Johnson can’t rely on internal feuds to derail Scottish independence – Guardian):

“Anglo-Scottish relations are heading for an almighty crash and Boris Johnson cannot look the other way. By the time he has finished in office, it is perfectly possible that Scotland will have gone the way of Ireland in 1922 and Northern Ireland will have voted itself back into the Dublin fold.”

to Max Hastings (There Will Always Be an England, But Not a U.K. – Bloomberg):

“… the collapse of old industries hit hard the land of haggis and bagpipes. Its disappointed people have found ever more to dislike about the English, and especially English Conservatives, foremost among them Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They resent the English landowners who, since the days of Queen Victoria, have come to holiday in the wildernesses of the Highlands, shoot grouse and deer, fish for salmon and trout, and patronize the natives as tartan peasants.”

to Chris Deerin (The End of the Affair –  New Statesman):

“Not so long ago Mike Russell, the SNP president and constitution minister, privately boasted to the Australian high commissioner that a second Scottish independence referendum would be held in late 2021. It’s easy to imagine Russell, the kind of character one imagines has a fireplace portrait of himself reclining in leopard skin, luxuriating in the role of global player, mere months away from rocking the world.”

to Ben Thomson (Only Home Rule can ensure future of Union – The Times): “It is a dangerous long-term strategy as by trying to cling to as much power as possible at Westminster there is a danger of losing it all. If we can learn from the mistakes of history then one would be the lost opportunity of home rule for Ireland at the end of the 19th century.

to Camilla Cavendish’s (A new constitutional deal would avert the UK’s break-up – Financial Times):

“…something needs to be done. One answer would be to introduce a new Act of Union: a much crisper settlement with clear accountabilities. This would define the UK as a unitary state with suitable powers devolved and with due respect for each nation’s identity.”

to Alex Massie performing for his boss (sponsored by Charles Stanley Wealth Managers).

Cavendish it should be noted is Baroness Cavendish of Little Venice, and former Director of Policy for David Cameron.

HOW BRITAIN ENDS

Whilst there’s a sort of Unionist Fungasm about internal disputes (see Deerin’s masterclass) there’s also mass chaos in their understanding. The trigger for this outpouring is twofold, the dawning realisation that Boris Johnson’s Ministry for Saving the Union is in deep trouble, and the publication of Gavin Esler’s ‘How Britain Ends, English Nationalism and the Rebirth of Four Nations’.

Esler’s book gives a respectable ‘alarm call’ to a process that most would happily slumber through. Hastings writes: “A new book by a respected former BBC correspondent, Gavin Esler, asserts that “Britishness is dead.” In “How Britain Ends: English Nationalism and the Rebirth of Four Nations,” Esler, a Scot, writes: “Brexit is both a symptom and also now a cause of the widening cracks in the union.”

A Scot!  But the right kind of Scot. A blizzard of opinion polls, landslide elections, hundreds of thousands on the streets all mean nothing at all, but a BBC chap! Hang on, somethings afoot!

Esler, who stood for Change UK in 2019, the fleeting home for orphaned centrists, gives credibility to the constitutional crisis for Unionists content in their Brexit victories and triumphant at Johnson’s crushing electoral majority. For Hastings (who was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to the 2014 referendum, including Ronnie Corbett, Gloria Hunniford and Kirstie Allsop) Esler’s book and the coming elections have been an epiphany: “I have loved Scotland all my life, and still spend several weeks a year in its glorious wildernesses. I understand why the Scots feel sore toward us … Separation could happen. Scots voted decisively against Brexit. They fiercely resent having been dragged out of Europe by the arrogant English, as they see it. They believe that Europe would readmit an independent Scotland, perhaps even welcome it, as a snub to British Brexiteers.”

KILTED CELTS

The marvel of the Anglosphere worldview that sees the whole world circle around England is on full display here, but the sense of Establishment Britain waking up is palpable even if the analysis is painfully and comically bizarre, Hastings again: “If Scotland breaks away, it will be largely a consequence of English arrogance and folly. But for those of us Southerners who love the kilted Celts almost as dearly as we cherish our own people and land, such a parting will be bitterly painful.”

Chris Deerin has, we’re told, been on a political journey towards considering independence as an option. Here, Deerin pours over the travails of the independence movement and the internal disputes of the SNP. It reads like a man thankful to withdraw from the trajectory of history, redeemed from the democratic urges that have tempted him.

Ben Thomson in The Times is perhaps a more credible figure. Observing Boris Johnson’s centralising energy “taking greater control over the NHS, wresting back power from local government over Covid and ensuring that responsibilities once held by Brussels are subsumed by Downing Street, suggest a government determined to rule from the centre.”

But he’s also aware that the Union Unit is in perpetual crisis, noting Luke Graham’s removal and his replacement by Oliver Lewis, a ‘staunch Brexiteer’. He also notices that the UK government has this month resisted publication of Lord Dunlop’s report on devolution commissioned by Theresa May.

But Thomson clings to the idea of Home Rule as savior for the Union, comparing the predicament of Scotland’s relations with the UK wit that of 19th C Ireland stating: ‘the great Irish debate that culminated in the second bill of 1893 was not about independence, it was about home rule.”  This idea that a Home Rule compromise can save the day is nurtured by many media commentators though the details are always a little sketchy, as are the political delivery mechanism.

Thomson’s political history seems a little vague when he skirts around some harsh truths saying: “None of us would want the relationship that the rest of the UK had with Ireland for the first 50 years of Irish independence.” Well, quiet.

DEVO MAX (AGAIN)

If Hastings account of the state of the nations is a cartoon of elite buffoonery and cliché, Thomson’s is more subtle. It is, inevitably, the re-tread of Devo-Max:

There is another way: Scottish Home Rule. Give Scotland full control over domestic matters and the fiscal powers to finance them. Leave defence, foreign affairs and monetary policy with Westminster. If we are to have another referendum, which seems ever more likely if the SNP does well in the May elections, then let’s give the public a proper choice and not just between the two centralist options. Home Rule or its equivalent such as Devo Max should be the third option as proposed in the negotiations before the 2014 referendum but rejected by David Cameron.”

Thomson’s vision is a quaint one and he suggests this is a model that works in some of the most economically successful countries in the world “such as the US, Germany, Canada, Australia and Switzerland.”

But while Switzerland united a patchwork of cantons, none of the other examples is remotely analogous to Britain’s uniquely uneven asymmetric national make-up, and the case for Federalism remains fatally flawed from this basic fact.

It is also difficult to take seriously the claims for “more democracy” when everywhere we look we see abject contempt for it.

As Gerry Hassan writes reviewing Esler’s book. (Who will speak for a democratic England in the break-up of Britain?):

“The current Tory Government is using the cover of Brexit and COVID-19 to embark on a dramatic reconfiguration and centralisation of powers in Westminster and England in particular. This can be seen in the UK Internal Market Act with huge consequences for Scotland and Wales, which the Institute for Government said “could place tighter constraints on devolved policy making”. There is the potential scaling back of the remit of the Supreme Court to aid unchallenged Westminster ‘parliamentary sovereignty’ with all that entails.”

Esler’s book is thoughtful and insightful about the need for there to be a debate in England about its future role, identity and constitution. But this seems impossible without a platform for such an internal dialogue, without an alternative to a civic nationalism being hijacked by the far-right and with the political scene being dominated by British nationalism and post-Brexit triumphalism – even (especially) in the face of pandemic collapse and crisis. In this context the “wake up” of hacks and grandees is contained within their own myth-making and their own echo chamber of smug self-satisfaction and profoundly anti-democratic sensibilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (46)

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  1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    A good article.

    There needs to be a serious reflection on England and how England is governed by the people who live in England. Esler’s book is essentially about that. The former Labour Minister, Mr John Denhamd has for some years been attempting to look at that and published several articles on the theme in Open Democracy. However, he slipped up seriously in his praise for Mr Keir Starmer’s vacuous patriotism speech.

    There is a serious lack of institutions in England to carry out the kind of reflection of England and Englishness which is required. It is not that there are not many within England who do think about such things, but they lack an infrastructure or organisations to move the debate forward. People like the blessed Anthony Barnet have done sterling work, but he needs more people to take it up.

    Perhaps the schisms appearing in the Labour Party might give rise to some structures, particularly in the North. Perhaps the further imposition of austerity and unemployment and the destruction of employment rights will give some of the trade unions the impetus to revisit the great English radical and dissenting tradition.

    Like Scotland’s lack of Scottish media, England does not have any English media – i.e. of a non-John Bull British/Englishism – to set out and celebrate aspects of England and life in England in a positive and humane way.

  2. Roddy says:

    Excellent writing! yet again.
    The Anglocentric World is something that very very few journos are admitting exists, in mainstream press. They’d rather spout Westminster propaganda.
    There’s also very little comment about how Orwellian the whole Tory Machine is. We need to trumpet Orwell as much as possible: England shire’s (all credit to Ian Bell, RIP, for that one!) market economy v. Scotland’s Socialist Angst.
    Vive La Différence.
    Slaìnthe

  3. SleepingDog says:

    More likely the view, especially from younger generations, is that the UK system is corrupt, imperial, archaic, po-faced, dysfunctional, violent, nepotistic and ludicrous:
    https://www.royal.uk/state-opening-parliament
    which makes banging on about largely non-existent kilts somewhat self-defeating.

  4. MBC says:

    I’ve always thought the English have been hoodwinked since 1066 and are thoroughly confused about who they are.

    Their political model follows 1066 and is highly centralised and authoritarian, the absolute supremacy of the Crown in Parliament, winner takes all. Their legal code has been harsher than ours. Their Anglo-Saxon social culture is somewhat more egalitarian, ‘a cat may look at a king’, ‘sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’, ‘speak without fear or favour’. Yet that’s not what’s in the saddle, and I think they lie to themselves all the time about that and what their true values are.

    Time to consider there is an Anglo-Saxon ‘antisyzygyny’.

    1. Pub Bore says:

      Didn’t ‘our’ political model also follow ‘theirs’ with the Normanisation of our government by David I, with the backing of his patron, Henry I?

    2. Pub Bore says:

      And, in any case, what does any of this ‘Anglo-Saxon’ and ‘Celtic’ nonsense have to do with the increasing numbers of Scots and English nationals who don’t own these heritages.

    3. Pub Bore says:

      And it’s perfectly clear what it means to identify as ‘English’ nowadays; it means nothing other than to be a participant in the civic life of the imagined community called ‘England’. Everything else is essentialist ethno-nationalist sh*t*.

      1. MBC says:

        David I adopted some feudal ideas in granting charters to Norman knights serving him where he had land that he could grant. That was all. There was no feudal conquest of Scotland. A very different political situation north of Tweed. Scotland evolved more organically and with it different ideas of kingship and royal authority.

        1. Pub Bore says:

          That’s right, there was no Davidian Revolution. Scottish exceptionalism again!

          Like it or not, from the early 12th century onward, by a process of colonisation, the cultural entity of medieval Scotland began to emerge as a periphery of [Western] Europe. From the late 10th century onwards, the culture and institutions of the old Carolingian heartlands in northern France and western Germany spread to outlying areas. The Norman conquest of England in the years after 1066 brought England within the sphere of this cultural milieu. The Davidian Revolution extended that colonisation to Scotland. Before David, in relation to the core culture of Europe, Scotland lacked a respectable Catholic religion, a centralised royal government, conventional written documents of any sort, native coins, bespoke merchant burghs, as well as the essential castle-building cavalry elite bound ‘feudally’ to the king by a legal web of rights and obligations. After David, it had gained all of these. (For the thinking behind this thesis, see for example Robert Bartlett, The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change: 950–1350, (1993) and Robert Moore, The First European Revolution, c.970–1215 (2000).)

          This isn’t to say that the Irish matrix into which Europe was disseminated was somehow destroyed or swept away; that’s not how the colonisation of medieval Europe, which functioned specialised in amelioration rather than demolition. It was another five-hundred years before that death-blow was finally dealt.

          1. MBC says:

            Yeah, I know all that. My point was, which you have entirely ignored, is that Scotland was never conquered like England by foreigners entirely taking over the entire country in an authoritarian manner and making all land royal land, every square inch, and ejecting the native elites. This has had a profound effect on the political culture of England, making it imperial and authoritarian in outlook, a fate which was avoided by Scotland.

            As for literacy. The native Celtic church was literate, there were state documents, but Edward I in his sack of Scotland in the 1290s removed what documents of state there were so there are huge gaps in the historical record. Feudalism was not a ‘system’ as such but a style of contract granting land by a king to a subject, and David was limited in feudalising his realm to what royal land he happened to control directly and could give away to professional soldiers – knights. This was mainly restricted to land between the Forth and the Tweed, that is, between the two Roman walls, an area which was very unstable from 5th to 10th centuries and thus subject to conquest by successful Scottish monarchs incorporating it into their realm. David gave a lot of this land away to the church. As James VI later complained of. Indicating that the ‘Davidian revolution’ was largely a peaceful one, aiming rather at economic development (his royal burghs are another example) rather than military control.

            The land north of the Forth remained substantially in the hands of its ancient ‘owners’ including land traditionally controlled/owned by the ancient line of kings, and only became subject to feudal charter where a subject had rebelled, been quelled, and then forfeited and his lands claimed by the Crown.

          2. Pub Bore says:

            And what of the ‘native elites’ whose land and power David granted to his ‘foreign’ knights in return for their service in securing his kingship over the territories he came to control in his conquest of the Scottish throne? Weren’t they ‘ejected’ from their elite status? Wasn’t this the modus operandi in the Normanisation of England too?

            Face it: Scotland didn’t escape the spread of ‘Europe’ across the British mainland that defines the early medieval period. The ideologies that triumphed in both mainland kingdoms in the late 11th and early 12th centuries time were one and the same.

          3. Time, the Deer says:

            Spoken like someone with no knowledge of Gaelic history and culture, but no surprises there. Gaelic’s not important, is it Andrew?

            And your references might look legit to those with a passing, amateur interest, but they’re basic undergrad ‘general reading’ material – again, what we’ve come to expect.

          4. Pub Bore says:

            I’m not sure what you’re saying here, Time, m’dear. Are you saying that Gaelic culture wasn’t squeezed into its current marginality in Scotland by centuries of creeping colonisation? Or are you saying something else?

          5. Pub Bore says:

            Anyway, m’dear; aren’t you supposed to be ignoring me, prattling away in my corner of the bar?

    4. Niemand says:

      Hm, isn’t this all bit ancient history? If you are going to talk about the ‘English’ in ethnic terms then the Normans have been part of that for 1000 years. Norman culture is part of the very fabric of England (along with Anglo Saxon and Celtic cultures) not least providing about half of the English dictionary! I see no confusion unless you class such mixing of cultures to form a new one as such by default. Your notion of English national identity seems to be saying the true English are Anglo-Saxon, ever to be corrupted by the dastardly Normans. This was being said right after 1066 (documentary evidence exists). Seems a bit rich to still be saying that now and is a very narrow ethnocentric view of national identity and one that focusses on blood more than 1000 years old to qualify, and none since, let alone more recent migrations and residency.

      As for Norman authoritarianism, in terms of governance, arguably the most authoritarian government in the UK at the moment is Scottish.

      1. Pub Bore says:

        I’m not even sure how valid these old 19th-century ethnographical classifications of ‘first peoples’ still are? They seem to have arisen ideologically with nationalism.

      2. MBC says:

        That’s right, I’m saying that in certain respects (not other respects) the Normans still colonise England in the form of an authoritarian absolutist political culture. A political culture which is still intent on winner takes all, which ignores the more than 60% of the English people who do not vote Conservative yet accept being ruled by them. Whose symbol of freedom is a portcullis and chain. Which has an imperious attitude to the other nations of the UK.

        But that this is at odds with other aspects of English identity and values, which are more egalitarian, which place emphasis on fairness.

        And that the English fail to notice that they are simultaneously democrats by temperament but autocrats by intellectual programming. And this is a problem for both them and us.

        1. Pub Bore says:

          You’re not seriously maintaining that England has an ‘authoritarian absolutist political culture’, are you? That’s just silly.

          1. SleepingDog says:

            @Pub Bore, you wrote:
            “You’re not seriously maintaining that England has an ‘authoritarian absolutist political culture’, are you? That’s just silly.”

            It might appear ‘silly’ but it is the theocratic-royalism than constitutes the capstone of the British imperial quasi-constitution.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_titles_and_honours_of_Elizabeth_II#Current

            Perhaps other peoples’ monarchies tend to seem silly…

          2. Pub Bore says:

            Yes, SD; we have a constitutional monarchy as our form of government. So what? My question still stands: is MBC seriously maintaining that England has an ‘authoritarian absolutist political culture’? If so, that’s just a silly proposition to maintain.

          3. SleepingDog says:

            @Pub Bore, I guess you must be unaccountably unfamiliar with royal patronage of culture in the UK:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patronage#Arts
            but answer this straightforward question: do you find anything silly in having “a constitutional monarchy as our form of government” in this day and age?

          4. Pub Bore says:

            @SD – No. If we’re going to have a monarchy, it’s eminently sensible and far from silly to set legal limits on the power it can exercise. Otherwise, we’d have the sort of ‘authoritarian absolutist political culture’ MBC seemingly thinks England has. This is true irrespective of whether the monarch is an inherited or an elected office.

          5. SleepingDog says:

            @Pub Bore, I don’t know what kind of hole you’ve been living in, but the idea that the Queen is somehow constrained by law is laughably quaint:
            https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/feb/10/queens-consent-constitutional-outrage-parliament-mp-peer-draft-bill-criminal-charge
            and you do not get more absolute than the doctrine of royal perfection perfection behind the sovereign immunity which confers freedom from prosecution to the reigning British monarch. That’s the serious side. There is a ludicrous side of royalty too, although apparently not to your medieval reactionary eyes.

          6. Pub Bore says:

            That’s right, SD; there’s no Magna Carta (1215), no Provisions of Oxford (1258), no Petition of Right (1628), no Bill of Rights (1689) (the Glorious Revolution never happened, eh?), no Act of Settlement (1701)… none of which established any legal constraint on the power of the executive, leaving England the ‘authoritarian absolutist political culture’ that MBC asserts it to be. Not to mention the plethora of legal reforms that took place in the 19th and 20th century through which the ‘checks and balances’ constitution of England’s governance has continued to evolve. Never happened!

            Any aspiration for England to comprise an ‘absolutist political culture’ died with the failure of the Jacobite rebellion in 1745. MBC’s assertion is sheer hyperbole from the land of anglophobia.

          7. SleepingDog says:

            @Pub Bore, [yawn] after Magna Carta, Henry VIII (reigned 1509–1547) turned England into a totalitarian state. And Henry VIII powers were still in play and used during Brexit. The British absolutist doctrine of the perfection of the monarch is the same principle as the infallibility of the Pope, and perhaps gave a template to Islamic State for their Caliphate. The current Queen, absolutist head of British armed forces (amongst many, many other things), armed forces who swear a personal oath to serve her, an arrangement copied by Adolf Hitler, has the authority through royal prerogative to wage war, which in the nuclear age and assuming that the British nuclear arsenal will function as planned, could wipe out human civilisation across the globe. The right to authorise a death sentence on global humanity and countless ecocides seems a tad extreme to me, and I’m not sure how you would get more absolute than that in practical terms, given that the monarch would not even be prosecutable for any offences up to and including omnicide in UK law. Makes old Henry VIII seem a little less absolute a villain by comparison. Yet royal overlordship, God’s anointed, remains culturally totemic in the UK (we are told).

          8. Pub Bore says:

            Are you seriously suggesting that Elizabeth II exercises the same degree of power that Henry VIII did?

          9. SleepingDog says:

            @Pub Bore, in planetary realistic terms, of course Elizabeth II has more power at her command than Henry VIII ever had, she has a nuclear-armed military who swear loyalty to her and her heirs, and is head of state of umpteen nations. In terms of rule-by-open-dictat, probably not so much, unless there are even more relevations to come, which would not be surprising given draconian British royal secrecy. She has to (quasi-constitutionally) give ever order for every British invasion, aggression and deployment of special forces abroad during her reign, and was one of three British conspirators in the invasion of Egypt in 1956, something rather beyond Henry VIII’s reach.

            The pertinent events surrounding the abdication of Edward VIII may never entirely reach the public domain, but as Wikipedia notes:
            “Many historians have suggested that Hitler was prepared to reinstate Edward as king in the hope of establishing a fascist Britain.”
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_VIII#Second_World_War
            The idea that the British armed forces were, then as now, loyal to their monarch and would lay down their arms if their monarch so ordered. This is the nature of the bonkers UK concept of high treason. We cannot know for sure, but British armed forces have been a fundamentally anti-democratic force led by a fundamentally anti-democratic royal family, some of whom may have conspired to overthrow the odd Labour government at home, and several other governments abroad. This is the nature of imperial, hierarchic power, unchecked and largely inscrutable. Since there is no official way of removing a British monarch, the role is one of political supremacy, and clearly something that hostile nations have viewed as a potential Achilles heel.

          10. Pub Bore says:

            Ah, I see; I think I get it now. You’re confusing the state, of which the monarch is the head, with the person of the individual who holds that office.

            I still can’t see why you think our head of state isn’t constrained in her exercise of power by our evolving constitution, main elements of which I enumerated above. She certainly doesn’t behave as if she’s unconstrained or limited in the power she can exercise.

        2. Niemand says:

          Some of this broader analysis I agree with but simple question, who is a Norman and who is an Anglo Saxon in the 21st Century? Who is a Celt for that matter?

          The problem I have here is that looking back to the very distant past to find an ethnic issue that is causing problems today is a fools errand and will lead to further internecine division, the last thing anyone needs.

          1. Niemand says:

            Oh and if the Normans colonised England what the hell did the Anglo Saxons do 400 years before them!

  5. Daniel Lamont says:

    Thank you for an excellent article. What is staggering about the articles that you mention, with the possible exception of Gavin Esler’s book, is the extraordinary ignorance about contemporary Scotland. Their knowledge of Scotland is little better than that of the average American tourist. It is a view taken from possible study at St Andrews, visiting landed gentry on their esates or staying in expensive hotels. If they did come from Scotland, it was a long time ago and they don’t understand how much it has changed. Michael Gove was at an independent School in Aberdeen from which he went to Oxford and has remained in the south of England ever since. He has only a tourist’s view of Scotland. I was a student at Aberdeen University in the early 1960s, went to graduate school in Canada and thereafter lived and worked in England, visiting Scottish friends and the Edinburgh Festival. In the first ten years of this century, I was heavily involved via the QAA in the quality assessment of higher education and visited most of the Scottish universities for extended periods. What struck me was how much had changed in Scotland from the 1960s and what interesting and innovative work was going on in Scottish universities. Returning to live in Edinburgh in 2016, I was again conscious of how much had changed in a relatively short time. These commentators in the English newspapers don’t seem to have done any research but rely on hearsay and stereotypes. How many, for example, have followed the work of the Centre on Constitutional Change at Edinburgh University and its excellent blog?

    There is also the sketchy understanding of history and other federal systems. The 1914 Irish Home Rule Act led to a war of independence, followed by a civil war and the establishment of an Irish Free State as a Dominion comparable to Canada, for example. Such an option is not appropriate over 100 years later. Reference is often made to Quebec, again with little understanding. The Federal Government worked very hard to retain Quebec in the run-up to the 1995 referendum. A common slogan was ‘My Canada includes the Nation of Quebec’, some consitutional adjustments were made and in 2006, the Federal Parliament passed a resolution declaring that Quebec was a distinct society. That is, the government and the other provinces treated Quebec with respect. What do we have in the UK? The polar opposite. Westminster treats Scotland with contempt. It is inconceivable that Canadian MPs would treat Quebec institutions with the contempt shown by Conservative MPs here. However, the fundamental issue is that the UK doesn’t have a written constitution. Other federal states have written constitutions which entrench the status of their provinces or Länder as in Germany. In the UK , the Tories view sovreignty as located in Parliament and not divisible. There is no way to entrench devolution, it will always be at the pleasure of Westminster. As we can see, the Internal Market Act subverts the devolution settlement and the Westminster government wishes to go further in subverting devolution. It has also signalled that it wishes to curb the powers of the UK Supreme Court.

    The ‘devo-max’ ship has sailed. Without a written constitution, it will always be hollow. I wish to be a citizen of a country which has control of its own institutions, with a constitution that makes clear the powers and roles of institutions such as its legal system and its parliament and has no truck with such notions as the ‘Queen in Parliament. I want to live in a democracy, not a constitutional monarchy. What the various commentators who you quote do not understand is that the Scots are not ‘going to go back in their box’. The demand for independance is not going to go away. The campaign for what was then referred to as Irish Home Rule was a long one begining in about 1870 and taking four Home Rule Bills to achieve it. Scotland will surely achieve its independance but let us hope that it doesn’t take as long or involve civil war as Irish independance did.

  6. MBC says:

    Max Hastings enjoys our wildernesses but not us Scots? How would his enjoyment of our wildernesses be prevented by Scotland regaining our self-determination? Would there no longer be tourism? He hasn’t thought this through. The real reason is that 1/3 of the landmass of the UK would disappear from ‘England’ and England would be smaller. Yet, according to Max, it is richer anyway, and currently ‘subsidises’ Scotland to the tune of £15 billion a year, so what’s the loss?

    He just can’t face up to the fact that his view of Scotland is both imperious and imperial.

  7. Thomas Dunlop says:

    England needs to have it’s Peru game moment. Let’s hope Scotland isn’t around to experience it, there is a lot of anger down south and god knows how or where it will leash out at. England needs independence to sort itself out from within, not rely on the “other” to take the blame.

  8. Robbie says:

    “Royal state opening at Westminster” gies yer arse a nippy taste,my granda used tae say

    1. Daniel Lamont says:

      At the second opening of Parliament in 2020, the Queen wore day clothes and Prince Charles wore morning dress which I thought was most appropriate for the current status of the UK. The Imperial Crown was carried before them on a cushion. What on earth are we doing producing ‘Imperial’ crowns in 2020. It is a terrible anachromism along with the ‘Order of the British Empire’ – the whole lot needs sweeping away.

  9. SleepingDog says:

    This Guardian article reporting on:
    People with extremist views less able to do complex mental tasks, research suggests
    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/feb/22/people-with-extremist-views-less-able-to-do-complex-mental-tasks-research-suggests
    “The ‘psychological signature’ for extremism across the board was a blend of conservative and dogmatic psychologies, the researchers said.”
    Perhaps we should refer the whole imperial-unionist-royalist commentariat to Prevent (not to exclude other candidates). The evidence strongly suggests they are unable to perform political analysis to any degree of complexity, are backwards-fixated and locked into black-and-white perspectives.

  10. Maji says:

    Who needs Disney land,we’ve got it all here, queen,dukes,prince and princesses.

  11. Alastair Wallace says:

    One of the things which REALLY bugs me and demonstrates how Anglophiles and the English are subliminally suggesting the demise of Scotland and Wales is the use of the prefix “Anglo-“ to describe anything where the current UK is concerned (eg Anglo-european, Anglo-american, Anglo-french, Anglo-russian, Anglo-this and Anglo-welsh) but at the same time using “Anglo-“ when describing something English (eg Anglo-scottish, Anglo-irish, etc. I have started using the prefix “Scotto-“ in the same way as Anglo has been used. It really upsets the English who can’t understand the significance. Perhaps we all should start using the “Scotto-“ ptefix from now on.

    1. Pub Bore says:

      Go for it! There’s nothing like upsetting ‘the English’. I sometimes wonder whether, for many, this whole Independence thing isn’t just a lark to upset ‘the English’.

      1. Niemand says:

        At times I really thinks it is.

        Trouble is the English don’t really give a toss so it is only ever preaching to the already converted bigots.

  12. Laurie Pocock says:

    Not to be outdone, English nationalism is looking towards a new alliance made up of the old Anglo-Celtic colonies of Canada, Australia and New Zealand and of course the Uk which with or without Scotland could become a new global power. CANZUK would provide freedom of movement, joint foreign and defence policies and a rebirth of Britain in the post-Brexit era.
    according to its advocates. I’m sure this is what the Tory Right wants and it has some s strong support in the old white Commonwealth, where distrust of China and the US is rife. The legal and constitutional systems in all these countries is very similar making it a far more manageable entity than the EU. But left wing scepticism would be right to argue that it would represent a capitalist nirvana rather than something the people would be happy in. In any case it could take many years to take shape.

    1. Daniel Lamont says:

      I am aware of this fantasy – which is all it is. I know Canada very well and in normal times spend part of the year in Toronto. I have never seen the case for what some English people call Empire 2.0 made or even alluded to except in dismissive terms in the Canadian Press. This fantasy ignores Quebec and Francophone areas but is also harking back to a Canadian demographic of sixty and more years ago. Admittedly, Toronto is by no means typical but in 2016, 47.7% of the population was classified as ‘white’ ie not just of UK origin and 51.5% as from a ‘visible minority’. “Statistics Canada projects that immigrants will represent between 24.5% and 30.0% of Canada’s population in 2036, compared with 20.7% in 2011. Statistics Canada further projects that visible minorities among the working-age population (15 to 64 years) will make up 33.7–34.3% of Canada’s total population, compared to 22.3% in 2016”. I cannot speak for either New Zealand or Australia butthe likelihood of Canada joining the entity CANZUK is minimal.

      1. Pub Bore says:

        …and yet opinion polls commissioned by the Royal Commonwealth Society in 2016 found that: 70% of Australians were supportive of free movement of goods, services, and people within CANZUK, with only 10% opposed; 75% of Canadians supported the idea and 15% were opposed; and 82% of New Zealanders supported the idea, with 10% opposed. All of the respective provinces, states and territories of Australia, Canada and New Zealand registered majority support for the proposal – including Quebec.

        Strangely enough, only 58% of Brits fancied the idea, with 19% opposed. And, of course, the governments of the respective countries are also much less warm to it.

      2. Laurie Pocock says:

        You are probably correct but as someone with links to Australia I don’t mind the idea of having joint residency rights
        The other point is that fantasies can become realities who would have said the idea of Scottish independence was realistic 50 years ago?

        1. Pub Bore says:

          Who knows? Maybe an independent Scotland could be part of a SCANZUK zone – if the others would have us, that is. It would depend, I suppose, on what we could bring to the table and whether that would add value to the project.

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