Kenneth Farquarson – now there’s a resounding Scottish name. Kenneth, a Pictish forename (Cinoid) linked to the Goidelic Cináed, meaning firehead or born of fire. And Farquarson – son of Farquar, the dear one.
The Farquarson clan were Jacobites, staunch supporters of the Stuarts, and fought in many battles against the British state, including Culloden.
One might expect that those bearing this great name might put Scotland first, but strange things happened after the Union, especially among the High Heid Yins of the clans.
The present chieftain of the Clan Farquarson is Alwyne Farquharson of Invercauld, and sports a nice coat of arms with heraldic lions, a couple of daggers and two coniferous trees. But where is his seat – the seat of the clan chief? Why, it’s Valley Farm, Norfolk!
But he has a nice little business in Invercauld, one that the family have owned since before 1432 – a sporting estate in the Cairngorms, with all the huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ and holiday cottages and properties for sale and rent. Chief Alwyne was educated at Eton and Magdalen College Oxford, served in the Royal Scots Greys. He has been around a long time, born in 1919. He is on Person page 8051 of Burke’s Peerage.
With that pedigree, my guess is that he is not a supporter of Scotland’s independence, but it’s only a guess …
Coming right up to date, our very own Kenneth Farquarson, Deputy Editor of Scotland on Sunday is not a supporter of independence either. He is a Unionist, and here, I don’t have to guess, since Kenny amiably and articulately argues his case for the Union in trenchant articles in SoS, and on Twitter. He is the kind of unionist one can have a rational debate with, one without acrimony, but vigorous nonetheless. I think, despite our political difference, that the New Scotland needs people like Kenny – so there …
I’m sure Kenny did not become a Unionist because of his clan chief – he is not fond of all that old emotional history stuff, and neither am I. If Scots followed their clan chiefs’ politics these days, the Tories, not the SNP would be in power, and Annabel Goldie would be well on her way to being a Baroness, or maybe a Dame – there is nothin’ like a dame!
Why do I cover this ground before coming to Kenny’s article in SoS last Sunday – Why Union’s fate depends on Fraser ?
Because the opposition to Scotland’s independence can only be understood when one looks squarely at that powerful, entrenched bastion of privilege, unelected and undemocratic – the British Establishment – and the Scottish dimension to it, to fully appreciate the forces that have everything to lose and nothing to gain from independence.
The Scotland on Sunday article
Kenny proposes that the fate of the Union hinges on whether Murdo Fraser gets elected as the new ‘Tory’ leader or not, a proposition that he recognises will be greeted with scepticism, if not derision, by many. Well, not by me …
I think that Murdo’s decision to face facts about the Tory Party and the future of the centre right in Scottish politics was brave and principled. A politician who does not take big risks when the game demands it is no politician at all. I hope he wins, because I think it is unhealthy for the centre right not to have a significant voice in Scotland, because without that voice, we head for the extreme right and neo-fascism.
I also understand and agree with most of Kenny’s analysis of the situation, with qualifications. The unionist parties are moving inexorably towards devo max – greater autonomy from the UK, both in constitutional and party terms, with a greater focus on Scotland and Scottishness. Labour, of course, is moving more slowly than the Murdo camp, but if we listen to Tom Harris, they’re pretty well there too.
Kenny says that the election of Murdo Fraser would recalibrate Scottish politics, a phrase that exactly captures what the consequences would be. The LibDems don’t really matter much, but to the degree that they do, they are a federalist party, so they are basically devo max as well.
KF says that his friends in the SNP (by that I assume he means MSPs or party insiders) assure him that Alex Salmond is still determined to offer voters three options – independence, devo max or status quo. Since I have no insider information (the party are wary of independent bloggers) I can only take what he says at face value.
So it seems assured that Scotland will – at the very least – get devolution max, with the enthusiastic cooperation of all parties. What is devolution max and how does it differ from full independence?
These are easy questions to answer for a supporter of full independence, or for a supporter of the Union, but not only do unionists not answer it, they carefully avoid the question. Home Rule, an ancient phrase from my childhood, now is in vogue again, to deflect attention from this real, crucial difference.
And Kenny is no different – nowhere in his article does he say just what it is he and other unionists are trying to preserve after devo max, not because he doesn’t know, but because it starkly exposes what the Great Game is all about.
It’s essentially defence and foreign policy – the ability to send Scots to war and to die without the consent of their devo max Parliament, or their first Minister, or Scottish voters, or Scottish mothers and fathers.
It’s the ability to make war with weapons of mass destruction called the ‘independent’ nuclear deterrent, one that is patently not independent, since we need the instruction and consent of the US to launch it.
It’s the ability to continue with a Ministry of Defence where incompetence often cloaks corruption, one that enriches favoured politicians and armaments manufacturers, the merchants of death, a Ministry with a revolving door to lucrative directorships and advisory consulting posts for some of its salaried officials.
It’s the ability to allow political mediocrities to strut on a global stage, to interfere in the affairs of nations far from the UK, and to become obscenely rich in the process, while the democracy that elected them goes to the dogs.
This is the unionist vision, masked by sentimental nonsense about Britishness and shared values. This is the ugly, lethal, venal, inhuman heart of the Union that’s left after devo max. This is what those who profit from it will defend to the death – someone else’s death, preferably a Scottish soldier.
I want no part of it – I want to live in a truly independent Scotland, one where the SNP, the Scottish Labour Party, the Murdo Centre Right Party, the Scottish Greens, and the Scottish minority parties are all Scottish parties, with only the interests of the Scottish people as their primary focus, but a Scotland that cooperates in fully and intimately with its newly free neighbours, the great nations of England, Wales and Ireland, and exercises its international responsibilities through free association with the free nations of Europe and the world.
That’s the Scotland I want to see – that’s the Scotland I will vote for. I hope enough of my fellow Scots agree with me to make it happen.