I wrote the following blog just after the 2016 Scottish election, though now, five and a half years later, almost nothing has changed. Everything I wrote then still applies, but it has become apparent that I missed out one aspect of modern slavery that has particular relevance in the independence debate.
The Return of the Slave Trade
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 people to fight 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 speak even one 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 15th 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 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. 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?
In the earlier posting, I said that, generally, people are no longer differentiated by their race or colour, but in this modern United Kingdom, there is still one active differentiator – nationality.
The view of the rich English, and some of the not so rich, is that those UK citizens who hail from one of the other three countries, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, are a lesser class of human, fit only for doing the jobs beneath your true (i.e. rich) English person, working to provide them with the money that keeps them in the style they’ve become accustomed to, and taking part in their wars of personal enrichment (as cannon-fodder, of course), only able to survive due to the largesse of their English masters.
Of the problems (as the English see it) caused by lesser humans being allowed to take part in normal society, solutions needed to be found, and were found.
They have solved the voting problem, not by preventing the Scots, Welsh ans Northern Irish from voting, but by putting those whom they vote for into a parliament where they are collectively outnumbered, so the English always get their own way.
They have solved the human rights problem, as I mentioned in 2016, by replacing EU human rights legislation by a UK version which can be summarised as:
‘You can have any rights you like as long as they don’t interfere with the right of the true Englishman to make as much money as possible by making sure the rest of humanity works only for them.‘
Already the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will place restrictions on gatherings and protest marches, unfortunately an idea enthusiastically taken up by the Scottish Government. The Internal Market Act gives Westminster the power to decide what food you will be allowed to eat and what you will pay for it. If that means some Scottish producers (and the jobs they support) are priced out of the market, then so be it. Do you think Westminster will care?
The Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill (informally known as the Licence to Kill Bill) makes it legal for any member of the security services to execute, without trial, anyone they suspect of acting against the best interests of the state, and that includes the state’s political and financial interests. Arguably, anyone supporting Scottish Independence is advocating an action that will damage the UK both politically and financially. Just think about it.
If you think that is too extreme an interpretation, remember Willie McRae, a senior SNP politician who was alleged in 1975 to have committed suicide by shooting himself twice in the head and then throwing the gun away, just when he was about to expose a bunch of rich, politically-connected child abusers. He was being followed at the time by members of the security services, but, allegedly, they had nothing to do with his death.
Even if not formally ackowleged, few would argue against the relationship between England and Scotland being that of coloniser and colonised. The dictionary definition of colonialism is:
The policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.
Is that not exactly what has happened to Scotland over the last 314 years.
England has full political control through a parliament in which they have a large majority over all other countries combined. Most major decisions are made for Scotland by an English dominated parliament, made by English MPs who know very little about Scotland. Even the decisions the Scottish Government is allowed to make are subject to scrutiny by Westminster, so any they don’t like may be struck down.
The last census held in Scotland was in 2011 as the 2021 census was postponed by the Scottish Government, allegedly because of the pandemic, though the census was held in the remainder of the UK. I wonder why Sturgeon didn’t want the answer to be known? In 2011, approximately 15% of those resident in Scotland were settlers, i.e. they originated from another part of the world. By far, the largest number of these, about 10% of the population, were from England. With an estimated 50,000 new immigrants moving to Scotland every year, over half from England, the proportion of English ‘settlers’ is set to increase.
Of course, the number of settlers is in itself not significant. More significant is the number of settlers who occupy senior positions in government and government sponsored and cultural organisations. Look and see how many public bodies in Scotland are led by someone who’s experience is in a different country and in a different area of business, with little knowledge of Scottish environment, culture and history. Ask yourself whether the decisions these people make are likely to be influenced by their largely non-Scottish background and ask yourself why there’s rarely a Scottish candidate considered for the position.
The ways in which Scottish resources are exploited by Westminster are almost without number.
The revenue from Scottish oil was used by Thatcher to enhance the attractiveness of London as a business centre and to destroy the Scottish manufacturing base, effectively paying for the Scottish unemployed with money stolen from Scotland. An act of deliberate economic vandalism.
Now the same thing is happening with the energy produced from Scottish wind and water, transferred to the National Grid at a cost to the producers, then sold back to Scots consumers at a much higher price. Scotland get very little benefit from their own energy.
Water will be next as plans are in place to build pipelines to transfer Scottish water to England. Just like oil and wind, there will be no benefit to Scotland.
The biggest irony in the scandal of the exploitation of Scottish resources for English benefit is the annual production of the GERS figures, supposingly describing the Scottish economy, produced by the Scottish Government but based largely on estimates supplied by Westminster. If you think there’s any chance of these numbers representing an accurate statement of the Scottish economy, bear in mind that the report was first produced by Tory Scottish Secretary Ian Lang as a way of preventing devolution. It was, and still is, a way of making the Scottish economy look bad.
So we can see that Scotland’s relationship with England fits the definition of colonialism exactly. England has total political control. English setttlers occupy many senior positions in Scottish organisations and their numbers are sufficient to sway the results of elections and referenda. Scottish resources are removed from the Scottish economy for the benefit of England, with little or no benefit accruing to the Scottish people.
We’ve seen that the relationship between Scotland and England fits the definition of colonialism. So what’s the connection between colonialism and slavery. One definition of slavery is:
A civil relationship whereby one person has absolute power over another and controls his life, liberty and fortune.
Just change the wording slightly andyou get a perfect description of Scotland’s current position:
A civil relationship whereby one group of people has absolute power over another and controls their life, liberty and fortune.
And then, from a paper on Afican slavery by Songhikenjou Bama at Penn State University:
Colonization is like enslaving an entire area.
Can anyone deny that Scotland, despite its long history as a free nation, has been colonised by England and that England’s control over Scotland is effectively slavery?
For Scotland’s future, will you choose freedom or slavery?
For a much better explanation of the effect of colonialism on Scotland, why not read the excellent series of papers by Professor Alf Baird available on the Yours for Scotland website. This is a link to the synopsis. The whole series is also available in paperback or kindle form from Amazon (and no doubt from other booksellers) as Doun-Hauden: The Socio-Political Determinants of Scottish Independence.
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