Friday 5 September 2014

Scottish independence and the complacency of the Westminster establishment

People of Scotland,

One of the most important things to recognise in the Scottish independence debate is that a Yes vote is not a rejection of England, nor a rejection of an Englishman like me, neither is it a rejection of the folk who live elsewhere in the Union, nor a rejection of your own Britishness. It is a rejection of the misrule of the complacent Westminster establishment.

The Westminster establishment has had an unbroken run of power over the island of Great Britain for Centuries. No matter which political party acts out the role of boss in the House of Commons, the establishment class are the real rulers of Great Britain. The anti-democratic unelected House of Lords (an appalling affront to democracy), and bizarre anachronisms like the City Remembrancer and the ludicrous UK honours system serve as reminders of where the power really resides behind the ridiculous pretence at democracy that is the House of Commons.

Over the last Century the Westminster establishment has had their own way on almost every issue, but now the people of Scotland have this amazing opportunity to "kick them in the balls" by ending Westminster misrule for good.

The last time the Westminster establishment suffered such a large setback was in the aftermath of the Second World War, when the Americans forced them to give up the British Empire, then peppered it with US bases, including nuclear bases on British soil. But this American assertion of power wasn't "a kick in the balls", it was an act of total domination to end the British empire and to formalise US superiority and British subservience.

The last time the Westminster establishment was properly stood up to, was the declaration of Irish independence, but because it came at the cost of so many thousands of lives and such a great deal of social suffering it would be trite and offensive to describe this deadly and destructive struggle as "a kick in the balls".

Now the people of Scotland have the chance to reject the complacent Westminster establishment without any of the horrors endured during the long struggle for Irish independence. It's the first chance in a very long time for people to give these complacent and unaccountable rulers "a kick in the balls" without having to endure enormous social suffering to achieve it.

For the last 35 years the behaviour of the Westminster establishment has been particularly egregious. The establishment class has repeatedly got away with neglecting the public interest in order to put their own interests first, in accordance with the cult-like economic dogma of greed, social neglect, privatisation and financialisation that they have become so obsessed with since Thatcher introduced it in 1979.

The Westminster establishment seized the profits from Scottish oil and siphoned them into the City of London and used them to fund tax breaks for their wealthy backers. Instead of creating a sovereign wealth fund which would surely have rivaled Norway's as one of the biggest in the world, the establishment class squandered it all on the ridiculous fantasy of building a post-industrial economy based around the City of London financial sector. Not only did the the establishment ignore Scotland's best social and economic interests, raid their oil revenues to prop up their extremist right-wing ideological experiments and destroy much of Scotland's industrial sector, they also used Scotland as the testing ground for Maggie Thatcher's vile Poll Tax.

It's not just Scotland that has suffered Westminster misrule over the last 35 years, it's nearly all of us. My home territories of Yorkshire and the North East have been horrendously neglected. In its industrial heyday Yorkshire was one of the wealthiest regions in the world, now it contains three of the ten most deprived areas in Northern Europe. This appalling decline in living standards in Yorkshire and the North East can be traced to underinvestment, mismanagement, chronic neglect of infrastructure, and even ideological assaults against so many of the two region's vital industries (coal, steel, transport, fishing, shipbuilding) leaving whole communities blighted for generations by the unemployment, poverty, crime and poor health that are born of lack of opportunity.

It's thanks to devolution that in recent years Scotland has avoided the some of the worst establishment excesses. A measure of Scottish autonomy has protected Scotland from the widespread and ongoing privatisation of the English NHS, blatant barriers to social mobility like tuition fees and the almost unbelievable giveaway of over 3,000 English schools to unaccountable private sector pseudo-charities, many of which are run by wealthy Tory party donors and unelected Tory peers, who gleefully "topslice" education budget to pay themselves and their cronies huge six figure executive salaries.

If a measure of autonomy from Westminster rule has protected Scotland from these establishment excesses, doesn't that suggest that the more autonomy people can take from Westminster, the better?

Aside from their misrule over most of the United Kingdom in order to favour the interests of London and the wealthy south east, the establishment class has also committed appalling crimes, such as selling off the national silver in one dodgy privatisation scam after another despite widespread public opposition, lying to the public in order to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq (see how that turned out), engaging in all kinds of miscarriages of justice and cover ups (The McCrone Reportthe Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four, Hillsborough, the secret Falklands memos, Ian Duncan Smith's outrageous retroactive legislationthe missing Westminster paedophile dossier ...) and allowing the development of an out of control surveillance state beyond the wildest imagination of the KGB, subject to almost no proper democratic scrutiny at all.

The powers of the UK surveillance state has even gone as far as allowing secret police to steal the identities of dead babies, infiltrate environmental protest groups and initiate sexual relationships with activists, get them pregnant and then simply disappear without trace when the assignment is over, leaving the woman without a penny in child support. What makes this so much worse is the attempt to whitewash the whole affair by chucking out the victims' legal cases at practically the first legal hurdle, and holding absolutely nobody accountable for having authorised such grotesque perversions in the first place.

The fact that they have ruled over us all with such contempt and such impunity for so long has made the establishment class dreadfully complacent. The constant stream of outrageous Westminster expenses scandals is the most visible manifestation of this complacency. That so many of them fiddled their expenses was shocking, but that so many of these self-serving scammers still sit in Westminster is more shocking still. Whoever forms the next Westminster government in 2015, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will in all probability be an expenses scammer, either George Osborne (taxpayer funded paddock) or Ed Balls (serial house flipping).

Another, even more blatant sign of establishment complacency and contempt for the public is the revisionist fairy story that underpins their beloved austerity narrative. They think that we're all just going to forget that the economic crisis spread from out the financial sector in the City of London. They imagine that if they harp on about "scroungers" at the bottom of society, immigrants "stealing our jobs" and how there's "no money left" the public will just forget that the economic shock that nearly wiped out the UK economy came from the heart of the establishment in London.

The establishment class is so complacent that politicians like Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage feel free to tell ludicrous revisionist stories about how the City of London is such a remarkable economic success story, even though just a few years ago the London based financial sector had to be saved from complete oblivion with the biggest state subsidies in history. They tell these stories even though the ongoing cost of these secretive off balance "financial sector interventions" still amounts to more than the official entire national debt that they endlessly fearmonger about to justify their ideological austerity agenda.

It's bad enough that the establishment class expect us to believe that they could afford to find £1.5 trillion for secretive off balance sheet deals to save the banks from the consequences of their own reckless gambling, then even more to flood the financial sector with an additional £375 billion in newly created Quantitative Easing money, yet "there's not enough cash" to keep open our local libraries/youth clubs/Sure Start projects/A&E units/maternity wards etc. What is even more contemptuous still, is the way they expect us to believe that the City of London is some kind of miraculous success story rather than the cause of all of this economic chaos.

The combination of their blatant misrule (no matter which party happens to be playing leader of the House of Commons at the time) and the visible manifestations of their greed, complacency and outright contempt for the public has desperately eroded public trust in British politics.

In combination with the hopelessly outdated and non-proportional electoral process used by the House of Commons (a system that leaves countless millions of voters ignored and unrepresented because they happen to live in "safe seat" constituencies), this lack of public trust in politics has created dangerous levels of political apathy. In 2010 David Cameron became Prime Minister after just 23.5% of the electorate voted Tory, meanwhile 35% of the electorate didn't even bother to vote. In the 2014 European elections the "Thatcherism on steroids" party won the most seats with the backing of just 9% of the electorate after an incredible 66% of people didn't even bother to vote.

The independence referendum in Scotland has provided a wonderful opportunity for people to shake off their political apathy and actually think about politics afresh. Independence represents the opportunity to participate in much needed constitutional renewal. It is the opportunity for the people of Scotland to develop a modern 21st Century constitution, rather than continuing to use the ridiculous anachronism riddled and almost infinitely malleable hotch-potch of a UK constitution, which has been continually revised for centuries to do little more than maintain establishment power and serve establishment interests.

The single biggest demonstration of how complacent the Westminster establishment has become is the fact that the Westminster government has now openly admitted that they haven't even formed a contingency plan should the people of Scotland see sense and assert their right to self-determination. David Cameron's official spokesperson said that no contingency plans at all had been drawn up because "The government’s entire focus is on making the case for the UK staying together". This absurdly complacent stance is a blatant display of contempt for the people of Scotland because it assumes with certainly that they will vote the way the Westminster establishment wants them to. But this no contingencies gamble is also a display of outright contempt for the citizens of the rest of the UK too, because how on earth are they going to best represent our interests in separation negotiations with an independent Scotland, if they haven't even begun to think about negotiation strategies out of their sheer complacency?

Yet another demonstration of this appalling establishment complacency is the refusal of the Westminster establishment to allow the the compromise option of "Devo Max" which would have allowed the people of Scotland the option of testing the waters of greater autonomy without the necessity for formal separation.

It is clear that the establishment would rather play an all or nothing gamble in an attempt to maintain their rule over Scotland than voluntarily offer up any more of their powers. Deliberate removal of a compromise option in order to fight a "do-or-die" ultimatum with the people of Scotland on the assumption that they are certain to win so strong that they don't even bother to make any contingency plans is an extraordinarily complacent, and many would say catastrophically stupid risk to take.

That they would take such a ludicrously risky "all or nothing" gamble by removing Devo Max and then not even prepare a contingency plan in case the gamble fails, just goes to show how hopelessly unfit the Westminster establishment is to rule over people's lives in a responsible manner.

The people of Scotland have an amazing opportunity to get rid of these complacent and contemptuous rulers once and for all, so you mustn't vote against your own interests out of pity for the rest of us who will be left under Westminter misrule.

If you want to help us, you must show us that there is a better alternative. That in places like Wales, Cornwall, Yorkshire or any other part of the United Kingdom that chooses to demand it, we too can stand up to the Westminster establishment and achieve greater autonomy for ourselves. You must show us that it is possible to live in Great Britain without a ruling establishment that creates ever more inequality through their adherence to their destructive and unstable "greed is a virtue" - "privatise everything" economic ideology and their willfully blind indifference to poverty and lack of social mobility.

The majority of the Scottish want, and deserve, a society that is run for the benefit of all, not just the privileged few, and a health service that is not being carved open for privatisation and starved of funding by the Westminster establishment. Of course the rest of the United Kingdom deserves this too, but your job isn't to achieve these things for us all, it is to lead by example and to show us that it is at least possible to achieve them for ourselves. It's your job to show us the value of newfound political autonomy, increased political participation, constitutional renewal and greater political accountability.

I'm not trying to say that that Scotland is to become some kind of utopia. It isn't. Utopias don't exist. I'm saying that the people of Scotland have an opportunity to achieve something better for themselves. It will take a hell of a lot of work to create a Scotland that is more like the one you want it to be. You're going to have to stay engaged with politics, you're going to have to hold your politicians to account, and you're going to have to fight incredibly hard for the changes you want to see achieved. But if you put in the effort, it will be worth it.

Instead of voting to stay and suffer Westminster misrule with the rest of us, you've got to tell the Westminster establishment that they are no longer worthy rulers by rejecting them and their Unionist fearmongering. When you do this, know that you're not just doing it for yourselves, you're doing it as an example to the rest of us that the complacent Westminster establishment isn't invincible. Know that there are people all over the rest of the UK who want to celebrate Scottish independence for what it actually is; an all too rare defeat for our unaccountable rulers in Westminster.

Please vote Yes on September 18th to show the rest of us that even against the full combined will of the Westminster establishment, the attempted brainwashing of a ridiculously biased mainstream media and the ever more desperate Unionist fearmongering campaigns, people can stand up for themselves and take a greater measure of control over their lives. Show us that this can be achieved in a peaceful and democratic manner, and show us that a society can be economically and socially reinvigorated through the process of constitutional renewal.

Kindest regards, and best of luck for the future

Tom (Another Angry Voice)

 Another Angry Voice  is a not-for-profit page which generates absolutely no revenue from advertising and accepts no money from corporate or political interests. The only sources of income for  Another Angry Voice  are small donations from people who see some value in my work. If you appreciate my efforts and you could afford to make a donation, it would be massively appreciated.

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Reasons Scotland should vote Yes - 2: We don't need your pity
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