Following the Brexit vote, hatred has been unleashed across the nation. Demagoguery is currently at its most nimble, in seeking to divide people and exploit their basest passions. It is all summarised to perfection once again, as it is periodically, by the words originally spoken during the prosecution of Cleon in Aristophanes’ 424 BC satire Knights:
You are like the fishers for eels; in still waters they catch nothing, but if they thoroughly stir up the slime, their fishing is good; in the same way it’s only in troublous times that you line your pockets.
How much patience is there left in the world for Nicola Sturgeon? Her foremost political trick is to serve up every poison in nationalism’s cauldron whilst still trying to make out that she is somehow a left-wing politician. Now that she is out-Trumping Donald Trump in the transparency of her manipulations, surely Scotland will finally start to clock that she is leading us all into the ugliest of politics.
This ghastly hate-filled woman! She has spent four months campaigning in a referendum, only to instantly deny that the demos which she had addressed on a daily basis actually exists. For her, it had seemingly never existed. Scotland, according to her, voted “overwhelmingly” to remain in the European Union. An inspection of the results from Scotland in fact shows that if more of the electorate than 67% had turned out to vote to remain, then we might have never left. In its supposedly unique Europhilia, Scotland had the second lowest turnout across the UK (after Northern Ireland); in Glasgow there was a 56% turnout. Subtracting the turnout for both sides from the overall eligible turnout of 3,988,492 produces a figure of 1,308,979, enough leeway to potentially give the pro-EU vote a microscopic majority of 40,000. In other words, one of the many reasons why a Brexit is occurring is because Scotland could not summon up enough passion for the EU and its wretchedly undemocratic institutions.
As Tychy had noted during the campaign, those voters who were the greatest supporters of the undemocratic EU were by definition the least likely to turn out in a referendum. This happened with the under 25s; it happened with Scotland. Now both are complaining bitterly that they have lost out in a democratic process when they had never possessed enough of a democratic mentality to engage with the rest of the demos and influence the result.
Of course, with a twinkle of Trump’s wickedness in her beady eyes, Nicola is scheming to maintain that there is some mysterious ethnic difference between England and Scotland which has come to the surface in the Brexit result. As with every demagogue and hate-stirring nationalist, it is once again Us versus Them. Inevitably, this interpretation soon perishes upon analysis as well.
From which social classes did the million or so Scots who voted for Brexit derive? Never in UK politics has a political group been so silent, so invisible, and so under-analysed. The media’s parrot cry is that “Scotland voted to Remain,” but the results across Scotland show a similar trend to those across the entire UK: that the have-nots in rural areas were shakier on the EU; and that concentrations of wealth and the more middle-class areas were happier. Glasgow’s result was possibly complicated by the mischief of nationalists who wanted to trigger another independence referendum. Still, there is nothing to contradict the ultimate reality that we are all the same demos, following across the whole table of Britain the same class dynamic. Anything else is just fantasy politics.
Behind headlines like the “Scottish parliament could block Brexit” and “Nicola Sturgeon threatens to block Brexit in face of English fury” lies Nicola’s conscious and quite repulsive calculation to set the rest of the UK against Scotland. It all conforms to what Tychy calls “the Them factor.” “Scotland… what are they up to now? They are probably upset about their EU vote. They are no doubt complaining about their hurt feelings. They are banging on about one of their identity issues again, like EU membership or Trident.” For many in Scotland, however, it is still us! We are not about to be torn apart on the basis of stultifyingly repeated clichés which immediately whip away like bats once you switch on the lights of thought.
Nicola has had to come out so strongly over the last weekend because she is imprisoned in her own political narrative. The nationalist vote expects her to pounce upon a Brexit in order to power Scottish independence and so she needs to perform. This is partly so as to not disappoint her supporters but it is to also give their ailing ideology a much-needed sense of urgency or even relevance, which is rarely forthcoming from the humdrum business of centrist governance. In her post-referendum appeal to the EU, there is undoubtedly a search for future subsidies as well. If Scotland wants to remain in the EU, then the EU will have to basically buy Scotland, giving the country the funding to be able to join. Scotland’s budget deficit is by now something in the region of 8% of GDP, far above the 3% or less which makes it eligible for EU membership. Unfortunately the EU has already got one Ponzi scheme on the boil, and an epigone of Greece has little to recommend itself.
But if Nicola had even a grain of genuine belief in democratic self-determination then she would never want to join an organisation as undemocratic as the EU in the first place. This weekend, she is in danger of for once resembling the contemptible, cynical, hate-mongering nationalist that she really is.