English people are not our enemies. England is. It is perhaps better to say that it is the British state, as Greater England, that is the enemy of Scotland. We must also state clearly that the overwhelming majority of English people have been and still are victims of this same aggressive and imperialist state. Scottish independence is not a conflict between the Scots and the English; it is a war between Scotland and England, between two distinct ideas of the state and two competing ideologies of the nation.
Immense effort has been put into the unionist project of framing Scottish nationalism as the product of small-minded and petty Anglophobia. Both the Westminster establishment and the Scottish unionists have attempted, thankfully without much success, to paint the independence movement as a collection of under-educated and impoverished malcontents driven by a common hatred of the English. This could not be further from the truth.
There is scarce a family in Scotland without rich and deep connections south of the border. Even since before the 1707 Union the Scots and the English have lived in peace in one another’s towns and cities, hundreds of generations of Scots have made England their home and English people have always lived among the Scots, making an invaluable contribution to each other’s countries. The Scots and the English have always related, at the personal level, positively with one another, and this – as was the case with Ireland – will not be changed by Scotland regaining its independence.
Ancient enmity and hatred are part of a false narrative, constructed by those in power who have a vested interest in keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom. It is a vilification that, in light of Scotland’s refusal to confirm it, has served only to weaken the already tired bonds of affection between the Westminster government and the Scottish people.
We have at last come together as a nation in greater numbers than at any time in the past three hundred years in common dislike and rejection of Britain. It is now easy for us to say that we despise Britain, and this hatred has nothing whatsoever to do with English people. Scotland is sick and tired of the neglect of our needs, the imposition of a foreign will over us, and the theft of our resources. That Britain now lies about the nature of our feelings only strengthens our resolve.
Centuries of imperialism have poisoned the British imagination, and now Scotland is awakening to the reality that it too was always a mere possession. This diseased imagination has, in the crucible of the recent flourishing of the independence movement, has been mobilised against us; in the British state media presentation of us, in the way we have been treated by London and the ruling élite, and in the way it has manipulated the thinking of ordinary English women and men concerning us. Scotland has come to see more clearly the true nature of Britain.
Britain – our imperial master – is an increasingly fragile and threatened belief in its own religio-political, cultural, social, ethnic, and racial supremacy. It is built atop highly distorted notions of history and religion, giving rise to toxic and distorting ideas of national exceptionalism and even divine election. All of this has been sold to English people as their inheritance, when in fact the inheritance was a fraud. English people – some of whom were the most exploited and impoverished in the industrialised world – were given the illusion of being the masters of the world. Like the Scots, the Irish, and the Welsh, they went from the tenement slum to the frowzy factory to the poorhouse to the grave. Today their progeny fares no better; moving from the damp bedsit to the dole queue to the foodbank to the grave.
Yet we challenge the master and we discover fast the face of empire. The attitudes of contempt, the sneering classist remarks, and the increasing hostility and violence have ensured that we will not return to the same servile chains. Convinced by their government, their intellectuals, and their media that we hate them, growing numbers of our friends in England – against their own better interests – have adopted towards us the same contempt for us as have their masters.
Now that we see this, now that we understand it all that little bit better, we can’t turn back. Returning would mean that the rest of our lives would be spent in the knowledge that we have been defeated and that we have submitted to a structure of foreign power we know for sure hates our very existence. We will now leave and become a nation again – a nation in the truest sense; a right that has been taken from us and denied to us for longer than we can remember. Only by regaining our nation can we return to ourselves, and only in knowing ourselves can be rebuild a proper relationship – a real relationship of equals – with our former master. Neither forgiveness nor absolution is possible while we are still held captive.