The Abyss of Blunders: From The Province of the Cat
In Westminster the Tories still dream in sepia of the British Empire. It was their “golden age”. But as Salman Rushdie has said in a recent interview, which marked his return to public life after the cruel attack upon him,
“And the thing about the golden age is that it never existed, and the myth of the golden age is always used to justify actions in the present. In England, the Brexit catastrophe was the result of another golden age myth, which is: ‘England used to be this glorious country and it could be that glorious country again, if only we could get rid of all these foreigners.’ Of course they neglected to mention to the electorate that the reason England was so prosperous was that it had spent 200 years plundering the rest of the world.”
This plundering was the big “thing” that made England “great”, but had to be disguised as “British” and as “progress and civilisation” in order to present a suitably cosmetic face to the rest of the world. Yet the rest of the world knew that it was the supremacy and consolidation of the English interest that was the driving energy of that Empire: England and her possessions were the core. Imperial unity was never easy to maintain. It still isn’t even in the rump of Empire that is left. Each of the possessions, over time, became a colony and it was always difficult to guarantee the loyalty of the local inhabitants. The American Revolutionary War of 1775 – 1783 was the first and most dramatic rebellion and succession. South Africa, as the 19th century turned into the 20th century, proved an equally painful experience in geo-political reality for English Imperialism. Both these thwarting’s of English possession were the result of arrogance, ignorance and blunders.
Scotland in the 21st century promises to be another instance of what Sir Alfred Milner, the High Commissioner for South Africa (1897 – 1905), described in a letter, written before the outbreak of the Boer War, “The more I know about it, (the Cape Colonies) the more profound is the abyss of our blunders in the past.”
Colonial settlers are one thing, natives populations are another. The natives always present the greatest difficulties for the colonial government and for their home government back in London. The perennial question is how can the will of the minority prevail over the collective desire of the majority? No Empire in history has been the recipient of a miracle and the English Empire, the little that’s left of it, is no exception. Because it will take a miracle for them to retain Scotland as the abyss of their blunders continues to open up, almost daily. Rishi Sunak’s two weeks of U-turns and the go-ahead for the Rosebank oilfield, 80 miles West of Shetland, being the latest example of arrogance, ignorance and blunders. There will be more of the same forthcoming as the Scottish political situation worsens and the worlds political stability deconstructs due to war, corruption and climate change. The Tories political blundering ensures the former and their counter-productive environmental actions exacerbate the latter. And all the time we are mesmerised by the corruption of the Westminster democratic illusion. A state of affairs so accurately described Dr Elliot Bulmer in the Sunday National (24.09.23),
“(The Westminster) Parliament is all powerful , yet often powerless. It can decide all things, but rarely does more than ratify decisions made elsewhere. It is sovereign but sidelined. We saw evidence of the side-lining of Parliament last week. The Prime Minister announced his new watch-the-planet-burn anti-environment policy not by means of statement to the House of Commons (but on TV). This is against the Ministerial Code. But the Prime Minister is the one who enforces the Ministerial Code, so little can be done.”
In other words, the Prime Minister can do pretty much what he likes. Internal autonomy and “responsible government” are not the same as independence or the truth. This is the current Scottish reality. The oil fields in the North Sea and West of Shetland ensure that Scotland’s colonial status must be preserved if England is to avoid the abyss. The free market which is anything but free but which prevails in Westminster ensures that nobody, other than a few financiers and oil companies, benefits from Scotland’s oil. It is sold off on the international market. The Exchequer in London pockets the tax but that seldom benefits the Scottish people. Across the North Sea sits Norway as a physical and fiscal example of what is possible to achieve when you shake of your colonial fetters and act in the interests of your citizens. The subjects under English monarchical rule can only dream of such a possibility. To the majority of Scots, locked into Little England’s shrinking Imperial domain, it sems as if the abyss is seeking them out. It is important to note that the major player in the Rosebank oilfield is Equinor, formerly Statoil, the Norwegian government controlled oil company.
If you are to believe the red top press and the BBC England’s blundering Imperial policy towards Scotland is working. But the verge of triumph is also the verge of the abyss. England has made Scotland a dangerous anachronism – a quasi-independent nation within the UK, the only Empire that is left to them. No cacophony of drum beating, flute playing and flag waving, or a retreat into a reactionary island fortress, can veil in illusion the true state of Little England’s shrinking Empire. The reality is a mismanaged decline. The power so beloved of the race patriots in the English Conservative and Unionist Party has long gone and is forever out of reach and no amount of anti-EU passion will bring it back. The reality is that the Tories, in all their policies, are weak and negative. Their day is done. When the Imperial parliament in London can no longer control trade or defence what future does the residual dream of Little England’s Empire have? History tells the dispassionate observer that it is far too late for all of that nostalgia, that the dream itself is the true anachronism and that Scotland’s journey to independence cannot be halted either by denial in Westminster or by anti-progressive sabotage in Holyrood.
Also it would appear to the dispassionate observer that Westminster’s tactic in dealing with Scotland is to work up a crisis, to object to any legislation Holyrood passes, in other words to pick a quarrel and then let events force the crisis. A stable, successful Scotland is a threat to Little England’s Empire. Scotland must be forced to be seen as dependent, incompetent and a fiscal basket case. Scotland must be shown to need England. However, time is not on the side of this depiction or tactic.
The motto of the Clan Gunn is “either peace or war (battle)”, or “Aut Pax Aut Bellum” if you prefer. Sometimes as I walk along the beautiful sandy strand of Dunnet Beach, thinking about these things, it is unfortunately not peace I see in the future relationship between Scotland and the rump of the English Empire. The absence of peace is the decent into the abyss of blunders. Perhaps the biggest blunder of all is the unwillingness to notice or to listen. Battle is historically the default position of the English Empire. Other than in Ireland these Imperial battles and the associated spilling of blood have occurred far away in such places as the Caribbean, Africa, India and in Asia generally. In the modern era surveillance has replaced, but not exclusively, the need for military campaigns, destruction and torture. Having said that it is increasingly common knowledge that the agents of Empire do pretty much as they please. No internal or external criticism of such a state of affairs ever sees the light of day. The abyss has many layers and myriad forms.
For its wealth in oil and gas, renewable energy – especially offshore wind, hydro and tidal stream – clean fresh water, natural harbours for the fleet of nuclear submarines, world class university education, highly prized food and drink and much more besides, Scotland will not be allowed to reinstate her sovereignty and become an independent nation in the eyes of the world. Scotland is far too valuable as a colony. And no matter what the apologists for England’s power say, those who falsely proclaim that Scotland is not a colony, the aspiration for self-determination will be, must be, resisted at all costs. The more England sets her face against constitutional change the more she drags herself into the abyss. The agents of the status quo are loose amongst us and are working away at every level of Scottish society to alter the course of history. They will not, must not, succeed.
This current Tory government is building a dream machine to make time go slower, or go backwards. Ever since the announcement of the green light for the exploitation of the Rosebank oilfield – which the BBC keep saying has 300 million barrels of retrievable hydro carbons when in fact it is 500+ million barrels – across the media has been paraded a procession of apologists for oil and those who seriously tell us that night is day and that everything is fine and that nothing will change no mater how much oil, petrol and diesel we burn. It has been quite amazing, if not surprising. On Radio Scotland the first sceptical voice raised was that of the First Minister Humza Yousaf. This is also quite amazing, but again not surprising. He has no power over energy. The Empire keeps it close.
It is as if the Tories and the media have taken some kind of hallucinogenic drug and have lost all sense of space and time, in and out, or right and wrong. Absolute whopping lies about how the Rosebank development will have little or no effect on the environment are passed as facts, with no journalism applied, no questions asked, no alternative point of view given air time. Carbon capture and storage is a relatively untried technology in relation to off-setting the burning of fossil fuels, but media capture and storage is a highly successful technique when it comes to greenwashing. All this when 20% of the population support Just Stop Oil and are prepared to break the law in order to do so. The methods of Just Stop Oil attract media attention, but their message does not. The Tories break the laws of nature and of humanity when they open new coal mines, pollute rivers and drill for and exploit huge new oil fields – the Cambo oilfield (78 miles North West of Shetland) is next and will produce at a conservative estimate 50,000+ barrels of oil per day for 25 years. Either Rishi Sunak or “Sir” Keir Starmer, if and when he is in power, will announce the go ahead for this field very soon now that Rosebank is to proceed.
This is how the Empire has descended into the abyss and has displayed no directional awareness other than in destroying the liveable environment of the planet. All the multiple crisis we witness at home and around the world, with the exception of earthquakes and volcanoes, are man-made. Canada is burning and Libya is flooded. On Radio Scotland, in relation to the Rosebank oil field, all the talk is of jobs and the economy. On a dead planet there will be no jobs and no economy.
©George Gunn 2023