Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Bad war / Good war

I watched Max Hasting's the 'Necessary War' and his attempt to explain why the First World War had not been avoidable, why the Treaty of Versailles was the best fix possible, what went wrong with the 'peace' and why the Second World War (which starts for much the same reasons for the UK; the defence of a country's neutrality and the need to stand up to Germany to prevent political imbalance in Europe) is thought of as a just war by the people of these islands.

The program left me with this viewpoint. The First World War became identified as being useless, a waste of people and the bankrupting of the UK Exchequer because the UK politicians failed, post 1919, to deliver on the promises made to keep the UK in the war. This, as the 1920's unwound, came down to the failure to support the troops on their return to 'Civvy Street' as many, including the officer corps, returned to poverty and unemployment; worse than they had suffered before the war. Housing was appalling, public health care rudimentary and the long term sick and disabled soldiery left to fend for themselves with little financial help from Government, as the Earl Haig Fund / British Legion found itself overstretched to meet the demand on its resources. The resentment of the people of the UK for their politicians at Westminster sank to an all time low. Ireland separated and in the aftermath of that debacle
Scotland was denied the Home Rule promised in 1911, as the Home Rule Bill (Scotland) of 1914 was kicked into the long grass much to Maxton and other Red Clydesider MP's, at Westminster, disgust. The spirit which had driven the 1919 protests in Glasgow for Scottish autonomy was betrayed by Ramsay McDonald in 1923 - the first of many Labour betrayals of Scotland as they started climbing the Westminster greasy pole to outright power. The people of the UK gained very little of what had been promised for their effort at home and on the Western Front, leaving only growing disillusionment with the war and parliament. The events and impact of the financial crash in 1928 simply accelerated the whole process. The First War became a 'bad' war.

At the end of the Second War the politicians took heed of the mess their predecessors had created post 1919 and with a Labour Government elected in 1945 began to ensure the promises were met this time around as Labour implemented most of the progressive welfare, social housing and health ideas from the 1942 Beveridge Report and the 1944 White Paper which came out of Beveridge's Report. The sense in those who suffered and contributed to the 1939-45 war effort was far more optimistic and satisfied of the real changes made in the UK's stultified and ossifying political system. The service personnel felt it had been worthwhile to end Hitler's regime, especially when they learned of the atrocities played out against German civilians and others based on religious prejudice and the need for a scapegoat by the Nazi Regime. Unlike in 1918, in 1945 the world saw Hitler's leadership and Generals held to account for their barbaric activities and war mongering at Nuremburg, giving the Second World War a definitive full stop the Treaty of Versailles failed to achieve. This made the second bash at 'Gerry', a 'good' war which at last managed to get 'Gerry' to see sense and toe the line.

Interesting, you may say, but what has this to do with my Scottish Independence fixation?

Well it is this. Westminster has failed to learn from its own experience. The current political set up at Westminster has more in common with the fading Edwardian grandeur of 1918 with its grudging acquiescence to give the minimum of what was promised to the masses while retaining all the power it can for itself. The EU, as currently portrayed by the Ukipper's and their Tory bum chums, is increasingly becoming sold as 'Versailles mark 2' - unworkable. The poor and disabled remain just as down trodden and ignored as they did for most of the 1920's as health care and welfare delivery is reduced to a level not seen since before 1945. The disillusionment lies once more with the politicians who promised if the UK electorate would put up with austerity then the magic fairy would wave her wand and make things all better when in fact all we have seen is taxpayer's money heading into the richest 10%, in the UK's, back pocket. All the while the politicians massage the Westminster system to screw as much cash out of the increasingly hard pressed taxpayer as they can, for their own benefit.

UK society is now as unequal as it was in the 1920's but this time there is no 'Hitler' on the horizon to fob folk off with. For all Putin's moves on Crimea and the part of Eastern Ukraine - which was Russia up until 1952  - in spite of Charlie's Aunt's best wishes, Putin is no Hitler and certainly no Stalin.

Scotland has a simple choice in September vote Yes and take control of our country so we can deliver a competent and effective level of Welfare and Healthcare, take responsibility for our own country and its future direction or vote No and leave ourselves under the thrall of a political system which will have no need to heed our voice and will enjoy rubbing our noses in the shit.

In summary: 

  • vote NO for a rerun of the 1920's, as my Grandad suffered, in 'Groundhog Day' style in the 2020's
  • vote YES and look forward with optimism to a better Scotland, as my father's generation did on their return from war in 1945.
The choice is really that binary.

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