Earth to Westminster: The Sun has set on the British Empire


  By Mark McNaught

Several disclosures in the past weeks have vaporised any pretence of the Westminster government’s legitimacy, and demonstrated not only that the system is no longer fit to govern, but also overtly contemptuous of the residents and the land within the UK. 

Iain Duncan Smith ‘defended‘ his £500 per week overall welfare cap by citing his ‘belief I am right’ that his savage cuts will induce a ‘cultural change’ and transform skyvers into strivers through depriving the disadvantaged of the means to continue their existence.

Without irony, he asserted that “This is both about saving money and, more particularly, about changing a culture that had left families, particularly large families, finding it easy and a reality for their lives to stay out of work on taxpayers’ benefits [sic].”

Maintaining that all the poor and disabled need is more deprivation to prod them into work is analogous to accusing a paraplegic of being too lazy to walk.  It is grotesque that someone as cynically Dickensian as Mr Duncan Smith is the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.  The result of this policy change is that many in the UK population will fall off the deep end and die.  The UK government is therefore not fit for the purpose of protecting its most vulnerable citizens. 

The mask has slipped.  The revelation that the MOD is seriously considering annexing Faslane as sovereign UK territory in the case of independence, with a status similar to ‘UK Guantanamo’ bases Aylos and Dhakelle in Cyprus, demonstrates how cynically the UK exploits Scotland.  If Scotland didn’t house the UK’s nuclear submarines in Faslane and constitute a massive source of petroleum revenue [~ £12 billion per year], they would be totally indifferent to Scottish independence. 

The UK government still acts as an imperial power, while, ironically, at the same time becoming a colony of international corporate interests. 

As I write this a corporate lobbying scandal is dooming David Cameron as Prime Minister, because of claims his campaign advisor Lynton Crosby successfully lobbied him on behalf of tobacco interests.  These events are eerily reminiscent of how US mining interests corrupted Chilean politics in the 1970s. 

One really has to wonder exactly why David Cameron hired foreign lobbyist Lynton Crosby.  Did he notice on Crosby’s CV that he is the head of an international corporate lobbying firm whose primary objective is to corrupt other nations’ public policy? Is Cameron getting some opaque kickback in exchange for acting against the interests of public health? I’d love to know, but under the meaningless UK anti-corruption laws we will probably never find out. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with fracking, you must watch Gasland.  Think this can’t happen in the UK? You are about to find out, because Scroz (George Osborne’s apophrycal nickname at Bullingdon: if it wasn’t it should have been) wants to bring it to Scotland.  His father-in-law, ‘Lord’ Howell of Guilford, who was Energy Minister under Thatcher, continues to be deeply connected to the energy and fracking industry as head of British Institute of Energy Economics (BIEE), coincidentally sponsored by Shell and BP. 

While the building of the British Empire involved unspeakable acts of barbarity against peoples throughout the world, it is unfortunate that as its sun sets, Scroz would seek to practice this same barbarity on vast swaths of UK land, including his own constituency.  Fracking will turn gorgeous rural and residential areas throughout the UK into toxic uninhabitable wasteland, with poisoned flammable water for centuries to come.

To save at least Scotland from this environmental apocalypse, the Scottish government must erect every obstacle at their disposal to block fracking in Scotland, and commit in the upcoming white paper to a perpetual ban.  What other options are there?

Westminster currently functions exclusively for the benefit of plutocrats, and is constitutionally incapable of working towards the common good.  As we witness the last throes of the British Empire, and as the total corruption of the Westminster system is laid bare, all UK citizens should consider their democratic options to create a better constitutional order.  For Scots, this means voting ‘Yes’ in 2014.

Mark McNaught is a member of the Constitutional Commission and an Associate Professor of US Civilisation at the University of Rennes 2 France.  He also teaches US constitutional law at Sciences-Po Paris.