We’ve been here before with Tom Devine confusedly defending Anas Sarwar’s claim that Scotland cannot be seen as a colony of the British (English) Empire because a few elite Scots were enthusiastic participants in the the imperial project.
Now we have David Leask asking the above question. The answer is a simple ‘yes’ because the vast majority of Scots like the vast majority of the English, for that matter, were the very first victims of the colonising of these islands, by a Norman warrior elite, starting in 1066 and tidying up in the last corners by 1745. It’s been the same everywhere, as warrior, sometimes warrior-priest, elites, dominate first their own subjects before then using them to replace the warrior elites in other countries. The poor, 90% of the population until the late 20th Century in North America and Europe, were never colonisers. That they were used to oppress the poor in other parts of the world does not make them colonisers. In some ways, by such acts of violence, they are even more exploited than had they stayed at home.
Back in August, on Prof Devine’s shocking narrowness of thinking, I wrote:
Anyhow, Sarwar’s support for Pakistan’s independence, considered hypocritical by many including me, was dismissed by Devine as ‘no comparison‘ because Scotland was not ‘subjected to imperial authority‘ and because ‘Scots‘ (sic) took part in the Empire with ‘relish and enthusiastic commitment.‘
He’s wrong. Like even the best of historians, he seems to have forgotten that ‘Scots‘ embraces a far wider spectrum than those few thousands from some Scottish elite groups who did, as he puts it, take part enthusiastically. The millions who remained in Scotland, along with thousands of ordinary soldiers who died in India were the tragic victims of an Empire which had been growing across the British Isles for centuries before their subjection to it – England. It was always called ‘England.’ Ask any Pakistani today and they’ll call it that too.
Surely no credible academic could consider the Union with England anything other than a hostile takeover resulting in monumental suffering, poverty, ill-health, clearance, death in war and mass emigration, for all but a few.
Doesn’t this map of British forts in Scotland in 1746 speak, with articulation, of imperial authority?
Were there this many British forts, per square mile, in 18th Century India?
Finally, didn’t many of India/Pakistan’s elites take part in the Empire with ‘relish and enthusiastic commitment?’
10 thoughts on “Most Scots could never be colonisers and were among the first to be colonised”
Here is a primary historical source from 1706, quoted in “The Union of 1707” by Paul Henderson Scott (published 2006). It is from a letter of 30 May 1706 sent by Robert Woodrow.
“I have a great many melancholy thoughts of living to See this antient Kingdome made a province, and not only our religiouse and civil liberty lost, but lost irrevocably, and that is the most dismall aspect ane incorporating union has to me, that it puts matters past help. Though many a time we have been over run and our civil and religious rights invaded, yet at the next turn we had them restored some way, as 1572, 1638, 1688. But now, once lost ever lost.”
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‘ there is no law that I know of which prevents a signatory to a Treaty withdrawing from that Treaty if they wish to do so ‘
English Attorney General,
Various others in support of the UK leaving the EU.
Colonisation was achieved in most places by the connivance of groups within the population of the country being colonised.
Mr Leask’s is an example of a false dichotomy, so beloved of shoddy journalists.
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Playing that card now eh, you’s are as bad as the English colonisers and even did it ‘enthusiastically’. Heard it all before, mainly from my English friends and family. They have NO idea about the history of Scotland, the clearances, in the Highlands and lowlands, and little about the ‘British’ (English) empire and what they did in the most horrendous barbaric way to people in the countries they invaded.
As commented on above, brutal colonisers don’t work alone, they recruit, they pay people, in land, money, drugs, sweeties whatever, to do their dirty work. There’s always someone willing to sacrifice even their own people if rewarded for it. Many humans are not very nice basically.
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ArtyHetty you say “ There’s always someone willing to sacrifice even their own people if rewarded for it. Many humans are not very nice basically.”
I think it’s also true that if you are instructed to shoot , kill , someone or be shot ,killed yourself , you will shoot and kill the poor soul before you, that is how the British empire worked and still works , you are instructed to do the dirty work and if you refuse you will pay severely , perhaps not with the firing squad these days but certainly in the past that is what they did.
Soldiers and others acting on behalf of the British empire did terrible things around the world sure they were rewarded for it but it is also true that had they not they would have been severely punished , the British empire practiced you are either with us or against us – to the death.
You’ve nailed it again, John
Scottish MPs at Westminster (like Irish MPs before Independence) were a fig-leaf that Ireland and Scotland were not colonies. MPs served to cover up colonial exploitation of Scotland (and Ireland, back in the day)
After all there were no Indian or Kenyan or even American MPS. The US colonies rebelled under the slogan “No taxation without representation”
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And the same applies to Scotland today, as demonstrated by the percentages in Westminster. and the SC ruling.
A position of permanent minority is merely the coloured smoke for the populous to look at, and marvel.
Therefor contrived permanent minority is still, “Taxation Without Representation”.
Now in which of all the Westminster NGO harbours in Scotland would you like your tea.
Or perhaps you would prefer the ‘oh fish al'(sic) Westminster controlled enclave of faslane.
Na their tea’s oot onywi.
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Spot on John, we should not allow modern concepts of democratic responsibility and nationhood to be conflated with feudalism of the times – These were always elites fighting against other elites, the “man in the street” never had a say in any of it let alone benefited.
What we currently recognise as “democracy” in the UK (only in the last century) is but a lesser form of feudalism, a veneer which disguises the rot beneath – In Scotland we are allowed a “democratic” choice from a pre-selected list of candidates, but in reality it matters not when the majority elite in Parliament rule the roost and can pretty much do what they like – Cameron standing outside #10 following the 2014 referendum, his focus EVEL, pretty much sums it up.
60 years of calamities visited on Scots due the decisions of a distant elite are quite enough, it’s time to jettison this form of feudalism once and for all. We will assuredly end up with another elite, but their arses will be within kicking distance…
Scotlabd has a 40million diaspora because of Westminster Rule. People had to migrate because of Westminster corrupt rule. Universal Suffrage 1928. A union settlement agreement that was not honoured. Scotland was never treated equally as was required and promised. The Westminster Gov lies and deceit in misusing and abusing Scotland’s wealth and assets. Keeping it secret under the Official Secrets Act. Iraq, Lockerbie and Dunblane keotbsecret for 100 years. Westmibster breaking International Law and International Settlements, reapeatedly. Scotland outvoted 10 to 1 is not democratic. One reason why limited Devokution was established.
The 1707 settlement Treaty broken and dishonoured. Forever.
The union of the Crowns at Westmibster undemocratic behest.
The 1707 settlement dishonoured, Secrecy and lies, The 1715/ 45 rebellion brutally put down. Despite a major uprising and protest. The Enlightenment influenced the world and the democratic movement. The Declaration at Arbroath conceived Democracy worldwide. The brutal Clearances. People had to migrate. US, Australia, NZ and Canada full of Scottish dependency. The Thatcher years of secrecy and lies. Scotland’s wealth and resources mismanaged and misused by Westminster corruption and lies.
Scotland the land of invention and discovery – Chinese.
Britain an island without Empire.
Scottish invention changed the modern world. Telecommunication. Radio and TV. Communications led on to the internet. The worldwide web. Information and communication can uphold democracy worldwide, Call out the financial scandal, illegal wars, killing people. Secrecy and lies of corrupt government. Scotland can vote for a Independence. If people get out and vote for it. UN committed to self determination and self governance, when people vote for it.
The Sirs do not have a chance to stop Democracy in any form or option.
The power is in the people’s hands. Get out and vote. Use it or lose it. No Sir’s have the right or means to stop it. That’s Democracy.