CommonSpace columnist Fraser Stewart says the UK Parliament’s behaviour over the Scotland Bill leaves nationalists with little to do in convincing Scotland to head for the exit
FROM time to time I find myself losing sight of independence.
Other causes necessarily take prominence, while emphasis must be placed on working with what little powers we have in the meantime. But then, as if by fateful design, something like the Scotland Bill debate happens and reminds us of the absolute need for it.
In a foreword to Gerry Hassan’s Caledonia Dreaming, Fintan O’Toole observed that nationalist movements often tend to convey an exaggerated caricature of their oppressors, so that they might position themselves as the desirable opposite.
Our governing body does a fine job of unmasking itself for the well-polished cesspit of nonsensical traditionalism that it ultimately is, without the added nationalist convictions.
It happened in Ireland: where the British state was painted as ‘urban and monarchical’, Ireland had to be rural and republican. In Scotland’s case, Westminster had to be painted as intolerant, supercilious and unapologetically backward.
According to O’Toole, Westminster needed to be everything embodied in Thatcherism if Scotland was to emphasise its progressive, egalitarian and civil qualities. Nationalists would have to ascribe a seemingly outmoded vision of British politics upon the entire institution if they were to successfully communicate a stark and believable contrast.
Perceptive as O’Toole’s analysis undoubtedly is, however, he makes one slight oversight in arriving at it – Westminster, as an institution, requires no such external appropriation. Our governing body does a fine job of unmasking itself for the well-polished cesspit of nonsensical traditionalism that it ultimately is, without the added nationalist convictions.
It already is a thoroughly and visibly backward establishment – one that nurtures the superiority complex of the British state, beats the war drum of elitist protectionism and ring-fences an ideologically derelict status quo into the bargain.
Its underpinning values, rather than evolving to suit the modern environment, are galvanised in the blind idolatry of its disciples for all to see. We have witnessed such worship time and again since those 56 nationalist upstarts sabotaged the ritual and infiltrated the Commons in May.
The Scotland Bill debate was the single-most compelling piece of nationalist propaganda seen in well over a year, exemplifying everything that is wrong with the psychological make-up of British governance.
Contrary to the customary arrangement, this is not business as usual, and nor will it ever be again. These representatives have been sent to London with an overwhelming endorsement from the Scottish people not to tow the line for their southern superiors, but to genuinely vocalise Scottish concerns and fight for Scotland’s interests.
The nationalist mandate is thus one that challenges the dogmatic monotony of the UK Parliament, which, until May, had long existed in the comfort of its own theological immunity.
Somewhat by instinct, then, the UK Parliament has responded to the nationalist challenge with an oozing flippancy, thinly veiled behind cries of ‘obsession’ and ‘once in a generation’, offering derision and dismissal at every given opportunity.
Do they realise the effect this has on Scottish voters, or the message it conveys? While their words might tell us how valued a part of this family of nations we are, their attitudes in parliament strongly suggest that we should know our place within it.
Scotland has thus done United Kingdom establishment an apparent inconvenience, by declining after the referendum to slide quietly into the North Sea for the rest of eternity. It is precisely via this steadfast arrogance that Scottish independence is inexorable.
The Scotland Bill debate was the single-most compelling piece of nationalist propaganda seen in well over a year, exemplifying with spotless clarity everything that is wrong with the psychological make-up of British governance.
If nationalists ever hoped to envisage a powerful caricature of their oppressors, this was that caricature in action, conflated to hyperbolic proportions.
If nationalists ever hoped to envisage a powerful caricature of their oppressors, this was that caricature in action, conflated to hyperbolic proportions. From glaring condescension to the complete intolerance of alternative thought; this particular shit show had it all.
And yet the the circle jerk of self-importance blissfully continues. Meanwhile, more and more Scots are realising that their needs and wants will always fall secondary to the guarding of a draconian British political value system that is no more useful to the modern world than a ha’penny piece at an online auction.
Those halcyon days of imperialism and empire have long since been consigned to history – with this kind of residual pomposity, the union won’t be far behind them.
Picture courtesy of UK Parliament