The Scottish referendum this Thursday is by far the most important ballot in the 307-year history of the UK and, should Scotland vote for independence, future historians will count September 18th 2014 as the most momentous single day in the long history of these islands. We are standing on the brink of something extraordinary, a once-in-a-millennium seismic shift that would change everything forever: the death of the UK.
The argument for independence has been won hands down; just six months ago the Unionists had a 2-1 majority in the polls, now it’s neck-and-neck. This is despite an avalanche of anti-independence propaganda raining down on the Scottish people from the British establishment, the London press, the London broadcasters and the London political parties. The fact that the ‘Better Together’ campaign has had to be fronted by the Labour Party rather than the Conservative & Unionist government in London that currently rules Scotland and has ruled Scotland for ¾ of the last 300 years says it all – not just about their duplicitous, dissembling campaign (they know Old Etonians telling Scots they are incapable of running their own affairs would be fatal), but also about the modern Labour Party. Having abandoned socialism, the working class and its reason for existing, Labour has now ditched any remnants of progressiveness altogether. Once it championed the cause of freedom, opposed powerful superstates and supported the rights of small nations to self-determination. Labour’s constitution used to have home-rule for Scotland and Wales as core aims. Now, as in economic policy, Labour is more Tory than the Tories – thereby proving the Yes campaign’s point that the UK’s rotten party political system has eradicated plurality and served up three main parties with almost identical political views. Stripped of all idealism and talent and reduced to the status of a gravy train for opportunists, Labour has only been able to rustle up Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling to act as the No campaign’s Uncle Tom figureheads – yes that’s Gordon “I’ve abolished boom and bust” Brown and Alistair, the fat-cats’ darling. Is there anyone sentient who would heed the advice of that pair of always-wrong buffoons?
The reason the No campaign has been such a failure is simple: they have no case. That is why they have had to resort to peddling lies, spreading ignorance and scaremongering. The problem for them is that their entire case starts from, and depends upon, a false premise: that the UK is ‘good’. This is so patently untrue it shouldn’t need refuting, but it never hurts to run through the centuries of evidence that the UK is, by any reckoning, a global monster.
The UK seized a third of the planet by force to form the biggest empire ever known, in the process ruthlessly killing countless millions of native peoples directly or indirectly, eradicating indigenous cultures and languages, systematically plundering all available resources and institutionalising slavery, genocide, racism and mercantilism. By these methods – merciless violence, cruelty, abuse of human rights, theft and exploitation – the UK became the richest and most powerful country in the world. In so doing the UK spread those practices into all subsequent international affairs and halted in their tracks the self-determination processes and evolving narratives of peoples across all continents. This was just the beginning. After WW1 the empire collapsed under the weight of its own wickedness, thanks to the pressure of independence movements and huge indebtedness to the upstart US empire, but left a toxic legacy being played out today everywhere the UK drew arbitrary boundaries, imposed unnatural vassal states, implanted alien religions and enabled ethnic schisms. From the Aborigine reservations of Australia via the drone-bombed Iraqi villages to the Caribbean shanty-towns, the UK has spread misery, suffering, injustice and chaos wherever it has had the insolence, arrogance and greed to interfere.
On top of this blood-soaked ransacking, which makes it the most murderous State of all time, the UK, spurred on as usual by greed, is also responsible for the Agricultural Revolution, another land-grab that destroyed craftsmanship, skills, self-autonomy and rural life; the Industrial Revolution, a frenzy of pillage with no thought for the consequences that destroyed yet more lives as well as the environment, myriad other species and workers’ dignity and rights in order to enrich an infinitesimal few robber-barons while unleashing the burn-baby-burn carbon economy that now threatens to eradicate the Earth itself; and, of course, cut-throat capitalism. The profit motive, the banking industry, money-lending, the concept of perpetual growth, the notion of monetisation, the ethos of competition, the aggregation of wealth, the multitude of “losers” required to prop up a handful of “winners”, the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate…all stemmed from this evil empire. Nothing has changed; the City is still the cesspit through which the world’s slush-funds, dirty money and proceeds of crime flow, an unaccountable State within a State where life or death commodities are priced for the sake of quick profit, where governments are held to ransom, where financial predators impose their terms through unfettered free markets, where corporations devise their next larcenous scams, and where money makes money.
The UK is the most secretive State in the world, needing not just one but two vast spying organisations to mount all its dirty foreign ops and monitor its own people. The UK is the most surveilled State in the world, having more CCTV cameras and high-tech eavesdroppers than anywhere else. The UK is entirely undemocratic: the most centralised State in Europe where the assent of only 20% of the electorate is enough to deliver an outright parliamentary majority. The UK is the last stronghold of the scandalous hereditary principle, its head of state wielding real power through the accident of birth and its second legislative chamber the largest unelected body of its kind bar the Chinese politburo. Thus the UK has subjects not citizens, has no written constitution and is riddled from top to bottom with royalty’s odious offshoots: hierarchy, deference, nepotism, sycophancy, old school tie, not-for-the-likes-of-us, entrenched social immobility, ever-widening income inequality, snobbery and oneupmanship. Here shameless brown-nosing of the interbred royals is a way of life, even when the next undeserving parasite in line to the throne is an adulterous deceiver who manipulates government decisions to further his own interests and who is so deficient in judgement he regarded Jimmy Savile as his mentor.
This is the State where an oligarch in a Mayfair palace pays less council tax than a panel beater in a Merthyr terrace and where a billionaire pays less income tax than his cleaner. This is the State where there’s a bedroom tax on the poor but not a mansion tax on the rich. This is the State where there are separate entrances for the poor in mixed-use apartment blocks. This is the State that wages unremitting class warfare against its workers to concentrate power in the hands of a tiny elite. This is the State where a Chief Executive earns 180 times the pay of a worker, a pay-gap that has widened by 900% in 30 years while the rest of the world was narrowing such obscene differentials. This is the State where the weakest, most vulnerable and neediest are forced to pay whenever the casino economy implodes. This is the State with the highest level of personal indebtedness on the planet, the better to keep its sedated, stupefied population compliant wage slaves who daren’t rock the boat. This is the State of absurd private luxury and abject public squalor. Pro-rata, this State is the world’s biggest arms dealer, military spender and nuclear proliferator. Permanently on a war-footing, this State terrorises the planet with the implicit threat of a violence it has been willing to use over and over again, yet cravenly grovels to tyrannical, despotic regimes from China to Saudi Arabia if they’re too mighty or if there’s money to be made flogging them implements of torture and weapons of mass destruction.
As yet, there has been no compensation or reparation, let alone punishment, for these heinous crimes against the world – but only because the UK has maintained its grip on power by controlling global finance in the City of London, controlling global warfare on the United Nations Security Council and controlling minds and setting the parameters of permitted opinion via the hegemony of the English language and all its armies of cultural outriders.
So the idea that the UK is something benign and precious that at all costs should be preserved is laughable. Its demise would be celebrated from pole to pole. No self-respecting, proud nation, if given the choice, would want to be joined at the hip to, tainted by association with, and have its economic, social and political landscape determined by, such a rogue failed State. That’s why not one single nation that shook off rule from London, from the USA in 1776 to Brunei in 1984, yearns for its return. As for countries that have seceded from the UK itself, there is just one example so far from history to inform us: the Republic of Ireland. Here we have clues to how an independent Scotland would fare. When Ireland won its independence from the UK in 1922 after centuries of oppression, it was a by-word for poverty, hunger, depopulation and backwardness. Even with the major handicaps of being deprived of its wealthiest province, an ongoing cross-border civil war, a theocratic constitution, continuing mass emigration, corrupt politicians, the effects of the 2008 global economic crash, the EU straight-jacket and virtually no natural resources to speak of, the Republic of Ireland today, in just nine decades, is the 7th most prosperous nation in the world, a highly-educated beacon of civilised values with a vibrant home-grown culture that the rest of the world adores. This hints at the thrilling future now within Scotland’s grasp. Scotland has double Ireland’s population and land-mass, vastly superior reserves of natural resources, extraordinary traditions in the vanguard of science, literature, philosophy and music, and a deep heritage of learning and enlightenment. Just imagine what an independent Scotland might achieve! Economists not blinkered by British nationalism predict that Scotland will have overtaken Norway, its rather similar next-door neighbour across the North Sea (separated from Sweden in 1905), and become the richest country in the world per head of population within a decade. But, much more than those merely materialistic considerations, there is an even greater prize beyond value in touching distance for Scotland: freedom.
Freedom is what this referendum is all about. And that would be freedom not from ‘Britain’ or the ‘UK’, as the No campaign would like Scots to believe, but from the unmentionable elephant on the doorstep: England. The England that waged a brutal 400-year war of conquest against Scotland; the England that then stitched up the illegitimate Union by bribery and inducements in order to form an anti-Catholic, imperialist power-bloc, meaning Scotland was, as Robbie Burns famously put it, “bought and sold for English gold”; the England that inflicts nothing but contemptuous oppression on Scotland, from clearing the highlands to make shooting playgrounds for the aristocracy to stationing a nuclear base on the doorstep of Scotland’s biggest city; and the England that comprises 84% of the UK and thus solely decides every government Scotland has ever had regardless of how Scots vote. If Scotland votes Yes it will be a vote to establish a Scottish democracy at long last and a vote to end the humiliation of being run, invariably badly at that, by England. The ‘Better Together’ campaign should be more accurately named: perhaps ‘Better Tethered’. Notwithstanding the last-minute panic by the British Nationalists (all nationalisms are wrong to them – except their own), in which they’re suddenly throwing promises of goodies galore at Scotland, their true intentions towards Scotland have been continually revealed throughout the campaign, with dire warnings of how horrible and obstructive England is going to be if Scotland has the effrontery to quit the abusive relationship, as though it is out of the question for two neighbouring and intimately connected nations to co-exist harmoniously, like say Norway and Sweden or Spain and Portugal. When they all chorus that Scotland would not be allowed to keep the Pound, they inadvertently admit that the ‘Union’ is a fiction. If it were a true marriage of equal partners, and if the UK were truly ‘together’, then the Pound belongs as much to Scotland as it does to England and it is no more in England’s power to deny it to Scotland than it would be the other way round. Every time the No campaigners are cornered they reveal this imperialist attitude to Scotland and concede that the UK is actually just England with some Celtic knobs on.
Yes; an independent Scotland would be fantastic for Scotland, opening up a future of boundless and unimaginable possibilities, and it would also be fantastic for the whole world. Not only would it strike a mortal blow at ‘Britain’, as much a cause for global glee as the break up of the USSR, but it would allow Scotland to take its rightful place among all the free nations, to add the unique Scottish voice to international forums and to contribute those much-needed Scottish qualities of egalitarianism, solidarity and sheer wisdom to international discourse. It would also be good for England and the poor benighted English working-class to have an example of things being done differently north of the border, perhaps eventually inspiring the English people to rid themselves of Tory hegemony, imperialist baggage and historical amnesia.
And for Wales too, an independent Scotland would be a wonderful boost to our even longer and tougher march to freedom. We were where it all began, the first colony, the first piece in England’s empire. We are where it will all end, this 1,000 year wrong, the last colony. Any Welsh person worth their salt will be praying the Scottish people have the brave hearts and the strong minds on Thursday to vote Yes for freedom and Yes to change the world. The disgraceful sight of the Labour and Liberal Democrats of Wales opposing Scottish independence exposes those parties as enemies of Wales. They will be further exposed when within a very short time a thriving independent Scotland, a good friend of Wales, shames their lies and conservatism. Then perhaps Wales will finally reject the British Nationalist stooges and build our own national party, Plaid Cymru, as the Scots built the SNP, and one day, one fine day, bring ourselves into being so that Cymru can join Yr Alban in the great family of nations.
24 hours to go. If I were a betting man, I would back the Noes to win. Their resources are huge and their propaganda onslaught is ceaseless. But then I’m a pessimist who always bets against myself. I hear from Scottish friends that the campaigning has engaged the entire nation, that the turn-out is going to be massive, that those still undecided are only dithering because of timorousness, and that the 16-18 year-olds voting for the first time in any UK ballot are overwhelmingly pro-independence. Anything could happen. It’s going to be a long night.
I’ve got to conclude with this: