If you’re still here after I – rather baldly – stated my opinion that stopping indyref2 was the primary goal of the 2017 UK General Election, thank you for your patience. It’s about to be tested further.
The Government of Catalonia declared independence. The international response has been overwhelmingly negative.
I empathise deeply with all those frustrated & outraged by this state of affairs. But if there’s one thing to take away from all this, it’s one simple fact: the State Is Not The People. The State is a construct to serve the People: when it does not suit its purpose, then the People reserve the right to change their State, as enshrined in the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This was reiterated by the current UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order following the Spanish Government’s reaction:
The right of self-determination is a right of peoples and not a prerogative of States to grant or deny. In case of a conflict between the principle of territorial integrity and the human right to self-determination, it is the latter that prevails.
– Alfred de Zayos, professor of international law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy
It’s easy to be shocked at the sheer hypocrisy of the representatives of nations like Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Ukraine, and the United States to withhold recognition of a new state given they owe their entire existence to then-illegal measures – even more so for Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, and Portugal, who you’d think would retain some memory of why they’re not currently part of the Spanish Empire. For these nations to deny Catalonia the recognition their forebears fought, bled, and died for, is the height of cruel, merciless, horrible irony, even as they implore a government which has already sent tanks and truncheons and bullets to see the “force of argument.”
But we must not allow ourselves to lose sight of the bigger picture here.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.