Saturday, 7 March 2015

After the love has gone

Just a few months ago we were being ‘love-bombed’.  As polls showed growing numbers of Scots backing independence, some of our friends in England were queuing-up to tell us how much they love us and our country: “Don’t go,” they pleaded, “We’re one big family.  Don’t split us up.”

The right-wing Daily Mail newspaper reported: “David Cameron will insist that Scotland ‘puts the great into Great Britain’ as he seeks to love-bomb voters north of the border considering voting for independence.  The Prime Minister is embarking on a two-day anti-independence tour of Scotland following jitters in Westminster about the state of the ‘no’ campaign ahead of the referendum.  Speaking in Glasgow, he will declare: ‘My message is simple. We want Scotland to stay.’”

One ‘love-bomb’ in particular received blanket coverage in the print and broadcast media.  It took the form of a letter to the people of Scotland, again playing on the theme of “we’re a family and we love you – please don’t go”.  The letter was put-together by Dan Snow, best-known for presenting television programmes about historic military conflicts.  What wasn’t widely reported at the time was the fact Mr Snow is ‘in with the bricks’ of the London-based, right-wing elite that runs the UK.  Before her marriage to Dan, Mrs Snow was Lady Edwina Grosvenor, daughter of the Duke of Westminster.  Her brother is a godparent to Prince George (third in line to the throne) and in 2014 her daddy’s personal wealth was reported to be around £8bn, most of it accrued from ownership of land and property.

Clearly, Dan Snow’s motivation for urging Scots to reject controlling their own country was based on his in-depth understanding of our lives and a concern that, without London-based politicians looking after our affairs, the near utopia we currently enjoy could be endangered.

The Snow ‘love-bomb’ was signed by many English ‘personalities’ who, apparently, have a great love for Scotland and share Dan’s deep concern for our wellbeing; people like Sir Mick Jagger, Dame Judi Dench, Sir David Attenborough, David Bowie, Sir Bruce Forsyth, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Michael Parkinson, Dame Vera Lynn, Sting, Melvyn Bragg and Lord Alan Sugar.

Of course, to a certain extent, the “we’re one family, please don’t go” love-letters worked, given that they fed-into the ‘No’ campaign, which secured a 10% majority in the Independence Referendum, resulting in Scotland remaining part of the loving family that is the British Union.

We’ll, that was then and this is now. 

The American disco/soul band Earth, Wind and Fire had a UK number 1 in 1979 with a track called ‘After The Love Has Gone’.  If, like me, you are old enough, you may remember the classic line form the song – “After the love has gone, how could you lead me on?” – which many Scots who rejected independence should now be asking themselves.

In the past week, the Daily Mail – the same newspaper that last year reported the ‘love-bombing’ of Scots – carried an opinion column by right-wing journalist Max Hastings, which had the headline -  “The terrifying prospect of the Scots ruling England is now all too real: MAX HASTINGS on nightmare scenario facing Britain after the Election”.

The “nightmare scenario” referred to by Hastings and the Daily Mail is one where the SNP has sufficient numbers of MPs elected to Westminster that Scotland could actually have influence over what the UK Parliament does.  To the English establishment, a strong Scottish voice would be “terrifying” and a “nightmare”.

The Hastings article was carried only in English editions of the Daily Mail, it did not feature in copies of the paper sold in Scotland.  Perhaps the newspaper that once carried an editorial extolling the virtues of Herr Hitler’s policies in 1930s Germany is unaware that a modern contraption called the internet allows the wee Jockies to see what they are saying about us. Included in the Daily Mail article were these gems:

“The latest opinion poll suggests that the General Election in May could give Labour and the Tories equal representation in the Commons, with the Nationalists sweeping Scotland to hold 56 out of 59 seats, and the balance of power at Westminster.  Following such a vote, the most plausible outcome would be a Labour minority government led by Ed Miliband, and sustained in power by Nicola Sturgeon and her tartan army.  If this sounds a nightmare scenario for the English people, and indeed for everybody with a head on their shoulders throughout the UK, it is the way events could turn out if the polls are right.”

“We thus face the bleak prospect of five million Scots determining the fate of almost 60 million people in the rest of the UK.  Nicola Sturgeon would name her price for supporting Labour, which would include a dumper-truck of English taxpayers’ cash to fund the Scottish socialist dream.”

“It was, of course, a mistake for Cameron to agree to hold a Scottish independence referendum.”

“ overwhelming majority of Scots claim the right to choose a government that will give them what they want...”

“Scots have rushed to embrace the defeated SNP. It is as if a whole people are rowing lifeboats like madmen to climb aboard the Titanic.”

“Like the French and Greeks, the Scots seem immune to rational argument about their circumstances and prospects. They simply challenge the Westminster parties to declare who will pay most for their support. Sturgeon says the current government austerity programme is ‘morally unjustifiable and economically unsustainable’. She wants another £180 billion in the next parliament, paid by the English for the benefit of the Scots — this, though her nation already receives a disproportionate share of UK public spending.”

My favourite line is: “ overwhelming majority of Scots claim the right to choose a government that will give them what they want...”  The bastards!  Where would we end up if governments actually started giving people what they want?

I also liked the Daily Mail/Max Hastings argument that: “It was, of course, a mistake for Cameron to agree to hold a Scottish independence referendum.”  In 2011, Scotland elected a Scottish National Party majority-government, which stood on a manifesto commitment of giving Scots a referendum on independence, but  the Mail/Hastings believe an English politician, representing a party with just 1 MP in Scotland, should have the power to deny the will of the Scottish people.

To top things off, last Saturday (March 7) saw a suggestion from an English Lord in relation to who should form the UK Government after May’s Westminster Election.  Lord Baker of Dorking, a former minister in Tory governments led by Margaret Thatcher, said a Labour minority government reliant on the SNP would be a “nightmare” situation for Westminster, and that a Conservative-Labour coalition may be needed to prevent the SNP holding the balance of power.  Tory and Labour again standing shoulder-to-shoulder to prevent a better deal for Scotland.

It would certainly seem the Scots are no longer loved.  It’s almost as if last year’s ‘love-bombing’ was just a lie.   

I wouldn’t for a minute equate politics with the personal trauma women suffer in abusive relationships, where one partner controls the other.  I was struck, though, by advice posted on a web site offering support to women who have had the courage to break-free from a long-term abusive relationship, but who are then contacted by their estranged partner telling them how much he actually loves them:

“Leopards don't change their spots and it's the hardest thing to do to stay strong but if you succeed and see clearly what he's trying to do then your feeling of strength and pride in yourself will keep increasing.  He's trying to gain control again.

“At the moment you're being bombarded by Mr Nice who's telling you exactly what he knows you want to hear.  He may stay as Mr Nice for a while but then Mr Angry will return, and be even angrier as you dared to even think about walking away from him and taking away his control.”

Surely Westminster politicians and the British establishment-elite could not have been so cynical?

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