The ugly truth about British nationalism

Wee Ginger Dug is rightly angry about yesterday’s events in George Square, about the lack of action by the authorities to prevent the thugs taking over Glasgow centre and about the lack of acknowledgement from the media and unionist politicians to the real problem here.  Yesterday, the police led away those who had arrived to protest peacefully and left the thugs in charge of George Square.  This cannot go on.  Left to fester, it will only get worse and it can only be a matter of time before there are more serious outcomes.

This has to stop.  

Wee Ginger Dug

Yet again British nationalist fascist thugs have rioted in the centre of Glasgow, and yet again we see the intimate connection between racism, anti-Catholic bigotry, so-called loyalism, and British nationalism. And yet again the Conservative party in Scotland is conspicuous by its silence. For all the hand wringing about the independence movement, Scotland’s racism is tightly bound up with British imperialism. For far too long the media and establishment in Scotland have turned a blind eye to Scotland’s problem with British nationalism. It’s time that ended.

This doesn’t come out of nowhere. We had British nationalist fascist thugs sending bullets and parcel bombs through the post in 2011. We had threats to journalists writing about their beloved fitba club in 2012. We had British nationalist fascist thugs attacking peaceful independence supporters in 2014. We had British nationalist fascist thugs attacking Irish republicans in 2019. And in 2020 we have seen…

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Who are the slaves now?

I originally wrote this after the Scottish election in 2016 and before the horror of the EU referendum under the title Return of the Slave Trade, but it seems apposite to reprise it today because, in the midst of all the demonstrations about the slave trade, it’s important to remember that today, in the UK and elsewhere, there are still slaves. It seems the slaves are always with us.


Now the election’s over, we can get back to business as usual on social media, with most postings slagging off the Tories for the latest round of austerity cuts (or proposed cuts), cutting the incomes of the poor and disadvantaged, while, at the same time, boosting the incomes of the deserving plutocrats.

But how can they do that?  How can they sleep at night?  Have they no conscience?  These and other similar questions are often asked, but what surprises me is that the obvious answer to all of these questions is being ignored.

But first, a history lesson.  Let’s go back a few hundred years to a time when the European nobles got a bit fed up fighting amongst themselves.  Problem was, wars too often resulted in an effective score draw and many of the peasants who formed the bulk of the armies got killed.  This meant that there weren’t enough left to tend the animals and grow the crops used to feed the plutocrats of the day.  Jolly inconvenient, eh, what!  To solve the problem, they started looking  further afield for resources for their battles and to look after their animals and fields and that’s when they discovered Africa.

In Africa, they found a land populated by strange animals you didn’t see in Europe, lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes and many more.  But best of all was an animal that looked almost like a human.  It stood on two legs, just like a human.  It had opposable thumbs, just like a human.  It could use simple tools, just like a human.  But best of all, they discovered it was able to look after crops and animals and could be used to replace the peasants with no need to pay them beyond a few drinks of water and the odd bowl of gruel.  But they weren’t really human.  I mean, they didn’t wear proper clothes and they couldn’t even speak a single European language.

That was the viewpoint of the early European invaders.  The slave trade developed partly because they thought they were dealing with some sort of sub-human species, so treating them like animals was quite acceptable, because they were animals.  Europeans considered Africans were put on the world to provide a means of generating money and food for real (i.e. rich) people.  This was an attitude that persisted right up to the middle of the last century and, in some places, still exists today.  Even many of those who campaigned to end the slave trade did so on the same basis as we would today campaign to improve the conditions of pigs or chickens.

Now, of course, in most developed countries, people views have changed and such thinking is not considered appropriate.  People are no longer identified by their race or colour.  But it is in human nature to seek to differentiate.  There has to be an us and a them.  So how are people differentiated today?  The answer is, of course, money.  There are those who have lots and those who don’t.

So what’s this got to do with the slave trade, I hear you say.  Well, while 17th century Europeans thought Africans were inferior because of their colour, 21st century rich toffs think poor people are inferior because of their poverty.  They believe superior people will find a way to become rich and only inferior people will remain poor because they’ve not got the mental capability to become rich.

Do rich people think poor people are some sort of sub-human species?  A step up from cattle, pigs and sheep, perhaps, but still only fit for tending crops and looking after animals (or whatever the 21st century equivalents are).  Might that explain why Tories don’t seem to be overly concerned about the impact of the cuts on poor people?  After all, if you decided to (e.g.) reduce the amount of grazing your cattle have, you might be worried if it impacted the profit to be made, but you wouldn’t be overly worried about the impact on the cattle’s quality of life.

There are still a few quite significant differences between poor people and animals.  Two of the more significant are poor people can vote, animals can’t and poor people have human rights, animals don’t.  Until this changes, there is always the danger that some poor people might get really annoyed about something and prevent the plans of rich people going ahead.  However, alive to the danger, we’ve seen the Tory government take the first steps to resolve these two problems by firstly changing the voter registration system, resulting in large numbers of poor people losing the right to vote; and secondly, proposing to replace European Human Rights with a British version, which will undoubtedly provide fewer rights than the European one.  And who will bet against this being only the start of a significant program to remove even more rights from poor people.

But surely that can’t be right, I hear you say.  Surely our government doesn’t really think of the bulk of the population as some lower form of being.  Well, just think of what has happened since the Tories (effectively) took power in 2010.   Their rhetoric has been to demonise the unemployed (shirkers don’t contribute to the wealth of rich people) and to describe the disabled as a drain on society (many of them don’t contribute to the wealth of rich people).  Their actions have added to the misery of the poor and disabled by cutting ESA, introducing the bedroom tax (though the fact that this was first introduced by Labour is a timely reminder that not all rich people are in the Tory party) and Work Capability Assessments, and freezing other benefits or making them much more difficult to claim. We’ve also got zero hours contracts, poverty wages and student debt.  All actions which further disadvantage the already disadvantaged.  Would normal human beings do that to fellow humans; to people they considered as their equals?  I think not.

All the actions of the government point to the inescapable conclusion that rich people (remember the government are nearly all rich people) consider themselves a higher class of being and, by inference, consider the poor as a lower class who don’t deserve the same level of consideration.  Who then can argue that poor people are not the slaves of the 21st century?

Why annoy England when we could save Scotland?

Since the EU referendum in 2016, there has been loads of discussion about whether it’s right for the Scottish Parliament to be trying to save England from itself by preventing Brexit from going ahead. The majority in the EU referendum was entirely created by voters in England and Wales, so there was and is a strong argument for England and Wales getting the Brexit they voted for, while Scotland and Northern Ireland remained in the EU, which they voted for.

But that was never going to happen. As is normal in the UK, English opinion always takes precedence and is imposed on the other countries in the UK, whether they like it or not. So Brexit it is.

But the original question remains. Is it right for the Scottish Government to try to prevent England (and Wales) from getting what a majority of their voters wanted? I know that, in the current circumstances, England will drag Scotland out of the EU as well, but is there not another way to prevent this from happening?

Two recent events brought this strongly back to mind.

First, there was the utter insanity of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s decision to close down the system introduced earlier in the Covid-19 crisis which allowed MPs to take part in debates and vote remotely and force every MP to return to the potentially virus infected House of Commons. According to JR-M, it was not possible to have a proper debate unless you were face to face with those you were debating with, to allow proper understanding of the debate and proper interventions. This seemed to lack any real appreciation of the dangers involved in putting 650 people into a room together when it was possible that some of them would be infected and therefore could be spreading it to others.

Many of the fears were realised when pictures came out of the conga line waiting to vote and the crush at the bottom of the escalator. So much for social isolation. Then we had the sight of Alok Sharma, a government minister, struggling to finish a speech before being carted off into isolation. He was tested for Covid-19, but found negative. Maybe a false negative? Or maybe the Tory party were just following JR-M’s advice that any MP with a positive test was under no obligation to tell his colleagues? Time will tell.

Much was said in Scotland that Scottish MPs should not attend. Many SNP supporters in particular wanted their MPs to stay away, as much for the MPs own safety as to make a political point, but mainly because it would seem to break the Scottish Government’s rules about travelling, a rule strongly emphasised by the First Minister in her earlier briefing that day. It could hardly be said that they were essential workers as they could have no influence on the vote, the Tories having such a large majority. Unfortunately, with the First Minister’s approval, a contingent of eight MPs headed south to take part in the farce that was to happen. Just why was it more important to be a part of a fiasco in a foreign parliament than to be in Scotland planning independence? Beats me.

The second event was the news that the Scottish Government had released a report justifying the need for an extension to the Brexit negotiations.

As I said in an earlier posting, what the last few months have shown us is how little the Tory government cares about any part of the UK outside England, maybe even outside the southern half of England. They actively prioritised the supply of PPE to English hospitals and care homes. I say prioritised, but they actually tried to prevent supplies reaching Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at all. Now, we have the Chancellor telling us that if the Scottish Government even thinks of extending lockdown beyond that decided by Westminster for the South of England, they wouldn’t get funds to extend the furlough scheme. As they have done often in the past, we see Westminster trying to use their control of Scotland’s finances to force the Scottish Government to do something which will harm the Scottish people, in this case, possibly kill some of them. Better together?

However, despite Westminster’s obvious lack of concern for Scotland’s wellbeing, despite the obvious signs that Westminster is only interested in what is can get out of Scotland, not in how Scotland can thrive, the Scottish Government spends time and money producing a report showing the UK Government how to save itself from the worst effects of an action that they’re determined to take. Will anyone in the UK Government even look at the report? This can only benefit Scotland if we remain part of the UK. Why do we want to remain part of the UK?

As an aside, here are a couple of examples showing why England wants Scottish resources.

Since 2000, the amount of Scottish produced electricity transferred to England over the National Grid was almost 203 thousand gigawatt hours. Of course, electricity is also transferred the other way and the National Grid have written a whole document explaining how the Grid protects Scottish consumers by allowing transfers from England to Scotland (read it here). However, over the same period, the amount of English produced electricity transferred to Scotland was just over 8 thousand gigawatt hours or about 4% of the Scotland – England total. It’s quite clear which country benefits most from the arrangement.

The idea has again been raised to build a canal to transfer water from Scotland to the drier parts of the UK, mainly London and the South East of England. Fortunately, for Scotland, the cost of such a scheme would be enormous, so the South of England hasn’t yet reached a state of dryness that they’re prepared to suffer the cost of construction, though the cost of the water is likely to be zero. This is not the first time the idea has been raised and a similar scheme is already in place in Wales. Of course, if it went ahead, it would be considered a national project, so Scotland would have to pay about 8.5% of the total cost. Yet again, Scotland would have to pay to give away our resources to England. It’s quite clear which country would benefit most from the arrangement.

So, once again, as the UK Government has clearly demonstrated that they couldn’t care less about the Scottish people and that their only interest in Scotland is in taking its resources, the question remains. Why are we in Scotland spending so much time and money trying to make staying part of the UK as painless as possible, when we should be concentrating on saving ourselves from the disaster and the enormous money pit that England represents. Why can’t we spend more time planning to go?

Answers on a postcard to Bute House?