England must awaken to save the UK
There is at least one a week in the Telegraph and the Daily Mail however they appear occasionally in all of the mainstream English publications. They tend to be written in a paternal tone, and chastise us for our naivety. How could we not know how good we have it? With varying degrees of subtlety they allude to our scrounging nature. How we take back more than we contribute and constantly whinge about being badly treated.They compare our leaders to the great dictators of the past, presumably inferring some sort of catastrophic end game to our dalliance with unorthodox voting behaviour. We are a burden, a noose round the neck of England, if only the Scots and the other grubby elements leeching from the UK would knuckle down and tow the line we could get back to ruling the waves again.
They started off as articles begging us to stay in the Union for our own sake. Now that we have, they cannot understand why we are not doing so quietly. Independence was defeated they say, in a democratic referendum they say, the ceilidh’s over and now it’s time to get back in your porridge drawers.
I like opinions, and I think a healthy society should give voice to as many as possible. I would rather be offended than live in a place where offence is used to curb free speech. These anti Scottish rants don’t insult me. They do however make me sad. The sheer number of them, and the fact that the are generally well received, point to something more troubling. Their existence represents the main thing that is wrong with the UK. An apathetic culture of compliance combined with the victimisation of anyone or anything that is seen to rock the boat.
In the UK, politically speaking, we have all been sleeping for decades. Anaesthetised as we are by our helplessness, most of us sit most of the day, staring though screens at a world of information, a couple of thousand terabytes of knowledge just a click away. Too much for anyone to make sense of, so we either choose to ignore it in favour of cats falling off of tables or we have it filtered to us by the media – a filtration system that is owned by a handful of billionaires who may not have our best interest at heart.
And while I love free speech it has to be noted that some people’s speech is more free than others. When we do get all hot under the collar, guided by our moral guardians, we choose the easy targets.
When a Sunderland teen tweets a sick joke about a tragedy in George Square the web erupts in disgust. A boy with no power makes a proclamation which should be ignored and our ire propels him to infamy. He said:
“So a bin lorry has apparently driven into 100 people in Glasgow eh, probably the most trash it’s ever picked up in one day that”.
It’s a bad joke said on the wrong forum at an insensitive time. In a sensible world only about 8 people would have seen it.
Although, its a joke that only works if you think there is a whiff of detritus about us Scots. A line plied by many a mainstream English based columnist. And like the Bin Lorry tweet these articles should be ignored as well. However, being published in a mainstream media and wrapped in a half baked argument lends these opinions the authority and validity that the Sunderland tweeter didn’t have. The powerless youth is vilified and arrested while the commentator is free to spread muck on his next pariah. And these easy stereotypes seep into our conciousness.
And all the time that we stare at our screens we fail to notice that our politicians, our top civil servants and our business leaders are all interchangeable. They are selling our public assets to themselves and their friends. They abuse their expenses while promoting austerity which detrimentally affects the worse off. Our largest companies and richest people avoid paying their taxes. Our leaders take massive pay rises when our wages are being eroded. Our pensions are being mismanaged. We are being spied on. Our banks lose all our money, require our country to borrow half its GDP to bail them out, then they continue to act illegally and pay massive bonuses as if nothing ever happened. Our money is used to kill hundreds of thousands of foreign children. And we look the other way. Directed by the billionaires who own the media. The same billionaires who have our politicians in their pockets.
And worse, those who do notice do nothing about it. It’s easier to blame the poor, blame the immigrants, blame the terrorists, blame Europe, blame the daft Sunderland tweeter and blame the whinging Scots.
But what’s happening north of the border really should annoy the English. Not because Scotland is a nation of scroungers discontented with the ample nourishment dripping from the benevolent teat of Britannia.
The average English person should be annoyed because the Scots are currently rousing from a long slumber while they are still sleeping. Fumbling around under the covers for something to blame.
The referendum ballot box was not a receptacle for latent anti English sentiment. The Scots and the English are the same people. In fact, all of humankind is fundamentally the same. And for many the referendum offered a glimmer of hope that we could live under a political system which recognised this. We dreamt of a government that was made to work for the best interest of the many. We dreamt of a written constitution with fairness as its guiding principle. We dreamt of diminishing the power of the billionaires and multinationals. And we failed in our ultimate goal.
However, with The Vow, the overnight shift of Scottish Labour to the left and the shrieks of panic from Westminster and the London media at the thought of the SNP forming the balance of power, we can see we have gained something.
The realisation that if we organise, we do have the power to change things.
It’s harder in England though. The voting system at the Scottish Parliament has given space for smaller parties to prove themselves competent. For a new form of social democracy to emerge. Down South you are only choosing the colour of the rosette that your establishment stooge pins to his soiled lapel. And your main outlet of protest is UKIP, a cesspool for those looking to blame the woes of society on those who have least responsibility for creating them.
So instead of playing the blame game it would be good to see the people of England awaken – form groups, new parties, blog, protest and campaign. You, like the Scots, deserve a better working democracy but you are not going to get it while dangling unconscious from the strings of your neocon puppeteers. And if in years to come we look South and see an energised population striving for real meaningful change, we will not look on you disparagingly. It will give those of us who voted to leave the Union pause for thought that we truly might be Better Together. Alternatively, just keep on slumbering, keep on blaming the wrong people for your problems, and keep on pushing the whinging, scrounging but revived Scots away.
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