Who is Britain, now?

Apparently Nicola Sturgeon is ‘the most dangerous woman in’ the country/election/Britain/world.., depending on the hysteria level of your regular news platform of choice. I want to say that this is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard but you and I know that that would be just as ridiculous since we are hearing an abundance of insultingly imbecilic election-related comments every day.

It seems as though every frit and hypocrite politician and his partner/advisor/journalist wants rUK to be terrified of Scotland and the Scots. Did those same people not just spend the last year hyperventilating about how silly the Scots were to think they could go it alone and how the rest of us would be bereft because of how dreadful it would be if Scotland left us and broke up the Union? And now that she has decided to stay and has become more influential, Scots are suddenly being called a threat to the Union? Give me strength…

Really, as if it’s not cheap and nasty enough the way immigration is being framed, now we have to listen to all manner of villains and fools talking about the Scots as though they were some invading and usurping horde. Well, maybe they are, if you’re a Thatcherite but, to me, the Scots are my fellow and equal citizens and always will be until and unless the day should come when they choose to be only my dear neighbours. Last time I checked, though, back in September, 2014, Scotland was as much a part of the United Kingdom and thus, part of my country, as are England, Wales and Northern Ireland. How pathetic the political-media-business complex sounded back then and how desperate they sound now.

Personally, I find rather attractive the idea of a Labour minority government with support, prodding and blocking, as necessary and appropriate, from the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru. I rather wish I could actually see that ‘progressive bloc’ option on my ballot slip and vote for it rather than having to hope for it to be the outcome by happy accident.

But then, good grief and dear gods, Ed call me resilient, call me progressive Miliband goes and spoils it all with denials so persistent and so overtly unrealistic as to be risible and succeeds, mostly, in dancing to the mischief tune of a self-inflated Media and the short-termist, increasingly nationalistic (à la Ukip) Cons who are terrified of an organised Left. And I greatly resent the way politicos are acting as though it were up to them; as if the voters’ wishes, yet to be expressed, were mere garnish. And I despair at Labour’s seeming ignorance of those to the left of it and the Party’s tragic failure to see all the opportunities in leading a larger progressive Left. It’s infuriating…

The UK’s collective population is around 63 million of which Scotland’s portion is less than 6 million. With a UK Parliament of 650 seats (irrespective of the Speaker and Sinn Fein), how on earth does the SNP, even if it wins every single one of its 59 constituency seats in Scotland, seriously threaten the unity of the Kingdom or effect any irreversible change all by herself except by the consent or indifference of a good majority of the Houses and indeed, the citizens of our country/countries. Of course the SNP is going to fight for its interests, probably shrewdly. Like every other party. Go figure! But Scotland would need one heck of a bionic tail to wag the whole dog and the dog would need to be in a drugged sleep. To be sure, her representatives could make Parliament very lively; give the government a hellish term and the electorate many kittens over the passions and potentials of the debates. But, isn’t that what a thriving democracy looks like in times of portentous issues and events? And isn’t robust challenge to the smug comfort of a corrosive status quo exactly what so many wanted Labour to do for the last five years? Isn’t that what those blasted Kippers have been and hope to continue doing? Bring on that SNP agitation, I say.

There are those Scots for whom Independence will probably always be the goal, simply as a matter of principle and there are others for whom it may forever be anathema. There are, though, many Scots for whom Independence came to be seen as the best solution to their despair at decades of Neoliberal economics and foreign policy, Westminster bubblethink and arrogant Little Englishism. So, whether by Coalition, confidence and supply or vote-by-vote, I wonder: if the progressive Left can positively influence the socio-economic direction of all four nations – how can it not – and we all start to feel that our Society is Just and benevolent – wherever we live – might not Independence recede in the minds and hearts of all but the die hardests..? Maybe a strong SNP force (et al, of course) working with a willing Labour Party is actually the best way to heal all the harm caused by Tory and Labour neoliberalism and keep the United Kingdom a United Kingdom – in nature, as well as name.

But who, even, is Britain, now? It’s clearly not the once and for all settled argument that the establishment and the No voters keep trying to insist that it is. I’m unnerved and sick already of the ad hoc superficial quick fix, bit of this and a bit of that, placate your personal voter base approach. Unionists, Independents and Federalists (please, gods, no to the latter); decentralisation, home rule, devolution and localism: I reckon we’re all being stitched up, wherever we live. And the longer I watch this farce play out, the more complex the matter of our democratic settlement reveals itself to be. The more tribal the political argument becomes; the more bile and paranoia is expressed; the more I see the electorate being made secondary to the decision making and the wisdom of having a constitutional convention being conveniently dismissed, the more I believe we need to go back a few steps and address the question we haven’t asked ourselves from either side of the Scottish Indyref, not as a whole nor as all of its national parts.

Who is Britain? Is she to be a mere quirk of geography and history, four nations united and governed as one State (notwithstanding other beneficial democratic reforms) or four nations that should just be sovereign, separate and independent of each other? I think this fundamental question should not have been so easily overlooked and that it will become increasingly pertinent in the near to medium term. Answering it would focus minds as to what we all think we want and need and what we actually want and need and thus, better inform our next moves. So, before we go making a veritable constitutional, economic and civil mess, awarding powers willy-nilly, here and there, out of reactionary panic and short-sighted party political expedience, can we please make up our minds?

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4 thoughts on “Who is Britain, now?

  1. Pingback: NHS Action Yesterday | aspiblog

  2. Iain Duncan Smith has a piece in The Telegraph; he’s scaremongering, saying that Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon would destroy the UK.

    People like him and Theresa May, who are opposing a Labour-SNP Coalition partnership because it would revive the issue of Scottish independence and put the Union under fresh strain, could learn a lesson from my country, Canada, which has survived both separatist governments in Quebec and a sovereignist federal political party in Canada, the Bloc Québécois, devoted to the protection of Quebec’s interests in the House of Commons of Canada.

    As a matter of fact, the election of the Bloc Québécois in Canada did not result in the breakup of my country, and Quebec ultimately gained more powers within confederation. The fear-mongering surrounding a possible Labour-SNP Coalition partnership may not be justified.

    There’s greater certainty of Iain Duncan Smith and George Osborne destroying the poor, sick, and disabled than of Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon destroying the UK.

    Full disclosure: Since January 2012, I have been reporting voluntarily to the UN’s human rights office, in Geneva, on the welfare crisis for Britain’s sick and disabled. [Fellow Canadian Leilani Farha (@leilanifarha) is the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing; see http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/Pages/LeilaniFarha.aspx. You can tweet her on UK housing issues or e-mail her at the UN’s human rights office: srhousing@ohchr.org; she does follow my Twitter account.]

    (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)

    Like

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