Pacta sunt servanda. Unless states keep their word, the whole international order begins to break down. Deals cannot be made with states which cannot be trusted, and even the threat of breaking a treaty seriously undermines the confidence other states have in the ‘rogue.’ This is where Britain now stands, on the outside looking in without a single friend who trusts it enough to open a door. Britain has not merely decided to leave the European Union, it has found itself locked out.
Regardless of this, however, Scotland is not England’s possession. Scotland and the Scottish nation – its culture, identity, and resources – are the shared heritage and possession of the Scots. The incorporating union of 1707 has always been exactly that to Scotland; the fusion of two distinct kingdoms. But, and from the very beginning, in England the union – which was secured with the bribery of Scots nobles and the threat of invasion – has always been understood as the annexation or absorption of Scotland by England. So, when we hear English people opine about Scottish independence...
In the independence movement we talk so much about building a better Scotland, about improving the lot of Scottish people in Scotland. We talk about beginning this ‘indy’ as we mean to go on. This is all just talk, though – isn’t it? I want to start as I mean to go on. I want to begin Scottish independence with a whole new Scotland, not a reset to the ugliness that was aristocratic Scotland prior to 1707. The world has changed. We have changed. Say what you want about prioritising independence before a Republic, I want both – and I want both because I do not believe...
Every confidence trick has its mark, and every mark has to be reeled in with a story – this is the prose or the narrative of union. Over time the prose of the union has changed but the purpose has always been the same, to keep us in the game. It was once about benefiting from England’s other colonies. Yes, we benefitted alright. We got progress: The Clearances, emigration, industrialised poverty, a metropolis in London that soaked up our best and brightest. If being bled dry was our objective, we did alright out of the union.
With both a pro-independence majority in Edinburgh and an SNP majority in London, we have come to see that British democracy is calibrated in such a way as to stifle the democratic will of Scotland. The same is true for Wales and Northern Ireland. In fact, the constitution of the United Kingdom – while unwritten – makes it impossible for us to assert our will without the fundamentally undemocratic permission of the English state-dominated British government.
Now is the time to wake up and give ourselves a shake. There’s work to be done, and the bottom line is that none of that will get done unless we do it. If we want a referendum in 2018 – a year beginning in a matter of weeks – then we have to work for it. We have to create the conditions, as a movement, in which the SNP and our government are following us to where we want to go.
There is no avoiding the association of tartan and the bagpipes with battlefields spanning the whole width of the world. Scots regiments marched on and subdued Egypt, Afghanistan, and India. Scottish graves litter the fields of Flanders and the Somme. Scotland has made its mark on the world and left behind it a horrendous trail of misery, suffering, and blood.
When British unionists in Scotland talk about “all we have achieved together” they are asking us to ignore the gore on the butcher’s apron.