Labour’s former High Heidyin has resurfaced. Since Gordon Brown’s premiership he has been most known for his prominent role in the 2014 ‘Better Together’ campaign and his tendency to pop up whenever Scotland’s independence movement looks set to make gains. In his most recent contribution to The Guardian he speaks of a “United Kingdom in name only” condemning the rise of nationalism, Islamophobia, antisemitism and populism – and he’s right. Pull back the union flags, clear away the china teapots with the Queen’s face, see through the veneer of Rees-Mogg et al and it becomes increasingly clear that the United Kingdom is a fragile and a damaged institution, one which is tearing itself apart at an unprecedented rate.
An alumnus of our own University of Edinburgh, Brown subscribes to the idea that it is only a return to ‘britishness’ under a Labour government which can heal the divides in our communities. The values he attributes to this – “tolerance, civic responsibility, reciprocity between nations and pragmatic internationalism” are all something to strive for, however they do not reflect today’s Britain. Reciprocity between nations is not something which has been seen in the UK for a very long time. Westminster takes. And it takes. And it takes. Yet it gives little back to the devolved administrations. There is no reciprocity in this ‘United’ Kingdom and there has not been for a very long time. Successive British governments have crippled Scotland’s industry, our shipyards and steel industry. Mining communities the length and breadth of Britain were decimated in favour of London’s financial sector, not by local governments, not by decisions made in their interests but by those far removed from the consequences of their decisions.
The United Kingdom is a failed state. A serious accusation but one which flies true in the face of protestations to the contrary. Power is centralised too far away from the people it affects. Each of our four countries faces different issues, has different focuses and desires different things. Had this been addressed more proactively, had those responsible for ensuring the success of the union devolved more powers and allowed each country to govern itself within the union instead of simply hanging bunting over the cracks, then the inevitable disintegration of this unitary state could have been avoided. Make no mistake, the sun has truly set on the empire and it will soon be confined to the history books. Scotland will leave first, likely within the next few years, Irish reunification soon may follow, and even loyal Wales is beginning to realise it has been used and abused by its neighbour. England will soon stand alone, the only country in this pitiful excuse for a union, having pushed away those once near and dear to it; what a truly sad day that will be.
Gordon Brown is a Scot, a number of our Prime Ministers and political leaders have been too – even Jo Swinson represents a Scottish constituency, though she rarely visits it. And that is the point. No one nation, no one people, no one party is responsible for this but rather 300 years of abusive, intolerant, inter-union bigotry. Mr Brown claims that it is only now that we are divided “between the four nations that until recently formed a cohesive UK”. He is wrong. It has been broken and divided and exploitative since its inception. When James VI of Scotland found himself next in line to the English throne, he didn’t accept it because he wanted what was right for his subjects but because it would vastly increase his wealth, power and territory. A sentiment which persists and pervades Westminster to this day and one which has no place in a modern democracy.
Gordon is right on a few things: any union in which one country can overrule the decisions and views of the other three put together is a “United Kingdom in name alone”. Any parliament in which the MPs elected from one country can unilaterally decide policy for the other three is a “United Kingdom in name alone”. This groundswell in support of Scottish, Welsh, Irish, Cornish independence is because we are only now seeking an alternative. We tried to tolerate its many faults, telling ourselves we couldn’t make it alone, echoing the concept of “reciprocity between nations”, telling ourselves we could change it for the better but this abusive arranged marriage is on the rocks – and Scotland is drafting the divorce papers as we speak.
Image: Express website