By Rab Bruce’s Spider

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

So the Supreme Court has given a definitive decision on whether Scotland is a colony or not. Legally, they are probably correct, but I thought it worth noting down a few thoughts on this question because, while Scotland may not legally be viewed as a colony, it has rather a lot in common with most colonies. Definitions vary, but there are some things that colonies have in common, so I’d like to take a look at them.

Military occupation or control by a foreign country.

The military occupation of Scotland was an established fact in the 18th Century but is no longer a feature. One could argue that British Armed Forces are based in Scotland, and that they owe allegiance to the monarch, who in turn identifies more with England than Scotland, but I think that’s stretching things a bit. However, there is no doubt that military occupation was very much a thing in the early days of the Union. As for control, that’s pretty clearly the case in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling, our exit from the EU and the various Power Grab Acts of UK Parliament. Devolution may have lessened this aspect recently, but the UK Government is now hell bent on re-establishing control. In that respect, while Scotland may not feel like a colony to many, it does have something in common with traditional colonies.

Exploitation of resources.

Oil, Gas, electricity, whisky. Need I say more?

Suppression of culture and language.

The Highland Clearances play a part here, although their purpose was more to benefit greedy landowners than to deliberately suppress Scottish culture. They did, though, clearly play a part because many people who were a major part of maintaining Scottish culture were forcibly evicted and sent overseas.

Scottish culture used to be tolerated on BBC TV with shows like the White Heather Club, although these generally served to portray our customs as quaint and parochial. In my view, this situation has not changed very much, although I’ll admit I don’t watch TV very often these days, so I might be wrong. But how many of us were taught at school that we must speak proper English? And in recent years, things like Gaelic road signs have come in for a disproportionate amount of vilification from Anglophiles. Back in the 18th Century, kilts were banned, and if that’s not suppression, I don’t know what is. Since then, the methods of keeping Scottish culture as very much a minority aspect have been less overt, and Scottish language is certainly undergoing something of a rebirth. It could be argued that Scottish culture is reacting against centuries of direct or subliminal suppression, but I think there is little doubt that Scots are encouraged via the media to behave in a more British way rather than an outwardly Scottish one. And I don’t think I need to say very much at all about the BBC’s attitude towards Scotland becoming a normal, self-governing country. Most of the mainstream news is more than happy to talk Scotland down at any opportunity.

In these respects, then, Scotland has a lot in common with colonies of the British Empire. It does, though, differ in a couple of major respects. First, Scots were always free to rise to the top of British society provided they adopted British ways of thinking and acting. In regard to this, I think it is fair to say that for "British", read "English". But Scots were prominent in the empire building, and that’s something we cannot overlook.

Secondly, colonies are not usually given political representation, and Scottish MPs have featured since the Union of Parliaments. They have always been outnumbered, and we know that they are currently despised unless they, like their ancestors who helped build the empire, are prepared to conform to British behaviour. Indeed, we have seen Scots become Prime Minister, although moves have been taken to prevent this happening in future. Is that suppression? If not, what is it?

So is Scotland a colony? Technically, probably not, although it does have many things in common with a colony. The greatest irony of yesterday’s ruling was that the Supreme Court specifically declared that Scotland is not a colony because it has a measure of political representation, then promptly ruled that our political representation counts for nothing because Westminster is in control of our political future. I don’t know about anyone else, but that strikes me as contradictory at best.

The main thing is, though, that the entire world can now see that Scotland is most certainly not an equal partner in a voluntary union. That particular lie has been well and truly buried.