But there is a darker, more sinister, side to this kind of nostalgia-propaganda – when it employs real people as instruments of this mythology. Again, to some extent, this is something British propaganda has always done, but in the main this instrumentalisation of people has either been in the abstract – as in the token image of a silhouetted soldier at a comrade’s graveside or the Unknown Soldier – or in its use of historical figures – such as Winston Churchill being voted the ‘greatest Briton of all time.’
Jack Monroe writes about how her experience of poverty has affected her mental health and her personality. She is not the person she was, not the woman she could have been, because of the stress and trauma of poverty. This is something I have witnessed first-hand. I grew up around a man shaped by the harsh realities of poverty in the 30s and 40s in Kilmarnock. My grandfather ‘never missed a day of work.’ Rain, hail, or shine, hungover, sick, and – latterly – dying he got up and went to the garage where he worked fixing car engines.
Yet, we find ourselves in the uncomfortable position where we cannot blame England or the British government for this awful predicament in which we find ourselves. At every single step of the Brexit drama the Scottish National Party and the Scottish government rejected opportunities that would have paved the way to a referendum and independence. Immediately after the EU referendum, the ‘Maggie Simpson map’ of the results across Britain demonstrated clearly the different paths Scotland and England were taking.
There is no need to start digging bomb shelters at the bottom of the garden. This is not, as some have suggested, going to lead to World War III. Regardless of its bloated opinion of its capabilities, Britain lacks the strength to wage a war against the EU. And – besides – states need friends and allies in order to kick off a global war. Having insulted just about every European member state and having backed the wrong horse in the US presidential election, little Britain is as it has always wanted to be – alone and absolutely friendless.
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.
There is no escaping the racism in Rule Britannia, a cultural weapon of British racial supremacy that has been deployed against Irish Catholics in the six counties, against black and brown immigrants and asylum seekers in England, and against those now branded ‘traitors’ by the Brexiteers in every part of the United Kingdom. This is a truly ugly song, almost no different from the innocent lyrics of the marching music used by the SS and other ‘patriotic’ tunes and anthems used by racial states around the world to impress on the dominated their subject status.
What matters now – all that matters now – is our actions and our resolve, and all this is perfectly summed up in the fullest expression of our democratic will. Democracy is not the long and tiring journey to independence. It is the key to independence and to everything else of good we wish to see in our country. Right now, there exists a majority in Scotland which believes the best thing for Scotland and for the future of the Scottish people is that this union with England, a union that has never served the interests of the Scots nation and people, should be ended.
What Pete Wishart is making here, especially when he writes about taking away ‘the whole democratic case of withholding a referendum’ by winning another majority, is a moral argument – and a good moral argument, but a moral argument nonetheless. Absolutely, a democratic majority would morally require the British government to do the right thing. Historically speaking and as our own experience of the British government since 2012 tells us, Britain and ‘the right thing’ seldom appear in the same sentence. As Rob Johns, Professor in Politics at the University of Essex...