In 1914 they began leaving the slums, taking the King’s shilling, to escape the dirt and the disease, to send some worthless pennies home to feed the wives and children they had left behind in buildings swarming with humanity and rotting with piss, shit, and vomit. You may think I’m being crass, but if we could revisit those dwellings, these rude words would be the least of our worries. The government that sent them to war had caged them like animals in these hell holes to work and to die for the good of the empire and the ruling class.
Britain didn’t cause the blight. That was the work of an airborne pathogen that worked its way across northern Europe, Britain, and Ireland from 1844 to 1845. The failure of the potato crop was not Britain’s doing, but the Famine was. Since 1801, with the Act of Union of Britain and Ireland, the British government in London had systematically reduced the economy of Ireland and destroyed its native industries in order to reduce competition. Union with England makes countries poorer because union with England has always been to England’s benefit.
Modern austerity – entirely designed by the British government – does not have the workhouse, but in many other respects it is the same. Austerity was implemented to exploit the effects of an economic collapse – again, entirely caused by the British state – to make the poorest pay for the excesses of the wealthy, to further reduce the working class, and to hammer a once mighty population into docility and fear. Austerity, like the workhouse in Ireland and the measures of the London government in Scotland during and after the Clearances, typifies the vindictive...
Now, I am not suggesting that Plan A is not a good idea. As I have said, like Chris McEleny and other so-called rebels, I quite like the idea. But to make it the only way is outrageously short-sighted and dangerously innocent of the behaviour of the British state towards Ireland and India in the past. It is not my suggestion that we should have Plan B rather than Plan A. My suggestion is that we must have both. One plan is not necessarily better than another in a situation where the point is to achieve a goal. In this case, the end justifies the means.
The ruling of the Supreme Court offers Scotland and Scotland’s elected representatives – the only representatives of the sovereignty of the Scottish people – a whole new set of opportunities. British government attempts to stifle the Scottish government can now be challenged in the Supreme Court and retarded by the precedent this sets. In principle, it removes from the British government the assumed right to grant or withhold permission for constitutional referenda in Scotland, voted for by the Scottish parliament and Scottish MPs in the House of Commons.
A number of senior Conservatives have already voiced their concerns that there are powerful forces at play in the state, working to ensure the hardest possible departure from Europe. In the House of Lords, Nigel Lawson wasn’t joking when he said there is a “real danger that undesirable, but often understandable, insurrectionary forces will feel they cannot trust the British parliament [if a hard Brexit is avoided],” and that as a result “a very ugly situation could well arise.”
Scots are genuinely and rightly concerned about the future of devolution. There is nothing permanent in the current constitutional arrangement, and nor can there ever be. It matters not a jot what the Scotland Act says or what any one politician says; sovereignty in the United Kingdom rests only in Westminster. No law and no treaty can bind the power of this or any future London government to any particular course of action. We can talk about the Claim of Right and Scots Law all we like, the legal reality, for so long as we remain a part of the United Kingdom...
When faced with the powerful self-destructive drive of England, especially when we are so completely powerless to help, we are forced to adopt the calm reasoning of Fr. Anthony De Mello: “Maybe they should suffer a little more. Maybe they ought to touch rock bottom…” Of course, what some need is to suffer less, and those we must help, but there are others – like the alcoholic and the drug addict – who need to hit rock bottom first, who need to suffer a little more.