The polls close in a few minutes.
The Scottish Referendum. It FEELS Historic. It feels like the Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. Or maybe it isnt.
Back in the 1960s, Scottish and Welsh Nationalism was confined to the “Celtic Fringe” …Highlands and Islands, sending an occasional MP to Westminster.
The fact is…or WAS …Scotland and Wales are Labour strongholds. In the 1960s there was actually a Conservative presence in both these nations. What happened? Margaret Thatcher happened.
And effectively the Conservative Party began a slide to near oblivion.
Another fact. The Labour Party took Scotland for granted. In a bad General Election, Scottish Labour MPs can make up a quarter of its Westminster party. In a good General Election, Scottish Labour MPs can make up a fifth of the Westminster party. Therefore Scots can make up a disproportionate number in the Labour leadership….Gordon Brown, Robin Cook, John Reid, Alastair Darling etc.
Labour NEEDS Scotland. But as always the case, Labour can stand accused of taking its strongholds for granted. But increasingly, British politics is about the “middle ground”. The Conservatives take their base support for granted to court the mythical ” Worcester Woman”. Scotland felt neglected. Scotland…in devolution turned to the Scottish Nationalist Party.
SNP takes control of the newly devolved Scottish Government and presses for a Referendum. This os where we are.
It was assumed that the Scots would vote NO but over the past two weeks the opini
on polls are showing that the gap between the two sides has closed to the extent that Westminsters parties have panicked to the point of offering concessions….more powers …to the Scottish Government.
It is now 10pm and the polls have closed. Seemingly a victory for NO.
But comments here on the Campaign. The YES Campaign was energetic. The NO Campaign wS lack lustre. Saved possibly by the speeches of Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister. The nominL leader of the NO Campaign, Alastair Darling was simply awful. The Westminster leaders, Cameron, Miliband and Clegg were inconvincing.
I am of course a nationalist. The Vote itself was an act of Self-Determination. That should be enough. But of course I am an IRISH nationalist. To achieve Irish unity, I must necessarily seek the end of the United Kingdom. Necessarily my feelings for my own nation is an animosity to another one. For my own nation to succeed, another must fail.
Are those who believe in a United Kingdom as entitled to love their country as much as I love mine. Well again….an English person in Surrey who feels diminished by the threat of the United Kingdom ending, has to recognise that many Scots, Welsh and Irish feel diminished rather than enhanced by the existence of the United Kingdom.
Arguably, English people use the words ” England” and “UK” as transferrable words that carry the same meaning. They fail to recognise that Scots are much more aware of the nuance. The English love the UK so much that they dont seem to realise that Scots can feel diminished or even humiliated by its very existence.
For the United Kingdom is little more than Greater England. And that is resented by a lot of Scots. And the English dont get it. Yugoslavia was little more than Greater Serbia. The Slovenes, Bosnians, Croats (and Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo) resented it. And the Serbs still dont get it. And USSR was little more than Greater Russia and the Ukrainians, Latvians, Georgians and a lot of others resented it. The Russians still dont get it.
Does anybody seriously doubt that Greater England will go the way of Greater Serbia and Greater Russia.
Have the UK media, particuarly the British Broadcasting Corporation been fair to the YES Campaign. I dont think they have. There has certainly been bias. But I ask a bigger question. Is it reasonable to expect a UK broadcaster, publicly funded by UK taxpayers to be neutral on the existence of the Nation.?
Of course…for me this goes to the heart of the nature of the Union. A Union that I hold in contempt.
The role of BBC in London is one thing. But the role of the BBC Scotland is a bigger question. Is there a “unionist” bias in BBC Scotland? Did the BBC staff vote in much the same way as the general population? The role of the Media will come under intense scrutiny but if BBC News and BBC Scotland are going to be investigated, can we ask that it be extended to BBC Norn Iron? It might be interesting to know if BBC Belfast is truly reflective of the Norn KIron electorate.
Of course the BBC in Belfast might well be LetsGetAlongerists and LetsGetAlongerists have oft taken this blog to account for suggesting that their philosophy is at heart “unionist”.
If you have any doubt about this, just look at the tweets from our better known LetsGetAlongerist commentators and their avowed and occasionally bitter unionism during the past few weeks when the polls were suggesting a close result. LetsGetAlongerists can be remarkably vitriolic.
Look at Slugger O’Toole. Is it anti-nationalist? And did its anti-nationalism go international?
But how is it that the nice liberal newspapers were as pro-Union as the Tory press. Well of course Labour needs Scotland and the “Union” is a basic part of Conservative philosophy.
The nature of Imperialism and the “Union” was the earliest imperialism is that both fundamentalist Socialists and Conservatives are unionist. The Imperialism of McAuley was at heart pseudo liberal. It was bringing “civilisation” to the unfortunate. The Imperialism of Cecil Rhodes was unapolgetically exploiting the natives.
At its best, unionism is patronising and at its worst its a relic of the worst aspects of Imperialism. At least thats how its seen by nationalists.
If the Exit Polls are right, then is everything lost for an Independent Scotland.
The aftermath will be bitter. Very bitter. The Role of the Media. The normal embargo on hard news and speculation during voting. The role of the banks and big business appearing to bully the Voter. The effect might well be that Scotland is a one party state…controlled by the SNP. Labour will not be forgiven quickly and will take a hit in next years Westminster Election. SNP will gain a lot of seats and could well stop Labour getting a majority to form a Government. Even foreign interference from Barak Obama and Bill Clinton will backfire.
It is unlikely the Tory press or Tory backbenchers will be happy about the concessions that David Cameron was forced to make to get that NO vote. Scottish MPs will probably be excluded from “English” issues. Confrontation is inevitable.
So how is Bitterness and Confrontation good for Scottish nationalism?
Well Nationalism NEEDS Resentment and is never satisfied by Concession.
Just look at Ireland. Talk to any Irish Nationalist long enough and you will hear about Oliver Cromwell and Drogheda, The Wild Geese, Father Murphy in 1798, the execution of the 1916 Leaders. We are not impressed by Catholic Emancipation, the British faciliating literacy and Gaelic language or Land Acts.
We simply take all and want more. Alec Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, the astute SNP leaders know how Nationalism works. Luckily no British Government has a clue.
But there is a bigger truth. The “United” Kingdom has never been more “disUnited”. It has never been less homogenous.
Norn Iron is already semi-detached. The residents are fully entitled to Irish citizenship. The Good Friday Agreement ensures power sharing between unionists and people who want the Union to end. Indeed 40% of the voters dont want the Union. A figure now matched or bettered in Scotland. And SNP in power for decades to come.
And of course, increased powers in Scotland will cause agitation for more power for English regions, maybe even an English parliament. UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) will snipe at Conservatives over migration. There will be pressure over European Union. And too many inner city areas seem controlled as fiefdoms by tribal elders, to whom the Labour Party have cosied. The tribal elders deliver the votes and Labour looks the other way.
And of course, young British men go off to Iraq and Syria to appear on YouTube, executing other young British men.
So….the “United Kingdom”?