Those of us who were around in 1979 have spent the last two years ( and a hell of a lot of years before that) warning the Scottish people to beware the promises they would be given by Unionist politicians. That was a bad time for Nationalists, as they saw the work carried out over the previous five years by the SNP's parliamentary group, thrown back in their faces by the Scottish electorate. This time,we knew, as the electorate should have known, that the Westminster MPs cannot be trusted. Within 24 hours of the poll, the promises made only a few days previously, of greater powers for the Scottish Parliament, were being kicked into the long grass. Increased powers for Scotland are suddenly to be conditional on increased powers for England, together with the resolution of the West Lothian Question. Just to ensure there is "fairness all round", Wales and Northern Ireland must also be given further powers, as yet unstated. So, in answer to the question, "Yes, we have been well and truly mugged". And just to make my position clear, I also think we are mugs.
Alex Douglas Home's infamous request to Scots to reject the Devolution Bill of 1979, as "the Tories would introduce something much better" is so much a part of Scottish political folklore, so ingrained in the minds of any Scot who has an interest in politics and Scotland's political history, it is almost inconceivable that we would fall for it again. Those Labour supporters who have been disgusted by the stance taken by the current Labour Party in Scotland and their coalition with the Tories, should have remembered it was a Labour MP who sunk the 1979 Bill with the notorious "40% Rule". They should also have remembered the Brian Wilsons and Tam Dalyells in the Labour Party, who campaigned against their own party's policy. These are the Labour MPs who are in favour of independence for every country in the world, except their own. This time, it fell to another Labour MP, an ex Chancellor and Prime Minister no less, to sink the knife into the hopes and aspirations of Scots. Step forward Gordon Brown.
I can respect the views of anyone who favours keeping the Union of 1707 for positive reasons, because they genuinely feel British and can make a positive case, without recourse to hypocrisy or the kind of disdain for Scottish aspirations, history, culture, mores and values that we have come to expect from the "British" establishment. I can have sympathy for those who have a genuine concern or fear for their future prospects, whether it be pensions, health or education for children or grandchildren, even if that fear is groundless and has been manufactured by a series of distortions, half truths and out and out lies. Unfortunately the SNP and Yes Campaign did little to assuage those fears, through a combination of incompetence and distortion that left them wide open to charges of the same kind of dishonesty that haunted the No Campaign. (I will cover the campaign in the next blog.) What I really despise is the rank hypocrisy of the Wilsons, Davidsons, Labour and Tory establishments in general, the Scottish media but particularly the BBC and Daily Mail.
Gordon Brown was regularly vilified and openly despised, with the kind of racist taunts at his Scottishness that would have been prosecuted had they been leveled at any other minority but which the Establishment tolerated in Brown's case, by the very same people who have deified him for his performance in the Referendum campaign. He is the man who destroyed the pension industry in the UK, during his term as Chancellor, who allowed the banks to cheat, steal and thumb their collective noses at their own customers, to the point where they almost destroyed the UK economy. They have paid millions in fines for corruption and billions in compensation to those they cheated and from whom they stole, using the legislation he introduced, but not a single banker has been prosecuted. In his Mansion House speech in 2007, to the Financial Services industry, Brown said, I congratulate you on those remarkable achievements, an era that history will record as the beginning of a new Golden Age for "the City of London....." The economy collapsed within the next year. He had the gall to tell the Scottish people their pensions would be threatened if they voted Yes.
The part played by the BBC and Daily Mail will not be forgotten, as their bias became more blatant with every day that passed. The BBC surpassed even its own hypocrisy levels, when it failed to report the riots in George Square for what they were, a show of sectarian racism and thuggery by Union Jack waving toerags. They tried to present it as "a clash between Yes and No supporters", rapidly disproved through use of the internet by those who were attacked. Alistair Darling has tried to disown them, although he was quick enough to condemn the entire independence movement because someone threw an egg at Jim Murphy. We have heard nothing from Ian Davidson. Sorry Messrs Darling, Davidson et al. they are your thugs, they are Unionists to a man and when they spewed all over George Square, they defiled the Scottish nation on behalf of the Union. For more than a fortnight the Daily Mail reported the on line abuse of J K Rowland on a daily basis, abuse that was condemned by every leading figure in the Yes Campaign. True to form, when Andy Murray revealed he would vote Yes, the Mail not only participated in his abuse, they attempted to justify it.
With the appeals for Scots to come together to work for the common good still ringing in our ears, the timetable for the reforms Brown promised, has already slipped, "English votes for English laws" has become the new mantra in England, reform all round has appeared on the agenda and Jack Straw wants the Union of 1707 to become indissoluble. In other words, another referendum on Scottish independence would become illegal and the main aim of the original English Unionists would finally be fulfilled; the end of Scotland as a separate country and political entity. The English MPs have a point; it is obviously unfair that the English people have been ignored during all the discussions about independence, but the time to raise the issue was before the Edinburgh Agreement was signed. Several leading figures have warned the Westminster government that any attempt to welch on the promises they made would not be forgiven, that Scots would never forgive them. I wish I was that confident. The main parties have been wlching on promises for the whole of my life and if you read history for a lot longer than that. In fact, the UK establishment has welched on promises since 1707 and couldn't care less if Scots don't forgive them. Until we vote for independence, there is nothing we can do about it and they will continue to break promises. Those who voted No will just have to get used to it.