Making a Mockery of Tragedy

I wasn’t going to comment on a recent piece in an anti-independence newspaper which once again chooses to inflate a stushie into a stramash, ably deconstructed here. But I do have to comment on this:

“That march showed that elements of the Yes movement are no better than the White Supremacists who ascended upon Charlottesville or the yobs within the Scottish Defence League.”

At the same time as this, we had the former chief of Project Fear and the billionaire author & professional litigator both promoting an identical “Brexiters are copying the Yes Campaign” agenda to newspapers you normally wouldn’t associate with left-wing, socialist sympathies. This would be tasteless any time, let alone the anniversary of the 2014 independence referendum which still hurts every independence supporter to the bone. But to do it when the Spanish Government – the same Spanish Government who they so eagerly acclaimed as another reasonable voice against “separation,” & who then-UK Prime Minister David Cameron actively collaborated with to thwart Scottish Independence – is actively suppressing the Catalonian’s right of self-determination in a manner more reminiscent of mid-20th Century Spain?

Aye, it’s terrible when friends fall out.

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Whenever We Dream

I, like other independence supporters, am of the opinion that a referendum on Scottish Independence needs to be held before the UK leaves the European Union. Others don’t necessarily agree – as is their right – such as Tommy Sheppard MP, who advised waiting until after the next Scottish Parliament elections to secure an “unconditional” mandate in his widely acclaimed Thomas Muir lecture. Two things should be noted: firstly, that he was giving his personal opinion; secondly, and most importantly, that he acknowledged that “This is what it looks like now – it might be different next week” from his perspective. Given what’s happened in the past year, his stance could change significantly, as Robin McAlpine’s did post-EU Referendum.

Here’s why I don’t favour post-2021.

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Monuments and Mythology – It’s Time to Let It Go: Guest Post by Jeffrey Shanks

(Special thanks to my most erudite and scholarly friend Jeffrey Shanks for allowing me to publish this piece, which I think complements my recent post on lost history: I think it neatly fills in the gaps in my knowledge regarding Southern/Confederacy heritage. It helps when it comes from an actual Southerner! All images & links except the above I have added for illustrative purposes.)

I want to try have a difficult discussion with my fellow white Southerners on the Confederate monument controversy. This is an attempt to help foster understanding about why many feel so strongly about this. I know that many of you white folks from the South, when you see people wanting to get rid of Confederate monuments and the flag, feel like you and your ancestry and heritage are being personally attacked. You don’t think of yourself as racist and you feel you are being accused of it. I’ve seen good people I know express that sentiment. I understand that – but I have a very different perspective. I want you know am not coming from a place of hate and I am not judging you or virtual signalling. I just want to provide some context for this issue to help you understand the other side of it. This is long so bear with me.

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Lost Histories

I sometimes fear that
people think that fascism arrives in fancy dress
worn by grotesques and monsters
as played out in endless re-runs of the Nazis.

Fascism arrives as your friend.
It will restore your honour,
make you feel proud,
protect your house,
give you a job,
clean up the neighbourhood,
remind you of how great you once were,
clear out the venal and the corrupt,
remove anything you feel is unlike you…

It doesn’t walk in saying,
“Our programme means militias, mass imprisonments, transportations, war and persecution.”
– Michael Rosen, “I Sometimes Fear…

I volunteer with a local heritage & arts group in Gourock: a wee forum where people who are interested in our Burgh of Barony’s past can discuss our history, culture, and future. This can range from the not-too-distant past of the 20th Century, all the way back to prehistoric times, and even the geological composition of the very rocks. Little stories abound, from the innovation of the original Red Herring, to the diabolical warlock Auld Dunrod, and the thing buried under St. Ninian’s football pitch featured on an episode of Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World.

There are stories that aren’t quite so delightful: the death of Mary Lamont and others in the “witch-mania of Scotland”; the sectarian violence which cropped up again and again; the expulsion of Rev. Macrae by the Synod. One of the many hazards historians must navigate in the sea of history is that dark side of humanity: no town is without its sorrows, its hatreds, its evils. It can be very easy to repurpose shame or horror from your past into denial and outrage towards others.

I was struck by this facet of the events in Charlottesville: it’s illustrative in showing how easy it is for things to go wrong.

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Divide and Home Rule

A still from an American WW2 propaganda film. Guess the name.

I have a new article on Indyref2.scot on the subject of sectarianism in today’s Scottish political climate. It’s a subject I care very much about, and recent statements and political decisions have moved me to comment on them.

For folk like Murdo Fraser, Adam Tomkins, and Ruth Davidson, these comments are little more than trolls to wind up the Nats. Toying with these forces for political gain, safe in the knowledge that they won’t experience the consequences of such tensions’ inevitable conclusion, is just a game to them. It’s no game to me.

Fifteen Months of Suspense

Center your country in the Tao and evil will have no power. Not that it isn’t there, but you’ll be able to step out of its way. Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself.” ~Tao Te Ching, Chapter 60

I’m not playing the “how many seats will the SNP win tomorrow” game. I didn’t play it in the last election, or the one before that, or the one before that. For all I pride myself on being calm and dispassionate in my analysis, I cannot extend this to pondering which seats will go where – especially not in this election.

I cannot bear to think about a social democratic candidate failing to win their seat, because of some misguided and futile attempt to frustrate the democratic mandate of the people of Scotland. I cannot stand the idea of Scotland contributing to the extremist takeover of the UK Government. At the Inverclyde hustings just a few days ago, the candidate with the red rosette insisted to us that “Brexit is happening.” There was nothing we could do about it, it seems: the decision was made, we have to suck it up and get on with it. Capitulation to a gerrymandered, likely compromised poll which is being used as an excuse to destroy decades of advancement.

So, Brexit is happening – but an independence referendum is not happening. Even after the disenfranchisement of the people who will be most affected, the choice to leave the European Union is represented by 0 of 32 Local Authority areas in Scotland – but it’s happening anyway, because The British People Have Spoken, which means the People of Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Gibraltar have to do what the People of England want. A Scottish Independence Referendum proposed for this exact situation – from a manifesto the current Scottish Government was elected on by a historic turnout – is not happening, because the parties elected by most people in England don’t want it.

The truth is, when you look at it in every way except seat numbers & the regional list, the SNP have a greater mandate for an independence referendum than even the 2011 landslide. More people voted SNP – indeed, more people voted SNP than voted for any party in a Scottish election ever. A greater percentage of voters voted SNP in their constituencies, leading to the SNP winning 59 of 73 constituency seats – a Parliamentary landslide unmatched by any UK election. To say the SNP have no mandate is as grotesquely anti-democratic as to say the SNP didn’t win the 2016 election. Which is something party leaders have actually stated.

But even the issue of Scottish Independence, something which I have no reluctance in saying is utterly paramount to politics in Scotland, pales in comparison to the nightmare brooding on the horizon.

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