Monday, April 3, 2017
WE'VE ASKED NICELY FOR INDYREF 2 AND LONDON HAS SAID 'NO'. LOOKS LIKE IT'S TIME TO UP THE ANTE
So here we are. We have had our vote in our very own Parliament and we've won it by 69 to 59. We have followed all the rules and we have ticked all of the right boxes. We have been polite. In fact we have been absolutely as nice as ninepence.
Excuse me London. It's Scotland here. I wonder if you have a moment. You see, we have just had a vote. In the Parliament. Our Parliament. And by a majority of 69 to 59 our elected Parliamentarians have made a decision.
We would like another Independence Referendum please. Here is our letter. We've checked all of the spelling and everything.
So can we?
Not now. Now is not a good time. We're not saying never. Just not now. In case you hadn't noticed, we have rather bigger fish to fry. So maybe it would be a good idea if you stopped being such a bloody nuisance and got on with your own frying. I do believe Mars bars are a particular favourite of yours........?
No, there are no buts. We're in charge in case you hadn't noticed. Do as you're bloody told.
Oh Lord. After all the excitement of the vote and those pictures of Nicola with her shoes kicked off and......
But there is no 'and...'. We asked nicely and they said 'No' with a trademark sneer.
Excuse me, but haven't you seen the poll? Here. Have a look. It says 61% of Scots believe the decision about a second Referendum should be made in Edinburgh.
Oh do shut up.
So what next? There is talk of cards up sleeves. Maybe there are. Or maybe we have been firmly put back in our box.
Is this a new situation for a small country living under the thumb of Whitehall? Maybe we might be able to find some inspiration? Well this is where we are kind of lucky. You see, this isn't any kind of new situation. Countries have been dragging themselves away from London's clutches for over 200 years. Some were huge like America and India. Others were our size: Ireland and Israel. Some were home to black and brown people who didn't speak English. Others were full of white people who did. They came in all shapes and sizes and one way or another they all made it. Surely we can find some clues about what to do next if we have a dig through their old playbooks.
To be honest, the lessons of history are hardly crystal clear. Some ploys worked and other ploys were an absolute disaster. Getting really, really mad and kicking off doesn't tend to be such a good idea. The Boers tried it in 1900 and 30,000 of their women and children wound up dying in Kitchener's concentration camps from disease and starvation. The Irish went for broke in Easter 1916 and ended up with a bombed out Post Office and some great rebel songs but no freedom.
In 1954 the Mau Mau decided it was time for no more Mr Nice Guy. They arrived in the night at isolated farms in the Aberdare Mountains of Kenya and started slicing and dicing white settlers with their machetes. London went predictably mental and a couple of years later over half a million Kikuyu were banged up in disease ridden concentration camps.
The lesson to be learned? Oh that is simple enough. If you pull out an old Lee Enfield rifle, London will send in the tanks and start rounding up your people and putting them in camps. It's probably worth remembering the grand opening of the Long Kesh internment camp was only forty or so years ago.
So kicking off and going full on William Wallace isn't the best idea. But putting up and shutting up is an equally bad idea. So is there a middle way?
Absolutely. In spades. The middle way is all about taking London to places they really, really don't want to go. We need to take them to places where they feel really, really awkward and unsure of what to do.
And to do this we need to take a few leaves out of the playbook of the absolute master when it comes to this kind of stuff. Of course I am talking about the great Mahatma Gandhi.
Lets head back to the mid 1930's. This was very much the time when the British Empire had reached its high water mark. It was the time when the whole sun never setting thing was all the rage. And of course India was the Jewel in the Crown. Lots and lots of promises had been made over the years. Only twenty years earlier London had said if the Indians would volunteer to dig our trenches in Flanders the King would be well disposed to take a proper look at their Independence claims. To be honest, it didn't go so well. The Indian troops came home with Spanish flu and over 20 million wound up dying. And all the talk of being favourably disposed to granting Independence.....?
Now is not a good time.
Ghandi knew only too well kicking off and getting violent was a truly lousy idea. The Indians had tried it 80 years earlier in 1857 and it hadn't turned out well at all. As the dust settled on the Indian Mutiny, London embarked on a blood soaked decade of revenge which would have made Hitler purr with pleasure. Unsurprisingly the exact records of just how many million Indians London killed by way of payback have been mislaid. It was certainly more than ten million.
The Mahatma was a peace and love kind of guy. So he did himself some out of the box thinking and came up with an idea of pure genius. In the mid 30's Indians were not allowed to produce their own salt. To make a bit of salt could land you in jail. Why? Because there were vital votes to be had in those Cheshire swing seats and the salt mines needed the massive Indian market to be viable.
So Ghandi wrote out a press release. He said he would be walking across Gujarat to the sea and once he reached the sea he would make some salt. At first nobody took much notice. But as the miles rolled by, more and more people joined him and by the time he reached the coast he had 20,000 in his wake and the world's press were waiting to take the pictures for their front pages. He became a rock star all over the world.
All of a sudden London found itself between a rock and a hard place. Of course the cheeky little wog was breaking the bloody law and needed a jolly good thrashing. Obviously. But on the other hand there were an awful lot of reporters kicking around....
What to do? In the end London did exactly what Gandhi wanted them to do. They decided to crack the whip. They locked him up along with thousands of his followers whilst the world press took lots of pictures. It didn't take London long to wake up to the fact they had been well and truly played. They let Gandhi out and changed the salt making law but it was all too little, too late. He had shown them for what they were and it wasn't a good look. And within thirty years the sun had well and truly set on the an Empire which was supposed to have been good for another thousand years.
Others have dipped into Gandhi's playbook with great success. In 1955 at the very same time as hundreds of thousands of Kenyans were festering in the British concentration camps, a dignified lady called Miz Rosa Parks took the Washington Government to a place they really didn't want to go. Rosa was the smartly dressed black lady who took a seat in the white section of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Over the next ten years the press from all over the world took pictures of American policemen beating the living daylights out of peacefully protesting black citizens. It wasn't exactly the image America Plc was looking to beam out across the globe. Within ten years the new Civil Rights laws were on the statute books and burning crosses was no longer deemed to be an acceptable thing to do.
So what can we do? Right now. How can we take London somewhere they really, really don't want to go? Well it seems very clear we need to leave the claymores in the cupboard. As a white settler myself living in rural isolation, I very much hope Nicola doesn't choose the Mau Mau machete approach! The last thing we want to do is to give Theresa May an excuse to build herself a 21st version of Long Kesh in Falkirk.
We need to find a way to be civilly disobedient in a way which will make London squirm. I have a couple of ideas I think the Mahatma would approve of.
How good would it be if the Scottish Government unilaterally declared its intention to take in the 3000 refugee kids London has U turned on. By the way this isn't my idea, it belongs to Lesley Riddoch. You see, we are absolutely not allowed to do this. Showing humanity and decency is not a devolved power. Just like the Indians were not allowed to make their own salt. And were we to do it, London would once again find itself between a rock and a hard place. What are they going to do? Send a detachment of the paratroopers to arrest Nicola and her Cabinet? Take us to the European Court of Justice? The right wing press would of course call us every name under the sun for being traitorous swine. And the rest of the world? Oh I am pretty sure the rest of the world would be very much on our side.
Just imagine how much Theresa May would hate it. Would she find a way to show a bit of class? Or would she choose instead to pander to the Daily Mail and make a complete mess of it?
So we ask the question once again. Can we have a referendum please? And if London continues to dig in the heels and and tell us to bugger off, then we will have to crank up the pressure another notch. This one is my idea.
The Government in Edinburgh makes an announcement to an increasingly fascinated world. No longer will we allow any nuclear bombs to be transported on Scottish highways. Police Scotland will therefore be instructed to set up and man permanent roadblocks outside the bases at Faslane and Coulport and no vehicles carrying nukes will be allowed through.
And if a few hundred protesters choose to turn up to give the boys in blue a helping hand, then all the better.
Over to you Theresa. What do you do? Stick or twist? Send in the SAS to clear the way? Go all out and invade us? Or maybe you might find the easiest thing to do is to back down and start wiping the egg off your new Thatcher face?
It's time to up the ante guys. It's time to make their lives a misery.