Campbell’s Beef Stew

That ‘wise old man’ of UK politics Menzies Campbell has been nailing his Scottish credentials to the independence referendum mast. It’s clear he has been irritated by the jibes of anti-Scottishness aimed at those Scots politicos who argue vehemently for retention of the Union.

He claims he is a proud Scot but that begs the question does an accident of birth automatically mean that as a Scot you want what is in the best interests of the country?

We are all familiar with the perennial moaners whinging on how everything in Scotland from weather to employment is worse here than anywhere else, as if by saying it separates them from the rest of us in our wee country. They are like those impoverished working class voters who support the Tories in the belief that this will raise their own position in society by association with what they regard as a superior body.

Menzies Campbell belongs to that school of thought. ‘With independence, we will diminish ourselves and Scotland.’ For him and people like him Scotland is a dependency – on the UK – well, let’s be frank, on England.

He tells us how the UK ‘constitutional settlement and system’ has been the envy of the world. This is something we often used to hear and probably believed. However the perception of the rest of the world is not so much of the UK as England. We are already diminished in the eyes of the world. For Campbell this may be good enough but for many other Scots it is not.

Scotland has contributed to the wealth and status of the UK far beyond its size and population but has been the recipient of too little credit and too little development. Why are all those Scots emigrants into England who want a vote in the referendum there for the work? Why are there not sufficient jobs in Scotland if the Union has been so good for this country?

There are developments of the wrong kind – as England’s back yard we are useful to test dangerous substances for chemical warfare such as anthrax on Gruinard off the northwest coast which made the island dangerous for around half a century. From Polaris to Trident and Dounreay to Dalgety Bay we are expected to live with the hazards because we are remote. Remote? Not where I’m standing but remote, yes, from the south of England. Without Scotland, England would have to contaminate itself.

Along with other pro-Union commentators, Campbell points to the debacle of RBS and HBoS as a measure of how better-off Scotland is within the Union. But surely it was within the Union that the climate emerged which encouraged these banks to gamble in the ways they did? The banking crisis took place under a Labour government in Westminster. It is speculation and opinion but nothing more than that that in an independent Scotland there would have been the same lack of controls over banking as there have been in the UK, so it’s a redundant argument.

Campbell mentions how Scotland has benefited from various intangibles: shared values; mutual respect; friendly rivalry; common responsibility. This is really scraping the bottom of the pro-Unionist barrel of arguments. What do these things add up to? Why would they not still occur post-independence?

Campbell is something of a seer. He tells us that the Union has ‘been infinitely better than anything else we could have achieved on our own.’ Again he gives us nothing more than baseless opinion.

He complains bitterly over the timescale for the referendum, lamenting the amount of media coverage between now and 2014. This is a strange position to take given the immensity of the decision. Were the referendum being held within a few months he would surely have been carping that there was not sufficient time to explore the issues properly.

Campbell appears content with how Scotland is presented within the UK: the news and cultural media which until a couple of weeks ago showed absolutely no interest in Scottish news of any description. It says it all when the BBC – that is the British national broadcaster employs a special correspondent for Scotland but strangely not for England – which has the Home Affairs correspondent.

Unionists like Campbell will say anything, however unsubstantiated, to boost their thin arguments. He makes reference to the Enlightenment as having been an essential aspect of the development of the Scottish people. I will not argue with that but it would be good for that to have wider recognition. Scotland’s contribution to this European movement was immense but it was not the cradle of the Enlightenment, as Campbell states. And to continue his point you might imagine that that by clicking on that fount of all knowledge for the lazy researcher, Wikipedia, Scotland’s men of the Enlightenment would feature in the initial summary but no. It cites John Locke and Isaac Newton ( precursors of but not Enlightenment figures) both English as it happens. There is a section under Scotland, as there is for England below, so Scotland is not credited in the opening synopsis as being integral to the Enlightenment after all.

The point is – how far is the rest of the world aware of Scotland and its contribution to world events? How far does credit for the success of the UK which Campbell is so proud of land at Scotland’s door? Where is recognition of Scotland’s intellectual legacy to the world if not in reference to the Enlightenment? The giants of the movement – Scots David Hume, Adam Smith, Francis Hutcheson, Adam Ferguson, James Watt and so on don’t warrant inclusion in the opening summary in this globally accessed encyclopaedia. So much for recognition of being in the first order of the movement.

On another occasion Campbell takes a moment to deride the idea of a Scottish defence force. Again he has a knee-jerk reaction to deride what is Scottish (except what is in the safety of the past). Better commentators than me have rebuffed this piece of silliness by pointing out that the same is not said about the armed forces of other countries of a comparable size to Scotland such as Denmark.

The vacuous arguments being presented in defence of retaining the obsolete Union only reinforce why the time has come to rid ourselves of this inequitable system with its foolish apologists responsible for diminishing Scotland for too long.

2 Comments to “Campbell’s Beef Stew”

  1. Now you come to mention it Kennedy’s silence is odd. Thanks for taking time to look at the blog and comment. Always appreciated. L

  2. Excellent article. I have to say I am extremely disappointed with Ming. I thought he was better than this. But then most of us thought the LibDems had integrity!!! We haven’t heard from the guy I held in greatest rerspect – Charles Kennedy.
    Please God he doesn’t support this garbage

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