Britain can’t die like this! For all we – Scottish independentistas – may dislike being “British,” with that identity stamped all over our passports – quite literally for the whole world to see, Britain has been, for the most part, a worthy adversary. Sure, if this is how it ends I’ll take it, but I think it deserves better. The romantic in me wants to defeat Britain in a final bloodless Bannockburn, where we get to see the last heroic charge of the redcoats mown down under the mighty artillery of Scotland’s democratic spirit. We know how much the Brits love their glorious failures.
Nicola Sturgeon promised the Scottish people she would revisit the question of another independence referendum when the details of a negotiated Brexit were better known, and while the clock is still running on the Article 50 talks the reset button on the final shape Brexit will take has just been pressed. We are now no closer to knowing the probable shape Brexit will take than we were at the end of June 2016. Yet, this isn’t quite bad news for Scotland – certainly not for the independence cause.
An impending checkmate has brought May to her senses, but in doing so she has had to erase all her lines in the sand – up to and including her position on the free movement of people. As the negotiations are ongoing, when May takes this compromise to Europe it is likely Barnier will up the ante by demanding this third pillar – effectively compelling the British to take the only remaining offer on the table; a Brexit that doesn’t mean Brexit, and that would be the end game for her.
The presence of the Dutch far-right leader, Geert Wilders, along with representatives from other European far-right organisations, at the London rally makes it clear that the rise of the right is not simply a problem of the British white working class. Neo-Nazi and far and ultra-far-right groups are gaining strength and popular and political momentum right across the northern hemisphere; from central Russia, across Europe, to the rust belt of the United States. These groups and organisations are in communication, learning from and influencing one another.
This is the thing with derivative western political culture – something Britain’s Tories have taken to whole new depths; it gets progressively worse and less convincing with each new generation. Gone are the days of a marbled Gaius Octavius Thurinus as Caesar Augustus – vultus bonus, ut me addere – pointing the way ahead for Pax Romana. Now we don’t even have an effete William of Orange on his gee-gee. We have been reduced to this: Middling civil servants accidentally promoted – through the rigours of last man standing – to leadership, poised as though bracing to release excess gas.
As Britain hastily cobbles together a black history of Britain the coming of the Windrush generation is being framed as an invitation. It was nothing of the sort. The British Empire was imploding. In order to offer a lifeline to its predominantly white imperial ruling caste in the colonies it granted citizenship to former subjects, not thinking that the native populations and the decedents of former African slaves would take up the freedom this citizenship offered with such relish.
A staged gas attack provides the US and its allies a justification for military intervention in a conflict in which they have strategic interests. The British may be telling the truth, but their outrageous and criminal behaviour in other conflicts gives us no reason to trust them. Britain is not the most trustworthy state, and so it is understandable that people will accept Russia’s claims over whatever London has to say.
Brexit is merely the latest development of this ugly racist British nationalism. In the past two decades ethno-nationalism and racism have played a growing part in British politics, forcing both the Conservatives and Labour to lurch to the nationalist right to win support from an entire section of the British public that has had its mind and soul poisoned by a really horrible and bitter angry nationalism. We might even be correct in seeing in Brexit a completion of what was begun in 1982 with the limiting of British citizenship to those “born here.”