What an Absolute Joke

By Jason Michael

Didn’t Kezia just knock our socks off today? At long last we got to see some fire from her over this despicable rape clause and the merciless attack on the social security system. She even admitted Westminster is the reason we are going through all this.

Credit where credit is due, I never thought this morning that I would end my day giving a slow, appreciative applause to the Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale. Yet here I am on the verge of singing her praises. In an impassioned address to the Edinburgh parliament she showed the London Conservative agenda for what it is – a brazen assault on the powerless and the weakest members of society. She exposed the heartless cruelty of the attack on the tax credit system and called out the vile nastiness that is Theresa May’s rape clause.

When she asked if there was “no end to the Tories’ desire to ensure those with the least have even less” I was – in spite of myself – standing right there with her. She was saying everything so many of us have been demanding and protesting for so long. When we thought Labour had finally surrendered to its role as the Westminster government’s stooge in Scotland, Kezia came right out of nowhere and socked it at them – kudos. But while everyone was getting excited by her brilliant response to the Tories’ support of the rape clause, some may have missed her golden admission:

For ten years the Tory government at Westminster has slashed our valued social security system in a deliberate act of sabotage, and the question I would have put to Ruth Davidson – if she had bothered to take any interventions – is a question of judgement: Tell us why rape victims have to pay the price of the deficit while you give tax cuts to the to the richest people in our society?

Kezia Dugdale knows as well as anyone else in Scotland that her party is now an unelectable dead duck, that the days of the British Labour Party are numbered, and that the failure of Labour’s twisted brand of socialism has paved the way for at least another decade of Tory domination. She knows that nothing will now save the victims of austerity from the grubby grasp of Davidson’s London cronies, and still she acknowledged – in the chamber of the Scottish parliament – that it is the government in Westminster that has been behind the dismantling of the social security system. She neglected to point much of this out while she was telling Scotland we were “better together.”

Quite obviously we are not better together, and the longer we stay together the more of this we can expect – because we can be damn-well sure the Labour Party isn’t going to protect any of us from the might of Tory avarice. It’s at times like this that even our Kez must wake up in the morning and see that we have only one road open to us now – independence. Only our separation from the monsters in Westminster will protect us from the continual rape of our country. The Union is the real joke, and one day we hope to hear Ms Dugdale speak as passionately about that.


Kezia Dugdale speaking in the child tax credit (“Rape Clause”) debate

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Pure Racism: UKIP’s “Integration” Agenda

By Jason Michael

UKIP has unveiled a policy statement on integration in the United Kingdom, a document that is unparalleled in its flagrant Islamophobic and racist rhetoric in modern British politics. This is where the lurch to the right in the UK is taking us.

Integration is a deeply problematic concept for any multicultural society. It implies, and is often used by policymakers to force, the assimilation of minority cultures into “our” – or the dominant or hegemonic – culture. Defenders of integration will argue, as they do, that multiculturalism – the racial, religious, ethnic and cultural expression of difference – is intrinsically bad for Britain, for our way of life; suggesting that it poses a challenge to our values, and may even pose a threat to our national security. It does nothing of the sort. This insistence on cultural assimilation is nothing more than a slightly more nuanced form of racism and discrimination.

It is important to recognise that when the proponents of this integration use the term “multicultural,” they are referring only to the culture of non-white foreign communities. UKIP’s Integration Agenda, launched earlier today, could not make this clearer. Germany, France, and the United States, for example, have their own distinct national and regional cultures, but no one demands that German, French, and US citizens living in the United Kingdom compromise their cultural values to accommodate us. There is no expectation that people from white majority nations assimilate to our way of life and our social and cultural values. Their whiteness gives them a free pass.

This document also, and more interestingly, ignores the fact that the UK is – by definition – multicultural. As its name suggests, the United Kingdom is a composite state polity, a political union of nations as opposed to being itself a nation. Each of its component parts is home to distinct ethnic and national cultures and local and regional cultural variations – all of which are host to other minority communities.

Moreover, integration – as a cure for “dangerous” multiculturalism does not work. Research into antisemitism in Europe and North America has shown that assimilation actually aggravates racism. Where people have expressed anti-Semitic opinions, those opinions are more intense when they are directed towards Jews who “look and act like us.” Ask an Islamophobic racist who he or she hates the most – a Muslim in “traditional” Islamic attire, speaking Arabic, or a well-paid religious Muslim professional speaking with an educated British accent?

The problem is not difference or diversity. The problem – as it has always been – is racism, and racists will be racist no matter how the target of their hatred dresses or speaks. It is that simple.


UKIP Leader Paul Nuttall

Today Paul Nuttall, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, with his deputy Peter Whittle, UKIP’s Education spokesperson David Kurten, and its Women’s and Equality spokesperson Margot Parker, launched his party’s “Integration Agenda” in London. This document – 297 words of pure unmitigated racist bile – singles out only the British Muslim communities; claiming that it “addresses a wide range of cultural issues that have worked against communities coming together.” We shall briefly examine each of its eight paragraphs below.

Pass a law against the wearing of face coverings in public places. Face coverings are a deliberate barrier to integration and, in many contexts, a security risk too. The time has come to outlaw them. People should show their face in a public place.

No fear, this is not the proposal of a law against motorcycle helmets, wedding veils, or sun glasses. This is about religious face coverings – specifically the niqāb worn by a tiny minority of Muslim women in the UK. Like everything else in this rancid policy proposal, it is thinly veiled racism – intended to target Muslim women.

Abolish postal voting on demand and return to a higher threshold of demonstrable need before a postal vote is granted. Postal votes on demand have led to a boom in electoral fraud and vote-stealing, especially among minority communities.

Only minority communities, according to UKIP, are guilty of electoral fraud. Again we find that this is a pointed reference to Muslim communities – namely the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities accused of defrauding the postal voting system by Eric Pickles in 2016. While such a claim does need to be investigated by the authorities, as all electoral fraud should, it is far from representative of how the overwhelming majority of British Muslims behave during elections. Yet it has become a trope of Islamophobic racist ill-opinion in far-right discourse across the UK, and so has been taken up by UKIP in its appeal to the racist sentiment of its supporters.

Explicitly ban sharia – which is intended as a rival legal system and which undermines women’s rights – from being applied in the UK and establish a legal commission to draw up proposals to disband sharia courts.

Okay. In no sense is Islamic sharia law a “rival legal system” to British law. Sharia is a customary religious law derived from the Quran and the Hadith, and as such it is not entirely dissimilar to the Jewish religious law of halakha and Christian canon law, and its courts not unlike the Jewish beth din or a Christian ecclesiastical court.

Yes, law derived from the Quran – an ancient religious text – can be pretty barbaric, but, as is the case in Judaism and Christianity with their laws derived from a 2,500 year old religious text, reason and modernity trump strict adherence to the letter of the law. Just as it is in Christianity and Judaism, interpretation is what it’s all about, but – playing on people’s ignorance of Islamic theology and practice – UKIP is again whipping up racist opinion.

Implement school-based medical checks on girls from groups at high risk of suffering FGM. These should take place annually and whenever they return from trips overseas.

Mr Nuttall, concerned as he is for the wellbeing of little Muslim girls, would like to see their vaginas every time they have wandered out of his inspectorial sight. Female genital mutilation (FGM) or female circumcision is a custom stemming from pre-Islamic central-north Africa and – while it is not mentioned in either the Bible or the Quran – has been practiced by some African and Middle Eastern Christian, Muslim, and Jewish groups. In the main all three religions have condemned the practice, with the Islamic al-Azhar Supreme Council in Cairo ruling in 2007 that the practice has “no basis in core Islamic law or any of its partial provisions.”

That’s not good enough for Paul Nuttall, because – obviously – what Muslims do and say in the absence of good white men has to be inspected. Like little girls’ nether regions. In 1997 the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, and UNFPA defined FGM as the “partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” In this respect it is no different to MGM or male circumcision, still practiced by both Muslims and Jews – even in the UK. One gets the impression that had this practice been abandoned by Judaism – a far more well-established and, in some places, well-connected, minority community – Paul Nuttall would be down on this too.

Of course FGM is abhorrent – like MGM – and should be challenged by the law. But UKIP’s reasons for being on this bandwagon have precious little to do with the health and wellbeing of girls and women, and everything to do with finding yet another excuse to single out and victimise Muslims.

Make failure to report an instance of FGM by someone who has knowledge that it has taken place a criminal offence itself. The CPS to operate under a presumption of prosecution of any parent whose daughter has undergone FGM.

See above.

In cases where the victims of grooming gangs are of a different racial or religious group than the offenders, the CPS should cite this as an aggravating feature of the offence when prosecuting, opening the way to a longer sentence.

“Paki Grooming Gangs,” à la the coverage of a series of arrests of Pakistani men in Bradford in 2012 by the far-right’s favourite online forum Vanguard News Network, is another favourite trope in the mythological canon of racism in the UK. Making a reference to this incident is a real vote winner for UKIP, but it bears no resemblance to the morality of most Muslims in Britain or anywhere else. But this is Brexit Britain – the right-wing media has made it impossible for a great many people to differentiate Islam from child rape and predatory grooming. Nuttall is merely capitalising on another moral panic surrounding a tiny criminal element. It just so happens that the bad guys in this case were Muslims.

Knowing what we know of the culture of silence in the BBC pertaining to the behaviour of Jimmy Savile – where even Esther Rantzen knew what he was doing and said nothing – we have to ask why UKIP hasn’t asked that such grooming in contexts where the perpetrators belong to a different social class from their victims or who are media celebrities also be considered “an aggravating feature of the offence.” We know why – they’re not Muslims.

Immediate closure of schools where there is evidence of Islamist ideology being taught or imposed on children. A moratorium on new Islamic faith schools until substantial progress has been demonstrated in integrating Muslims into mainstream British society.

Muslims in the UK make up a meagre 4.4% of the population, but somehow it is Muslim faith schools and Muslim children that we should be most concerned about. Nuttall isn’t at all worried about the millions of other faith schools teaching children that it is a sin to be homosexual, that God made the world in six days, or that the world will soon be ending when the Jewish people take back their land in Palestine. There are far more biblical fundamentalist Christian faith schools in the UK, and what they are teaching their children is dangerous and has real world, geopolitical consequences. But they are white, or at least they’re not Muslim. UKIP isn’t interested in them.

Fundamentalism, fanaticism, and extremism exist in all religions, but this is only a tiny percentage of the religious expression of Islam and Christianity in Britain. Where it does exist, yes, we must have safeguards and laws in place. But by singling out Muslim schools UKIP is deliberately playing on the popular fears of Islam that have been manufactured by the British tabloid media. It is all directed to the ends of racism and intolerance.

CPS and police to be instructed to treat a so-called “honour” dimension of any act of violence as an aggravating factor, leading to it being accorded a higher priority for investigation and prosecution and not a lower one.

“Honour killings” and acts of violence with an “honour” dimension are only ever committed by Muslims and dark skinned people, have you noticed that? Good Christian white men are only ever charged and convicted of domestic violence in which they assault and sometimes kill their spouses or female relatives. “Honour” sounds that little bit more savage – so that’s what brown and Muslim men do. But, in reality, these are the same things, and – regardless of the term UKIP is using – we should all be in favour of protecting women and girls from abusive people; people like Paul Nuttall who want to peek beneath their underwear and people like Nigel Farage who has been reported to have given his wife a good ol’ British thrashing on a few occasions.

UKIP’s new policy agenda is nothing short of Islamophobic racism and an incitement to violence; cynically pointing out spurious charges against obscure Islamic teachings, and against individual and small groups of Muslims to create a general impression of the faith – and Muslim communities – as dangerous.


UKIP’s Paul Nuttall Wants Burka Ban | Good Morning Britain

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Certain Uncertainty for the rUK

By Jason Michael

Scotland will get by just fine as an independent country, and – as even the figures the UK government has distorted show – we will be boxing well above our weight. What London really wants to know is how it will get by without us.

Scottish independence, as a political idea and ambition, has been pinned down by a relentless barrage of questions about the future. What currency will an independent Scotland use? Does Scotland have the economic wherewithal to be a viable autonomous state? How will Scotland manage its share of UK debt? All of these are good questions. But they are all equally misleading. Given that bartering cattle is no longer a realistic option, an independent Scotland will have a currency. Much in the same way as other countries cope with debt Scotland will cope, and if Denmark manages as a country we can be pretty sure Scotland will be fine.

During the 2014 campaign even David Cameron was forced to concede that Scotland would manage as an independent state, so we have to ask: Why all the pointless questions about the future? It was a tactic, as we all now know, to sow uncertainty about our abilities, but recently I have been thinking that it is likely that the prospect of our independence caused a serious amount of concern in London over the future of the rUK. The real question – as we have come to see in light of Brexit – is how will the rest of the United Kingdom cope if and when Scotland ups and leaves?

Unionist argument has focused on oil, insisting that too much of Scotland’s independence hopes were based on our oil revenues. Why not? Norway appears to be doing pretty well from its oil resources – even now when the income from oil is so “uncertain.” Yes, US and British foreign policy objectives have pushed the members of OPEC to drive down the price of oil by agreed overproduction, but this doesn’t mean that Norway – or even Scotland – has had to give its oil away. Oil is still a lucrative commodity, and well London knows it.

Britain has been banking on Scotland’s oil since it was first discovered, and Scotland – as a result of Westminster’s use of this uncertain commodity – has managed to become the only oil producing nation in the world to get poorer as a result of striking black gold. When the Westminster hacks ask how Scotland will cope, what they are really asking is how they will cope. They know we’ll be fine – because they have experience of how fine a bit of oil makes a country. They also have an inkling of how different things will be when it’s gone, and it is thinking about this that is making them so nervous about Scotland leaving the Union.

Now that the Brexiteers have a better picture of how dismal being divorced from the EU is going to be, Scottish oil has become – short of actually going to war with Spain – one of their last remaining bargaining chips, and even that has become as uncertain as their uncertain Brexit future. Europe doesn’t have an oil producing member state – or, at least, it won’t have after the UK is gone – and, last time I checked, oil still makes the world go round. Will the European Union welcome Scotland – an oil producer – into the club? Do we really need time to think about that?


One way or another, an independent Scotland will be fine. It won’t be a utopia. Sure, but we can cope with that. But the only thing certain about the future of the rUK is that it is all uncertain. Not having the use of Scotland’s oil is only going to make this uncertainty a damn sight more uncertain. In the next independence referendum – when London lets us have it – we should turn the tables on these stupid questions, and ask the unionists to answer questions on how what’s left of the UK will cope after we’ve gone – we’ll be fine.


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No Ideology without the Conflict of Ideology

By Jason Michael

Scottish nationalism is ideological, but it is only ideological insofar as it is a reaction to the domination of Scotland by another nationalistic ideology. These are similar ideologies in character, but profoundly different in nature.

Nationalism in Scotland, or – more correctly – the Scottish independence movement, has been subjected to the definition of its nature and characteristics by the British government and the state-aligned media Britain has at its behest. Britain, as the narrative creator, has presented Scottish nationalism to the British public and a global audience as a narrow, petty, and bigoted fascistic ideology, driven by hatred for England and the English. It has constructed the prism through which the Scottish constitutional debate is viewed and interpreted – both at home and abroad.

Scotland is by no means alone in this regard. Every separatist movement, seeking national autonomy from a foreign and dominant state, is, to a greater or lesser extent, subject to the propaganda of its imperialist-colonialist hegemonic master. Catalonia receives much the same treatment at the hands of the Madrid government, mitigated to some degree by the fact that Barcelona has a great deal more power over its own national media. It was the same for Ireland before it gained its independence.


Irish Nationalism: The victors write history and get to describe the vanquished.

This narrative, how the British state explains Scottish nationalism to the United Kingdom, presents a construct of the independence movement in Scotland as an ideology – implying a system of socio-political beliefs which are fundamentally and essentially anti-British. By dominating Scotland’s political discourse and setting the parameters of its understanding, the British state creates the illusion that it is ideologically neutral; that it is both the victim and the observer.

British neutrality in Scotland is a fiction; a chimera fabricated to distract the recipients of its propaganda from the full reality of its own dominating partisanship in Scotland. Scottish nationalism – our independence movement – simply would not exist in the absence of London rule. There is no ideology without conflict of ideology.

Our movement is a highly ideological social and political entity, but it is so only because it presupposes the highly ideological and imperialist-colonialist state polity that is Britain and the British state’s implied and applied ownership of Scotland. The ideologies of Scottish nationalism exist only in response to British ideology and the actuality of British domination. In this regard these two conflicting ideologies may be spoken of as similar – they are both nationalistic, but they are also different. As a reaction to British ideology, the ideology of Scottish nationalism and the rational basis for Scottish independence would make no sense if it was, in nature, indistinguishable from the dominant British ideology.


“Be the Best:” Britishness as an expression of domination and superiority.

Any effort to understand Scottish nationalism in its own terms necessitates an understanding of British state ideology, but pinning this down also proves to be quite difficult. At its core Britain is unionist; at once royalist, imperialist, loyalist, colonial-expansionist, and militaristically arrogant. Yet without venturing to the Gaelic fringe of its “home countries” qua nearest foreign possessions, Britain has a nearer atmosphere around its ideological nucleus – the sometimes equally dominated England(s).

This malleable and fluid lesser Britishness too has its own British ideologies, without the accommodation and consent of which the core is stifled. It is in a sense true to say, then, that it is this wider social and political Britishness of Britain’s England(s) that empowers Britain’s core ideology and gives it traction. But these ideologies – these inner British ideologies – are not the same. They exist in tension with one another in an arrangement where the core preserves national dominance by negotiation with the inner peripheral Britishness of its dominated England(s).

The ideologies of this – the albumen of the British egg – are, owing to the ever changing social and class dynamics of its various constitutions, transient and shifting over time due to changing regional, historical, and socio-political pressures. At the present we can gain some insight into where these ideologies are situated – akin to a sociological version of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle – due to the expressions that have come to the surface as a consequence of the politics of Brexit.

“Large sections of the English white working class are acting out supremacist and imperialist status frustrations.”

We have seen that large sections of the English white working class are acting out supremacist and imperialist status frustrations. Undergirding Britishness there exists a deep seated cultural belief in English exceptionalism, that the essential quality of England and the Englishman it to share in the imperialist-colonialist mastery over others with the ideological core of the British state. This fraction of the population is angry that it no longer rules the world. It is yet to realise it never did.


The EDL: Supremacist and imperialist status frustrations in action.

As this process of awakening continues, this population – an insuperable social and political force – is venting these frustrations on “traitors” and those outsiders who are to it the proof of their cultural and nationalistic emasculation – “foreigners” and Muslims in particular. Britain’s core ideology is impotent without the support of this inner periphery, and so has accommodated itself to a significant degree to the prevailing racist ideologies of its nearest English dominions. Britishness, at this moment in time, is an ideology mobilised around extremely powerful and toxic frustrations, anxieties, and racisms – principally Islamophobia.

It would be wrong to imagine that the nationalism of Scotland is incapable of descending into this or something similar. Scotland is not immune to racism and intolerance. At this moment in time the nationalism of Scotland, of the Scottish independence movement, has coalesced as a reaction against the core of British state ideology and so has developed a radically different nature to that of Britain and Britishness. Scottish nationalism has become civic; building cross community alliances as Scottishness in resistance to the dominating imperialist-colonialist and racist ideology of Britain. Much the same has happened within Irish nationalism, where racism and xenophobia have been kept in check by the central republican force of Sinn Féin and its activists.

Yet this is only the reality of the present. It offers no guarantees for the future. In the event of the defeat of the Scottish independence movement, Scotland too has the potential to succumb to the angry and defeated frustration of Britain’s England(s). This is by no means the only route Scotland can follow. There is nothing deterministic about it. But, given the right – or better, the wrong – circumstances, a defeated Scottish nationalism may also look for scapegoats. Perhaps the only real safeguard against this happening in Scotland is the victory of the independence movement.


England’s shame: Undercover with England fans

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Class in the Scottish Independence Equation

By Jason Michael

Scottish nationalism is no typical nationalism. It is not the nationalism the unionists have pretended it to be. Nationalism in Scotland has become the working class’ instrument in its particular struggle against Britain’s dominant class.

It would be wrong to reduce the independence debate in Scotland to a simple expression of class struggle, but that is not to say the question of social class is not a significant factor – perhaps even the most significant factor – in the Scottish constitutional debate. On the surface; as it is represented officially, politically, and in the majority of the media it produces, the independence movement is indebted to independentistas of a distinctly middle class and professional hue. Yet the activists and voters are overwhelmingly drawn from Scotland’s working class and its emerging precariat.

Unionism, for its part, remains the opinion of the established middle and professional class – in the higher strata of civic society, and attracts its working class support by appealing to the populism of sectarianism, and tabloid-driven xenophobia. This element of the working class is almost entirely right-wing in its political thinking. Leftist working class sentiment – historically the largest fragment of Scotland’s working class – has, for the most part, gravitated to the SNP and other pro-independence parties.

Unionists deny class in the debate, knowing that the Union will be won or lost in Scotland by the working class vote, and so prefer the construct of separatism being the product of a fictitious groundswell in “narrow nationalism.” Barton Swaim, writing in the Washington Post in August last year, made an interesting observation:

What strikes me about today’s Scottish nationalism is that it’s entirely political and not in any substantial way cultural. It’s concerned preponderantly with laws and government structure. It’s about policy directives and the allocation of public resources — tax rates, social welfare programs, fishing regulations — and only has to do with home rule insofar as home rule means social democracy and soft diplomacy rather than economic liberalism and the use of military force.

We can disagree with him on the point of our nationalism not being “in any substantial way cultural,” but his point that our movement is energised more by politics and economics than by what might be traditionally thought nationalistic concerns is true. Scottish nationalism is not a Braveheart-style war of independence, but a struggle for a more equitable nation by the only means now possible – separation from a rightist, neoliberal Westminster regime in London. It does not take a genius to see that this analysis of our independence movement bears all the classic Marxist hallmarks of class consciousness and mutual self-protection through joint action.

Scottish unionists frequently expose their awareness of this threat to their established British order, but rather than this exposure arising as a result of discussion on class issues it is invariably revealed through their ad hominem attacks on the working class representatives of the independence movement. When arguments are put forward in a working class accent, the now standard unionist response is to deride the accent of the speaker – signalling to their supporters that the speaker’s words are to be considered of less value than those spoken by people with more refined voices – and so avoid addressing the points they have made.


Mhairi Black: From Chip Shop to Westminster

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