The Battle of Culloden 1746
After three centuries of atrocities and privateering Great Britain Incorporated, the union not the island, is on trial in 2014. If the ordinary Scottish people decide it Great Britain may yet swing in execution dock.
In the froth and rot of post reformation, after a number of attempts, the Scottish Parliament was finally absorbed by the English Parliament in 1707. Most Scots were against the Act of Union, but because of the lack of enfranchisement, and with the help of the Scottish landowners, bankers and merchants, the Duke of Queensberry pushed the act through and, when he came to London to announce his success to the king, the duke was greeted by cheering crowds of gentry along the way.
After Jacobite opposition finally caught fire the same Duke of Queensbury stepped in again. With well paid soldiers and Hessian mercenaries he defeated the opponents of union at the battle of Culloden on 16th April 1746.
At the dawn of empire the ruling classes of both England and Scotland ganged up like infamous highwaymen to pillage the whole world and get rich. The pillaging started with the slave trade. Scottish merchants transported slaves and used them on their plantations. On Jamaica, 30% of the plantation owners were Scots. The Union was about making money and about joint ruling class solidarity – and it still is.
"What force or guile could not subdue
Thro' many warlike ages
Is wrought now by a coward few
For hireling traitor's wages.
The English steel we could disdain,
Secure in valour's station:
But English gold has been our bane
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation."
It only became illegal to own a slave in Scotland in 1778, and wealthy Scottish families still kept young black boys and girls to serve them after the act was passed. The sentiments of mythomane, imperial pugs like Cecil Rhodes were echoed by the patriotic guff of James Thomson, the Scotsman who wrote Rule Britannia:
“When Britain first, at Heaven's command
Arose from out the azure main;
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sang this strain:
Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
Britons never will be slaves."
With the growth of the colonies the Scots found many opportunities. In India especially, they were the soldiers, the doctors and administrators, the educators, engineers and surveyors. The phrase Tom Devine, the eminent Scottish historian likes to quote is:
“The English ruled the empire, but the Scots ran it.”
Glasgow grew into a powerful industrial city and Edinburgh into a centre of of a learning. Adam Smith, the author of The Wealth of Nations, provided the ideology and the justification for the one sided trade in British products like: opium, tea, cotton, fabrics, saltpetre. Clydeside provided the ships. Scotland was fully integrated into the British state empire and benefited from British colonialism and neo-colonialism.
* * *
At the end of empire, two world wars and a depression later, there were different reasons to stay united. International working class solidarity was alive. The trade unions and the Labour Party held the British union together in the hope of being able to create a more equal, wealth sharing society. When the establishment of the welfare state finally did take place after the Second World war many Scots were rescued from poverty; the union grew stronger.
The question of Scottish independence only re-emerged fully after Thatcherite policies took hold in the 1980s and partially destroyed Scotland's productive capacity. Furthermore the Scots watched in frustration and anger as their government, based in the South East of England, pillaged Scotland's oil wealth, misused it and then privatised it. During the time of the Tories in power, inequality grew and grew in Scotland.
We know that New Labour held a referendum in Scotland in 1999 and then helped create a new Scottish parliament. This helped the Scots gain some control over their own destiny and some measure of freedom from rampant neo-liberalism, but the overall trend towards inequality was not reversed as Scotland still lacked fiscal and political independence. Moreover, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya were carried out in its name.
In 2011, Scottish Nationalists won 65 of the 129 available seats, formed a government and started to push for independence.the In 2014, now the Scottish may decide they want to separate from the white elephant responsible for damaging the fabric and weave of British society. According to Blair Jenkins, Coordinator of the "Yes Campaign" Britain is the the 4th most unequal country on the planet. In 1707, it was the ruling classes of both countries who caused Scotland and England to unite in 1707, but if Scotland gets its independence in 2014 it will be because the majority of Scottish people desire it.
Meanwhile, following tradition, the “No Campaign's" biggest donor is a modern heir to the Duke of Queensbury: Ian Taylor, a CEO and oil executive found guilty of paying millions in Iraq in return for oil contracts. Nothing changes; the beneficiaries of union are the Scottish establishment and the wealthy; Scottish journalists, managers and politicians in British sinecures: these are our own Eastern Ukrainians- they are tied to London by their ambition and opportunism.
The modern equivalent of the Jacobites, however, are against a union (with the exception of that maverick George Galloway). The Scottish National Party (SNP), The Scottish Green Party, The Scottish Socialist Party, Solidarity, and Labour for Independence and The Radical Independence Campaign all supports the "Yes Campaign.'
Currently, all the policies of the Conservative-Liberal coalition seem to be a direct attack on the welfare state and social democracy itself and so they are a direct attack on one of the prime reasons for preserving the union.
Scotland, is small, educated and resource rich. It has a nascent self-government that still looks after the interests of its people and it is both industrious and seeded with promising high tech industry. It has its tourism and all its traditional products to sell to the world and it will be accepted with open arms into the European Union. With 1.8 billion pounds, an independent Scotland could set up a defence force as big as Denmark's, it wouldn't need the Trident submarines based at Faslane.
The "Yes Campaign" release irritating soundbites worked up in right wing think tanks; spurious nationalistic emoting about loyalty to Britain is their preferred rhetorical weapon; technocratic arguments are deployed to confuse the simple minded (You wouldn't understand). The biggest problem for Scots - they are told - is the problem of which currency to choose. The SNP is plumping for the pound.
Members of the "No Campaign" make menacing noises about the dire consequences of leaving the union. A politician like the Conservative Ruth Davidson snarls about dangerous "economic realities". What this really amounts to is a series of lightly veiled threats: If the Scots vote for independence and social democracy then the City will do to an independent Scotland what they did to Greece. They will short-sell Scotland's government finances into oblivion and do everything to destabilise its economy.
At a more personal level, the many Scottish politicians on the British gravy train are saying:
"Don't you dare take away our chance to sit at the 'High Table' with the G8, NATO and the UN Security Council, don't you ruin our chances to go job hunting at Davos, Bilderberg and TED after a stint in power.'
In summary, right now arguments for union are equivalent to arguments for neo-liberalism. For this reason the Union will be disbanded.