I’m sure everyone remembers Cameron’s referendum rallying cry at the start of the year. You know, when he called on the rest of the UK to shower Scotland with
resentment affection? The so called ‘love bomb’ tactic, which was probably an improvement on the self-titled ‘Project Fear’; if only we were seeing any evidence of it. If you haven’t read or heard that speech I highly recommend giving it a look or listen. It’s hard not to notice that his positive case for the union mostly rests on past ‘achievements’. Between 1707-1956 to be precise, the 250 year period during which we wrote ‘this great, world-beating story‘. Douglas Robertson summed up Cameron’s appeal to old, imperial unity thusly:
Labour and Conservatives being equally enthralled by power, share the trappings, the cloak of Britishness, as has become so evident throughout this referendum campaign. Britain as a political entity can only be brought into focus through this Nuclear Empire lens. Thus, as hard as it might have once been to envisage, there is no irony in arms dealers, city suits, dodgy oilmen and retired spooks funding the No campaign, happily leaving Labour to front it. Empires are powerful places, run by powerful people: we are powerful people, we run things, so we buy into Empire.
Unionists regularly broadcast their expectation that supporters of independence will hijack any and every momentous and historical event to promote their cause, be it the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn or the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. They must have felt some surprise (or disappointment) then at the fairly low key, apolitical celebration of Bannockburn and the cautious neutrality of the official Yes team and Scottish Government at the Games. Not so their own side! Hypocritically, unionist elements at the very highest echelons (the UK government and MoD) abused their powers in a concerted effort to interfere with both events. Not only was the blatant disregard for even a pretence of impartiality insulting, but the militaristic nature of the intervention on Bannockburn’s anniversary demonstrated exactly where the establishment’s priorities lie.
At least it demonstrates where they’d like us to believe their priorities lie. Years of inadequate funding, privatisation of logistics and procurement, plus thousands of redundancies reveal that Westminster (especially with millionaire Conservatives at the helm) actually regards soldiers with just as much contempt as they do us civilians. Yet memories of ‘glorious’ conquest and continuing delusions of grandeur make the UK government predisposed to showing off military might where possible. This is crystallised in the unanimous backing of Trident however expensive and useless it might be and whether or not the people of Scotland’s most populace dear green place actually want to have weapons of mass destruction beside their homes (they do not).
Ironically of course we could afford to maintain a sensible number of military personnel and properly equip them by scrapping Trident, but the ingrained desire for apocalyptic machismo at the heart of the UK government makes that as unlikely as ever actually dropping the bomb. Speaking of dropping the bomb, whatever happened to that love bomb we were promised? I’m hoping that the infamous Let’s Fail Together video and letter weren’t the sum of it. What about the ordinary people of England, weren’t they going to ‘get on the phone, get together, email, tweet, speak’ to tell Scotland how much they’d miss us, etc? Well after reading today’s Herald, Times, Telegraph or Scotsman you might lose any lingering optimism about that:
The message from a worrying number of the media, politicians and ordinary folk of England (as badly informed about this referendum as most of them must be) is that Scotland isn’t going to get away scot free; ‘the English want the Government to take a “hard line” with Scotland whatever the independence referendum result’. In other words, ‘vote yes and we will refuse to negotiate on a currency union; we will build a barrier between us; we will prevent you from entering NATO, the EU or the UN; we will shit all over ourselves just to teach you a lesson’. Alternatively, ‘vote no and we will abolish the Barnett formula; we will cut your funding; we will leave your parliament weaker than it already is; we will shit all over you for even daring to consider an alternative future’. What is important to note here is what is within and what is without the UK government’s power.
After an anti-independence vote it is within the UK government’s power to punish us with impunity, because by voting no we throw away the one bargaining chip we had and surrender supreme sovereignty to the English majority at Westminster; they may deal with us as they wish and the world will turn it’s back on any complaint once our moment of democracy has passed. After an independence vote it is without the UK government’s power to prevent us from using our own currency or remaining in organisations that we have been members of for decades. I’ll concede that they may create a militarised border if that is their will – the UK government has form after all – but as noted that would be a self-destructive policy. So much for Cameron’s worry that the rest of the UK might ‘just wave [us] a wistful goodbye and carry on as normal’!
Considering these points surely the choice is obvious? There’s still a month to go in which further love bombing may occur, though judging by previous efforts it’s bound to be as unpleasant as the thinly veiled (and the explicitly stated) threats. The best I can hope for is that the unionists’ incendiary rhetoric instils us with the Blitz spirit that David Cameron criticised Gordon Brown for invoking in 2008: “The PM tells us to find our Blitz spirit when he is the one dropping the bombs – the tax and debt bombshells that are taking Britain to the brink of bankruptcy.” Fancy that! Perhaps he will not object so strongly if I make a similar invocation now, because I have certainly been noticing more and more signs of Blitz-like catastrophe around my country in recent years.
Food rationing? Check.
Short life expectancy? Check.
Apparent bomb damage? Check.
All in it together? Er…
I mean what’s not to love? Are we not ‘a source of hope to the world’ as Mr Cameron put it? Love bombs away!