Sic a Parcel o’ Lairds in a Nation


By Bob Duncan

The first quarter of 2012 has seen an unprecedented level of growth in the United Kingdom.

Unfortunately, that growth has been limited to the frequency of outrageous statements and grotesque assertions coming from arch-unionists in support of their anti-independence cause. This is hardly a substitute for economic expansion, but it is still worthy of some analysis.

It is tempting for those disposed towards Scottish independence (and for those currently undecided) to view this phenomenon simply as a cynical tactic intended to “frighten the horses” and lessen the likelihood of a Yes vote in 2014, but this would be an over simplification. Rather, we should attempt to understand from where these stories, and the attitudes which underpin them, are coming.

The bizarre statements by Lord Fraser of Carmyllie that an independent Scotland would be left defenceless and that the rUK would then need to carpet bomb our airports to prevent them being used against England, are a case in point.  He further claimed that rUK should somehow annexe the Northern Isles and relocate Trident to Scapa Flow, which would then be defended by English naval forces.

At first glance these may appear to be the ravings of an idiot and, therefore, of no real consequence.  However, these statements were made by a very senior member of the UK establishment, a former Solicitor General for Scotland and Lord Advocate.  This does not entirely preclude his being an idiot, but it does point to the origin of his statements and his motivation in making them.

The UK establishment, which includes a good smattering of Scottish figures, has a very narrow and outdated view of it’s place in the world.  It has yet to properly come to terms with the End of Empire and still sees Britain as a major world power.  Hence the constant references to an independent Scotland losing a seat at the UN Security Council.  Britain, in this context, is synonymous with England while England, in practical terms, is synonymous with Westminster.

The conviction that both pooling of sovereignty to the European Community and devolution of power to Scotland are simultaneously despicable shows that Westminster is viewed by its inhabitants to be the natural place for all decision making of significance.  Power pooled and power devolved are both grubby compromises, to be guarded against.  Consequently, Westminster power and territory must be defended at all costs, and failure to do so would be not only political folly but a dereliction of duty.

This philosophy (if it can be termed that) has persisted for centuries, certainly from long before the Acts of Union, and still informs all decisions and attitudes of the Westminster elite.  It is hardly surprising, then, that scenarios such as those described by Lord Fraser would have been discussed, and even being considered quite reasonable and logical, given the unique perspective of those involved in the discussions.

After all, there are strong parallels here with the partitioning of Ireland, a classic case of divide and conquer which has been repeated many times since.  The current rhetoric concerning the status of the Falklands has little to do with support for the self-determination of the residents, and much to do with the preservation of territorial rights to the exploitation of mineral deposits.  We should not be surprised when those same templates are applied to the increasingly likely prospect of Scottish independence.

That is not to say that the annexation of Orkney & Shetland is a serious possibility, or that Glasgow and Edinburgh airports should expect to be destroyed any time soon.  But it does demonstrate that those figures making apparently ridiculous statements such as the above, do so from a genuine belief that they are not only speaking the truth, but are simply flagging up the inevitable consequences of Scottish independence.  Such is their myopia on this as on many other subjects.

The recent statement by Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, made during the reading of the Scotland Bill, that the last two heads of the Civil Service in Holyrood have “gone native”, clearly supports this theory.  His Lordship’s lament that the current incumbent had done so, despite having been born in England and therefore expected to be sound, further reinforces the point, as do the recent remarks of Lord Forsyth of Drumlean on the same matter.

However, as these stories are often born of conviction rather than cynicism, we should pity their authors rather than despise them.  They behave as they do largely as a result of saturation in the rarefied atmosphere of Westminster, not merely from naked self interest as many would like to claim.  We must view the likes of Foulkes, Forsyth and Fraser, not as traitors to Scotland, but as victims of the English Establishment, less Daniel Defoe, and more willing POWs, brainwashed by their captors.

Furthermore, with no apparent prospect of any sort of positive case being made soon for the Union, positive from a Scottish perspective at least, theirs are the only voices currently being raised on the anti-independence side of the argument.  Surely, given the paucity and preposterous nature of their argument, we should all be embracing that fact and positively encouraging their efforts, however negative their message may be.


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