To put this is Texas terms: We’ve struck oil. We are rich. We are richer than our wildest dreams! But, wait, we’re not. We are not an independent country. We voted No to independence in 2014, believing we were broke, and that the oil was running it. We bought the lie that what oil we had left wouldn’t be worth a pittance. The same people who were laughing at us then are laughing at us now; that oil bonanza – which they knew was in the pipeline – will not be coming to us. It will be going right where it has always gone, to London.
The referendum we were granted in 2014 was an anomaly. We would never have been given the opportunity to vote on independence if those in power in Westminster thought for a single moment that we would elect to leave. They were banking on our defeat, and they expected a defeat so humiliating, so utter and comprehensive it would, in a single blow, send our smouldering hope flying off into the abyss of history and ancient and half-remembered lore. But we took up that gauntlet and we bloodied their nose. Our defeat then was the pallid victory of the swindler...
Brexit and Westminster’s predictable arrogance have brought us here – to the end of our tether. This is the last chance the British government has to listen to us and to respect our sovereign democratic will. This is the limit of the chain holding us to the kennels of Britain, and that chain is just about to snap. When those bonds break London will be faced with a creature it has not seen since Bannockburn, a Scotland that will not be brought back to heel no matter the cost.
If this is what counts for democracy in London, and if this is how Scotland is to be treated – as a subject to the will of England, then “taking back control” refers to Holyrood as much as it does to Brussels. Without any real prospect of a reasonable trade agreement with the EU after Brexit, and friends abroad as reliable as Trump’s “America First,” London’s economic future is completely dependent on its access to our resources. Britain’s departure from the EU is therefore inextricably linked to its war against the Scottish government and the independence movement.
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.
When the British media turns its attention to the “nationalists,” nothing can appear worse. Everything the Scottish government – “the SNP government” – has done to make rail travel in Scotland the best performing rail network in the United Kingdom, well that’s a “crisis.” There’s an NHS crisis in Scotland too, an oil crisis, and an employment crisis, and any other flavour of crisis you may care to imagine. Scotland, thanks to the SNP, has become one big crisis.
Comrade Corbyn is marching north to Scotland with his wee pokey army to “win back” seats from the SNP because he wants to be Prime Minister of a united Britain. He appears to have gotten it into his head, no doubt emboldened by Cat Boyd and her like, that Scotland is right on the verge of turning back to Labour and embracing Corbynism; this wonderful new brand of socialism.
I suppose it is quite apt that all this should remind us of the Tower of Babel. At once we have this afternoon’s ridiculousness and the haunting shadow of Grenfell’s burnt out husk. In many respects they are twin aspects of the same colossal hubris, the glorification and worship of power and the nightmare reality of the consequences of this idolatry.