This is an extended comment from an Edinburgh Scot who has been a long-time resident in Spain but has a deep and committed interest in Scotland and its future, Paco el escocés. He has been a regular contributor to blog comments in the past, but, as he says, he didn’t want to rock the boat – and one or two things have been happening in Spain to occupy his full attention recently!
MORIDURA reply to recent blog comment: “There are times when it is wrong to remain silent, Sean. This is one of them.”
Right then. I’ve been silent for some time now, at least as regards this blog, that is. I certainly hope you haven’t taken it personally, Peter.
When I was about 6 or 7 I had a kind of epiphany; my first “cultural” experience, so to speak. I’m referring to being able to appreciate a statement, an affirmation, and understand that it can be extrapolated and applied to other situations.
My big sister had taken me to see Bambi, and when Thumper said, “If you can't say something nice... don't say nothing at all”, I thought to my wee self, “Fair enough. I can relate to that”.
Several decades on (actually, quite a few!), it still seems to make sense. However, as you point out in your answer to a correspondent, there have to be times when it doesn’t apply.
I’ve been growing disenchanted with both the style and substance of the leadership of the SNP for some time now, but if I haven’t written to Moridura to make this public, it has been from a sense of “not wanting to rock the boat”. The return to sovereignty for our country is, as you know, a subject very near to my heart. It has appeared that the SNP, with Salmond at the helm, were going to be the best chance for this to happen in my lifetime.
Now, I’m beginning to ask, “but, at what price?”.
Or, even worse, “but, what for?”.
To keep up with the anthropomorphic metaphors, there is a Spanish expression for when one is obliged to do something, if not against one’s will, at least against one’s better judgement; tragar sapos. To swallow toads (and thole it!).
Hereby followeth the story of the three toads:
Toad #1 - The monarchy
I’ve been a republican for as long as I can remember. Not through any kind of sectarian-tinged inheritance, simply because ever since I started to think about such things objectively (as far as this is possible), the idea of certain persons being born superior to others has seemed to me to be an aberration. Worse still, not only are they superior by definition, they are born obscenely wealthy, owning whole shires, rivers, mountains, coasts and unbelievably: FOLK!
I had always assumed that the citizens of a newly independent Scotland would not be subjects to anyone, or anything, other than the democratically-expressed political will of the people.
I know there is an important republican undercurrent within the SNP, but they were all uncharacteristically silent when “oor Leader” proclaimed that Herself would automatically be the Head of State of a born-again Scotland.
I was not aware of any debate within the Party to this regard, neither a priori nor subsequent to this pronouncement.
Bitterly disappointed, I bit my tongue telling myself that the issue was potentially divisive and that it was better left for discussion in an independent Scotland.
Toad #2- Max. headroom
Or “independence lite” or “devo supreme”, or whatever the effing invention has finally been denominated.
This is to say; that Scotland will regain control of all economic and fiscal affairs, but remain under the tutelage of Westminster in matters of Foreign Policy and “Defence”.
This is complete madness. Imagine the scenario whereby the government of a maximally-devolved Scotland applies Keynsian, social-democratic, left-wing (choose the adjective which appeals most) policies and manages to weather the economic storm without sending the lower echelons of society to the poorhouse. A decent education, healthcare and access to a dignified dwelling-place are guaranteed for all. Not by waving some Celtic Twilight wand, but simply by a fair distribution of the country’s resources and assets, and by insisting that that those individuals and companies who can pay more, do so.
Then the “Mother of Parliaments” is led by the nose (as Blair did in the case of the invasion and occupation of Iraq) or bullied by their transatlantic puppet-masters into yet another imperial adventure. Scottish troops are sent off to subjugate recalcitrant Johnny Foreigner, reluctant, as ever, to surrender his own resources and give free access to his markets. Furthermore, the Scottish government will be obliged to stump up a large percentage of the cost of the raping and pillaging.
What will happen then to the carefully budgeted social progress?
Independence, nothing less. It’s not original, but it’s the only way which makes sense.
Toad #3 - NATO
Or the last straw?
I am totally opposed to Scottish membership of NATO. Not only because this would call into question the dismantling of the nuclear base at Faslane but, following on from the last point, I would have no interest in independence for Scotland if it were to mean being subservient to the foreign policy interests of the USA. Which is to say; safeguarding the interests of Corporate Fascism.
Many seem to look to Norway for some kind of example of finding a way of one’s own. I would look closer to home. Ireland has been a neutral country since regaining statehood last century. They are non-nuclear and do not belong to NATO. They have an army and have contributed often, over the years, to peace-keeping missions as Blue Berets of the UN. By so doing they have earned international respect. Indeed, in many places where a British passport is viewed with suspicion, an Irish one evokes a more positive response.
To sum up, I don’t like what Salmond has been saying latterly, and I don’t like the way he has been saying it. Rather than opinions he appears to issue edicts.
Lastly, if this rant has come out as a long-winded negatively-charged sermon, … it’s because I’ve been saving it up!
I still have faith in the collective will of the people to want to make Scotland a better place.
Paco el escocés