We left school with this now ingrained assumption: That we were at the bottom of the hierarchy, that by our nature we were inferior, and that we could never escape our predestined and natural place in a world that was owned and managed by our superiors. Looking back, it troubles me the most that this was done to us by our fellow Scots; by men and women who daily made it their business to correct our Scots language – or, as they called it, our ‘bad English’ – and whose greatest ambition was to be thought of as British.
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.
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...
In Britain, the architects of ‘Global Britain’ – the hardline Brexiteers – have envisioned a new future and new direction for the British state post-EU. ‘Empire 2.0’ is a neoliberal project built on a sinister neo-imperialist nostalgia which seeks to restore the former greatness of the United Kingdom. They want to construct an anarcho-capitalist wonderland for the powerful, wealthy, and privileged ruling class – the English Übermensch, veiled by the trappings of classical Britishness; the signs of soft nationalism – the London bus, the red letterbox, and the now ubiquitous Union Jack.
Call it prejudice or a chip on my shoulder – I call it common sense, but here’s my take: The admission that these people [used to?] use coke is a window into a bigger picture of their reality. What is for millions of people around the world the root cause of their suffering is to these privileged upper class shites a mere recreation, a good buzz that accompanies all the other privileges their wealth and social position affords them. Not even hiding it from their peers, they organise exclusive get-togethers in the most luxurious hotels where they can hire in all sorts of fleshly delights.
Let me be clear, I don’t hate Mrs Windsor. I couldn’t care less about her. She has plenty of people to worry about the perfect weave and thread-count of her toilet silk. She doesn’t need me to like or dislike her. So, I’m indifferent to her and her entire family. But I loath her entitled Christmas Day intrusion. I despise the institution of the monarchy. It makes me sick to my stomach. This is the one part of Christmas Day that reminds me that I’m not the Christian I ought to be, but, then, the Christian that I am compels me to speak out against her arrogance. It’s a balancing act.
Both the Labour movement and the Labour parliamentary party have been the greatest let down for the working class in the entire history of industrialisation and its aftermath, and – as far as we are concerned in Scotland – it can remain what it has become. The left in Scotland has shifted to the Scottish National Party and the independence movement. We have begun to waken up to the fact that if we are to make things better for ourselves then we have to do it for ourselves.
The era of the sick-note has ended. We have well and truly entered the age of “fit to work.” It doesn’t matter if people are fit to work or not, they are being declared fit to work in order to save money, and when people are fit to work in a country where there is no work they are subject to the cutting edge of austerity – the sanctions regime and the foodbank. The purpose of this is to reduce people to destitution, and they are duly complying. Under this pressure people are becoming depressed and stressed; they are getting sicker, suicidal, and dying faster. This was always the plan.