Month: June 2014

Learning from Latin America: Part 1. The State

By Cygnus

The function of Scottish independence, for those on the Left campaigning in favour, is one of societal revival. Scottish society can enter the 21st century only after the sweeping away of anachronistic British structures – stemming from London – that nurture elitism and stifle democracy. We are now turning towards different societies, looking for positive ideas (policies, laws, etc.), and doing the right thing by stealing them. The most commonly occurring examples cited appear to be practices and policies from the Nordic countries. These ideas are promoted by Scottish think-tanks, Common Weal and Nordic Horizons, with the former being most prominent in terms of reference in pro-independence circles (although it has no formal position on the referendum). ‘All of us first’ are the words of the moment by Common Weal, an attempt to capture opposition to inequality in a slogan. The excitement about building our own version of a Nordic Utopia – as some have sardonically called these countries – has manifested itself in the rhetoric of some active in the Radical Independence Campaign. A couple of questions arise at this point.

Firstly, what is it that people identifying as ‘socialists’ find so covetable about Nordic countries?

It is demonstrable that these countries are more equal and more democratic, with better healthcare, better pensions and better wages. These conditions are said to be achieved by inclusive democratic structures, nationalised services, and a peaceful foreign policy. No doubt hailing the Nordic approach as the paragon of civilisation is a result of living under the British system, where aggressive individualism is rewarded and those weakest in society are punished for the crime of being disadvantaged. The Nordic approach is merely social democracy – the filing down of the sharp, rusty edges of neoliberalism to maintain the structures of cuddly capitalism. This is not radical by any measure. In fact, the trend in Sweden[i] and Norway[ii] is towards privatisation of public services and state-owned companies.

Secondly, why are some on the Scottish left obsessing over Nordic countries when there are more socially-oriented countries they can turn to?

Is it because Scandinavians are more ‘like us’? They also speak a Germanic language. They are also white. They are quite close to us geographically. However, there are examples further afield which are radical and which can be feasibly applied to an independent Scotland. Starting around fifteen years ago, some Latin American countries have been transforming their societies not only politically and economically, but addressing deep social issues of sex and gender in a positive and meaningful way, and prioritising social needs, not capital accumulation. Strangely, they have largely been ignored in favour of the people to our north-east.

After the election of Rafael Correa as Ecuadorean president in 2007, a Constituent Assembly was formed to write a new constitution. The assembly gained approval by 80% of the electorate, and the constitution was approved almost two-thirds of voters. Enacted in 2008, this constitution[iii] – by international standards – is uniquely progressive in that it addresses the fundamental human rights and needs of citizens.

Article 11 recognises the fundamental right to gender identity and sexual orientation. Ecuador is the first state to do this. Article 281 guarantees the right to food: “Food sovereignty is a strategic objective and an obligation of the state in order to ensure that persons, communities, peoples and nations achieve self-sufficiency with respect to healthy and culturally appropriate food on a permanent basis.” The state has fourteen administrative, economic and bureaucratic obligations pertinent to this article. Again, this is a world first in terms of rights. Articles 71-4 address the rights of nature: nature has “the right to be restored” and the state is obliged to restrict or prevent “activities that might lead to the extinction of species, the destruction of ecosystems and the permanent alteration of natural cycles.” Like the previous two, this section of the constitution is globally unprecedented. That the environment can be constitutionally protected is particularly salient to Scotland, considering the recent razing of areas of Special Scientific Interest in Aberdeenshire by the avaricious Donald Trump, enabled by the Scottish government.[iv]

Similar to the Ecuadorean experience, only ten years earlier, Venezuela elected Hugo Chávez who subsequently made provision for a Constitutional Assembly to be voted on. The constitution was approved by the electorate in 1999 with an over two-thirds majority. The Venezuelan constitution has been described as “non-androcentric”. In terms of language, it uses both the Spanish masculine and feminine noun-classes – something lacking in all constitutions up until 1999. It incorporates the definition of discrimination by the UN ‘Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women’. In a more concrete move towards equality of the sexes, women working in the home are entitled to receive payment by the state for this, since their labour is recognised as an economic activity. Economic rights in the Bolivarian constitution are geared in the interests of working people: “every worker has the right to a sufficient salary that allows a life with dignity and covers his own and his* family’s basic material, social and intellectual activities.” In addition, the state is obliged to promote and protect economic democracy, like cooperatives. The right to healthcare is also enshrined in the constitution: “health is a fundamental social right, an obligation of the state, which guarantees it as part of the right to life.”[v]

Both the Ecuadorean and Venezuelan constitutions clearly seek to ensure not only the protection of political rights and freedoms, but to engender a social and economic environment that is conducive to the advancement of individual and community health and wellbeing. The medium- and long-term result of such rights being implemented is that people with their fundamental needs secured can then concentrate on political participation and activity. In turn, then, social change can be harnessed by the working class in a direct way, since they are no longer burdened with daily hardships as before.

Bolivia has been engaging in land reform for years, but the redistribution of land has been accelerated by president Evo Morales since his election in 2006. Land ownership has been shifted from the wealthy to indigenous communities and poor farmers. While the landed classes still own vast amount of land, peasant and indigenous organisations now collectively control one-third of regularised land. Of titled land, peasant and indigenous communities now hold over 55%. The government has acquired (by some estimates) 25 million acres from individuals or businesses that did not use land productively or could not show legal rights to the land they claimed.[vi] Guided by correcting historical injustices and challenging privilege, Bolivia is making those in genuine need the beneficiaries of land use. By contrast, the Scottish government’s Land Reform Review Group recently proposed that there should be an upper limit on the amount of land held by private owners, and advocated an increase in community land ownership.[vii] This is a disappointingly insipid solution to a country which has the highest concentration of land ownership in the developed world, with 432 individuals owning 50% of the land. Scotland only abolished feudal property rights ten years ago.

The only example of lessons in democracy from Latin America which is popular with the Nordicists is that of Porto Alegre. In 1989, the Brazilian city decided that measures had to be taken to combat corruption and wasting of resources. The participative budget was the solution offered: the population would decide on budget expenditure, priorities and development plans. The working class and middle class, leftists and rightists, were invited to talk civilly in an economic forum. This has been lauded as a victory for democracy. Proponents point to results: sewerage systems, drinking water access and paved roads have been installed in poor areas that previously had none.[viii] It’s unsurprising that those favouring the Nordic model are attracted to this scheme – it allows the middle class to retain their position of luxury while the working class must negotiate their way out of poverty. This does reinforce the idea that advocates of Nordic-style democracy have bourgeois interests, contrasting with recent programmes and policies in Venezuela, for example, which are largely working class.

While the radical changes in Latin American countries tend to be highly state-centric and top-down, this is quite a logical step, given the history of US invasions, military dictatorships and systemic human rights violations. The concern with having a state that guarantees rights and can promote and defend working-class interests is an obvious priority. However, there are positive trends that indicate communities are taking control, without state coercion (explored in part 2). In the discussion of the need for Scotland to radically change, there are two flaws in choosing the Nordic model. The first is that Scotland has a large working class population, and a prominent working class political culture. The Nordic approach accepts that governance should remain in the hands of the bourgeois; working class empowerment is not an option. The second is that Scandinavian countries began their social democratic projects in the early- or mid-20th century (depending on which country you are talking about) – before the globalisation of neoliberal capitalism. Capital must deepen and expand, which is why even Norway is now submitting to the logic of the market; social democracy can only slow down capitalism, not stop it. The Bolivarian movements began as a direct challenge to neoliberalism in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, with the focus on tearing down the economic structures that exploited those poorest in society, to the benefit of the wealthy. Those in favour of independence and calling themselves a ‘socialist’ of any stripe must to turn to Latin America for ideas. With a housing crisis, food bank use rising, concern for the future of NHS, urgent land reform needed – all amid recession and austerity – the lessons we can learn from Latin America are far more instructive and relevant than those from the Nordic countries.

 

[i] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/dec/18/private-healthcare-lessons-from-sweden

[ii] http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/da1191dc-1628-11e3-a57d-00144feabdc0.html#axzz367RR2hoY

[iii] http://pdba.georgetown.edu/Constitutions/Ecuador/english08.html

[iv] http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/trump-golf-course-damaging-environment-claims-rspb.21425182

* Assuming this gender specific language is in the English version of the constitution only

[v] http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/70

[vi] https://nacla.org/blog/2013/3/31/bolivia-unfinished-business-land-reform

[vii] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-27735003

[viii] http://www.unesco.org/most/southa13.htm

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Scotland: Friends with America?

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By Cygnus

With intentions unlikely to be benign, the British state and corporate media have been drawing international attention to Scottish independence. High-ranking politicians from Russia, US and China – like the UK, all have permanent seats in UN Security Council – have been asked their views on the upcoming referendum. Out of those three, for simple reasons of imperial ambition, America is the one that will lose the most, were Scotland to choose self-determination.

In January this year, Russian president, Vladimir Putin, was asked his view on the referendum. With robotic diplomacy, he opined that all people had a right to self-determination, but argued that “being part of a single, strong state has some advantages”. He distanced himself by calling it “a domestic issues for the UK”.[i] In mid-June, the No camp claimed a success, pointing to US president, Barack Obama’s ostensible public backing of the British state. Speaking at the G7 conference, Obama said that the referendum was “up to the people of Scotland,” going on to assert that it is in the US interest to have a “strong, robust, united and effective partner”.[ii] It’s worth watching the video to see how he struggles to find the correct diplomatic language, and the words unnaturally tumble from his mouth. An explicit declaration of support for the British came later in June from Chinese premier Li Keqiang. At a press conference with David Cameron, Li voiced his support for a “strong, prosperous, united United Kingdom”.[iii] Incidentally, on the same visit, £14 billion in trade deals were signed between China and UK, with a £11.8 billion deal between China National Offshore Oil Corporation and BP pending.[iv] More telling were comments from US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, during an interview with Westminster mouthpiece, Jeremy Paxman. Clinton remarked that she “would hate to have you [the UK] lose Scotland”. She attempts to backpedal after this utterance of imperial language, by pointing out that she doesn’t have a vote in Scotland, just in case we were wondering.[v]

These comments have revealed that world powers have a preference for the status quo – which, in this case, is the British state. For the US as an imperial power, this is a serious concern. Obama’s fake neutrality was necessary to hide the American agenda: the continuation of the British vassal state. His description of the UK was flattering, and requires translation from diplomatic to power speak. It is a subservient, pliable, deferential junior partner of American imperialism. As expected, the US is deeply concerned with keeping its vassal state politically, militarily and economically intact. Wikileaks has revealed that the potential for the breaking of the British state is being closely watched and analysed by US intelligence.[vi]

The UK has been consistent in its support of the American Empire, during the Cold War and into the unipolar world that became a playground for NATO. Iran in 1953, Diego Garcia in 1968, East Timor from 1975-2000, Iraq in 1991, Kosovo in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq (again) in 2003 and Libya in 2011 have all been targets for US-British military aggression under various pretexts.

Scottish independence poses a genuine threat to British militarism and therefore to the status of junior imperial partner. While the Scottish government pledged to remove Trident from Faslane naval base near Glasgow in the event of a Yes vote, they narrowly voted in favour of joining NATO. Trident is the US nuclear weapon system, owned by the US navy, and a key component of UK military power. Scottish civil society is considerably more radical than the government, establishing active grassroots coalitions, No to NATO Scotland and Scrap Trident. The latter organised the April 2013 blockade of Faslane, an act of mass civil disobedience against British militarism. With no suitable alternative base for Trident in the UK, the only option would be to decommission the bombs, rendering both Scotland and Britain non-nuclear countries. According to Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, all nuclear bombs could be removed from Scotland within 2 years, and then being dismantled 2 years after that.[vii] Pressuring the nascent Scottish state to remove Trident as promised and not to join NATO will not be a case of petitions and voting. It will require consistent and energetic mobilisation, organised by dedicated and coherent grassroots campaigns. Scrap Trident offers an encouraging blueprint for this.

Scotland is not only home to nuclear weapons, but has been used as a transit country for CIA aircraft, in their ‘rendition’ programmes – this is where individuals are kidnapped from one country, and sent to another to be tortured. This year, legal charity Reprieve requested the Scottish government investigate their complicity in American human rights violations.[viii] Ensuring that an independent Scotland would not join NATO would preclude the CIA from using Scotland as a base for their global campaign of incarceration and torture.

If Scotland chooses independence, the UK would no longer enjoy the Scottish tax contribution to the British treasury, access to Scottish oil or various sources of renewable energy. It would also be stripped of the hard power privilege of nuclear weapons. This would open into question the UK permanent Security Council seat – with veto rights – at the UN; all permanent members have nuclear arms. An economically truncated UK with the nuclear threat could not hold onto its Security Council seat in the long term. Given the American reliance on British diplomatic support in the Security Council, losing a submissive ally would mean losing another vote which legitimises their across the world.

Of course, it would be an exaggeration to say that Scottish independence would strike a blow to American imperialism. With the loss of one ally, America will find another. The US has military bases and allies all across the globe. However, the weakening of British militarism and aggression is without question. By association, then, independence can break down a key American ally to the point of being inadequate as a junior partner. In the least, it will frustrate US ambitions, since the UK will be in no position to join in imperial adventures. On the global scale, this is a minor change, but still positive inasmuch as one global aggressor is taken out of the game. Clinton was being honest: they would hate to have the British ‘lose’ Scotland, because they, in turn, would lose their most reliable vassal state.

 

 

[i] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-25800441

[ii] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-27713327

[iii] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/17/china-li-keqiang-scottish-independence

[iv] http://www.bbc.com/news/business-27882954

[v] http://www.newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-news/9317-scotland-is-not-a-property-to-be-lost-salmond-tells-clinton

[vi] http://search.wikileaks.org/?q=independence+scotland

[vii] http://www.banthebomb.org/images/stories/pdfs/TridentandIndependence.pdf

[viii] http://www.globalresearch.ca/police-investigating-use-of-scottish-airports-by-cia-rendition-torture-flights/5383738

A match made in heaven – Common Weal and the Rich

Roch Winds

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There is no hiding the fact: we live in a period when moral sense is totally expunged from the minds of the people in the big cities… The worker cannot see why he should lack everything when the rich man goes short of nothing. He revolts against the unjust distribution of wealth which, in his eyes, has ceased to be compensated for in any way. He blames our social system and sees some sort of justice in overthrowing it. He wants, in his turn, to enjoy all the good things of life. This becomes a consuming and intoxicating passion. It is no longer a question of victory over some verbal quibble, or over the form of government. What is at the root of these impious endeavours is the total reshaping of society. From political riots we have passed to social war.

To so grave a malady there would be but…

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No Basta Rezar

 

By Cygnus

No, no, no basta rezar,
hacen falta muchas cosas
para conseguir la paz

Y rezan de buena fe,
y rezan de corazón,
pero también reza el piloto
cuando monta en el avión
para ir a bombardear
a los niños del Vietnam

 

(No, no, praying is not enough
many things are needed
to achieve peace

And they pray with faith
and they pray with heart
even the pilot prays
as he boards the plane
to go and bomb
the children in Vietnam)

– Alí Primera

On Sunday, the 8th of June, Pope Francis hosted Israeli president and war criminal, Shimon Peres, and Palestinian Authority president and collaborator, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) to the Vatican Gardens. The purpose of this was a prayer as an “invocation for peace”, with the pope proclaiming: “Prayer is all-powerful. Let us use it to bring peace to the Middle East and peace to the world.”[i] While these three elderly, wealthy men prayed to their respective Abrahamic gods, the human rulers over the Holy Land of Palestine continued their reign of racist oppression unabated and with impunity.

At the time of writing, an increasing number of Palestinians are taking to hunger striking as a method of resistance against Zionism. 125 prisoners began their strike on the 24th of April. This number has now swelled into hundreds. They are protesting the policy of ‘administrative detention’ – the incarceration of individuals without charge or trial, for an indefinite period of time. Most of those on strike are administrative detainees. Due to their deteriorating condition, 70 prisoners have been transferred to various hospitals. On Friday the 6th of June, the UN Secretary-General asserted publicly that all those on hunger strike should be released or charged with a crime.[ii] A lawyer who gained access to those imprisoned observed that all of them were cuffed at the wrists and ankles, and some of them were isolated in solitary confinement. When intending to visit six prisoners in a hospital in Ashkelon (former Palestinian village, Al Majdal), he was barred from visiting three of them.[iii] According to another lawyer, the conditions were inhumane. Some hunger strikers have lost consciousness, some have eyesight weakness, others suffering from gastrointestinal bleeding. The Israeli Prison ‘Service’ responded to the strikes by denying some men toiletries such as shampoo, razors and toothbrushes.[iv] The names of some of the hospitalised hunger strikers have been released (dated 9th of June)[v]:

Abdel Jaber Foqaha

Jawad Al-Jabri

Mahmoud Werdian

Mazen Alnatasha

Jamal Hamara

Mahmoud Shabana

Faraj Romana

Raed Hamdan

Tareq Ideis

Mohamad Jamal Natsha

Fayez Misk

Louay Ghaith

Salem Badi

Mahmoud Daoud

Mosab Alhimoni

The Israeli state is taking the next step to quashing nonviolent resistance: Netanyahu, upon the recommendation of Shin Bet director, Yoram Cohen, has driven a bill through the Knesset to legalise the force-feeding of hunger strikers.[vi] As they fully understand, this is a violation of international law.

This bout of resistance, through hunger, is not unprecedented, and in fact indicates a trend. Two years ago, hunger striker, Khader Adnan, was released in April after a 66-day strike against administrative detention. Following Adnan, Hana Shalabi went on hunger strike for 43 days and, upon her release in the same month, was banished to Gaza. Both received worldwide attention by grassroots groups, and demonstrations were enthusiastically held in many cities globally. On the 17th of April, Palestinian Prisoner’s Day, around 2000 prisoners went on a mass hunger strike, inspired by Adnan and Shalabi.[vii]

Having been stripped of fundamental rights, and conventional arms, the use of the body as a weapon against oppression is the only option the incarcerated individual has left. Hunger striking – as well as a form of resistance – is symbolic of the structural violence inflicted upon the Palestinian people as a whole; it emerges only when all other methods of resistance have been exhausted. Those on hunger strike have been reduced to the elementals of existence: the sheer force of will and the human body. This is controlled starvation of the self by the individual; but co-ordinated, systematic and intentional moves to starve Palestinian populations has also occurred.

The story of Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus is the most recent and horrific example of systematic starvation. After being shelled by Syrian state forces between December 2012 and July 2013, people fled for their lives, reducing the number of people living in the camp to 20,000 from 160,000. Those remaining were subjected to a siege in August. From then on, the number of deaths due to dehydration, malnutrition and lack of medicine increased. The siege was maintained by the Syrian army, its various militias, and Lebanese group, Hizballah. For one section outside the camp, a rebel group also worked to ensure the blockade of people and goods.[viii] Observing this, some Palestinians in Lebanon saw a macabre repeat of their own suffering. In the mid-1980s (during the Lebanese Civil War) the Shia militia, Amal – backed by Syria – besieged Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Like in Yarmouk today, some survived by eating grass, cats and dogs.

The Zionist desire to reduce the Palestinian population in Gaza is manifest. In 2007, in response to Hamas winning elections, the state put the coastal enclave under siege. In 2012, it was revealed that a document known as ‘Red Lines’ was drafted a year after the siege was imposed. This was a guidebook on how to starve Gaza. Health officials calculated the minimum number of daily calories for the inhabitants to eat in order to avoid malnutrition – in terms of truckloads of food, it was calculated that 170 trucks per day would be suffice. After the blockade started, only 67 trucks were allowed to entering daily; there were 400 before 2007.[ix] The intentional starvation of a people is a War Crime and a Crime against Humanity: it is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.[x]

This history of hunger points to a history of imprisonment and isolation – whether in the camps, in Gaza or in the Zionist jails. An absence of legal, political and physical protection for Palestinians means that virtually all acts of oppression can go unpunished. Since the Nakba began in 1948, hunger has been found to have a twofold character: both as a form of resistance, and as yet another form of grotesque and unforgivable collective violence upon a people.

 

[i] http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/vatican-host-palestine-israel-peace-prayer-abbas-peres

[ii] http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=702808

[iii] http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=702706

[iv] http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=703155

[v] http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/11975-names-of-palestinian-hunger-strikers-in-israeli-hospitals-revealed

[vi] http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/israeli-parliament-passes-bill-allow-force-feeding-palestinian-prisoners

[vii] http://electronicintifada.net/content/bbcs-cruel-excuses-ignoring-palestinian-hunger-strikes/12072

[viii] http://palhumanrights.org/rep/ENG/PHRO%20Condemns%20Systematic%20Starvation%20of%20Pal_%20Refugee%20in%20Yarmouk%20Camp.pdf

[ix] http://electronicintifada.net/content/israels-starvation-diet-gaza/11810

[x] http://www.globalresearch.ca/genocide-charges-against-the-state-of-israel-kuala-lumpur-war-crimes-tribunal/5358643

The Threat of Scottish Independence

By Cygnus

In the corporate media today, Scottish independence is increasingly presented as not merely a bad idea, but sinister and threatening. This danger runs inwards and outwards: it can be a threat to the individual citizen living in Scotland, or it can be a threat to entire states – depending on who is speaking and who their audience is. It’s a malleable nightmare. It has been given a structure: Alex Salmond as the mendacious, autocratic and self-serving leader, and the SNP as his brainwashed and loyal army. The need for an ‘enemy’ in the British corporate media is not a new idea, however.

During the Cold War, from the late 1940s to the 1980s, ‘Communism’ was – juxtaposed against ‘democracy’ or capitalism – was seen as a global threat, with Russia at the economic, military and political centre. Britain’s proximity to the Marxist-Leninist monolith was a cause for anxiety. From the 1970s to the mid-1990s, Irish Republican ‘terrorism’ plagued the headlines. These people apparently sought to destabilise the civilising mission of British control of the Six Counties. The ‘War on Terror’ in 2001 with the invasion of Afghanistan and invasion of Iraq in 2003 sought to crush ‘Islamic terrorism’. The ‘Fundamentalists Islamists’ – with the near-mythical Osama bin Laden as their leader – were driven by their hatred of democracy and Christianity (the West) to attacking any physical manifestation of these concepts. Since the launch of Yes Scotland and the Radical Independence Campaign in 2012, media attention has focused on Scottish ‘nationalism’. Any person or group supporting independence – be they anarchists, socialists or free-market capitalists – is referred to as ‘nationalist’ or ‘nat’ (or ‘cybernat’ if they are expressing themselves in the digital realm). Their values are seen as a wild aberration, diametrically opposed to the normalcy and stability of the British state; their goals are unrealisable at best and potentially dangerous.

The hysteria emanating from the Unionist corporate media and high-profile Unionists is becoming increasingly irrational and detached from reality. While independence has been accused of magically emptying your bank account, more absurd accusations and stories are being manufactured. Parasitic peer, Lord Robertson claimed that “the forces of darkness would simply love it” if Scotland were independent and that the effects would be “cataclysmic in geopolitical terms”. The entrance of the good-versus-evil narrative is implied here, creating a moral divergence between the pro-British and pro-Scottish groups. Head of Better Together, Alistair Darling compared Alex Salmond’s behaviour to that of Kim Jong-il, deceased ‘supreme leader’ of North Korea. In the West, the dictator was well-known for his heinous human rights record and state-created personality cult. He also complained that people are being “threatened for saying the wrong things” – hinting at a latent violence in independence supporters. Recently elected to European parliament, David Coburn of the misogynist and racist UKIP blurted out a string of non sequiturs relating to Salmond and the SNP the day after Darling. He likened the party to a cult, Salmond as “prototype dictator” then opined: “they all follow behind him [Salmond]. Nobody says anything wrong, it’s always the same nonsense, there’s no humanity to them.” The SNP, then, have entered the realm of science-fiction villains. The No camp have framed this debate as one where they are the underdogs, despite having a slight lead in polls, and the entire apparatus of the British state to assist them. This is an obvious exaggeration but helpful in that it adds to creating a culture of fear: the opposition has shifted from being a potential threat to a likely one.

This tactic closely resembles, in public relations speak, deviance amplification. The ‘nationalists’ are increasingly being portrayed as folk devils, whose aims are state subversion (via separation), with their values and methods that completely deviate from the rational, democratic and peaceful Unionists. Whether intentionally or not, the British corporate media have elevated Scottish independence to ‘enemy’ status. By doing this, they demean and distort the hopes of genuine grassroots campaigns that are now active in our communities. Evidently, this does not matter; what matters is defending the British state at all costs.