2007 - 2021

Breaking Up The British State: Scotland, Independence and Socialism

Bob Fotheringham, Dave Sherry, Colm Bryce (eds), Breaking up the British State: Scotland, Independence & Socialism (Bookmarks 2021)

“Do we want the break-up of the British state to leave us with two nationalisms and two competing capitalist blocs on the island of Britain?” asks Bob Fotheringham, one of the editors and authors of this book of essays about the future of the independence movement in Scotland. An answer to this fundamental question concerning Scotland’s future is contained in ten lengthy critiques in this 400-page manifesto from Scottish members of the Socialist Workers Party.

The central argument of the book is that the radical mass movement of 2014 is still very much alive today, fuelled by the post-Brexit ‘democratic deficit’ and the Tory power grab of policy areas previously devolved to Holyrood. The British and Scottish Labour parties are on a politically suicidal path of opposing independence and even denying the Scottish people a further referendum to decide the issue for themselves. At the same time the SNP, in its Sustainable Growth Commission report of 2018, is committed to ‘a decade of austerity in order to meet the criteria for rejoining the EU. To avoid this means preparing a far more radical assault on wealth and power than the SNP is willing to countenance.’ The existing policy would ‘lock a future independent Scotland into a neoliberal straitjacket, at the mercy of finance capital and the Bank of England, especially if it retains the pound as its currency.’

The present political climate is seen as a historic opportunity for radical change, which requires a powerful united front in organisations such as All Under One Banner and Now Scotland. But they have to be prepared, not just  to demonstrate, but also to engage in civil disobedience. Even to achieve a new referendum will require ‘something much more powerful than constitutional or legal arguments’.

The seismic electoral shift away from Labour to the SNP is dealt with in great depth, charting the decline in the Tory vote, in particular during and after the Thatcher years, and opening up the race between Labour and SNP. The need to challenge the dominance of Labour in west and central Scotland was behind Alex Salmond’s ‘social democratic turn’ of the early 2000s. The tipping point came in the 2007 Holyrood election when SNP took 33% of the vote to Labour’s 32%, followed by the earthquake of 2015 when Labour in Scotland collapsed from 41 Westminster seats to just one.

There are many threads leading from Labour’s dominance to its sidelining. One important strand is the outcome of industrial disputes from the 1970s onwards, as shop-floor trade unionists had to overcome the hesitancy of Labour-leaning trade union officials to secure even minor advances. The chapter examining Labour’s decline analyses many of these disputes in detail. It is a near comprehensive history of modern industrial relations in Scotland.

Labour in government is also dissected, from the wage freezes and welfare cuts of the Labour governments of 1964-70 and 1974-79, which led to the ‘winter of discontent’ in 1979 and ushered in the government of Margaret Thatcher. The country was a guinea pig for her Poll Tax, introduced in 1989. A Scottish Labour Party conference in 1988 refused to back a non-payment campaign and the biggest councils, which were controlled by Labour, all implemented the tax. But local opposition was overwhelming, leading to the creation of the Anti-Poll Tax Federation, led by Tommy Sheridan. Labour leader Neil Kinnock called them  ‘toytown revolutionaries’. The former Labour MP Jim Sillars won a spectacular ‘no poll tax’ by-election victory for the SNP in Govan with a 33% swing from Labour.

The New Labour government of 1997, led Tony Blair, overturned the long-standing policy of nationalisation and his chancellor, Gordon Brown, declared, ‘The Labour Party is now the party of modern business and industry. For the first time it has set down its commitment to a market economy, to living with the rigours of competition’. He introduced the Private Finance Initiative, which was taken up by Labour-controlled councils, affecting the finance of schools, hospitals and housing. The government also failed to reverse Thatcher’s ‘reforms’, including anti-trade union legislation. It did, however, introduce devolution, which had been mooted Tory prime minister Ted Heath in 1974 to counter a growing SNP. The 1997 referendum saw 74% vote yes to a parliament in Edinburgh.

The Tory years from 2010, which began with Labour winning 42% of the vote in Scotland and 41 Westminster seats, saw utter defeat in 2015. Even Jeremy Corbyn and the Momentum movement made little impact in the Blairite Scottish Labour Party. ‘The weakness of Labour’s opposition to austerity at both national and local level, and the absence of a lead from the union leaders … its role in outsourcing and privatising council services, and its attacks on workers’ conditions and pay, all of these factors combined to weaken Labour’s fifty-year hold on Scottish politics. The final straw was its rush to wrap itself in the Union Jack alongside David Cameron in the 2014 referendum.’ The SNP and the wider independence movement came to be seen as the only way to resist Tory attacks.

Scotland’s radical and working class history is a major theme in the book, which might seem a little too long for those wishing to get to the meat of the manifesto. But the discussions of the national question, the formation of Scotland, the making of the Scottish working class, and Red Clydeside are intelligent, informed, and impeccably sourced. They deserve a book to themselves.

There is also a very welcome essay on racism and anti-racism, which deals frankly with the key role of Scots in slavery and empire. It compares Westminster’s ‘hostile environment’ to Holyrood’s pro-immigration stance which, however, embraces immigration that is good for business and stands with ‘Fortress Europe’. The acceptance of migrants and refugees is applauded but it has been hampered by ‘a lack of resources, a lack of political will at the top and a failure to engage with local people’. It is that engagement that is crucial. The 2001 murder of an asylum seeker, Firsat Dag, for example, in 2001 could have been used to stoke racism in the Sighthill area of Glasgow, but community activists and anti-racists turned it into something inspiring by galvanising the neighbourhood around a campaign for social improvement, countering myths about refugees being given preferential treatment, and promoting a festival of ‘local talent, food and culture’.

The SNP and the wider independence movement are given an equally rigorous analysis in the three concluding chapters of the book. Support for the SNP flourished as support for independence increased, ‘though the two are not synonymous’. The movement has had a long and varied history, from the Scottish Home Rule Association of 1886 and the adoption of home rule policy by the early Labour party and the ILP, to the lonely battle of John Maclean for a Scottish workers’ republic throughout the years of the 1914-18 war and the Russian revolutions.

The minor reforms of the Lib-Lab coalition at Holyrood from 1999 to 2007 are compared with the more radical ones of the SNP governments since then. Even so, recent figures show that premature deaths in the most deprived parts of the country are now four times as likely as 20 years ago, and that Scotland’s drug-related deaths are three times that of England and Wales. Around one in five people, and one in four children live in poverty. Free personal social care for older people has been compromised by means testing as local authority budgets have been cut, and many publicly owned or not-for-profit care homes have closed or transferred to the private sector.

SNP policy is for an independent Scotland in which very little structural change would take place. The Holyrood government’s 2020 Report of the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery following the Covid crisis, for example, recommends ‘a top-level Council of Business Advisers’ to determine economic priorities. So, independence is not the end goal of this manifesto, ‘Rather, independence would provide the opportunity to reject Tory policies of austerity, privatisation and racism and to build a different kind of society, free from poverty, inequality and oppression’.

How to get there? The contributions of various leftist writers and activists are scrutinised, including Stephen Maxwell, who in the 1970s formulated the case for ‘left-wing nationalism’, Tom Nairn and his many contributions including his book The Break-up of Britain, Kenny MacAskill and Lesley Riddoch, who both look to the Nordic model, Robin McAlpine of Common Weal and its impressive range of policy papers, and George Kerevan, with his policy of a new leadership elected by a national convention and a post-independence workers party ‘embracing the trades unions, Labour supporters, and the left of the SNP, and a broader left sentiment released from its old constitutional commitments’ (his words). It also discusses John Foster’s contribution for the Scottish Communist Party on ‘Radical Federalism’. The main conclusion from the examination of all of these contributions is that ‘we cannot leave the argument for socialism and workers’ self-emancipation out of the case for Scottish independence. To do so would condemn Scottish  workers to the continued exploitation by the bosses, with all the consequences of poverty, exploitation and racism which we are subject to under the British state’.

So what may lie beyond the limits of nationalism? There is no credit-card sized list of demands in this manifesto, although industry nationalisation and government intervention appear throughout. Building unity amongst independence supporters, climate change activists, anti-racist campaigners and the labour movement is the main message. Looking at the lessons of Catalonia, it states, ‘The parallels with Scotland are obvious. The role of the EU, the failure of much of the left across the UK to support Scottish independence, the lack of clarity by the official independence movement on how to bring together class demands over austerity, poverty, cuts and racism into the central core of the movement, and a complete lack of understanding on how to confront a strong national state are there in both movements.’

 

Murray Armstrong is author of Scotland’s Fight for Democracy: Rebellion and Reform in 1820 (Pluto Books 2020).

Comments (72)

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  1. Antoine Bisset says:

    Socialism has never worked, anywhere. Unless you consider that Zil lanes and exclusive use of GUM stores for those who control the proletariat are indicators of success.
    Membership of the EU did not work very well for us. We paid the EU lots of money and they stripped us of our assets and our ability to do as we please to support our home industries.
    Nor does the SNP government deliver the goods, if the “goods” are jobs, health care, education, infrastructure and prosperity in a civilised society.

    1. Hamish100 says:

      Antoine,

      I remember the first real infrastructure projects in the Highlands and Islands and other rural areas with the Eu logo on it. Now we are back to high speed trains north to Brummy or a fantasy bridge to Northern Ireland.
      The Eu worked well or better than Westminster which shouldn’t really be hard. Of course we have friends there as opposed to the surley you owe us attitude by the Saxons.
      Eu cannot make us go to war or have nuclear weapons on our shores. Self determination is the way and if we chose efta in place of the Eu , so be it. It is our choice. 62% wished to remain and our wishes were ignored. I cannot but help think your perception of living in Scotland is based on unionist here say or is it heresy?

      1. Antoine Bisset says:

        Thank you for your response, Hamish.
        The blue EU signs did not say that the project was funded with our money after the EU had taken a cut. That, however, was how it worked. The EU had no money other than that paid in by members. Not all members paid in. The UK was a major net contributor.
        We in Scotland do have friends abroad and in Europe. That does not change the fact that the EU was very bad for Scotland, and would be so even as a separate entity from the rumpUK.
        Successive Westminster governments have not been beneficial as regards their branch in Scotland and we have lost much of our industry. “Better than Westminster” is a very low bar, one that would defeat a champion limbo dancer.
        The devolved Scottish parliaments have done us no good. Nothing has improved as regards the lives of ordinary citizens. Quite the contrary, in every sector. I am in favour of independence, but not with the current clique or anything resembling it. A pragmatic democracy is required that assists business and protects the vulnerable. Externally, we need relaxed trade arrangements, and not laws and regulations imposed on us.
        (The EU has dangerous pretensions to becoming a super-state and I’d rather be chums with Russia than Germany.).
        You make an unnecessary personal comment about whether I may be a Tory. Really, that does not matter. What does matter is that this wee country of ours is in the grip of corrupt incompetents in a tightly controlled self-perpetuating clique that is driving policies at odds with nearly everything that I believe in and hope for.
        The things I believe in as suitable goals for our country include informed democracy, freedom of speech, education and industry.

        1. James Mills says:

          ”I’d rather be chums with Russia than Germany”…sums up where you are coming from , Antoine !

          1. Antoine Bisset says:

            Interesting response. Is Putin not pretty straight, as leaders go? Russia has improved in respect of every measure since he took the reins. Of course, sometimes I make little jokes.

          2. Colin Robinson says:

            Straight? Well, he’s made it pretty clear that he’s not gay.

            But isn’t the oligarchy he heads full of rather bent characters?

        2. Tom Ultuous says:

          Antoine, you talk of “laws and regulations imposed on us” and being “stripped of our assets” by the EU. As far as I’m aware, it was Westminster that stripped us of our assets. Had we been independent the EU wouldn’t have been able to franchise our oil to the US or sell off our nationalised industries to their pals for a song. The mythical “control” the EU had was an invention of the Tories. Also, can you tell me 3 EU laws you disagreed with? If so you’ll be the first Leaver I’ve come across who can.

          The EU as it stands is little more than a trading club. A set of rules and regulations 27 countries have agreed to follow so they can trade freely. A country can of course set up its own expensive infrastructure to come up with pretty much the same thing but it will be cheaper if 27 other countries are chipping in with you. The way forward isn’t by nationalising everything that doesn’t move, it’s accountability through technology. The Tories took us out of the EU so they could escape what will be the initial shots at accountability i.e. the EU investigation into tax avoidance, money laundering and offshore accounts. The goal should be to have every financial transaction pass through a central hub so that nothing can be hidden and no tax can be avoided.

          1. Antoine Bisset says:

            Nothing I say should be construed as support for any of the political parties in power over the last 20 years. A government is only as good as the individuals who comprise it.
            As for the laws that came our way from the EU, rubber-stamped by Westminster, maybe look it up yourself?

          2. Tom Ultuous says:

            I’ve to look up 3 EU laws you disagreed with?

          3. Colin Robinson says:

            Didn’t the Tories take us out of the EU because we had a referendum and voted by the slimmest of margins to leave?

            And wasn’t the referendum a consequence of a power struggle between pro- and anti-EU factions within the Tory Party, which the pro-Europeans only lost because, in a fit of populism, the heroic ‘working class’ voted against them and their running dogs in the Labour Party?

          4. Tom Ultuous says:

            No.

          5. Colin Robinson says:

            You have a point, Tom. No laws or regulations have been imposed on us. Every action taken by the EU is founded on treaties that have been approved voluntarily and democratically by all EU member countries and the principle of subsidiarity.

            I’ve long held the view that the legal order of the EU could serve well as a model for that of the UK.

          6. Tom Ultuous says:

            The “UK” even had a veto Colin. Surely very few of the Eurosceptic Tories actually believed the “UK” would be better off outside the bloc? Needs must though when tax dodges are under threat. You’ve got to love those heroic working classes who insist on paying the toff’s taxes for them.

          7. Colin Robinson says:

            Yes, the UK enjoyed the same power of veto that every other member nation did.

          8. John Learmonth says:

            Tom
            I wonder (if given the chance, not that they will ever be allowed) the peoples of the EU states had a democratic choice to leave the EU how many would choose to leave?
            Interesting that no state in the EU had a plebiscite of their people as to whether they wanted to join.
            Bit of a democratic deficit or do you think that people who disagree with the EU are just a bunch of ‘gammons’ indoctrinated by the ‘right wing ‘ press.

          9. Colin Robinson says:

            Interesting that no state in the EU had a plebiscite of their people as to whether they wanted to join.

            This just isn’t true, John. Since 1972, 48 referendums have been held by EU member states, candidate states, and their territories, most commonly on the subject of whether to become a member of the EU as part of the accession process. In fact, the UK is one of the few members that didn’t have a referendum before joining.

          10. Tom Ultuous says:

            Thanks Colin, I wasn’t aware they all had a veto. I thought it was just the big guns.

            John, Colin has already answered for me but there’s lots of things they don’t have referendums on (e.g. was there a referendum to invade Iraq?). There wouldn’t have been an EU referendum here had it not been for the fact that the Tories (and gravy train in general) were becoming increasingly worried about their offshore accounts. The “gammon” will pay a heavy price for their blue passport.

          11. Colin Robinson says:

            ‘Wouldn’t’ and ‘hadn’t’ can’t possibly be verified, Tom. But I wonder why the passengers on the gravy trains in other European countries haven’t precipitated similar referendums in defence of their assets.

          12. Tom Ultuous says:

            They don’t have Murdoch and they’ll be short on clowns who think they’re “a great nation and a great people” and far too good for Europe. Let’s face it, most populations would consider paying the rich’s tax for them in return for a blue passport a bad deal.

          13. Colin Robinson says:

            Yes, I get all that. Unlike our contemporaries in other European countries, we’re gullible and/or servile, and Rupert Murdoch controls our votes through his media empire. Using that control, and at the behest of the monied rich, he got half of us to vote to leave the EU and half of us to remain in the EU. Fine!

            But if that is the efficient cause of the UK leaving the EU, then why haven’t the monied rich in other European countries get their media moguls to do the same, so that they too might elude the EU’s crackdown on financial chicanery?

            My point is that I think we need to look for more unique conditions to explain why the UK electorate voted the way that it did in the referendum, given that the same conditions you cite as the cause of that behaviour are replicated throughout Europe without having produced the same effect. In other words: what’s exceptional in the case of the UK?

            That’s why I floated the alternative narrative that the UK left the EU because the post-war ‘independence’ wing of the Tory Party, which the mainstream ‘unionist’ wing had successfully marginalised for the previous forty years, rode a fortuitous surge of populist anti-Europeanism within the electorate to advance its narrow nationalist agenda.

            But you think not…

          14. There’s nothing exceptional about “the UK”? The exceptionalism, the imagined grievance, the sense of superiority is an English phenomenon.

          15. Tom Ultuous says:

            I more or less agree with your post Colin but I don’t think you’re giving enough importance to the “great nation and great people” mantra that has been drummed into the British people since WWII. Murdoch & Co have them believing they can overcome anything (even global warming) by singing Vera Lynn war songs. While all EU countries have their far-right simpletons they don’t have a population that’s been primed to wrap themselves in the national flag like the British. They don’t see themselves as being too good for the EU the same way many of the British do. They’ve no reason to think an EU law is inferior to one implemented by their own government and that would probably even be true for those who could name 3 EU laws they disagreed with. Not the British though. Anything not implemented by the Lordly ones must be substandard.

            Around the time of the Brexit vote there were more non-EU immigrants entering Britain than EU ones. The Tories had complete control over non-EU immigration but, as it suited their anti-EU narrative, they let them in anyway. Despite the increase in population, and the additional taxes raised by the immigrants, none of the extra money was put into health or education. Inevitably “immigration is putting stress on our services” became the opium of the people. Why did the pro-EU wing of the Tory party (including Cameron) allow this to happen? They were quite happy to have the EU to blame for their problems (the anti-EU Tories are still doing it even though Brexit is supposedly done) but they miscalculated and the Brexit party brought them face to face with the monster they created.

          16. Tom Ultuous says:

            BC Editor, it is mainly an English phenomena but there are many little Englanders trapped in Scotsmen’s bodies.

          17. Colin Robinson says:

            I don’t find the people who live in England to be on the whole any more chauvinistic than those who live in other countries. People wrap themselves in flags everywhere. (Have you ever seen a pro-independence rally in Scotland, for example?) But that’s just my impression. Maybe the English really are exceptionally so.

            And, yes, migration was a populist stick the rebels used to beat the establishment with. But again this is hardly exceptional to the b*st*rd*n English. The ethnicity card is played by populists all over the world.

          18. Tom Ultuous says:

            I would say the English are exceptionally so and have been for a long time. Their ‘exceptionalism’ has been getting drummed into them for a long time and before immigration became the opium of the people they were being fed crap about straight bananas by the clown prince among others. Who can forget the metric bleeding “martyrs”. Non-decimals who longed for the days of 16 oz per lb, 14 lb per stone and 240 d per £. How could France’s metric system possibly compete with the logic of British imperial measure?

            The ethnicity card is indeed played by populists all over the world but it doesn’t follow that their governments failed to increase funding to their health and education sectors to account for the increase in population. Nor does it follow that their country has a Murdoch stirring things up. Murdoch obviously thought things through when he decided to make the “UK” & US his domain.

          19. Colin Robinson says:

            We’re just going to have to disagree, Tom. I find the practice of demonising a whole class of people (in this case, ‘the English’) by attributing to them a common moral trait (in this case, chauvinism; elsewhere, gullibility… et alia) distasteful.

          20. Tom Ultuous says:

            I was wrong to imply all the English are guilty. Murdoch English. 50%?

          21. Colin Robinson says:

            But isn’t Murdoch ethnically a pure-blood Scot and therefore untainted by the moral traits by which you characterise the English?

            Of course, he may still be a bad ‘un. But the reason for that can’t be because he’s 50% English, which he isn’t.

            Unless, that is, what you’re saying is that the moral traits that taint his character comprise his Englishness, rather than vice-versa; that all bad people are ‘English’, rather than that all English people are ‘bad’. Maybe for you ‘English’ operates a bit like how the descriptor ‘white nigger’ used to operate in Dixie.

          22. Colin Robinson says:

            But isn’t Murdoch ethnically a pure-blood Scot and therefore untainted by the moral traits by which you characterise the English?

            Of course, he may still be a bad ‘un. But the reason for that can’t be because he’s 50% English, which he isn’t.

            Unless, that is, what you’re saying is that the moral traits that taint his character comprise his Englishness, rather than vice-versa; that all bad people are ‘English’, rather than that all English people are ‘bad’. Maybe for you ‘English’ operates a bit like how the descriptor ‘white n*gg*r’ used to operate in Dixie.

          23. Tom Ultuous says:

            I was guessing 50% of the English population were on Murdoch’s wavelength.

          24. Colin Robinson says:

            On the basis of what evidence did you guess that 50% of the English share the same attitudes, interests, and opinions as Rupert Murdoch? The same sort of evidence on the basis of which some guess that the Irish tend to be thick, gay men tend to be paedophiles, and black people tend to be criminals?

          25. Tom Ultuous says:

            On the basis that around 50% of them voted for his wish list. I’d also guess that many of them think the Irish tend to be thick, gay men tend to be paedophiles, and black people tend to be criminals

          26. Niemand says:

            One of the traits of nationalism is how it attempts to demonise the other, especially those who it seeks to leave behind in its nationalist aims. The Brexit vote certainly played on this in demonising the EU and even other Europeans. Scottish nationalism does it with England and the English but has an incredible blind spot about it, even justifying it by making claims that 50% of English are morally guilty of, actually I’m not quite sure what of but something bad for sure, and presumably relating to the Brexit vote which was actually 53% in England (alone). By that token that would make 38% of Scots the same evil thinkers, presumably making Scotland 15% morally better than England (and Wales, also on 53% bastards).

          27. Tom Ultuous says:

            If you look back at my posts this is what they’re guilty of

            “I would say the English are exceptionally so and have been for a long time. Their ‘exceptionalism’ has been getting drummed into them for a long time and before immigration became the opium of the people they were being fed crap about straight bananas by the clown prince among others. Who can forget the metric bleeding “martyrs”. Non-decimals who longed for the days of 16 oz per lb, 14 lb per stone and 240 d per £. How could France’s metric system possibly compete with the logic of British imperial measure?”

            Colin seems to have succeeded in turning an observation into full blown racism. He’d walk into a job on the Sun. As far as I’m concerned the English are welcome in Scotland, it’s the British I’d love to get rid of. British is no longer a nationality, it’s a mentality. I loath (& pity) fascists and their sheep and would prefer my offspring to grow up in an inclusive country that was free of them.

          28. Tom Ultuous says:

            *loathe

          29. Niemand says:

            So where on Earth do you get the 50% of them from? And one of your main pieces of evidence is people’s dislike of the imposition of metric measurements in which people on market stalls were prosecuted for selling stuff in pounds and ounces (and no longer are because is was realised that was ridiculous)?

            As for immigration, England is one of the most multi-cultural, multi-racial countries in the world. It is certainly no more prejudiced against foreigners than any other European country. And let Scotland crow about some of the racism in England when it is has a similar multi-cultural make-up (oh wait better not, as that would be exceptionalism)

          30. Colin Robinson says:

            As far as you’re concerned, ‘the English’ are welcome in Scotland? Crikey, you’ll be telling us next that some of your best friends are English. Doesn’t change the fact that you’re peddling cultural stereotypes in your demonisation of ‘the English’.

            And like it or not, we’re British nationals insofar as we participate in the civic life of the UK. Such participation is what one’s nationality consists in – unless, of course, you subscribe the old Blut und Boden nationalism that the SNP have worked so hard in recent decades to downplay.

          31. Colin Robinson says:

            ‘…an inclusive country that was free of them.’

            There’s your absurdity in a nutshell: an inclusive country that excludes the Tory/fascist/British/Sun-reading English. Will the ‘good n*gg*rs’ be given a pass at the border?

          32. Tom Ultuous says:

            F*** me, there’s two of them.

            The 50% refereed to those who wrap themselves in the flag (not literally before you bring it up) and believe the “great nation and great people” bollocks. The metric martyrs were an example of that flag waving, not an observation that 50% of English were non-decimals. As for immigration, sure thing Niemand, the recent Tory investigation into racism proves your point. Doesn’t it?

            There’s no absurdity about it Colin. Instead of a BLM movement there should be a FLDM (Fascist lives don’t matter) movement. Grown men who want to be in a gang and like nothing more than an easy target (preferably female). They’re not short of back slappers in England. Their racism probably triggers suicide bombings as does their support of bombing weaker countries (the main cause of the refugee crisis) to fly the flag. As the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer described them “The cheapest sort of pride is national pride; for if a man is proud of his own nation, it argues that he has no qualities of his own of which he can be proud; otherwise he would not have recourse to those which he shares with so many millions of his fellowmen. The man who is endowed with important personal qualities will be only too ready to see clearly in what respects his own nation falls short, since their failings will be constantly before his eyes. But every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud adopts, as a last resource, pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and glad to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”

            “UK” zero points. The English attitude rubs up the whole of Europe the wrong way. Have you two considered applying for a spot on Neil Oliver’s GBN wokewatch?

            PS What about that booing the knee?

          33. Colin Robinson says:

            ‘The English attitude’ of yobs and racists and rapists…

            I’d stop digging if I were you, Tom.

          34. Tom Ultuous says:

            I’d stop back slapping and reimbursing myself if I were you Colin.

          35. Tom Ultuous says:

            For all you non-decimals out there, the Express is holding a poll on whether the “UK” should go back to British Imperial measure now that it’s left the EU. I can see the schoolkids here having to go on strike like the South African kids did when the apartheid government wanted them taught in Afrikaan.

            Come on all you little Englanders trapped in Scotsmen’s bodies. 16 oz in a lb, 14 lb in a stone, 12 d in a shilling, 240 d in a pound. You know it makes sense.

          36. SleepingDog says:

            @Tom Ultuous, hmmm, I can see a future rUK moonbase struggling with borrowing spares from its neighbours. Better sticking to failed Antarctic missions in future, then. It was a struggle for NASA (not that US–UK imperial measurements have a specially compatible relationship anyway).
            https://www.nasa.gov/offices/oce/functions/standards/isu.html
            Still, what’s to counter notions of exceptionalism, except cold, hard reality?

          37. Tom Ultuous says:

            SD, After reading that NASA link I’m withdrawing my $28 million bid.

          38. SleepingDog says:

            @Tom Ultuous, I guess NASA will have to make do. There is a rational voice in the UK:
            https://ukma.org.uk/why-metric/
            which rather pointedly says on their site timeline “1980: Most Commonwealth countries have completed metric conversion. Britain lags behind significantly.”
            If the Commonwealth is supposed to be so important to Brexit Britain for trading, why insist on the double-regression of imperial measurements?

            Once you realise that a litre of water weighs 1 kilogram in all your significant trading countries, you can hardly deny the everyday appeal of SI Units (or metrication). While the Système international d’unités is essential for modern global science. Unless the modern world is so problematic for someone that they try to run back to the middle ages.

      2. Mouse says:

        The most bizarre EU project I have seen is the Rawalpindi to Lahore motorway. There even used to be metal EU posts on it before they were stolen. Almost no-one uses it because the Grand Trunk Road is cheaper. It’s the Marie Celeste of Motorways – there is more traffic on the Forth Road Bridge. The project made lots of politicians very rich on land ownership speculation.

    2. Mouse says:

      The USSR put rural land owners to death. The EU gives rural land owners large amounts of money every year for nothing. I suppose an organisation that spends half it’s budget on the latter is preferable to the former, but neither of the concepts are good.

      The EU is the worlds largest a closed market, much to the detriment of poorer places, run for and on behalf of The Duke of Buchleuch (free money), and Volkswagen (cheap labour). There is nothing much socialist about it.

    3. SleepingDog says:

      @Antoine Bisset socialism gave women the vote, public libraries, national health services, old-age pensions, comprehensive education and took basket-case backwater Tsarist-era Russia into an industrial giant capable of withstanding invasion by Nazi Germany all the way to a space-race lead. Of course, the USA’s space race under NASA was also socialism. If a nation did produce an explicitly socialist goverment, it was often soon invaded by one of the capitalist-imperialist powers (too many examples to list) often the (technically bankrupt) USA. The Internet and the World Wide Web came out of state-funded institutions, and economist Mariana Mazzucato makes the case for the entrepreneurial state. One of the most beneficial forms of socialism is publicly-funded sanitation, which in the UK was credited for saving more lives than the (largely private) medical profession of the time. Of course, maybe you prefer drowning in your own shit, hoping your neighbour has paid their firefighters’ subscription, and trusting your security to mercenaries.

      1. Colin Robinson says:

        Hear, hear! Socialism also comes to the fore in moments of crisis, when the market economy is disrupted by natural disaster to the extent that it ceases to function. That’s when, as needs must, until normality can be restored, people come together to pool their abilities and distribute the goods pooled on the basis of need rather than on the basis of merit/desert or of exchange.

      2. Tom Ultuous says:

        Good post SD.

  2. Colin Robinson says:

    ‘…the radical mass movement of 2014…’

    And what ‘mass’ movement was that? It didn’t even constitute a majority in the poll.

    The only ‘mass’ movement in Scotland today is Middle Scotland, which is very much conservative with a small ‘c’, as in ‘canny’. Which is why Independence, if it ever comes, will be far from ‘radical’.

    But dream on…

    1. John Learmonth says:

      Colin.
      The country that pays for the EU project (Germany) never gave its people the choice as neither did Spain or Italy (the 3rd and 4th biggest economies) after the UK decided to leave.
      Thankfully the ‘gammons’ had the common sense to kiss good bye to this neo-liberal anti democratic farce.
      God bless the working class!

      1. Tom Ultuous says:

        … Tory party join in “and so say all of us”.

        It will be possible to engrave the list of working class Brexit benefits on an ant’s balls.

        1. Colin Robinson says:

          The most significant benefit of the Brexit vote by far was its iconoclasm; the symbolic blow it struck against the British establishment, which was almost univocally aligned in support of the Union. A victory for populism of Trumpian proportions.

          1. Tom Ultuous says:

            … Tory party join in “and so say all of us”.

          2. Colin Robinson says:

            I’ve never really thought of the Tories as being an anti-establishment party; at least, not since the 1980s, when it repudiated and dismantled the post-war consensus. I always supposed it to have been part of what became the new establishment that coalesced around the postmodern neoliberal consensus that eventually replaced the old social-democratic one of modern times.

            But I suppose the list of the many mutations that comprise its history – a proteanity that, by turns radical and conservative, perhaps best explains its adaptive success and survival – is a long one. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

          3. Tom Ultuous says:

            The day they go up against Murdoch they’re finished. Without him how could they possibly have fooled people into thinking the likes of Farage, Banks, Johnson & co. were anti-establishment.

          4. Colin Robinson says:

            Taking the UK out of the EU seems pretty anti-establishment to me. It has disrupted the entrenched structures of almost all the institutions of our civil society as they have evolved since 1973. That’s why the UK establishment – the whole matrix of official and social relations within which power is exercised in the UK – has heralded it as an economic and social catastrophe.

            Strangely enough, I don’t think Boris et al meant to do it. I think they just wanted to use the EU as a stick with which to belabour Cameron et al. I think they woke up just as surprised as anyone on the morning after the referendum, judging by the ‘Oh, f*ck!’ looks on all their faces.

          5. Tom Ultuous says:

            I think Cummings, Johnson, Rees Mogg et al preferred the term anti-elite. If they privatised the NHS I’m sure many of the “establishment” would think that was an economic and social catastrophe. It would hardly be anti-elite though even if Murdoch claimed those opposed to it were “enemies of the people”. Sometimes economic and social catastrophes are economic and social catastrophes regardless of what soundbite the Tories dress it up in.

          6. Colin Robinson says:

            Precisely! The NHS is part of the matrix of official and social relations within which power has been exercised in the UK since the end of the Second World War; therefore dismantling it would be an anti-establishment act.

          7. Tom Ultuous says:

            But not an anti-elite one.

          8. Colin Robinson says:

            No, only anti current elite. The Brexiteers are only trying to disrupt and reconfigure to their advantage the existing matrix of official and social relations within which power is currently exercised in the UK; they’re not trying to abolish such matrices altogether. They’re not f*ck*ng anarchists.

      2. Colin Robinson says:

        That’s what I love about the EU. It’s at the same time both a neoliberal anti-democratic farce and an illiberal social-democratic superstate, relative to which side – left or right – its critics dress.

  3. Mouse says:

    The McSWP must be even more of a dodo than I thought if it’s fueled by Brexit and the power grab of policy areas previously devolved to the EU. It sounds like the Lib Dems .

    I won’t go into the perversion of nationalist socialism. That’s been done to death 75,000,000 times.

    Once upon a time it was fueled by the idea that the means of production should be owned by the workers. In co-operatives. Now it’s a Byres Rd. coffee shop affectation for people that vote for Serco and RBS via the SNP.

  4. Mouse says:

    Maybe Bella, or somewhere, can do an article about Scotland’s greatest cyclist – Robert Millar, changing his gender and becoming Phillipa Millar or something. That’s a story.

    1. Colin Robinson says:

      Why’s Philippa York’s transition ‘a story’?

      1. Mouse says:

        Thanks – I didn’t know that she had become Phillipa. That’s wierd.

        1. Mouse says:

          Less wierd than Scottish nationalist socialism.

        2. Colin Robinson says:

          Hopefully, transitioning is becoming less weird and more normal. Too many folks still feel uneasy about it, though; hence the aggression it provokes. So there’s still a long way to go.

  5. Mouse says:

    But you wouldn’t have found out about it from reading Bella.

    1. Colin Robinson says:

      There’s actually been a fair amount of discussion around transitioning on the Bella, especially in relation to transsexuality. In fact, there’s recently been a big brouhaha about it within the nationalist community generally.

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