Churchill: A Great Paradox

Last week marked the day in which Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1940. As with many historical events, the press and public look back and ponder the ‘what ifs’, we see montages of his greatest moments and we idolise the man who led a nation in its darkest hour, Britain’s saviour one could say.

When considering Churchill’s legacy, we think of the Second World War, his grand speeches in parliament, his defiance in the face of overwhelming adversity and how it emboldened the people of the United Kingdom to fight fascism. What is often overlooked however is his immense role in the ghastly actions of Imperial-Age Britain.

Many do not include the British Empire in the club of murderous, tyrannical empires of the past. We are not the Mongols, or the Romans, we are not the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. We modernised more than half the world and established democracies that still remain to this day, albeit independent from our rule. These are all wonderful aspects of the British Empire, aren’t they? It is for that reason we can soundly proclaim we were the ‘good guys’, right?

Unsurprisingly, it is not that simple. For every road paved, for every child literate and for every clean water well there are hundreds of dead, incarcerated and oppressed people’s. The blood shed by the British Empire throughout its centuries-long history is unfathomable, yet we are blind to these realities – A selective view of history instilled in our minds from the moment we enter the education system.

p02hf85k

Winston Churchill is a product of this time in our history. A man who firmly believed the British Empire was the moral authority around the globe. A civilised nation whose god given right it was to spread British values, democracy and culture. He was an imperialist, plain and simple. In recent years, many have argued that by modern definitions he was a white supremacist as throughout his career there are examples of his contempt for supposedly ‘lesser’ cultures.

Speaking of the indigenous peoples of America and Australia, Churchill claimed:

“I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”

As well as a contempt for indigenous populations, Churchill had spoken in an almost Nazi-esque fashion, claiming: “The Aryan stock is bound to triumph.”

A statement more at home in Mein Kampf than a biography of Britain’s most celebrated leader.

Let us examine a selection of his darkest actions.

Churchill-by-the-wrecked-trucks.jpg

In 1919 during Britain’s third occupation of Afghanistan, Churchill advocated the use of chemical weapons against the insurrectionist tribes of the region. These surely are not the actions of a moral and just individual, are they? Even more sordid when considering the devastating affects gas had upon British troops during the First World War.

“We proceeded systematically, village by village, and we destroyed the houses, filled up the wells…burned the crops and broke the reservoirs in punitive devastation.”

As a young officer, Churchill witnessed – and perhaps acquired his taste for – great brutality against indigenous populations in South Africa during the Boer War, where concentration camps were pioneered. He even claimed this method ‘reduced suffering‘.

Over 28,000 white Boers died as well as anywhere up to 14,000 black South African peoples.

These methods were also used in Kenya during the 1950’s, where over 100,000 black civilians – which Churchill labelled ‘blackamoors’ – were interred in concentration camps. Britain’s actions at this time were particularly brutal, and focused firmly on maintaining the control of the minority white population in the country.

Bengal-Famine.jpg

One of the worst atrocities carried out by the United Kingdom, and often erased from our history books, is the Bengal famine of 1943. At the height of the Second World War, Britain’s resources were stretched beyond breaking point. Food supplies throughout the Commonwealth and in Britain were dangerously low, and one may be forgiven for assuming that the defence of mainland Britain was a priority.

When famine struck however, Churchill it seems disregarded the gravity of the situation, and is even claimed to have placed the blame at the feet of the Indian population, saying they ‘breed like rabbits’ – A callous remark met with an equally callous response. Wheat shipments from Australia were bypassed to the European theatre of war and this led to increased suffering in the Bengal region.

Churchill’s actions, or there lack of, appear to have aggravated the situation further, and it is believed that over three million people died. His disregard for the people of India is evident during his time in politics and is likely due to his contemptuous view of the people. The Viceroy of India claimed:

“Churchill’s attitude towards India and the famine is negligent, hostile and contemptuous”

A topic still hotly debated to this day is British involvement in Iran. Western meddling in the Middle-East is often acknowledged as one of the main factors of numerous problems. Churchill had long meddled in the affairs of the Iranian people and viewed the mineral wealth of the nation as a massive prize for the British Empire, so much so that he helped orchestrate the complete seizure of the nations oil supply.

Speaking of the seizure of oil, he claimed it was “a prize from fairyland beyond our wildest dreams”

d6fe0a29f9b469d32a3135e43b087b81

His meddling did not relent, and during his post-war term as Prime Minister he enabled the Shah to overthrow the popular nationalist government under Mohammad Mosaddegh, thus setting off a cataclysm of events that would shock the Middle-East for decades. The Shah committed atrocities against the Iranian people for over two decades, supported by Britain and United States, until the Islamic Revolution of 1979 ushered in a dark new era of regional politics.

There are numerous other examples of Churchill’s callous actions throughout his political career, but there simply is not enough room in this article to delve further, a few other examples are:

  •  The partitioning of the Near East, an issue that still plagues global politics to this day.
  • State endorsed violence in Ireland through the ‘Black & Tans’.
  • Violent suppression of civilian protesters in Greece in 1944.
  •  The appalling treatment of workers in the UK. (See the Tonypandy Riots)

What can be said in an albeit futile defence of the man is that his views on race are not unique for the time. As a man born in Edwardian Britain it is likely these beliefs were held by a great deal more people in the UK. This does not exempt him from criticism however, and upon reflection we today find these views offensive and his actions deplorable.

winston-churchill-soldier-396934

He was a product of his time, and it must be said his views, although not too dissimilar, do not quite compare to Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini or others who believed in racial or societal hierarchies at the time. The great paradox of Winston Churchill is that he did champion the defence of western capitalism & democracy and he did rouse the people of the UK and other European nations to resist fascism. Whilst doing this however he stands as a living embodiment of what many today would view as the antithesis of modern democratic values; equality and tolerance.

A monumental figure in British and world history, but perhaps not for the supposedly noble reasons we believe. His legacy is one of blood and torment, with a gloss finish of glory.

 

 

The Nasty Party MkII

It’s short story time folks so buckle up and let’s delve into a dystopian world in which violence against animals is fully endorsed by the British Prime Minister. One where human life is categorised as ‘low value’ and ‘high value’ and where the working class mindlessly dig their own graves with ballot papers. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?

Wait, hold on a minute…

With one fell swoop Theresa May has solidified her place as the new Margaret Thatcher – in that I mean truly hated. In scenes reminiscent of a TV political satire, she utterly baffled millions of British voters by openly endorsing the practice of riding around fields in southern England, dressed like an idiot and mutilating animals. Her comments supporting the reintroduction of fox hunting are deplorable, but sadly, nothing out of the ordinary from the Conservative Party.

Protect-the-Hunting-Act.jpg

Conservatives and their harmless ‘traditions’.

The notion that the Tories had changed, that they were no longer the ‘nasty party’ is false. Earlier this week Iain Duncan Smith spoke of other human beings as ‘low value’ – Comments that bear harrowing similarities to the Nazi ‘untermenschen’ concept of the 1930s. (Video link below)

 

https://twitter.com/bbcnewsnight/status/861835198648004608

It’s not new though, is it? Under the previous government, NHS workers were demonised to such an extent that you’d think they’d been forcefully euthanising patients. The European Union was portrayed as a tyrannical regime hellbent on the destruction of everything British.

So, basically fish ‘n chips and England fans trashing European city centres.

Now Theresa wishes to bring back a barbaric practice that is largely reserved for their own ilk. I can’t imagine your average Joe Bloggs battering animals to death, what is it about the Tories that makes them like this? Were they raised by psychopaths? Brought up around them? Even pigs aren’t safe.

Sadly for Iain Duncan Smith, the possibility of hunting these ‘low value’ human beings with hounds is out of the question for now. However over the years the Tories have tried their best to degrade and harm defenceless creatures through other means.

heres-how-the-insane-vehicles-were-created-in-mad-max-fury-road.jpg

Post-Brexit fox and working-class hunts look all the rage.

Whether it be the disabled or miners and steel workers, low-income families and students, foreign nationals and NHS workers, the Tories just love to prey on the weak, demonise foreigners and convince the working class that the source of their problems are other working class people.

If fox hunting once again becomes commonplace then it merely serves as a platform for the Tories to satisfy their insatiable lust for cruelty. I wouldn’t pin your hopes on them stopping their systematic destruction of the working class though, it’s just another way to vent.

Focusing on the opposite side of the spectrum, how can one even fathom the thought of not voting for Labour, the SNP, or Liberal Democrats? Admittedly they all have their faults; Petty nationalism, inner-party conflicts and past discrepancies. Yes we know Labour allowed banks to run riot and near bankrupt an economy, the Lib Dems jumped into bed with David Cameron at the first sniff of power, and the SNP have been blurting out calls for a referendum ever since…well, since the last one.

One thing that can be said however, is that the alternatives they offer to the Conservatives are clear.

Increased wages, adequately fed children, protection of civil and human rights, a secure – and crucially – well funded National Health Service and ensuring that large corporations actually pay their share of tax in the U.K.

Furthermore, all of the above have stated their intention to take a moderate stance with the European Union. The Tories are firmly grounded in their belief that Britain has a god given right to a good deal. After all, we saved Europe, didn’t we? Bloody Germans telling us what to do.

Make no mistake, the Tories are not the people’s party that they paint themselves to be, and every vote cast in their favour is an endorsement of a leader and a party that holds life in all forms in complete contempt, as well as your full support of an obviously failing system.

But y’know, those foxes won’t hunt themselves.

Amritsar Massacre: The Bloody Legacy of British Rule

Britain’s legacy in India is one of bloodshed, division and contempt. Some would say that Britain paved the way to developing a region bogged in centuries of stagnation and creating earth’s largest democracy. However this is far from the reality of our time in the region.

Today marks the 98th anniversary of the Amritsar Massacre, one of many acts of brutality carried out by the British in their long rule.

As the dust settled on a nation disheveled by war Britain, looked to solidify its holdings across the globe, and as the saying went, India was ‘the jewel in the empire’s crown’. One cannot begin to imagine that after the horrors of the First World War, Britain would seek to wreak more havoc and bloodshed in their own colonies, but desperate times often result in desperate measures.

Paranoia was rife throughout Britain’s colonies at this time. Sensing weakness, some were taking advantage of Britain’s delicate state in the wake of WW1. Although having played a crucial role in the British war effort, India still had disruption in several areas at the time. Dissidents in the Bengal and Pubjab regions had been causing civil unrest for some time already, and the response was to introduce harsher policing methods in the regions.

Several mutinies in the colonial military forces had placed the ruling powers on edge, and little chances were taken in their attempts to hold these regions.

soldiers.jpg

In the days preceding the massacre the Amritsar area had been placed under martial law. This information was not proliferated effectively throughout the region however and as such, hundreds of unarmed civilians made their way to celebrate the Baisakhi cultural festival. Due to the delicate state of affairs in the region, many in the regional government believed that this was the early budding of a potential uprising – This was far from the case however.

Hundreds of pilgrims gathered in the walled garden of Jallianwala Bagh, and it is there they were met with such brutality that this event heavily damaged the image of colonial rule across the globe and in mainland Britain itself. Under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer, British Indian forces opened fire on gathered crowds in an area described by Winston Churchill as no larger than Trafalgar Square.

Dyer had already gained a reputation for brutality in India. ‘Crawling orders’, in which innocent civilians were forced to the ground to crawl – under penalty of a beating –  were commonplace. A tactic used to instill fear and obedience among the populace.

dyer

Colonel Dyer arrived with a force of 90 men, armed with rifle and blade. For ten minutes gunfire ripped through the crowds of helpless people, and with limited escape routes, the injuries inflicted were catastrophic. Dyer had ordered the main entrances to the garden blocked, stating that his intention was not to simply disperse the crowd, but to ‘punish’ them for their ‘disobedience’, as if they were children misbehaving.

The dense sections of the crowd were targeted and with nowhere to go many fell to the ground and hoped to avoid the gunfire, however this was not to be the case as the colonial forces began firing on the helpless individuals hugging the ground.

India-Amritsar-Massacre-Painting.jpg

Winston Churchill, a man whose legacy in India would see millions dead, appears to have been outraged at the time. Speaking in the House of Commons in July of 1919, he states:

“With hardly any exits, and packed together so that one bullet would drive through three or four bodies, the people ran madly this way and the other. When the fire was directed upon the centre, they ran to the sides.”

When the firing stopped – only due to a lack of ammunition – hundreds lay dead. In the spring heat of the Punjab bodies lay festering, the smell of cordite and flesh ripe in the air. A truly horrific spectacle.

Amritsar-painting

Official British statistics put the number of dead at 379 and over 1200 wounded. However these figures are highly questionable given the number of pilgrims in attendance that day. It is likely the case that to stem the negative press surrounding this event, the number of dead was reduced – A public relations effort to maintain image and deflect from the ghastly actions of an oppressive regime.

More reasonable numbers, released by the Indian National Congress put the casualties in the region of 1500, with 1000 of those having died. Other contemporary reports place the dead in far higher numbers, but these cannot be confirmed.

Reflecting on this period in history you struggle to envisage how any government could act in such a way, and Dyer’s actions are totally reprehensible. However at the time, there was a significant amount of support for this brutality. The House of Commons reacted to this by voting to relieve Dyer of his duties but this was met with derision from the landed gentry in India and Britain.

Maintaining a stranglehold over India was of paramount importance to the ruling class. There was money to be lost in an unstable India, and this was unacceptable by their standards. More conservative parts of British society viewed Dyer’s actions as merely maintaining the rule of British law, which they viewed as a necessary tool for progress across the globe.

A feeble response to the massacre was the creation of the Hunter Commission, which would travel to Punjab and investigate the events. Hundreds of locals were interviewed, along with military and civil personnel. It was an act of posture however, saving face in light of a disaster of Britain’s image.

The commission found that although Dyer had acted in a callous and brutal manner, due to political reasons he could not be tried in a military of civilian court. He was relieved of duty and forced into early retirement. A luxurious reprieve for a man responsible for the murder of hundreds.

History_Gandhi_on_Arrival_in_Britain_Speech_SF_still_624x352.jpg

There had been many atrocities committed before Amritsar, and there would be many more to come. Millions would die in famines orchestrated by Winston Churchill’s wartime government twenty years later. In the aftermath of yet another crippling global conflict, Britain would wage yet more brutal offenses against the people of India to maintain control.

That control would soon cease to be however, and acts such as the Amritsar Massacre would act only to solidify dissent among a large portion of the populace who sought self-determination. As the largest democracy on earth and one of the world’s fastest growing economies, India’s role in the world in the coming decades will far eclipse the United Kingdom, a testament to the people and the nation, as today it represents the very antithesis of everything Britain stood for during its colonial era.

 

We Won’t Get Fooled Again…Surely? 

On Friday morning I woke to find that President Trump had ordered retaliatory air strikes in Syria in the wake of the Idlib gas attack. That evening, I watched The Who live in Glasgow and the lyrics ‘we don’t get fooled again’ and ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss‘ ring frightfully in my mind. 

Now, I am of the opinion that the solution to this conflict can’t, at this stage, be through dialogue. Especially considering that time and time again, the regime and Russia have disregarded the UN, NATO & the EU. They are protecting their strategic interests and could not care less about the Syrian people – If Assad goes, they’ll still be there. 


Action had to be taken and it was. If flattening Syrian airbases prevents further gas attacks then surely that is an appropriate response, but then again, I’m not a military strategist, I’m also not one for advocating sending others to die while I binge on PlayStation for seven hours on a Sunday. 


What I do have an issue with is the rhetoric coming from the media and the state. It echoes everything we heard in the days preceding the Iraq War, and scarily, we seem to be quite oblivious to it, happy to go along with the conversation and posture aimlessly to at least have a say in it all. Hell, even people who’ve spent months castigating Trump have applauded his response, it is utterly baffling. 

Additionally, the response to the gas attack was not what I expected. Compassion fatigue is very much present in the west, and these events and atrocities are often sideline news to the cacophony of garbage we are bombarded with. “It happens everyday, you just can’t keep up” is often a response I hear. People are outraged and they are angry, and that’s good, so you should be when other humans are suffering at the hands of a despotic maniac and his puppet master in Moscow, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. 


Over the weekend we have seen news organisations, political commentators and politicians alike all calling for an increased presence in this conflict – Some going so far as to call for boots on the ground. Many of these people are those who have consistently screamed “let’s not get involved” or “we’re the reason this is happening, leave the region alone!”. 

This is dangerous. These things can take on a life of their own and we the public are often blinded to the reality of the situation – Remember how certain people were that Iraq was necessary? 

It also reeks of hypocrisy, you can’t bury your head in the sand until a Facebook post shows just a glimpse of the countless suffering children in Syria then suddenly become Dwight D Eisenhower, a military strategist, statesman and diplomat all rolled into one. Have you thought about the outcome of this? The repercussions of another costly, bloody conflict in the Middle East? Are you the one going there? 

It’s frightening to see opinion swivel on a knifes edge, and exercising restraint in this scenario is imperative. Let’s not get dragged into a current of war mongering, I don’t know the solution to this, neither do you, and you can bet your life that your government or favourite news outlet doesn’t either. Regardless of the outcome, the losses and the torment, they all profit from this, not you or those still dealing with this horror every single day. 

Lothian and King Lot: Fact or Fiction?

Much like the rest of Scotland, the Lothian region is steeped in history and renowned for its beauty, Lothian is also home to Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh. Not many people can claim the focal point of their home town is a castle, perched atop an extinct volcano, of which the lava flow leads down to a royal palace.

Locals of Edinburgh itself, or of towns across Lothian will often know of stories from their individual areas, or the origin of town names for example, but many be unaware of the mythology that surrounds Lothian. A story that involves a mixture of sources and differing claims ranging from the legend of King Arthur, to Norse mythology and the life of Saint Kentigern.

king_arthur_round_table

The legend of King Arthur still captivates to this day.

An aspect of Lothian’s history not shrouded in myth is its changing face over the centuries. At times it has seen the influence of Roman, Pictish, British, Gaelic and Anglo-Saxon cultures. These small clues into the past have been found through archaeological studies – Roman roads are common place in the area – and through simply looking at place names. Dalry or Currie for example, are names of Gaelic origin, whereas Tranent is firmly Briton in origin.

In the Post-Roman age, Lothian was inhabited largely by Britons, with the language known as  ‘Cumbric’ – which is of welsh origin. The Lothian region itself was known as ‘Hen Ogledd’ or ‘Old North’ in the Celtic-Briton culture.

Later on in the millennium, Lothian saw the influence of the Angles, as it was amalgamated into the Kingdom of Bernicia, which later formed the Kingdom of Northumbria and whose king, Aella is renowned for the killing of Ragnar Lothbrok.

This period in Lothian’s history is often overlooked, however it played a crucial role in the cultural development of both lowland Scotland, and Northern England. With the varying mixture of culture and language found throughout the region, Lothian was the perfect melting pot for Angle, British and Gaelic speaking peoples, and its time as part of this kingdom grew the region into a prosperous one.

Denmark_Angles01_fullIt is peculiar, as home to the capital, one would associate the Lothian region as always having been ‘Scottish’, but it was not, and in fact it is not acknowledged as being so, or even part of the Kingdom of Scotland until around 973AD, when King Edgar granted the region to the Scots. A near century later, the Normans arrived in Lothian as part of an invasion by William the Conqueror.

Although the history of Lothian is wonderfully vibrant, the mythology surrounding the origin of its name is fascinating. It is said the region owes its name to King Lot, who, depending on sources, was a friend and ally, brother-in-law, or even an enemy of the legendary King Arthur.

Both Latin and Welsh histories of the time point toward there being a King Leudonus, and parts of the biographical story of Saint Kentigern even claim this figure is the Saint’s grandfather. It is not until the twelfth century however, in which the name ‘Lot’ appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s ‘Historia Regum Britanniae’, which claimed we was in fact King Arthur’s brother-in-law.

The story so has it that Lot was one of three brothers, each ruling over individual kingdoms. Leudonus ruled Lothian, while his brothers Urien and Angusel ruled over Moray and ‘Scotland’ – whatever geographical region this encompasses is unknown. It likely points toward areas on the  west coast of Scotland. The Strathclyde region was home to a petty kingdom at the time.

Leudonus appears to have been an influential figure in this mythical image of Britain, and he is said to have supported King Uther Pendragon – King Arthur’s father – in a war against the Saxon king ‘Octa’ in southern England.

We see the romantic tales of Chretien de Troyes that speak of love triangles between Lot, his wife Morgause, and King Arthur.

Another story ark, included in Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory takes aspects of earlier tales that include an insurrection against King Arthur himself after the legendary king murders Lot’s son, Mordred, to prevent a prophecy of betrayal from being fulfilled. In the ensuing conflict, Lot is killed in battle by King  Pellinore, yet another mythical figure.

lot battle

King Lot battles King Pellinore

Malory also took up aspects of the Prose Lancelot, or Lancelot-Grail. These tales point toward redemption for the mythical King Lot, in which a battle against King Arthur goes array and results in a truce. This unsteady truce leads to an alliance that would see the Saxon menace repulsed from making inroads north into middle-England.

Despite their fantastic ability to capture the imagination of the reader, sadly these tales bear no hard evidence either for the existence of King Arthur, or King Lot. One may like to imagine that the mythical figure existed; it would add an entirely new level of allure to the Lothian region and to our understanding of ancient British history. A Knight of the Round Table, Holy Grail hunter, or a man brave enough to oppose the legendary King Arthur – either way, what’s not to like?

Other myths surrounding the origin of King Lot come from the Norse Sagas. It is believed that this name may stem from the Norse names of Ljot or Hlot, which do come up in the Sagas, but are focused mainly around tales involving the Norse colony in Orkney. These stories merely stand to further the tales found in later works, as a larger pool of mythical information was available to the writer.

The issue with this supposed period of history are obviously the fantastical aspects of it, along with the simple fact that there are very few reliable sources dating to the time in question. The legend of King Arthur, and the idea of a resurgent kingdom of Celtic-Britons still plays on the imagination of many, and has its appeals. The Western Roman Empire was falling – or had fell according to later tales – leaving the beleaguered peoples of Britain to fend for themselves and face a ferocious, foreign enemy, whose gods bore no resemblance to their own Christian god. One would assume a leader arose?

Britain was far more fragmented then than one can care to imagine – despite how insane it may feel in 2017 – and the reality of a united kingdom encompassing all of England and Wales, with allies in Scotland, is highly unlikely. The peoples of the south of Britain could not have been any more different to those in the northern reaches.

341px-Britain.circa.540

British Kingdoms Circa 540AD

The reality is that Lothian likely takes its name from one of two possibilities, both of which have been debated fiercely over  time. The Welsh name of ‘Lleuddiniawn’ – meaning ‘country of the Fort of Lugus’ is one possibility – this has a firm claim as Lugus was a Celtic god. The other is that it stems from the term Lutna, literally translating into ‘muddy stream’ .

All in all a bit of an anti-climax, but it is still a captivating series of stories, and they are still admired today, with films and numerous literary works having been published on the tales of King Arthur, his noble band, and the tumultuous time in which he supposedly lived.

Sadiq Khan is Wrong on Scottish Nationalism.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s comments regarding Scottish nationalism are not only unfounded, but deeply detrimental to the efforts of the Scottish Labour Party. Additionally, he is merely furthering the division we see across the Scottish political landscape.

Similar to what we encountered during the Brexit campaign, it is very counterproductive to simply stereotype an entire demographic of people as racist, bigoted or antiquated in their beliefs. Scottish nationalism is none of the above, and, despite my opposition to Scottish independence in 2014, I have come to find the the engagement in Scotland post-IndyRef to be a positive and refreshing outcome.

27799485562_3ea3621601_b

Mayor Khan’s speech at the Scottish Labour Party Conference this weekend past merely sought to fan the flames of Scottish nationalist fervour. He is correct on one count at least, another independence referendum would be extremely destabilising. Nonetheless, should we abandon the process of democracy merely to maintain stability? I disagree entirely. During the IndyRef campaign of 2014, we regularly heard cries of ‘vote No to remain in the EU‘ – Only to see ourselves heading toward a hard Brexit having voted overwhelmingly to remain. Scotland is entitled to another referendum on this basis alone, and when you consider that we are now governed by a party that holds one seat from 59 in Scotland, and a Prime Minister whom we did not elect, then the choice is crystal clear.

“Now is not the time to fuel that division or to seek separation or isolation. Now is not the time to play on people’s fears or to pit one part of our country – or one section of our society – against another.”

I do not fully believe that Khan’s comments signaled a belief that Scotland was a particularly racist or bigoted nation. He is merely playing on the current mindset of many in the UK and across the western world. Populism is on the rise, and with this, we see an growing isolationist rhetoric from both the British and American governments, along with right-wing candidates in France.

15085275897_206b8ca06f_z

However it appears he does not fully understand the fundamental aspects of the Scottish separatist movement. It is regarded as ‘civic nationalism’ and not one based entirely on ideological differences to our English neighbours, nor does it have any racial or religious undertones to it. It is based firmly around the sovereignty of Scottish citizens and the right for any nation to dictate its policies, both foreign and domestic.

He said: “We celebrate our diversity and take pride in our tolerance. We strive for equality and to increase opportunities. And we fight tooth and nail for fairness and inclusion.”

Sadly, his comments only prove the lack of understanding that Westminster has regarding Scotland’s issues. Throughout the referendum campaign, all of the ideals he speaks of were mentioned and were at the forefront of the debate. Why then would he imply that Scotland’s political movements do not bear these characteristics? Is the Labour Party alone in championing inclusion and diversity in the UK? I would argue that in light of the Brexit result, they have not done so, choosing instead to follow a process that will potentially stifle inclusion and diversity, led by a government that is by no means ‘striving’ for opportunities and equality.

At a moments notice he was pounced upon by commentators and voters from across the political spectrum. It’s actually quite refreshing to see a cross-party, unilateral denial of his statement. It proves once again that despite political differences, Scottish voters are very much still same boat in some sense.

This is another indictment of Labour’s downfall north of the border. To say their influence in Scotland has been diminishing would be an enormous understatement – They’ve been free falling. The 2015 Westminster Elections saw Labour lose all but one seat in Scotland, a victory of monumental proportions for the SNP, and one that reflected the changing tide of Scottish political ideals. Labour have lost touch with their roots, the Blairite years were the final nail in the coffin and now, the game has changed in both a UK-wide and Scottish sense.

Once the working man’s party, Labour were guaranteed victories across the board, and with Jeremy Corbyn at the helm of the party, one would have assumed that a shift to the left, back to basics and a resurgence in Scotland would be on its way, but this has not been the case at all. It has merely resulted in a series of damaging losses, with the Copeland by-election signalling the end of Corbyn and Labour’s leftist experiment.

The great paradox of Scottish politics today is that we predominantly associate ourselves as a ‘left-leaning’ nation. Historically Labour had held great sway in Scotland through their links with trade unions and their working man’s mantra. The SNP are by no means polar opposite to this, but they bear all the characteristics of a modern, centrist Labour Party as opposed to the party of old.

However the15825713351_a831284e27_z SNP has exquisitely capitalised on the growing discord among the young, politically engaged Scottish electorate. One that is growing increasingly tired of casting votes overwhelmingly toward one ideological wing, only to see it overruled by a mere portion of the rUK electorate.

 

Additionally, post-Brexit, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Sadiq Khan appeared to be on good terms, offering an alternative voice in the opposition to government proposals on the issue. In light of this however it seems that this apparently tentative alliance of sorts still has major differences, and confirms what the SNP have been claiming for years; Labour are no longer the party for Scotland.

 

Image Credits:

Chris Beckett (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode)

Scottish Government (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/)

Alf Melin (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode)

February 27, 1776

phillybowtietours

unknown-1

In North Carolina, Patriots defeat loyalists at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge.

The Royal Governor, Josiah Martin, had been attempting to create a large Loyalist force, made up of local loyalists as well as Scots settlers, and had permission to raise a regiment that would be known as the Royal Highland Emigrants.  Patriots, on the other hand, had been organizing Continental Army militia units ever since word of the Battles of Lexington and Concord had come to them.   When he became aware of a planned British Army expedition in the area, Governor Martin ordered the Loyalist militia to form in anticipation of their arrival.  Rebels mobilized to prevent this, and blockaded several routes until the Loyalists found themselves forced to confront them at Moore’s Creek Bridge, which is about eighteen miles north of Wilmington.  The Loyalists were poorly armed, but charged across the bridge wielding their…

View original post 1,082 more words