Sunday, February 19, 2012

Imperial Caledonia

The SNP's choice for the referendum date 2014 cannot be a simply a coincidence but a ploy on its symbolism. However, t he Scottish Wars of Independence and the 1314 Battle of Bannockburn were in reality a fight between two sets of Norman knights, English Norman and Scottish Norman, as in those days the ruling class in both countries was actually Norman.

The Act of Union was on behalf of the Scottish wealthy - a bailout. The disastrous Darien Scheme was backed by about a quarter of the money circulating in Scotland and its failure left the nobles and landowners – who had already been suffering a run of bad harvests – practically ruined. The Scottish ruling class voted to end its own parliament in Edinburgh. Did the Scottish ruling class, those "parcel of rogues", betray their country by accepting the Union? The hypothesis is only valid if we accept that those lords and merchants were somehow obliged to place "Scotland" above their own socio-economic interests. The surrender of Scottish sovereignty did not threaten the interest of them but indeed it specifically protected them. Scotland kept its own legal, church and education systems. More importantly, the Act of Union also gave the bankrupt Scottish ruling class access to the money markets of London. The Union was a very good deal for the Scottish ruling class. Most importantly, Scottish commerce got access to the growing empire that the English were carving out. Historically, the Scots were partners in the British empire, not an oppressed nation within it.

"It was not 'English capitalism' which caused the bones of countless Bengalis to bleach in the sun, but a fully integrated British capitalism in which the Scots played a leading role. Indeed, the capitalist class in Scotland was at the forefront, not only of colonial expansion, but also of the overseas investment characteristic of the imperialist stage of capitalism: during the late Victorian period Scotland invested abroad on a scale per head with no parallel among the other nations of the United Kingdom." - Neil Davidson (Scottish Imperialism and National Identity)

Today, the independence movement is again fundamentally a question of members of the capitalist class promoting their own particular self-interest.

The Scottish National Party represent the section of the Scottish elite which feels it could do better in negotiating with international financiers as a separate entity than as a part the United Kingdom. As an ex-Royal Bank of Scotland oil consultant, Alex Salmond no doubt intends cashing in Scotland's on North Sea oil reserves. Those oil and gas reserves play a large role in the opposition of the UK and unionist parties to separation. The major international oil corporations would have little problem with North Sea Oil being transferred from UK to Scottish political control, particularly if any new Scottish government was prepared to cut corporation tax even further. The SNP has been courting the oil companies, opposing both the Con-Dems’ proposed one-off windfall tax on their profits and downplaying the effects of potential oil pollution and spillage. However, North Sea oil still provides substantial tax revenues for the UK government. Therefore, any British government will strongly oppose such a move.

There exists a section of the “business community” like fund-manager Angus Tulloch and transport operator, Brian Souter, who fund the SNP, and they do so not because they want to raise Glasgow’s life expectancy from the lowest in Britain, but because they believe that Scotland’s super-rich will benefit.

The Scots are not an oppressed minority. Indeed, the idea that the Duke of Buccleuch is oppressed because he is Scottish is laughable. A worker in Glasgow or Edinburgh has more in common with his or her counterpart in Liverpool or Birmingham that he or she does with a landed Scottish aristocrat.

But even if it is likely that the Scottish working class will be promised a share of the oil revenues should they vote yes in 2014, like all politicians, Salmond will fail to make good on any pledge to increase working class living standards. And if the unionists prevail, Westminster politicians will also want to continue reaping the rewards for increased exploitation of the Scottish working class, not because they are Scottish, but because they are working class.

Many foreign corporations would quite happy if Scotland became a low tax haven as planned for by the SNP but it would probably lead to an economic "race-to-the-bottom" between the different nations and regions of the UK, with the promotion of competitive tax-cutting to benefit the corporations and the rich.

The wannabe Scottish ruling class will cooperate with the British ruling class and big business to prevent a too radical break-up of the UK and ensure that as much as possible remains of the UK state machinery by upholding the Crown Powers and protecting the City of London's economic control by retention of sterling. It leaves the Scottish ruling class in control within Scotland, but also free to profit from the existing global corporate economic order.

There was no golden age, not for the Scottish working class. Freedom is not intended for the people of Scotland, but for big business. The only independence is for corporations to maximise profits

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