As royals of the same royal family that did this to Ireland, it would be different had they come to apologise for the barbarity of British rule on this island and for the part Queen Victoria – “the Famine Queen” – played in the utter ruin of Ireland during the Great Famine, but they didn’t. Harry and Meaghan came – as British royals – to play the part of international celebrities, stars we were all expected to flock to see. They didn’t seem to notice how empty the streets were, how so few people turned out to welcome them.
More Scots than ever are of the opinion that, so long as Scotland is a member of the British union state, pro-secessionist parties should follow a policy of abstentionism – having our elected MPs refuse to take up their seats in the House of Commons, until we have secured our independence. Yesterday on the blog I made my own position on the Westminster question clear; writing that “we cannot – as a nation – hope for democracy at Westminster.”
Thanks in large part to the way the internet and social media work we have been herded into tribes of opinion, rarely coming face-to-face – or “interfacing” – with people of radically differing opinions. Trends in the development of identity politics have perceptively homogenised our tribal opinions, making us less independent thinkers than subscribers to our chosen tribal groupthink. What this means is that people are increasingly finding themselves pressured into adopting a package of positions so as to conform to the expectations of the collective.
London has every reason to deny it is currently considering the idea. May’s government depends on the support of the DUP, the political representatives of Ulster Loyalists – a community in the province that wants to see no difference between its “country” and the rest of the UK. But the British government has a nasty habit of denying its plans around Brexit. It denied a power grab in Scotland, and we all know what happened then. Denial is a British tactic designed to limit resistance to its plans until they are ready to be rolled out.
What emerged after the re-think hiatus of Scottish unionism was a hard core remnant of British nationalists; they have metamorphosed from pious peddlers of almost believable British lies into hard-nosed defenders of the union, no matter the cost. After this resurrection we found ourselves looking into the blank and pitiless eyes of born again, fundamentalist, extremist British nationalists; people with nothing left but a union jack and a thousand-yard stare.
Public discussion and media emphasis since 9/11 (2001), switching racial discourse from diverse racial signifiers to Islam, has been found to bear down heavily upon Muslim women. This essay will examine the use of women and the female body in Islamophobia as it is evidenced primarily in Ireland, critically analysing it through the framework of Said’s Orientalism, the Racial State of Goldberg, and Yuval-Davis’ thesis of women as the reproducers of the nation.
After April 1998, with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, and at the height of Tony Blair’s New Labour experiment, a window of opportunity opened for the old imperial flag. With “peace” in Ireland and a refreshing post-Conservative era flourishing over Blair’s New Britain, it was felt that the union jack too could be rebranded and sold at home and abroad as the hallmark of brand UK – a neoliberal whitewashed advertising strategy that has been developed through a number of more recent permutations including “Team GB” and “UK OK.”
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.”