2007 - 2022

The Empire Strikes back


As the Queen manages to attend the memorial service of her husband’s life we are encouraged to believe a number of myths and fantasies.

First and most obviously is that a 95 year old woman does a job of work, second that to use a wheelchair would be some badge of shame and third that the entire edifice around which her (and our) beliefs about the British state are constructed aren’t collapsing before our eyes.

Scout troops are rejecting the badge they have been offered for the ‘Platinum Jubilee’, ‘Kate and Wills’ tour of the Caribbean has been an unmitigated disaster and the incalcitrant Celtic Fringe are rejecting the British states propaganda to be downloaded directly into schools and young peoples minds. The UK Government had planned for a book celebrating the Queen’s glorious reign, part of a year-long programme of events to mark Elizabeth’s 70-year reign, to be sent to every child in Scotland and Wales. Inject into my veins the idea that both the Welsh and Scottish governments are now refusing to cooperate with the delivery of the  latest (incessant) British propaganda.

A source in the Welsh government told WalesOnline that, after seeing the book, it was thought to be “too Anglocentric” (No Shit Sherlock – Ed) and “out of touch with the reality of devolution”. Mark Drakeford’s administration said that schools in Wales could opt in to receive the book if they wished, but that it would not be sent out automatically. Reacting to this development, the London government told WalesOnline that ministers in Westminster were “furious”. They said the Tories “can’t understand what the problem is”.

Yeah, we know.

Elsewhere it’s not going well.

Colonial Nostalgia

For years there’s been a vague and completely incoherent idea that Prince William would ‘leapfrog’ his dad into the top spot. The idea being that (somehow) this would avert the ascent of the unpopular Charles and distract the Diana Cult and its tabloid mercenaries from attacking Camilla. The thinking was that William and Kate were the sort of up and coming Young Team that would ‘update the monarchy’ and re-capture the publics hearts (yada yada yada, you can fill in the rest.) Much in the way, I suppose that Harry and Meghan were going to before, you know, they had left because of all the racism etc.

Now it seems this crap idea is binned because the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge returned to the UK this week after their tour of the Caribbean descended into shambles. According to reports, the couple held crisis talks with aides after a series of PR blunders amid Jamaica’s push for more independence from the Commonwealth. The couples ‘charm offensive’ provoked all three host nations to declare they will become republics.

The Duke of Cambridge also issued an “unprecedented” public statement amid criticism of the couple’s attempted charm offensive on the eight-day trip to Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas. Both Jamaica and Belize are set to pursue the path of ditching the Queen as Head of State. They are planning to follow Barbados, which became a republic last December.

The optics of the tour seemed to be have been organised by Prince Andrew’s PR advisers.

The couple toured on a white Land Rover truck and Kate greeted schoolchildren through a wire fencing.

Charm Offensive

Kehinde Andrews , professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University and the author of  “The New Age of Empire: How Racism and Colonialism Still Rule the World”, called it the “couple’s colonial nostalgia tour.” He wrote: “Whilst Caribbean countries are demanding reparations and finally deposing the British monarch as the head of state, the future King and his wife thought it was fitting to recreate a scene from 1962, with William in full military dress waving from an open top Land Rover. Talk about not being able to read the room.”

Andrews continued: “Queen Elizabeth I endorsed England’s first forays into the slave trade that turned the population of the Caribbean black, through kidnap of countless African people. The Royal African Company, which had a monopoly over the English trade until giving way to the free market, is the business responsible for enslaving more Africans than any other. The royal family is swimming in money made from the exploitation of African flesh in a region which is still languishing in poverty due to the same legacies. We often imagine that the end of slavery meant the dawn of freedom. But while the slave owners received the largest government transfer of wealth in British history, the formerly enslaved were forced to work for free for three quarters of their time between 1834 and 1838, and left in grinding poverty depending on the same landowners who had enslaved them.”

Cold War Steve

Now the spin is that when William ascends to the throne (whenever that is) the Duke is planning to “rip up the rule-book and do things ‘The Cambridge Way’. This incessant chatter about reform of the unreformable has been going on in Britain for over 50 years. And it gets regurgitated. The Monarchist propaganda is relentless. In the tv series The Crown Prince Philip was portrayed as a ‘reformimg’ and ‘moderating’ influence on the institution (stop giggling at the back peasant!). In the 1980s it was Andrew and Fergie (I said stop giggling) and more recently waves of offsprogs are tipped to be the Next Reforming Hope, on the grounds of being, I dunno, briefly in HELLO or not geriatric.

But the colonial nostalgia is not confined to the woeful mismanagement of the Windsor’s PR advisors.

This week saw Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi talk ahead of his white paper on schools reform in England of how ‘children should be taught the benefits of Empire’. The comments echoed the comments of the Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch who had previously said that ‘Both sides of the story’ of British Empire should be told.

But this unlikely Empire Revisionism faces some harsh truths from the Caribbean where in an open letter published at the weekend, 100 Jamaican leaders said they saw “no reason to celebrate” the Queen’s coronation “because her leadership, and that of her predecessors, have perpetuated the greatest human rights tragedy in the history of humankind”.

Yeah but what about the ‘other side’?

The Conservative’s attempt to disentangle the racism and supremacy of colonialism slavery and subjugation to reveal a positive could only be attempted by people who are ethically and mentally diminished.

Elsewhere it’s not going well.

Offensive Charm

As Susan McKay (author of Northern Protestants – On Shifting Ground) notes: if the unconstructive, self-harming DUP is not willing to serve under a Sinn Féin first minister, the power-sharing model is probably dead. And if the demise of the Good Friday Agreement and some passable settlement in Ireland is one of the multiple aftershocks of the Brexit debacle – it is also one that is bitterly gendered. She writes:

“A rude awakening is coming and panic has set in. And so it is that Jeffrey Donaldson MP, the DUP leader, and, reluctantly, one of its candidates as an MLA, finds himself sitting miserably on lorry-pulled trailers at poorly attended anti-protocol rallies in the main streets of small towns in unionist heartlands. He has his Orange sash with him, lest anyone doubt his loyalty – and plenty do, for paranoia is the prevailing condition at these events. The Orange order is once again trying to unite the unionist family. What is being opposed is not just the protocol – it is the Good Friday agreement.

Alongside Donaldson are people who, having nothing constructive to offer to politics, seek to make up for it with breast-beating sectarian rhetoric which portrays unionists as the most betrayed and victimised people in the world. Ever. The Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister (his party’s sole MLA) claims Northern Ireland has been colonised by the EU and is coveted by the Republic of Ireland. A senior DUP politician told one rally that if the government could stand up for Ukraine, it could stand up for the union. This was expanded by a hyperbolic blogger who explained that while Ukraine was under siege from Russia, Northern Ireland was “[in the] UK, subjugated by the protocol & is under an EU jackboot”. There are warnings about foreigners and enemies – including journalists and the judiciary.

Apart from Kate Hoey, for whom no one in Northern Ireland ever cast a vote, they are all men. Manliness is next to godliness when it comes to saving Ulster. Allister sneerily equates the prospect of unionism taking the deputy first minister’s role with becoming the “bridesmaid” of Sinn Féin.”

Britain’s multiple constitutional crisis are a cacophony of Steaming Gammon Hot Takes combining inchoate Loyalism, Advanced Male Crisis and the bizarre adoption of Victimhood culture in an often hilarious mix of electorally impotent rage.

This sits beautifully next to the hilarious attempts at resurrection by the various strands of the huge Windsor clan blossoming out before us like a rash of feudal apologism.

As we attempt to construct and reconstruct the prospect for independence, the first thing on the agenda should be that we are republicans not nationalists and this degrading farce must end. It’s sometimes held that these are separate matters. They’ve become one.

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Comments (13)

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  1. Squigglypen says:

    Monarchy has to go. Said it before and you didn’t publish my comment.
    Who wants Betty Windsor pushing her son.. crappy Andrew into our lives again? Will you publish this I wonder.
    Nicola we don’t want that entitled family lording it over us. Take a leaf out of Jamaica’s book..be rude and get rid of them..
    No head of state in a crown thanks. Sell it off and feed and heat the people ( subjects)…
    First Minister will do fine for Scotland..might not be you Nicola….

  2. David Grant says:

    Well-stated, Mike.

    In all my years studying World History and the History of the UK, I have never seen the benefit of the Union to anyone but Westminster and the Monarchy.

    My activism with Indigenous Peoples has laid bare the truth that Colonialism has caused irreparable damage, pain, suffering and death on a massive scale, all the while shifting control of the World’s riches and resources into the hands of a greedy few — and that those few view themselves and morally, socially, intellectually superior, when in fact, they are some of the worst specimens of humanity ever to walk the Earth. They believe themselves above the laws that govern the rest of us, and as a result, all the children they abuse, all the hard-working people whose labour they exploit live and die in misery while they sit on their Royal backsides and gloat.

    And as for Scotland? The Union of the Crowns never brought a full and equal “Union” and in fact, it never aspired to. The Union allowed the English Rulers to add Scotland to their long list of Colonies to control and strip of its resources to fill their coffers and inflate their own sense of worth at the expense of others. Scotland has been under the control of a power that has absolutely no regard for the Scottish People whatsoever for too long.

    Time to bring it all down: Power to the People! Saor Alba!

    1. 220402 says:

      But in all your years of studying World History and the History of the UK, did you not find that the Union benefitted Scotland economically by giving it access to England’s colonies and thereby enabling it to amass the capital required to develop an industrial base, abolish scarcity, and escape the precarity of an agrarian-based subsistence economy?

  3. Alice says:

    1962 Bothwell Lanarkshire …..at school along with 800 girls …we were taken out one lunch time to line the route for a posh car to pass by. We were given a flags and told to wave it enthusiastically as the posh car drove past. I saw the Queens maw and her pals waving at us and smiling sweetly for a few seconds. We all then marched back to school.

    Someone must have made a telephone call at some previous point to arrange for the children of the school to be taken to the main road to wave the wee flags. Good photo opportunity you know. The next generation of flag wavers prepared they hoped. Folk were leaving cinemas before the National Anthem was played ….something had to be done.

    My grandma used to sing ‘God save my Auntie Jean long may she sell ice cream on Glasgow green’ to the tune of God save the queen. I sang that to myself as the huge Rolls Royce passed by.

    1. Iain Lennox says:

      Hi Alice,
      Your comment sparked a memory recall.
      Probably that same day in 1962, I remember being marched with everyone else from my primary school annexe at Angus Oval in Cardonald, for well over a mile to Mosspark Boulevard in Bellahouston.
      Children from other schools must also have been there because the pavements were lined with kids.

      This was to wave at HM Betty and King Haakon of Norway as they sped past in the Rolls/Bentley/whatever.

      Immediately afterwards we were marched all the way back – a bit Grand Old Duke of York-ish and, of course, a complete waste of everyone’s time.

  4. Squigglypen says:

    Alice ..your Granny sang a different song frae me.
    There’ll always be an England
    As long as Scotland Free…( tae fight fur them)

    ..god save our glorious queen
    half an egg atween four o’ us
    God save the queen
    (Cleansed version or he won’t print it…)
    Shocking that kids were brainwashed and no-one noticed…corrupt brainwashed Scots involved as well.Still got them..called Toleys.
    I noticed at seven and ‘denounced’ the royals…. I suspect my parents thought I had been left by the gnomes and they had taken the real Squiggly away. Still waiting for the gnomes tae come and get me an take me hame..might get a super injunction….

  5. Willie Lawrie says:

    Reminiscing about nostalgia.
    I’m at Primary School in !953 aged 10.
    The headmaster comes in bearing a large cardboard box filled with books.
    He proceeded to place one in front of each pupil.
    They were blue, faux leather New Testaments.
    I opened mine up and on the flyleaf, written in gold pen were the words – On the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II Coronation.
    I grabbed my wooden-shafted pen with the steel nib , dipped it into the ink-well and filled in the II and made it a I.
    I subsequently binned the book.
    Ever since that day I’ve been a Republican Nationalist .

  6. SleepingDog says:

    Well, quite, but the true story has to see the British Royals as active in politics, even if their participation is hidden, masked by the creaky crust of custom, defended by draconian secrecy laws and a privatised (that is, royal) military-security-theocratic-chartered-propagandist-awardbribery etc establishment.

    There is a taste of this in Edward VIII: Britain’s Traitor King, currently available on All4, and based on the work of archive-scouring historian Andrew Lownie. But that only really brings us up to the WW2 wartime crimes of British royalty. And I noted the portrayal of Winston Churchill, aghast at royal blabbing which cost so many British (and other) lives. This Churchill who had done most to destroy British interwar industry and therefore war-preparedness, and according to one historian blabbed in his WW1 memoirs about capturing and decrypted German naval codes, leading directly to the Germans developing the state-of-the-art Enigma cryptography machine.

    The revelations of What Lizzie Did Next will form a later chapter in British imperial crimes. Who is the ultimate head of MI5 and MI6, who British judges have now (if belatedly) ruled are bound by anti-torture laws of England and Wales? The British imperial quasi-constitution is crafted with such circularity that the Crown gives immunity to its ministers, the ministers govern Parliament, Parliament legislates so that the Crown is protected from most legal accountability: it is purposely designed so that nobody goes to jail for British imperial crimes. The Prime Minister authorises, the Queen commands (from the shadows, usually). When did MI6 stop assassinating people on the Queen’s orders? Large swathes of public policy are off-limits to democratic influence: foreign, military, diplomatic, security, espionage, many kinds of constitutional reform, established religion in England, alliances and treaties with foreign powers (which coincidentally means our dearest allies are the Queen’s horse-racing torture-fan royal theocrats). How many British official secrets have been blabbed or leaked abroad due to our Royals and their Red Box access?

    UK treason law is so warped in favour of the Royals that it enshrines the self-interests of this victorious organized crime family which has captured the state. Treason law reform is an extremely urgent question (it would help if the ultra-scalpers who defrauded the British public during the early Covid-19 pandemic could be charged under it, whose sick profiteering directly damaged public health), but perhaps Scotland will be independent (with hopefully entirely new treason laws) before the UK legislation is touched.

    The Queen, Prince Charles and other royals have been personally responsible for protecting, rewarding, promoting sexual abusers, and indeed the British imperial state seems particularly geared toward institutionalising child sex abuse (see IICSA). Who is the boss of the RUC, MI5, MI6, the Army, the Prime Minister? https://declassifieduk.org/how-mi5-is-helping-to-cover-up-sexual-abuse/

  7. JP58 says:

    The British Monarchy perpetuates the British class system.
    The personalities are irrelevant to this regardless of it being a 95 year old widower, a 70+ Prince still training for his job, a 60 year old alleged paedophile etc etc.
    I do think that when the Queen goes the scales will drop from the eyes of so many ( parts of Uk apart). I do not hold out any great hope for the UK to report the feebleness of Charles, William or his nice upper middle class wife – though I live in hope of being proved wrong.

  8. Nick Aitken says:

    The British national anthem praises the king/queen rather than any attributes of the country.
    Does any other national anthem do that?

    1. 220404 says:

      Of the twelve sovereign monarchies in Europe, most have national anthems that celebrate the monarch, But that’s only because the monarch functions to personify the nation.

      All national anthems sacralise some symbol that serves as an emblem of that imagined community. The unofficial Scottish national anthem sacralises the martial flower of Scotland, the feudal barons who fought and died for their wee bit hill and glen.

  9. Don says:

    Great article Mike, get your hands on a copy of Legacy of Violence by Caroline Elkins where the Empire is dissected forensically and the nostalgic global britain rose tinted specs are smashed.

    1. Oh thanks, will look it out

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