2007 - 2022

Hotel Caledonia

“You can check out any time you like but you can never leave …”

A question and a challenge for Welsh Labour by an English nationalist sparked an interest past the New Year fugue. Gareth Young and I have been discussing the state of the union for a few years now and the gentle sparring has been really useful to get a better handle on English politics. We don’t agree on everything (at all) but he’s been a useful foil challenging my more crude analysis of Anglo-UK politics and sharpening my understanding of English political culture(s).

This week he polled his followers quoting from the Welsh Labour Manifesto asking True or False:

“the UK is a voluntary association of four nations with sovereignty shared among its four democratic legislatures in Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

He followed it up by noting: “To me it suggests that we volunteered to be part of it (I didn’t), that there is some mechanism for leaving it (there isn’t) and that there is constitutional parity between E, S, W & NI (there isn’t).”

This question of ‘parity’ may be the fault-line between Gareth and I but the anomalies and paradox are rife.

Paradox One: out of all of the constituent parts of the UK that have been asked whether they want to be part of the UK, it is the most vocal proponent of leaving that said Yes, or actually No (Scotland).

Paradox Two: the largest and most powerful nation in the Union – England – is also the one which is elided and obscured by Britain. This is not only because the two are regularly conflated but also because it doesn’t have the same presence and identity (despite and because of its overwhelming dominance).

Paradox Three: as Gareth points out, there is no mechanism for leaving the Union. Paradoxically this is because voters in England routinely decide the outcome for UK elections, or huge constitutional questions like Brexit. This is a paradox for English nationalists; captured by their own powerfulness. How do you create a movement for self-determination when you dominate the political landscape?

Paradox Four: the Welsh Labour Party’s dewy-eyed fantasy about what the Union is and how it works is mirrored in Scotland. While the Welsh Labour Party under Mark Drakeford has had considerably more electoral success than its Scottish equivalent it remains extraordinary that the statement that we started with can be written at all. At what point of electoral obscurity and of the collapse of what Britain is and means does the SLP change course? The evidence seems to be it will run itself into oblivion rather than do this.

At what point does the realisation that it’s not credible to describe “the UK as a voluntary association” or to pretend that sovereignty is shared equally among its four democratic legislatures do lasting damage? At what point does Broken Britain break?

The cumulative effect of these and other contradictions lead to a growing sense of alienation anger and disenchantment. So as well as being part of the ongoing renewed Scottish independence movement we’ll be running a new series exploring alternative visions from Welsh, Irish and English writers and artists bringing different solutions and perspectives to constitutional crisis. This is an opportunity to make connections across the UK, a fifth paradox perhaps, but in the spirit of understanding and solidarity and recognising complexity and moving beyond binary thinking.

We have some commissioned some articles but also welcome submissions for this series.

You can follow Gareth Young at: @gaf_young

Help to support independent Scottish journalism by subscribing or donating today.

Comments (110)

Join the Discussion

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

  1. Richard Haviland says:

    A very welcome initiative, Mike. Isn’t another paradox, which forgive me if you’ve already implied, that the lack of constitutional parity can be interpreted both ways? That England is in one sense disadvantaged by being the only part of the UK not to have its own parliament – which presumably is what Gareth is getting at when he talks of constitutional parity. But that the other three are in practice massively disadvantaged by the sheer size and dominance of England.

    1. Yes this is what I was trying saying (not very clearly).

      England is both consumed within ‘Britain’ and dominates it to the annoyance of others, but in dominating it so completely it also obscures itself.

      1. Richard Haviland says:

        Rereading it I think you did say it. Just my bad habit of wanting to comment on a subject I feel passionately about!

        1. No problem! It’s a hazy time of year!

      2. Johnny English says:

        ‘britain’ massively over-represents london and the ‘celtic’ nations and it is those privilege groups who have their faces at the front of every queue; their noses in every trough; their voices heard in every conversation. London calls the shots and feathers its own nest whike the ‘celts’ reprise their imperial role of suppressing the locals domestically. England is supressed and exploited by this celto-london swindle. We never forget our history in these islands and we never forgive it. You reap what you sow. The era of appeasing ‘celtic’ hostility is over

        1. David B says:

          Troll alert.

          If you’d like to contribute ideas about English regional democracy and community empowerment then these would be very welcome here. If you’ve just come to hurl insults and stoke division then you’re in the wrong place.

        2. Axel P Kulit says:

          If that is what you feel, go away and start the English Independence party with the aim of England leaving the UK.

          Apart from that I see little in your post to match reality, though I concede London has too much influence and power but Brexit may well reduce this.

        3. Jim sansbury says:

          “England is supressed and exploited by this celto-london swindle”
          WTF does that even mean, if anything??

          1. Axel P Kulit says:

            It may be text generated by a program.

          2. Mons Meg says:

            As far as I can make out, Johnny’s bemoaning that ‘the English’ (whoever they are) are unfairly losing out to ‘the Celts’ (whoever they are) in the competition for goods and influence in our society; ‘unfairly’ because ‘London’ gifts ‘the Celts’ privileges that advantage them over ‘the English’ in that competition. Of course, he fails to provide any evidence that this is in fact the case.

            It’s the same grievance that Jocky makes when he bemoans that ‘the Scots’ are unfairly losing out to ‘the English’ in the competition for goods and influence in our society; ‘unfairly’ because ‘London’ gifts ‘the English’ privileges that advantage them over ‘the Scots’ in that competition.

            Such is the deeply ironic nature of the auld enmity in which nationalist politics wallows. Gin ye daedna lauch, it wad gar ye greit.

          3. Johnny English says:

            Isnt it fascinating how people believe what they need to believe to serve their self interest? As here. What clearer swindle could there be than devolution, which sets into law superior rights abd privileges for the ‘celts’ while deliberately denying those rights and privileges to English people. A UK version of apartheid put on the books by a clique of scots and londoners. But you reap what you sow as we are discovering; this ridiculous and insulting inequality has corrupted scotland into a nation of racists and steered England to exclude said racists in perpituity. Who needs white nationalist race haters in a world of BLM?
            If the scots had one ounce of the bravery that they claim to possess, they would man up and acknowledge their own flaws but they dont. Yellow is exactly the correct colour for nationalist scotland. Those who are unable to learn from history are dooned to repeat it. What a shame that this unique opportunity has been squandered and used instead to indulge the very worst aspects of the ‘culture’

          4. Axel P Kulit says:

            “What clearer swindle could there be than devolution, which sets into law superior rights abd privileges for the ‘celts’ while deliberately denying those rights and privileges to English people.”

            An excellent argument why England should leave the UK or the Celtic nations be thrown out.

            Apart from talking gibberish here what are you doing to bring this about?

          5. Johnny English says:

            If you were less blinkered, you wouldd understand that I dont need to do anything to cause the UK to dissolve because the devolution swindle has already put that in motion. But you are incapable of seeing that truth because it would require your acceptance of a failure on the part of your clan and you are incapable of that.

            I’m working on what comes after that because I want post-UK britain to be rid of the poisonous ‘celtic’ racism demonstrated on this and essentially every other branch of ‘celtic’ media. I want to smoke it out so that the world sees it for what it is. There is no place for the racism of the ‘celts’ in the modern world so the more that you lot show your hand, the more you diaappear back into the historical gloom where you belong. Your brief moment in the sun ended some time ago

          6. Mons Meg says:

            Oh dear, Johnny! You poor soul! You’ve clearly got a bad case of spite. Isn’t there something you could take for it? In Edna Lyall’s 1901 novel, In Spite of All, Dr. Harford prescribes what he calls the ‘one infallible remedy for spite’; that is, ‘Amor vincit omnia’.

          7. Johnny English says:

            Youre absolutely correct. I absolutely do have spite burned into me and it was put there by the ‘celts’ who can demonstrate nothing but spite; a ‘nation’ that prides itself on hate. I am pleased that you have noticed. I am a mirror to you. You dont like what you see but lack the wit to reflect on the reason why. Just look at the venom expressed on this thread by your ‘nation’ – who doesnt hate such poison? What kind of a ‘nation’ institutionalises and endorses this vile racism as celtoland does? Only the ‘celts’ live like this. For generations this racism has been appeased by london but london is no longer at the wheel is it? Youre going to reap what you sow. As long as scotland represents the kind of trash that you see on this thread then scotland deserves everything it is going to get

          8. Mons Meg says:

            You have my sympathy, Johnny. It’s a terrible affliction you suffer, all the more terrible from your having fetishised it in your scapegoating of the people you racialise as ‘the celts’. You’re in a sorry state indeed.

            But all is not lost: racism is a neurosis for which you can get help. (Though you might have to go private: public mental health services are a bit strapped at the moment.)

          9. Johnny English says:

            If I were you, I would invest my time in seeking help for my own disease. Just look at this thread. More than half of the contributors are straight-up racists. You imagine yourself to be part of some righteous cultural revolution but because you lack the backbone to purge your revolution of the bigots, you are nothing more than a facilitator of their poison. You are tarred with their brush. What future is there for people like this in a world of blm piety? How can an institutionalised, endemic racism exist in a world of equality and inclusivity? The era or appeasing this rubbish is over but you havent read the runes

          10. Mons Meg says:

            I don’t see that much evidence of racism on this and other threads on Bella. And I always call it out when I do see it. Maybe you could rub our noses in some examples…?

          11. Johnny English says:

            ‘I don’t see that much evidence of racism…’ – here is a great illustration of the problem. Racism is zero tolerance but the scots dont know that because they’re still living in the past. How much racism is acceptable? Zero of course as you would know if you were on the receiving end of it but youre not and your knowledge of multiculturalism is just cargo-cult aping of what you see on twitter.

            Here is a simple metric for you that i was taught at skool but you werent. Try this if you have the spine to do so else you can stand down now: repeat to yourself the posts that have been made by the trash on this thread but replace English with Black. Then ask yourself whether you think the racism is acceptable. I would hope you would find that it isnt. Done.

            Another metric is for you te replay the comments made by trash on this thread and imagine that it was said about you and ask yourself if you find that acceptable. I know that you wont since scots have the thinnest of skins. Done. Your scottish racism is only acceptable because youre the ones dishing it out but you cant take it one bit. Bullies, right?

          12. Mons Meg says:

            Here’s one!

            “‘britain’ massively over-represents london and the blacks and it is those privilege groups who have their faces at the front of every queue; their noses in every trough; their voices heard in every conversation. London calls the shots and feathers its own nest whike the blacks reprise their imperial role of suppressing the locals domestically. England is supressed and exploited by this blacko-london swindle. We never forget our history in these islands and we never forgive it. You reap what you sow. The era of appeasing black hostility is over.”

            Yes, I see what you mean. It doesn’t read any better when you replace ‘black’ with ‘asian’ or ‘jewish’ either.

          13. Johnny English says:

            Did you see what i did there?
            They love to give it out but they cant take it for toffee. Bullies

            When they feel the sting of the abuses that they are constantly inflicting on others they dont like it one bit. Exactly my point my dear.

            Thanks for playing

          14. Mons Meg says:

            What did you do, Johnny? You failed your own racism test. Very clever.

          15. Mons Meg says:

            Sorry, Johnny! it must appear to you that I’m baiting you not because you’re stupid, but because you’re English. I really shouldn’t feed your neurosis. I’ll stop now.

        4. SleepingDog says:

          @Johnny English, thank you for drawing attention to this celto-london swindle, which has certainly got me thinking, although I had not noticed it these many years. I had to get a map out to find out where some of these places are, as you probably did, and I was drawing a pentagram connecting all the celto-london capitals together, when by blessed providence a flake of crayon landed on a place called ‘The Isle of Man’. Sounds like Manchester, a fine English name, right? But when I checked on the web, it turns out it was named after Celtic water-terrorist Manannán mac Lir, probably the King of Clubs of the pack or something. It may shock you, but on the Isle of Man they speak Manx, another Celtic language! Apologies if you already know this, I am an amateur at this kind of truthing. Now the Isle of Man is not only perfect for a HQ for the forces of Celtism, being sort of right in between Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Cornwall, but unlike them (get this) it is something called a ‘tax haven’ and pays hardly any taxes! It is exactly the kind of freeloader you warn us about.

          Spurred on by your warnings, I did some online research, and found out that the UK (which we know is really the British Empire but two can play at that game, Isle of Man!) has lots of islands across the world, many of them are tax havens too! And I have suspicions that the City of London is kind of a lord of these tax havens! And did you know that these tax havens are used by criminals and corrupt politicians all over the world? I did more digging and lo, the Queen of Scotland and the Prince of Wales have stashed their loot there! Ringleaders of the celto-london conspiracy, no doubt. OK, I am sure you will agree that there is no harm in having places to store loot (British Museum, royal palaces, nudge wink say no more, right? LOL) but not if you’re a Celt. They’d probably just bury the stuff in a mound anyway.

          Some of the islands have suspiciously Celtic names like Pitcairn, and some speak foreign! What have these islands done for us? I found another lot, the Falklands, and apparently we fought a kind of small war to keep them in the British Empire, I mean UK. Have they paid us back for all it cost us? Well, not in lives, but in taxes I mean? I don’t think so! More Celtic freeloaders I am sure you will agree. Perhaps you can help me out with Gibraltar. I guess it stands as a bulwark against Celtiberian hordes rushing south and building a naval base on the choke point between Atlantic and Mediterranean. Am I right? Building a naval base there is exactly what those warlike Celts would do, and probably have Celtic nuclear weapons there too, just like they have in Scotland.

          Anyway, keep up the good work, and I will try and get up to speed on some of the harder questions, like what if an individual or a family is part Scottish and part English, say. Or Black and English. Or live in the UK but pay taxes elsewhere (apparently these are called ‘non-doms’). If only everyone had names like yours, eh?

  2. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    Firstly, and by the way, you have not been a ‘crude analyst’ at any time on this site. A one-time acquaintance of yours, Donny O’Rourke always challenges people politely, but assertively’ about self-deprecation.

    However, thank you for the article and the introduction to Mr Young’s work, of which I was unaware.

    For some time, I have had a growing feeling that the end of the union could arise from a growing awareness of a concept of ‘England’ as distinct from the UK/Great Britain, etc, which is the minds of many is synonymous with an amorphous ‘England’. Unfortunately, many in England, and particularly in the Labour Party in England have not addressed properly concepts of ‘England’ and ‘Englishness’, even though many are aware of distinctive aspects of English culture and history, which are very varied, with much being non-xenophobic, humane and communitarian. They have always been wary of the recognition of ‘Englishness’ /’Britishness’, because of the jingoistic, flag-waving, anti foreigner (especially the French), colonialist, imperialist, rightly seeing in it the basis of the blood-and-soil nationalism which has blighted the history of many countries and continues to do so. This wariness was justified to an extent, but, it left the definition of ‘Englishness/Britishness’ to the very people whose attitudes and actions they deplored. And, it is that trope which has gradually gained traction in England and was a strong factor in Brexit. And, Starmer’s ‘patriotism’ is an acceptance of it. His patriotism is a version of that unsavoury English/Britishness, but with an increasingly thinning patina of humanness and internationalism.

    Fortunately, in people like former Labour minister, John Denham, there are good people working on the definition of England and England which is distinct from Britain and Britishness. It is not ‘immigrants’ who have taken away ‘our country’, which Nigel Farage wanted back, it is the British nationalists funded by the City, the money-laundering capital of the world. More than Scotland, Wales and Ireland, England has lost its identty. Most of us who live in Ireland, Wales and Scotland, no matter where we were born or who our ancestors were, have some sense of Irishness, Scottishness and Welshness. We have our parliaments. England does NOT have its own Parliament. They think it is Westminster, because David Cameron said ‘English laws for English people’, but Westminster rules as it has always done in the interests of the landowning and the wealthy.

    So, I look forward to reading more of the planned articles in this vein, including those of Mr Young and others.

    Like many, I have family and friends who live and work in England and (until the pandemic) I visited up to 10 times per year and enjoyed its rich culture. On the whole, the people in the streets are Jock Tamson’s bairns and give respect to others. But, I have met the racists and xenophobes and, sadly, several of my friends have reported some pretty sharp comments about their Scottishness, including those who are members of ‘Home Counties’ golf clubs. The Telegraph, Daily Mail and the BBC mendacious reporting is influencing them.

    1. Tom Ultuous says:

      Had Remain won narrowly Alasdair we might have got our independence without a referendum.

  3. Cath Jones says:

    “Englishness” is a difficult thing to encapsulate, so London centric are the tropes that refer to it. It’s a largish area with many different regional flavours and I can’t help but think if these were able to come through when discussing “Englishness” they might be getting closer to heading for a healthier nation. Obviously the majority of England is as much a victim of this phenomenon as the devolved nations. We are fortunate that as distinct countries we can formulate to separate by one means or another which gives voice to our rejection of the London/SE centric project. Regions in England don’t have this collective voice and at one point the Labour Party might have encapsulated some of this feeling. Not so now as it has capitulated on every front.

    1. Mons Meg says:

      It’s no more or less difficult to encapsulate than is ‘Scottishness’. How about: ‘Englishness’ consists in one’s participation in the civic life of the imaginary community we call ‘England’? It’s only when we introduce racist nonsense like ‘ethnicity’ and ‘genius’ into the equation that the encapsulation of national identity becomes problematic.

    2. Axel P Kulit says:

      Jus a passing note: I have a feeling Kernow is slowly realising it is not England. But it may be a long time before they split off properly

      1. Johnny English says:

        .. and how are they realising that? What is the demarcation between cornwall and England? Is it a confected racial difference perhaps? Yes. It is exactly that

        1. Johnny English says:

          What is the difference between ‘celtic’ nationalism and any other white nationalism?

          Just the packaging

        2. Mons Meg says:

          Cornish nationalism, like Scottish nationalism and other contemporary nationalisms around Europe, does still have its ugly ‘ethnic’ side insofar as some Cornish nationalists predicate their call for political independence on the notion that Cornish people have an ethnic identity that is separate and distinct from that of English people.

          Thankfully, however, that divisive notion has long since gone out of fashion and been overtaken by a nationalism that predicates its call for political independence instead on an aspiration to have a civic identity that’s separate and distinct from England’s and is inclusive of the plurality of groups and individuals who share in that civic identity irrespective of their descent, language, culture, or historical tradition.

          A lot of us are hoping that English nationalism might also evolve in the same direction.

          I’m a bit of a Dumgal nationalist myself. I belong to that small but merry band of neebors who aspire to a civic identity that’s separate and distinct from Scotland’s and is inclusive of the plurality of groups and individuals who share in that civic identity irrespective of their descent, language, culture, or historical tradition. We’re not holding our breath, though.

          1. Johnny English says:

            Cornish nationalism is about as close to ary-an-ism as you can find. Racial difference has been confected along made up ‘celt’ /anglo lines to facilitate the annexation of cornish society by suprem-asists; many of whom are not even from cornwall. Same gig as ‘celtic’ nationalism everywhere. Essentially a rehash of ary-an-ism

          2. Mons Meg says:

            I agree that racial difference is a ‘confection’ that’s been confected to facilitate the political control of our shared civic life by a dominant group. That’s the function of ethnic nationalism as an ideology.

            But I’m yet to be convinced that all Cornish nationalism (or Scottish nationalism, or Welsh nationalism, or Irish nationalism, or Dumgal nationalism) is predicated on this confection rather than on an aspiration to have a civic identity that’s separate and distinct from that of ‘England’, a separate civic identity that’s inclusive of the plurality of groups and individuals who share it irrespective of their descent, language, culture, or historical tradition. What evidence do you have that this is the case, that Cornish nationalism is purely (or even just mostly) based on some confected ethnic or racial identity?

          3. Johnny English says:

            … you insert the word ‘all’ to avoid the point…

            Your problem is that your revolution is poisoned by the garbage that you allow to travel with you. Succesful revolutions are not shy to purge those within who undermine that revolution. But ‘celtic’ nationalism doesnt do this. Is it cowardice? Is it that ‘celts’ get off on the supremacy? Is it ignorance? Etc… There is no place in the modern world for the sort of trash that your revolution drags along with it

          4. Mons Meg says:

            I can’t see the word ‘all’ inserted anywhere in my posts.

            But now you’re saying that ‘celtic’ nationalism doesn’t purge ‘the English’…? What’s it to be? Does it engage in the sort of ethnic cleansing you’ve previously claimed it does in relation to ‘the English’ or doesn’t it. You can’t have it both ways.

            And you persist in making racial slurs against this chimaera you call ‘the celts’, but where is your evidence that Cornish, Scottish, Welsh, Dumgal, or even English nationalism is purely (or even just mostly) nowadays based on some ethnic or racial identity like the ones you’re confecting?

          5. Johnny English says:

            When ppl play with symantics u know they have got to the bottom of the barrel.

            You will find the word ‘all’ between the words ‘that’ and ‘cornish’

            I am advocating that you purge your own revolution of the people who undermine it. I suggested the reason you didnt do this was possiblt cowardice. You dont seem to ubderstand this concept at all which i guess explains why you are happy to run with the trash.

            The ‘celtic’ nations have chosen that identity for themselves. I didnt chose it. You reap what you sow, right?

          6. Mons Meg says:

            So I will. Should have gone to Specsavers!

            Okay, so the point that I missed by the insertion of the word ‘all’ between ‘that’ and ‘Cornish’ is that I should purge my revolution of ‘the celts’ (or ‘blacks’, to apply your test) who are suppressing and exploiting ‘the English’ (or ‘whites’, perhaps?) and that fact that I steadfastly refuse to do so makes me a coward.

            But this is racist nonsense, Johnny? Why should I take your point?

          7. Johnny English says:

            To put in even more simple terms: ypur revolution is tainted by trash that undermines it and prevents it from ever achieving its goals. The racism practiced endemically across celtoland and exemplified by the trash on this thread cannot coexist with equality, inclusivity and mumticulturalism, which is the future. Noone is going to get down on their knees to blm and doff their cap to ‘celtic’ racism while they are down there. The appeasement of this disease is over. This trashis going to get what it has coming. Step aside if you want to avoid the same

          8. Mons Meg says:

            ‘The racism practiced endemically across celtoland and exemplified by the trash on this thread cannot coexist with equality, inclusivity and mumticulturalism, which is the future.’

            I agree that racism can’t survive in a civic nation. But why do you think it’s endemic in contemporary Cornish, Scottish, and Welsh nationalism? The only example of racism you’ve given me is that of your own.

          9. Mons Meg says:

            Also, I know it’s probably just these specs of mine, but I’m struggling to find reference to ‘the English’ in any posts in this thread other than your own. There are a few references to ‘England’ as a polity, but none that I can see to ‘the English’ as an ethnic grouping. Maybe you can point to one…

          10. Johnny English says:

            Some of your own posts were criticising other posters of racism. This is a good start but doesnt go far enough to be not tarred by it. There simply is no place for these people in todays world

            One of the finest examples of the institutional nature of ‘celtic’ racism occurred in scotlands own so-called parliament in september. A pious debate was had where all agreed that singing songs about sending people home was racist. Scotland duly recorded this as fact. But wait a minute! flower of scotland sings about sending the English home to think again, so it must be a racist song and the people who sing it themselves racist. Shock! But so institutionalised is this prejudice that not one word was spoken by the scots and when one brave English msp uttered that perhaps the brave scots were in fact prejudiced she was taken roond the back and given a good scottish dooing. Hohoho. Something to be proud of and just one example. The thing about institutional racism is that when u r brought up with it then ita invisible to you – something else I was taught at skool but you weren’t. Read about it here : https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institutional_racism

          11. Axel P Kulit says:


            Sending them home to think again refers, as I understand it to the result of an attempted invasion.

            And the second or third verse of the English/British national anthem has a line “rebellious Scots to crush”

            If we are talking Institutional racism then England is still riddled with it, despite decades of race relations acts. Better than it was but….

          12. Johnny English says:

            … and right on cue, racist trash appears. They love to give it out but they cant take it for toffee. Bullies. Thick bullies who are incapable of understanding what zero tolerance means let alone practicing it.

            No future for you

          13. Mons Meg says:

            I certainly agree that ‘Floorie Scawlan’ should be consigned to the midden of history, along with all the other chauvinistic nonsense that holds us back, and that Scotland’s civic institutions (including our arts and sciences) are structurally racist (among other things) and stand in need of decolonisation in the remaking of Scotland as a postmodern plural society. As I’m forever saying, getting our own wee Westminster in Edinburgh just doesn’t cut it; it’s not even a start.

          14. Mons Meg says:

            Yep, Axel; England’s civic institutions are no less in need of decolonisation than Scotland’s.

          15. Johnny English says:

            England has no civic institutions. Not a single one. When such things exist then there will be something to talk about but until that time wag your fingers at your own grotty institutions. England is the most multicultural society in Europe if not globally; noone English needs to take a lecture from the most overtly racist society in europe if not globally. But you dont know what you dont know and ‘celtic’ nationalists know nothing

          16. Mons Meg says:

            Are you expecting me to believe that England has no schools, universities, courts, arts/heritage councils, police forces, public broadcasters, trades unions, charities, sports associations…?

            For your edification: a civic institution is any institution that manifests the interests and will of citizens as citizens (rather than as private individuals) and is independent of government.

            And are you really saying that civic institutions in England are exceptional in that they’re not structurally racist (among other things) and don’t stand in need of decolonisation? Even the civic institutions of England’s great oppressor, London, arguably the most cosmopolitan city in the world, are structurally racist. (But, of course, as you say: ‘The thing about institutional racism is that when u r brought up with it then ita invisible to you.’ So perhaps you really don’t see it.)

          17. Mons Meg says:

            Have we kicked the *rs* out of this yet, Johnny?

          18. Johnny English says:

            England has no civic institutions of any kind. No parliament. No bbc. No public services. No anthem. No nothing. Celtoland acts as though we dont exist and so be it. You reap what you sow. ‘celtic’ nationalism is nothing more than a rehash of ary-an-ism and is every bit as alien and repulsive. All the best for the future; yourselves alone

          19. Mons Meg says:

            If England has no civic institutions – has no schools, universities, courts, arts/heritage councils, police forces, public broadcasters, trades unions, charities, sports associations – then, logically, it can’t exist as a civic entity. How then does ‘England’ exist if its existence is not instituted in any way? What on earth are you talking about literally when you bemoan the suppression and exploitation of this non-existent entity by this celto-london conspiracy you postulate? Nothing?

            How absurd!

          20. Johnny English says:

            Why dont you reread the thread about devomax and marvel at the complete non-existence of England in the conversation? It is as if ‘britain’ is some massive pinata that just keeps giving. The reality that britain is 82% England is systematically erased. Could the jocks be any more disrespectful? In its arrogance, natty scotland has forgotten who it is dealing with and reckons itself superior for having done so. Natty scotland has failed to notice that the celt-appeasing britnats in london and the uni-educated lefty apologists who have feathered the ‘celtic’ nest for generations have been removed from office. Britain’s English mudbloods have taken control and celtoland is now called out as the hostile, hateful parasitic monstrosity that it sadly has turned itself into.

            There are no civic institutions of any kind that identify as English : fact; this is the product of years of prejudice delivered by the celto-london swindle called ‘britain’. Having created this inequality, the ‘celts’ can now suck it up because the abscence of any English institutions means that the ‘celts’ and their britnat chums have no seat at the English table and isnt that perfect? 1000 years of poison now excised. You do indeed reap what you sow

          21. Axel P Kulit says:

            In 1707 the act of union erased England as an entity and made it a region of the United Kingdom. It did the same for the other nations.

            In terms of area England is less than half the British Isles, as far as I can tell.

            And you have still not provided evidence of any of your assumptions

          22. Mons Meg says:

            But, Johnny, I’M not saying that England doesn’t exist; it’s YOU who are saying it doesn’t exist (at least, not as a civic entity). I see England as existing in and through its civic institutions, whose existence you deny.

            And what relevance does England have to the remaking of Scotland as its own civic entity, which is what the discussion of Devo Max on the other thread is about? Shouldn’t the people of England be focusing rather on the remaking (or, if you’re correct, the creation) of their own civic entity, for which remaking (or creation) both Brexit and the current constitutional debate over the future of the Union has provided an opportunity? Shouldn’t the people of England be having the same conversation around ‘Devo Max’, ‘Independence’, or ‘the Status Quo’ in relation to their own constitution as the people of Scotland are having about theirs?

          23. Johnny English says:

            ‘the people of scotland’ are having no such debate and thats the point. The majority of scottish people are either excluded from any such conversation (yoon/English/toarie/hun/etc) or they are horrified by it. Horrified by the salmond scandal, by the incompetence, by the hate, by the corruption and lies, by the foolishness of the ‘oil economy’ proposition from 2014, by the refusal to respect the results of not one but 2 referenda, by the failure to answer obvious questions (currency/hard border/etc) and horrified by the blatant, endemic racism of the anyone-but prejudice towards all things English. The only people talking about this stuff are a hard-core of headbanging bigots who imagine themselves to be nation building but are really just riding a now-ended wave of british privilege. As I said at the top of this waste of time: as long as you muppets practice this rubbish there is no possible way that you can ever achieve your goals because the flaws that you seek to overcome are inside you and carried with you. Forget it. You havent got what it takes to succeed and ‘the scottish people’ are not listening to you let alone the English mudbloods that you treat as punchbags and cashmachines for your arrogance. You would do more to make scotland a better place by simply disappearing than you do by any of your delusional nation building

          24. Mons Meg says:

            That’s not quite true, Axel. England retained many of its own civic institutions (e.g. its universities, courts and legal system, cultural societies, etc.) and subsequently evolved others (sporting associations, arts/heritage councils, police forces, trades unions and business associations, charities, etc) that remained distinct from those of other countries and served to ongoingly identify it as a distinct civic entity within the UK. Johnny’s notion that ‘England’ doesn’t exist is plainly false, and his claim that this non-existent England is under existential threat from some crypto-racial conspiracy or ‘Celts’ and ‘Londoners’ is therefore patently absurd.

            It’s the spite that’s speaking, not the real, rational Johnny.

          25. Axel P Kulit says:

            I am merely noting what the eminent David Mundell said about Scotland no longer existing, soon after 2014, and noting that by symmetry England no linger exists, if he is right.

            There is a community of people who call themselves English occopying a region known as England. However in a political sense it can be argued this is only a region of the UK.

            Using Mundell’s argument, that is

          26. Mons Meg says:

            Yes, I remember David agreeing with a report that, according to international law, Scotland was extinguished as a sovereign state along with England by the 1707 Act of Union. I believe that’s factually correct, which is why the independentistas are currently campaigning to rekindle that statehood.

            But we’re not talking about England as a sovereign state; we’re talking about it as a civic entity, which Johnny rather sillily maintains no longer exists due to its suppression by some ‘celto-London’ conspiracy.

            There is indeed an imagined community of people who call themselves ‘English’, which community finds its expression or ‘realisation’ in the civic institutions those people share (see Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, which is said – by its publisher, Verso – to still be the most frequently cited English-language work in the human sciences globally). And the territory over which the jurisdiction of those institutions extends is indeed called ‘England’.

            However (and this is a seemingly trivial point, which nevertheless causes no end of confusion), ‘England’ (in the political sense) isn’t a ‘region’ of ‘the UK’; rather, it’s a ‘constituent’ of that larger political entity. Only when you’re speaking of ‘England’ in the territorial sense is it a ‘region’ – and then it’s a region not of ‘the UK’, but of ‘Great Britain’, which refers to the larger territorial entity of which ‘England’ (in the territorial sense) a physical part. I know this sounds pedantic, but the number of meaningless, purely verbal disputes that arise from the confusion of the political entity (‘England’ as a constituent nation of the UK) and the territorial entity (‘England’ as a geographical region of Great Britain) would bring a tear of hilarity to a glass eye.

  4. Tam MacNuccator says:

    Chambers Dictionary: Nation n/ a body of people marked off by common descent, language, culture, or historical tradition whether or not bound by the territorial limits of of a state; the people of a state.
    How then can the UK be defined as “a VOLUNTARY association of four nations” when the vast majority of the nation as defined above never had the opportunity to “volunteer”? Unless rioting by the nation in Scotland when they discovered for what the venal had sold them out is consider to be volunteering.

    1. Mons Meg says:

      Aye, that’s the ‘ethnic’ definition of a nation. The ‘civic’ definition is that a nation is a set of political institutions that a population voluntarily shares and pledges to uphold irrespective of the descent, language, culture, or historical tradition of the plurality of groups and individuals that make up that population.

      We Scots like to exalt ourselves as inclusive civic nationalists, unlike the English, whom we like to demonise as exclusive ethnic nationalists. I think Unionists of the left and centre of British politics would like to define and save the UK as a civic nation.

  5. Alan says:

    I sense the spirit of Tom Nairn, who turns 90 later this year, hanging over this project. Rory Scothorne had a nice essay on him last year: https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2021/07/tom-nairn-prophet-post-britain. A new edition of the Break-up of Britain was issued last year as well, with a new introduction by Anthony Barnett: https://www.versobooks.com/authors/821-tom-nairn.

    Given the the anachronism, and the many contradictions and festering corruptions of Ukania, one wonders why it hasn’t already splintered. How bad does it have to get before enough of the residents say they’ve had enough? I suspect quite a lot worse. I don’t think anyone should underestimate the degree to which the residents of the UK and NI, including those who appear to offer a road out, suffer a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome.

  6. Mons Meg says:

    I agree; the claim quoted from the Labour manifesto is just plain daft. The UK has never been a voluntary association; not because it was never a voluntary arrangement (which it was – both former kingdoms agreed to it), but because it was never an association. The UK of Great Britain was born of an amalgamation of two separate kingdoms, which had previously been associated in the person of James Stuart and his heirs, into a single united kingdom.

    Nor is the sovereignty of this kingdom shared among its four democratic legislatures in Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. UK sovereignty lies solely with UK’s elected assembly/parliament, with some of that parliament’s decision-making power being devolved to four elected ‘national’ legislative assemblies/parliaments.

    That’s just the current constitutional arrangement. Consequently, Gareth’s ‘paradoxes’ don’t arise outside the daftness of the Labour Party’s claim.

    1. Axel P Kulit says:

      The ELITES and the aristocrats (sufficiently bribed) agreed to the union. The people did not.

      1. Mons Meg says:

        It was over three hundred years ago, Axel; ‘the people’ didn’t yet exist as the source of all political power. You’ll be complaining next that ‘the people’ didn’t agree to the Declaration of Arbroath. Classic anachronism.

        1. SleepingDog says:

          @Mons Meg, people did object to the Union at the time, you unrepentant elitist, and apparently your favoured elites were afraid of a popular uprising that would have overthrown the arrangement. However, there was no simple way of legitimising a ‘no’ decision either. Shall all decisions of tyrants and criminals-in-office (such as bribed politicians) throughout history be viewed as legitimate and binding? Why?

          1. Mons Meg says:

            Indeed, some people did object; others didn’t. The armed insurrection by the Jacobite counter-revolutionaries that the Scottish government feared, and for which it prepared, failed to materialise. But my point – that ‘the people’ didn’t yet exist as the source of all political power – still stands.

            Historical decisions should be considered legitimate providing they were made in accordance with the legal requirements that were in force at the time they were made; otherwise, there could be no law. But I don’t see why any future decision-makers should be bound not to change past decisions should they be so minded. Don’t you think?

  7. SleepingDog says:

    You missed out of the rest of the British Empire, from which subtracting Scotland + Wales + Northern Ireland does not leave England. Again, I would suggest commissioning content from around these other parts. Has any non-English member of S/W/NI parliaments formally asked to divvy up these territories? And speaking of anomalies, you should include all the odd bits like the City of London, the various isles, the parts offshore with and without representation, and the less formal parts of the Empire. The United Nations regards decolonization, a primary purpose, as an ongoing and far-from-complete process:
    One might also ask why successive UK governments have deliberately resisted repealing royalist treason laws that make calling for the monarch to loss territory an act of Treason Felony.

  8. MBC says:

    Who says the UK is a voluntary association of four nations? Just not true, historically or constitutionally.

    Wales was conquered. It is a principality of England. Poor souls.

    NI is the surly determined rump of a former settler colony, the major part of which broke away. Hell mend them that remain.

    Only Scotland and England entered into a voluntary association except for Scotland it was under a great deal of pressure, and in pre-democratic times when it was not supported by the majority of the people. In England it was with ill grace to preserve the Protestant monarchy against the threat of Louis XIV and was quickly forgotten about.

    The Treaty of Union is therefore an international treaty which specifically preserved Scotland’s ancient rights. This mainly meant the private rights of the nobility and propertied classes, but as Scotland was a relatively developed state by 1707, it also meant preserving and protecting the institutions of state which supported those ancient rights; her church, legal system, courts, burghs, universities.

    Meaning that Scotland remained distinct. And self-governing to a considerable extent.

    Whilst it’s true that the Treaty of Union did not contain a specific escape clause, it is an international treaty between two sovereign bodies and like all international treaties can be resiled from if one of the parties wishes to break it. England cannot claim the territory of Scotland by right of conquest because we were never conquered. England cannot claim to be the UK, as the UK = Scotland + England. True, England may have force majeure. But it does not have right on its side.

    And whilst there is currently no right of secession from a unitary state recognised in international law: is the UK actually a unitary state?

    In some ways it is (the UK military and the UK Treasury) but in other ways it isn’t, as Scotland retained her ancient rights and thereafter had to be treated to some extent as a separate category in UK legislation (hospitals, welfare, local government) even before devolution.

    And now with devolution, the UK has become, de facto, less of a unitary state.

  9. MBC says:

    I just wish the left in England would take better stock of itself and stop blaming Scotland for not getting a Labour government elected. The Tories are an English problem. An English cancer. England is a right wing country. Don’t blame us.

    England has to fess up to how right wing it is, how entrenched that is. How far the disease has spread.

    Yes, there are progressives in England. Good and decent people. But they have never been in the saddle and they have to ask themselves why that is. Are the Tories really the soul of England?

    Lesley Riddoch (and others) point to the FPTP electoral system for entrenching the power of the Tories. That may be the mechanism. But the mechanism can’t be there unless somehow that is also the soul of England and an expression of it.

    1. David B says:

      I don’t think I’ve heard any grassroots English leftists blame Scotland for England’s Tory problem. Do you have any examples?

      This stuff about the ‘soul of a nation’ frightens me. Nations aren’t people and don’t have souls. They’re abstractions. What matters is the people, and people change.

      1. Mons Meg says:

        Quite right David, on both counts!

        1. Mons Meg says:

          What matters is indeed the people, their aggregate will, and the whole matrix of official and social relations through which that will is aggregated and exercised as power. Nationality in the exclusive ‘ethnic’ sense is an ideology of social inequality. Such ideologies are obstacles to a truly democratic society.

      2. MBC says:

        Yes, heard Keir Starmer go on about having to win back Scotland, Angela Raynor too, and Lisa Nandy. They blame us for being lost to them. We have done something wrong in deserting them. They don’t link it to their failings or to UK failings but to an inexplicable perversity on our part.

        Funnily enough the only one that I remember didn’t blame us was Jack Straw. When the SNP won all those seats in 2015 and he was questioned about whether Labour could ever win without Scotland, he said that Labour could win by seats in England and that historically Labour victory was secured by English votes and it was English votes they needed to work on.

        Sorry you don’t like my comment about soul. But it’s there plain and simple. The English don’t see anything wrong in voting Tory. Even for this lot. You see evidence of English mentality on TV shows, hear it on the radio, read it in the newspapers. They don’t feel a responsibility for the poor. They think poverty is a moral failing, not society’s doing. They don’t acknowledge privilege as a factor of economic success. They see themselves as special and exceptional. They are selfish, self-satisfied, comfortable and conceited. Not all of them of course. Just the ones that call the shots. While the rest stand by idly insufficiently moved to do something about it. A few decents are warriors taking up the charge. But the rest either agree with the Tories or just can’t be bothered.

        1. Mons Meg says:

          What we don’t like about your characterising of ‘the English’ is its racist nature. When you make indiscriminate assertions like ‘The English don’t see anything wrong in voting Tory.’, ‘They don’t feel a responsibility for the poor.’, ‘They think poverty is a moral failing, not society’s doing.’, ‘They see themselves as special and exceptional.’, ‘They are selfish, self-satisfied, comfortable and conceited.’, you’re expressing prejudice, discrimination, and antagonism against people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group – ‘the English’ – rather than on the basis of their actual qualities as individual human beings.

          I don’t have a problem with you holding or expressing racist attitudes. Each to his own, as I always say. I just don’t like those sorts of attitudes, that’s all; they’re inherently antidemocratic.

          1. SleepingDog says:

            @Mons Meg, as antidemocratic as your support for aristocracy and royalty and patriarchal Christianity?

          2. Mons Meg says:

            Why do you say I support these things?

          3. SleepingDog says:

            @Mons Meg, why do you not take this chance to condemn them?

          4. Mons Meg says:

            I don’t like any of them. Do you have evidence to the contrary? Something I’ve said, perhaps?

            No, I didn’t think so.

          5. SleepingDog says:

            @Mons Meg, it is true that you tend to avoid answering questions on why you support the UK status quo, in regard to the British imperial quasi-constitution that powerfully enshrines royalty, aristocracy and established patriarchal church. For example, when I asked “a theocratic-monarchy running an empire without a codified constitution where the Prime Minister (such as Blair or Johnson) can exert great and largely unchecked executive power by assuming the royal prerogatives. Where are your guarantees that the UK will turn back from this slide towards totalitarianism,” you avoided answering why you thought the current arrangement was better than an independent Scotland alternative that would very possibly have none of these.
            Here is chance to clarify your specific and democratic objections to royalty, aristocracy and patriarchal Christianity, and therefore to the Unionist status quo. Saying you “don’t like any of them” is a bit milquetoast, uncharacteristically parsimonious, and wasted opportunity to perform, whaddya callit, “immanent critique”? C’mon, let rip!

          6. Mons Meg says:

            But what answer could I give to questions on why I support the UK status quo when I evidently don’t support the UK status quo? Where on earth did I say that the current arrangement is better than an independent Scotland would be?

            Have you missed all my references to how I rejected the UK status quo in the 2014 referendum? Have all my observations on alienation, capitalism and its immanent deconstruction, decolonisation and cognitive justice, cultural hegemony and the vital role of subversion and transgression in resisting and undermining it, the death of God and the advent of pluralism, direct democracy and the disempowerment of central government in favour of local communities, etc., etc., over the past two years gone right over your head? Are they the observations of someone who supports the status quo?

            You seem to have been blinded by your own crazy idée fixe that I must be some sort of Tory because I’m not any sort of nationalist.

            My immanent critique of the current state of affairs is extant as a work of perpetual evolution in my praxis across a wide variety of platforms for well over 60 years. If you want me to rehearse the period of that critique that concerns you by cutting-and-pasting what I’ve previously said in my previous comments on Bella, then you’ll know what it is to want. I suggest that, if you’re at all interested, you remove the blinkers from your eyes and go back through the archive and engage with what I’ve actually said.

          7. SleepingDog says:

            @Mons Meg, so you call someone else antidemocratic, yet refuse to go on record to criticise royalty, aristocracy and paternalistic Christianity.

            Your comments have reeked of sophistry (and possibly of cognitive impairment, possibly of developmental damage by indoctrination) which is characterised by amongst other behaviours a) fallacious and deceptive arguments b) sliding between or disputing accepted word definitions c) promoting a partisan (possibly for patronage) line consistently whilst being inconsistent elsewhere. One of your glaring errors was to claim royalism and republicanism to be compatible, which would have been news to Republican Romans who prided themselves in throwing out their kings, and to Shakespeare who dramatically signalled the end of the Republic by Julius Caesar accepting the crown. Unlike a republic, royal monarchies are private rule, typified by courtly politics (and intrigue) and secret committees overseen by a royal (in the UK, the Privy Council is the most notable one).

            Where you have been consistent is in, firstly, presenting yourself as a false friend to Scottish Independence, apparently sympathetic but always setting the bar impossibly high in demanding ‘proof’ that it will be blah, blah, blah. Another of your mistakes was stumbling into the area of ‘cast-iron guarantees’ from politicians, instead of legally binding agreements (which would come from a new codified UK constitution, say). And secondly, for all your superficial skimming of revolutionary change, you have been consistent in rejecting active measures to achieve such change. It will all happen anyway, you say, driven by some kind of Marxist clockwork, so nobody has to do anything different to make change happen. This view appears to set little store in democratic agency. Your attachment to Great Man (Occasionally Woman) View of History, and the UK quasi-constitution which enshrines and protects secretive establishment rule, is part and parcel of an elite outlook.

            So why not just write a few paragraphs on why royalism, aristocracy and patriarchal Christianity are anti-democratic, and wrong, and how we can today go about redressing these wrongs and removing these institutions? I will then withdraw my objection to you criticising others as anti-democratic, which I currently consider hypocritical.

          8. Mons Meg says:

            Why can’t our public affairs (res publica) be administered monarchically? Where’s the incompatibility in that? Our public affairs have been run monarchically for millennia.

            Where have I ever presented myself sympathetic to Scottish independence? Why is requiring of the Scottish government a prior guarantee that it will allow Scotland to remade democratically, by means of citizens assemblies and juries, as an expression of the general will, rather than by empowering our own ‘wee Westminster’ in Edinburgh through which successions of party interests can be pursued? Why’s that ‘setting the bar impossibly high’?

            Where have I rejected activism to facilitate change? Have I not banged on ad nauseum about the immanent deconstruction of the status quo and the remaking of the world through the serial crises it’s generating and the role of subversive and transgressive activism in hastening those crises?

            And where (especially given the last) have I ever shown any attachment to the great man theory of history? Have I not consistently advanced the grand narrative that history evolves immanently, through its own unstable dynamic of contradictions, incoherences, and oppositions, rather than by the design of ‘great men’ or any other transcendent agency?

            I don’t need a few paragraphs to explain why royalism, aristocracy, and patriarchal Christianity are anti-democratic. They’re all anti-democratic by definition. They’re social arrangements that explicitly inhibit rather than allow the emergence of a world that’s the expression of the general will of society rather than of some dominant special interest within that society (a.k.a. ‘the Truth’). The essential purpose of democratic arrangements, by contrast, has always been conceived as that of inhibiting the dominance of any particular interest or within society in order to allow the emergence of and governance by the general will.

            And, of course, my commitment to democracy itself debars me from demonising any of these anti-democratic ideologies as ‘wrong’, for to do so would itself be anti-democratic. Basically, my commitment to democracy requires me to accept that whatever emerges as the aggregate will of the demos goes, regardless of what I or any ‘aristos’ or ‘better’ might feel about it, it being an axiom of democracy that no one in society (religious intermediary, scientist, elder, parent, teacher, businessman, social superior, or pureblood) has any more authority over the truth than anyone else. But I can live with that, without what MacDiarmid called ‘the curst conceit o’ bein’ richt’.

        2. David B says:

          MBC – thanks for those examples. Every political party aims to win the seats it contests. Labour saying they want to win back Scotland isn’t the same as them blaming Scots – though I certainly think more introspection about why they lost Scotland would be welcome.

          As for your generalisations about ‘the English’, even if I thought you were right (which I don’t), these would be examples of national character, not soul. Character is temporary and changes over time; souls are immutable and eternal.

          1. James Mills says:

            Labour ( Scottish – British ? ) don’t blame Scotland for the Tories so much as they blame the SNP for standing in democratic elections – and winning !

            How dare they WIN !

            That is Labour’s birthright !

        3. Wul says:

          Worth noting that although only around 4% of children go to “public” (aka “private”) boarding schools, when they become adults they occupy 50% – 60% of the roles that “call the shots”; cabinet ministers, senior judiciary, newspaper columnists, Prime Ministers, heads of national institutions etc etc.

          This ten fold increase in opportunity is multiplied again by the power and influence of such jobs and yet again by the money these people have ( each pound being a “vote” in the marketplace of ideas).
          This massive imbalance of representation can not help but skew our “culture”, “soul”, “character” and policies in one direction. Remember these children were taken away from the mummies and daddies at the age of eight, raised by (mostly male) strangers in a regimented and hierarchial dictatorship and told it is good for them. First they are hollowed out. Then they are put in charge.

          The Labour Party Manifesto of 1979 said:
          “Independent schools still represent a major obsticle to equality of opportunity. Labour’s aim is to end, as soon as possible, fee paying in such schools…Labour will end as soon as possible the remaining public subsidies and public support to independent schools”

          1. Mons Meg says:

            Yes, but those kinds of institutions are geared to providing the sort of education/socialisation that produces candidates with the qualities required to fill those established roles. State schools by and large aren’t; they’re geared rather to producing the sorts of candidates required to fill other roles within the establishment.

          2. Axel P Kulit says:

            And obviously they have failed to produce “candidates with the qualities required to fill those established roles”.

            State schools are designed to produce factory and office fodder.

            The questions I have are why are state schools not designed to produce leaders and whether the qualities public schools produce are indeed those we need from leaders.

            To the first I would say state schools are designed to keep the plebs in their place.

            To the second I would say the public schools are producing leaders but excessively self centred, egotistical and arrogant ones with no idea how most people live and no interest in finding out.

          3. Mons Meg says:

            I think public schools do a rather good job in reproducing the current establishment through which social goods (the fruits of our production) are produced and distributed.

            State schools weren’t designed to produce factory and office fodder; that was never the intention. They were designed to provide all children with a comprehensive character education (https://www2.cortland.edu/dotAsset/279703.pdf). State schools only function unintendedly or ‘unconsciously’ (as we Marxists say) to produce specific grades of functionaries within the establishment; that is, within the whole matrix of official and social relations through which power is exercised/social goods are produced and distributed.

            (But then, I’m just an auld Tory who supports ‘royalty, aristocracy and patriarchal Christianity, and therefore… the Unionist status quo.’ What do I know? Sheesh!)

          4. John Learmonth says:


            Prime ministers since the sixties (state educated).
            Harold Wilson
            Edward Heath
            James Callaghan
            Margeret Thatcher
            John Major
            Gordon Brown
            Teresa May

            Privately educated
            Alec Douglas Holme
            Tony Blair
            David Cameron
            Boris Johnston

            However the state education was at grammar schools which despite their faults were undoubtedly the greatest engine of social mobility in the UK’s history. Most all gone in the name of ‘equality’.

          5. SleepingDog says:

            @John Learmonth, and here was me thinking racialized chattel slavery was the greatest engine of social mobility in the UK’s history, from free people descending into a hell of brutalised oppression and torture as legalised possessions, while fortunes and estates and political careers were built upon their bloody backs.

          6. Niemand says:

            Yes, the idea that state schools were designed to produce ‘fodder’ is nonsense and also insulting to the vast majority who attend(ed) them.

            What public schools do is instil the notion that their students have the ‘right’ to lead and lead big and this is backed-up by their success in doing so. But this is already part of the mindset of those going their in the first place – don’t forget the road to a public school is via a prep school (even for scholarship students) and of course, their parents. This wouldn’t be so bad if it led to enlightened, good leaders but it often does not as the road to power is more about simply gaining power than what you might do with it. Boris Johnson is the prime example – one of his main ambitions was to ‘beat’ his schoolmate, Cameron, not to lead the country with any kind of vision.

            I would abolish public schools (or at the very least end their charitable status). Research done recently about social mobility showed that the two things that would have a real material effect in improving this is: put a severe limit on how much parents can hand on to their children (ending the centuries old hoarding of wealth) and abolish public schools (make power and thus influence less concentrated on a narrow strata of society). When it comes to the latter and those in government, it was actually better in the 1970s.

          7. Niemand says:

            John, notice how the last big three (Johnson, Cameron, Blair) were not state educated though and it would be worth looking at the make-up of cabinets too.

            I tend to agree about grammar schools. I wouldn’t have at one time but time has shown they were a good force for social mobility. The trouble with them was not the grammar schools as such but the grim ‘secondary moderns’ that a lot ended up going to instead (note, not comprehensives).

          8. Mons Meg says:

            ‘But this is already part of the mindset of those going their in the first place…’

            Indeed, Niemand. Those who go to elite public schools are already destined to lead by the privilege of birth or wealth; their education just provides them with the requisite ‘job training’.

            I’m not sure abolishing those schools would rectify this situation. In any case, how do you stop people from educating their children privately? The British government tried doing it, particularly in Ireland in the 18th and 19th centuries, when it just led a proliferation of illegal ‘hedge’ schools. Wouldn’t the abolition of elite schools at home not just lead to the elite grooming its succession abroad?

            Surely we need rather to democratise the establishment – e.g. by filling our so-called ‘leadership’ roles by some process of election or sortition rather than by a process of meritorious selection and appointment that only serves to perpetuate the status quo.

          9. Axel P Kulit says:

            We do fill leadership posts by election, we just make sure that those who are not part of the establishment find it far harder to get elected, and even harder if they do not join one of the establishment parties and brown nose their way to being selected for a safe seat.

            Maybe we should select our leaders by lot, as for jury service, perhaps creating a list of those willing to serve, so that, taking our cue from Plato who said nobody who wants power should be allowed anywhere near it, we can ensure those people are never selected.

            Failing that, we should, assuming we feel “none of the above” . all vote for any of the candidates other than the one who was last elected.

          10. SleepingDog says:

            @ Wul, plus dynastic marriages, with all that implies, which has changed the character of social classes (as far as these can be objectively measured).

          11. Mons Meg says:

            I disagree, Axel; if we’re going to elect our leaders, we should work to make those elections as free and fair as possible. We shouldn’t ‘screen’ would-be candidates for their suitability or fitness; we should trust the demos to discriminate the best person for the job.

            I’m also a big fan of citizens’ juries as a decision-making tool in the realm of public affairs (‘res publica’). Whenever a public decision has to be made on some matter (e.g. Should Scotland be an independent country?), the case both ‘for’ and ‘against’ the matter would be put to a jury of citizens, randomly selected from the general citizenry by a process of sortition, in an open court, by advocates from both sides and under the supervision of a judge, who would ensure that the hearing is conducted impartially and in accordance with the law, and, having heard all the evidence put by both side, the jury would then decide the matter on the basis of the evidence presented. This would take the ‘politicking’ out of our public decision-making and make it more an expression of the general will. It would certainly remove the undue influence of privilege over our decision-making since people of privilege would be no more likely to be selected for jury service than would your ordinary Joe and it would be a criminal offence to try to influence jurors whether by bribery or intimidation.

          12. Axel P Kulit says:

            * we should trust the demos to discriminate the best person for the job.*

            So far they have not done a very good job selecting the best person. I think that is because the populace have long been deliberately dumbed down.

          13. Mons Meg says:

            ‘So far they [the demos] have not done a very good job selecting the best person.’

            And are we to draw the conclusion from this that democracy should be abandoned as a bad job – because the demos are prone to getting it wrong? Isn’t this precisely what the aristos would argue in justification of their claim to ‘dictatorship’ or special entitlement to lead?

          14. Axel P Kulit says:

            No, it means the aristos SHOULD make sure the demos are educated enough they can collectively choose the best people.

            The system we have currently tends to present the people with a bunch of roughly equally incompetent people appealing to different tribes.

          15. Mons Meg says:

            Indeed, I’m forever bemoaning our commodification of politics and its reduction to a choice between brands.

            But why is it the responsibility of the aristos to educate the demos? As Bob Marley sang in his great hymn to decolonisation: ‘Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery/ None but ourselves can free our minds’.

  10. Flo Job says:

    Pish pish and more pish.Get Pat kane on for clarity.

  11. Niemand says:

    Look forward to this. A good move. ‘Alternative visions’ from across these islands and greater connections of thought will be food for that thought indeed and much needed in my view.

  12. David B says:

    To give Welsh Labour its due, they have also said “in the Welsh Government’s view, provided that a government in either country [Wales or Scotland] has secured an explicit electoral mandate for the holding of a referendum, and enjoys continuing support from its parliament to do so, it is entitled to expect the UK Parliament to take whatever action is necessary to ensure that the appropriate arrangements can be made.”

    1. Mons Meg says:

      The ‘get-out’, of course, lies the matter of what constitutes ‘an explicit electoral mandate for the holding of a referendum’. That could be argued over ad infinitum.

      1. David B says:

        I think ‘electoral mandate’ should be pretty clear i.e. winning an election with a specific manifesto pledge. If they wanted to be vague they’d say something like ‘popular mandate’, or adapt the Good Friday clause about ‘if at any point it seems likely…’

        Anyway, until Holyrood actually requests a S30 order it’s all just bluff and double-bluff.

        1. Mons Meg says:

          Aye, but who can say which of the many manifesto pledges on which a winning party stood won it the election? I voted for the SNP in the last local elections not because it promised to deliver a national referendum on whether or not the Scottish government should be independent of the UK government (which it did promise strangely enough in local elections), but because it promised to deliver community empowerment and participative budgeting (which has never materialised, despite its forming a ruling coalition with the Labour Party as the junior partner in the governance of the republic of Dumgal).

          And I can’t help but remember the shell-shocked wifie who, on the morning after the Brexit vote, said that she’d voted for the UK to leave the Union, but she’d never imagined it actually would; that she’d voted ‘Leave’ only to flip a finger, rather, at the current establishment.

          1. David B says:

            “but who can say which of the many manifesto pledges on which a winning party stood won it the election?”

            I think that’s the wrong test. In a representative democracy I think it’s broadly accepted that we vote for a package of policies, and the government has a mandate (and indeed a duty) to keep its election promises. (I say this as someone who thinks a second referendum using the 2014 question is a mostly bad idea. But it’s a bad idea for which they have an electoral mandate).

          2. Mons Meg says:

            ‘In a representative democracy I think it’s broadly accepted that we vote for a package of policies…’

            Indeed, more’s the pity! I wish it was more broadly accepted that, in a representative democracy, we vote for the candidate we want to represent us in the polity’s legislative assembly rather than for a party and the package of policies it represents.

            But you’re right: most folk vote along party lines rather than for the most competent representative.

  13. Niemand says:

    Great to see Mr Johnny English providing the first go at Bella’s new ‘alternative visions’ for the constitutional crisis. The spirit of brotherhood between nations is alive and well!

    Sarcasm aside, his contributions do highlight Mike’s ‘growing sense of alienation anger and disenchantment’.

    And has one good point, the nationalism of so-called ethnicity, the ‘true born’, is a dead end, no matter who is espousing it. And it is gaining ground in Scottish nationalism. Unfortunately, like that crowd, Johnny’s hyperbole, anger and own prejudices, fatally undermine much of what he says.

    1. Mons Meg says:

      It daesna half! The poor soul’s incoherent with rage.

Help keep our journalism independent

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

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

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