Is Scottish Independence Decolonisation?

By Professor Alf Baird

Professor Edward W. Said, and the UN for that matter, had no doubt about Ireland’s former colonial status, which it shared with a great many non-European regions, despite being incorporated in 1801 as a part of the UK ‘union’. Professor Said referred to W.B. Yeats’ cultural dependence and simultaneous antagonism levelled against the British during Ireland’s ‘anti-imperialist insurrectionary stage’, which ended over 700 years of colonial domination since Ireland was ceded by the Pope to Henry II of England in the 1150s. Whilst imperialism in Ireland preceded the exploitation of Asia, India, Africa, and the Americas, it was no less exploitative and destructive of the indigenous community. Said reminds us here that imperial expansion subordinates’ peoples by ‘banishing their identities, except as a lower order of being’, and in separating them from their own culture.

In the context of Wales, Adam Price, the leader of Plaid Cymru, similarly leaves us in little doubt as to his views on the status of that nation, given the title of his book: ‘Wales: The First and Last Colony’. In this work, Price describes Wales’ historic and ongoing cultural, political and economic subjugation and its long-plundered function as cheap and plentiful supplier of high-grade minerals and agriculture to support and feed England’s imperial appetite and enhance its relative prosperity; meantime, Wales and its people are left languishing in perpetual socio-economic underdevelopment and subsidiarity.

Some folk in Scotland, primarily those comprising the more privileged bourgeoisie (the latter said to readily ‘mimic the colonizer’ in terms of language, culture and more, according to Albert Memmi), mostly take a rose-tinted view of our ‘status’ within the UK. This is despite the fact our enforced and undemocratic EU exit demonstrated Scotland’s subordinate status, whilst the post-2014 referendum Downing Street narrative views Scotland to be little more than an‘incorporated’ territory and people, much like Wales, and Ireland previously. A certain Professor Adam Tomkins now seems keen to rewrite the union alliance on the Scots’ behalf, such is his regard for what he seeks to ensure remains a subordinate people.

Of course, us Scots have aye been fed a quite different history narrative from the reality, and mainly through a British Anglophone and unionist prism and mindset. Scotland’s real story is one of many centuries of conflict with an over-dominant and aggressive imperialist neighbour, the standoff only partially ending through a corrupt subjugation arrangement in the form of the Treaty of Union. The price of this is that Scots ever since have remained subject to an endless cultural assimilation process combined with economic plunder and exploitation of resources, all coordinated via external political control, deceit and mystification concerning Scotland’s strategic ‘national’ matters; much like the typical lot of any downtrodden colony and its wretched folk, then.

What the UN term as the ‘scourge of colonialism’ is defined as economic exploitation and political control by another country, plus occupation by settlers, and may also involve a degree of population displacement and replacement, all amidst a heavy dose of cultural ‘assimilation’, or what we know as cultural and linguistic imperialism. It would seem rather difficult to argue that Scotland has not been subject to much of that, and more, with the nation’s enforced EU exit merely offering confirmation of our colonial ‘status’. 

Scotland (and Wales) is also subject to what Professor Michael Hechter called ‘Internal colonialism’. In this we see an ethnic and cultural division of labour, with most of Scotland’s top jobs advertised and handed out from the metropolitan core, with the remainder generally held by the more privileged Scots who tend to align with the dominant Anglophone cultural hegemony. The outcome of this internal colonialism for the ‘peripheral nations’ is their persistent economic underdevelopment, in part due to an enforced narrow industrial specialization which is primarily aimed at supplying the needs of the ‘core’ nation, aided by what is invariably a mediocre meritocracy. An Anglophone cultural hegemony also gives rise to structural inequalities in society,reflecting Scotland’s persistently high levels of deprivation, poverty, attainment gap, illness and drug abuse, as well as the highest prison population per capita in Western Europe, the latter being another salient feature of colonial subjugation and oppression; the construction of a good number of prisons is a well-established feature of historic colonial oppression globally. 

Hechter concluded that UK internal colonialism, as with colonialism more generally, likewise involves racial oppression and prejudice against ethnic peoples in the ‘Celtic Periphery’. These wholly unsatisfactory outcomes are what gives rise to the development of an independence movement which primarily reflects the ethnic solidarity of, in Scotland’s case, Scots speakers. In this sense the Scots language and culture remains sufficiently strong, despite assimilation efforts to remove them, to still generate a national consciousness, without which, according to Frantz Fanon, there would be no motivation for national liberation to begin with. This also helps explain why most peoples in self-determination conflict are linguistically and hence culturally divided.

As Scotland edges ever closer to independence, we increasingly see the colonial fangs of the oppressor bite a little deeper into its prey. Lest we forget, features of colonialism also include coercion, force and worse (colonialism is considered to be at the very root of fascism, according to Aime Desaire), and here we see in action what George Osborne refers to as ‘the arms’ of the British state in Scotland, which is the crown and civil service. The politically motivated prosecutions of Alex Salmond, Mark Hirst, and Craig Murray are but a few of the more well-known examples. The state censored ALBA Party, prevented from using its saltire logo and starved of media coverage, forms another part of the UKs anti-independence stance. Scots need not look very far, nor in the distant past to discover the extent of barbarism that is British colonialism disguised as ‘unionism’.

If Scotland is a colony, as increasingly seems evident, Scots should not therefore be surprised at the evolving colonial picture. And with that, inevitably the reality begins to dawn on what also seems to be therefore a colonial justice system, colonial governance, colonial education, a colonial economy, a colonial media, and an entire colonial structured society and mindset. Frantz Fanon also reminds us here that a single dominant National Party will make its own ‘accommodation with colonialism’, much as we see in the actions of the current SNP elite. This realisation then gives rise to the creation of new National Parties such as ALBA, which reflects renewed urgency and momentum by the independence movement in an effort to drive forward the cause of independence to its desired conclusion.

In this regard Scots should perhaps take heed of the Estonian approach and where, in Lesley Riddoch’s documentary, the leaders of that Baltic Sea nation cited the following three essential requirements for independence:• national consciousness, without which there can be no momentum for independence in the first place; • courage, of the country’s independence leaders and people at the time of the declaration of independence and assertion of sovereignty, and; • to ensure that, upon independence, the new independent state replaces the leaders of the nation’s social institutions put in place under colonial rule.

Clearly, in regard to the last point, an independent Scotland would no longer be concerned with prioritising and elevating an Anglophone unionist elite hierarchy to continue to run its affairs. Nor would it be about serving primarily the economic needs of the former ‘mother country’. The primary focus would be on developing Scotland’s own people, culture and economy, which is the purpose of national independence and decolonisation.

(Related to the article, this video summarises the results of recent published research undertaken on the subject of Scottish independence.)



I am grateful to Alf for this excellent article. There is method and tactics here, being able to classify Scotland, and Wales as colonies opens up a range of avenues to pursue Independence on the International stage and via the UN.It is but one of the possible range of options Alba will look at in the future. New thinking and tactics will always be welcome on this blog. Please share widely and please take time to look at the video (link above)


  1. I’ve always regarded Scotland as a colony or at least a quasi colony. This is not new, indeed whole Hammer of the Scots part of history was because Scotland’s rulers refused to accept Edward of England as their overlord. The oppression and outlawing of Gaelic after the Jacobite wars. The continual asset stripping. The last time proper accounts (not GERS) were produced in 1919, 81% of Scotland’s income retained for “imperial purposes”. John Jappy thinking Scotland was subsidised in the 1960s, then working in London in the Treasury and discovering that Scotland was very much in surplus and this surplus was retained by London. And this before a drop of oil was landed.

    As Grousebeater and Iain Gray have pointed out the best cultural jobs being filled by English people. Sometimes an English person is best for the job but all the time?

    We’re a colony. I don’t like it, you don’t like it but it appears Sturgeon is very comfortable in being a Satrap. Let’s vote next week to make that position as damn sight less comfortable for her with the eyes of Alba MSPs on her every policy.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. O/T Roibert I’m trying to get you some email contact. However this weekend events can be found here
      The Coatbridge cavalcade is a car route which will pass through Wishaw etc… this morning
      This is followed by a foot campaign leafleting in Carnbroe at 3pm meetup at Tesco express, Lorne place, Coatbridge ML5 4FS. Anyone can join in, just turn up.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Lets hope the deep and long held in wrath of the Scots will turn them all out to the ballot box on 6th May to surprise the comfortable establishment who have assumed that having denied us use of the tools they have in place to subjugate and influence and misinform, i.e. the media, that Alba itself is silenced. We might return Alba’s voice to the people in spite of them all. Satrap Sturgeon. Rings true.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. The Scottish Cringe has a hell of a lot to answer for. No more cringe-worthy devolution. We need revolution. Vote ALBA.

    Liked by 7 people

  4. One of the best articles I have read in years.

    Very few people know how few could actually vote in 1707. They know little about the personal debt of those in power influencing that vote therefore opening them to bribes. Debt engineered by England’s clear message to the World that the Darrien Project would receive no protection from the English Navy – a green light for predators.
    How many know of the English Army based on the border before the vote or the second Army and fleet based in Ireland’s North.
    That the Church ended their opposition to the Union when bribed that that they would keep their land (a third of Scotland at that time) and the church order of service.

    A handful of people betrayed Scotland under threat, bribery or accommodation as with the Church. ( do not forget the power of the Church at that time). The power of the church would be demonstrated later when congregations were told they would be damned if they opposed the executors of clearances.

    The people of Scotland opposed the Union. It was forced on them by an oppressive militaristic neighbour.

    Liked by 11 people

    1. Julia, do you have some sites I could look at for fascinating information on the points you make here about the Union? Thanks.


  5. Great article and informative video. I think the ideas promoted by Professor Baird and the creation of the Alba party are no coincidence as many supporters of Scottish independence and self-determination are increasing frustrated and, indeed, angry at the lack of progress since 2014.
    I would urge those interested in exploring these ideas in more depth to read ‘Doun-Hauden’, where they are set out in detailed, meaured but devastating terms. Much of it made me very angry, though the facts he lists are in plain sight. I thought I knew a fair bit about Scottish History, but the section on emigration and immigration, effectively altering the balance of the population of Scotland to a more Anglicised and Anglophone one is pernicious and hugely damaging to our culture. And it is still going on!
    This has effects on how we can achieve our freedom from colonial rule because so many people, not only in England, the country of our ‘colonial masters’, oppose it, but a majority of Scots in the Scottish establishment are against it too as they have gained from identifying with and working for these masters. This may be hard for many of us to accept but it is a significant obstacle to self-government. The way forward would seem to be, as Professor Baird suggests (page 157), to appeal to the international community, including the United Nations which has a special committee on decolonisation.
    Baird rightly emphasises the importance of the Scots language to our cuture and roots. Language frames our thinking and the way we see the world: we need to see that through a Scottish perspective.
    Tir gan teanga, tir gan anam. A land without language, a land without soul.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. araynor: a case should’ve been made to the UN long since, particularly after 2014. Some of our finest legal minds have already made our case. It needs to be tweaked and expanded. The fact that the SNP under Ms Sturgeon has not even bothered to make a case is very indicative of the negativity and deliberate stalling of independence. I think we must assume now that the SNP will not allow itself to be the vehicle to deliver independence and will do all in its power to thwart it, doing the Unionists’ job for them.

      Liked by 5 people

  6. “… The price of this is that Scots ever since have remained subject to an endless cultural assimilation process combined with economic plunder and exploitation of resources, all coordinated via external political control, deceit and mystification concerning Scotland’s strategic ‘national’ matters; much like the typical lot of any downtrodden colony and its wretched folk, then… ”

    Now, this has speeded up and is becoming relentless as we see from, for example, the refusal of the BBC/MSM to highlight anything Scottish that is not of the Anglophone establishment. In Quebec, the Anglophone presence was also emphasised at the expense of the French-Quebecois in the run-up to both independence referendums there, both of which were lost.

    “… colonialism is considered to be at the very root of fascism, according to Aime Desaire)… ”

    Indeed. Hitler’s Third Reich was the perfect example of colonial expansion at the expense of its neighbours. ‘Lebensraum’ (living space) was at the heart of the creed, and meant that the Germanic peoples had a ‘right’ to take from others what they needed and to occupy and colonise these other countries. We see this in operation in Scotland at both the political level – with greater inroads being made into our institutions by people from south of the border, often with little to no experience of Scotland – and on the social level – with GRA reform and the incursions into female spaces of the trans lobby. Both are colonialist – and parasitic – in nature, much as the Third Reich was. Fascism is used as a tool for enforcing the dominant mindset.

    “… Frantz Fanon also reminds us here that a single dominant National Party will make its own ‘accommodation with colonialism’, much as we see in the actions of the current SNP elite… ”

    Anyone with to brain cells to rub together to spark an idea can see that the SNP hierarchy is almost wholly steeped now in Britishness and is, in fact, the Scottish Establishment, often indistinguishable from its British counterpart.

    “… This realisation then gives rise to the creation of new National Parties such as ALBA, which reflects renewed urgency and momentum by the independence movement in an effort to drive forward the cause of independence to its desired conclusion… ”

    Yes, indeed. It is perfectly normal for more than one Independence party to emerge, especially when the original has stalled and is co-operating in the demise of its country and raison d’être. We see examples of this all over the world, if we choose to look. The rise of Alba is no coincidence.

    “… Clearly, in regard to the last point, an independent Scotland would no longer be concerned with prioritising and elevating an Anglophone unionist elite hierarchy to continue to run its affairs… ”

    Once you remove the impetus for those with no interest in Scotland except as a stepping stone to greater things from gaining unfettered access to all your cultural, political, social, economic and environmental institutions, you lessen the impact of their baleful and negative influence on those institutions, and through them, on the body politic, etc. That is not racism or ethnic protections; it is quite simply ensuring your survival as a nation, as a people, albeit one that has learned to absorb others who want to come to Scotland for reasons other than to dominate. It has nothing to do with fascism or colonialism or wishing to dominate and domineer others.

    Well laid out, Alf. You are not afraid to tell the truth. And it is the truth. Too unpalatable for the SNP hierarchy but very evident since 2014, especially. The truth cannot be other than cleansing and refreshing in politics, if often, too much for comfort.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks Lorna, your comments are much appreciated, as are others.

      ‘Desaire’ should of course be ‘Cesaire’ – ma mistak!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have said for some time and argued the point endlessly with those who can’t see pat Nicola, that she is acting like she has made a deal with Westminster. If this is not the case why on earth would she be pushing her SNP 1&2 mantra knowing full well that the figures for SNP list seats don’t stack up and by doing this the unionists are set to benefit. If she has done a deal then it benefits her to have unionists alongside her. Also why would she now be so adamant that she won’t work with an Independence supporting Party like ALBA. it can’t just be about AS and to now be saying she would instruct her MSPs to vote against an independence referendum. I’m not a Gaelic speaker but I am from Aberdeenshire and here we speak Doric. It has almost disappeared thanks to the amount of English incomers who arrived when oil was discovered in the late 60s early 70s.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. There are English people who make every effort to settle in, as it were, and, given time, they become indistinguishable from Scots. The lovely Dot Jessiman is one, and there are many others. However, there are also those with a colonial mindset who would happily crush others if they threaten, in any way, their own lifestyle. Some of the worst are those who have family in the South and who seem to think that they will be thrown into the outer reaches of the Milky Way if Scotland becomes independent – and they include both Scots and English. We really have to fight that imperial/colonial mindset wherever and whenever it arises. The SNP, unfortunately, has pandered to it and given it extra mileage, as a result.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Just to clarify a point: Ireland was not ceded to Henry II in the 1150’s by the Pope. The judgment was against the English and they were told that military invasion was not legitimate. On the way home the English delegation re-wrote the document to remove the word not from the text. When challenged on this by BBC Radio when the original was uncovered by the Vatican Archives, the Rev. Ian Paisley responded that if he would not listen to the Pope of Rome today why would he pay attention to one who was dead for 800 years.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great to see Prof Alf coming to the fore of the ongoing struggle. I remember his contributions on other ( sadly gone) sites regarding the setting up of ports in a free Scotland and I have always agreed with his views on the colonisation programme which has been employed against Scotland by England and her caledonian confederates.
    His book ‘Hauden Doon’ is in my library and I recommend it highly to anyone who wants an erudite and honest assessment of our country’s ongoing predicament.

    The colonisation of Scotland is not only cultural but physical. Anyone who has travelled across our country could not fail to notice the massive immigration of English white ‘flighters’ into the Isles; Highlands and now our cities. In the 80s and 90s it was confined to ‘Good Life’ seekers into rural areas, Now urban areas are being ‘settled’ particularly inn the more prosperous and expensive parts of our four main cities, This is economic imperialism. The irony is that our stolen resources, particularly oil revenue, were ruthlessly exploited by Thatcher and her successors. Allowing rebuild of the infrastructure of the S.E. of England and London particularly. Thus creating inflated housing booms which allowed the populations there to retire to Wales and Scotland with huge amounts of cash. Enabling them to outbid locals and to set up businesses. Anyone visiting the areas that I have mentioned will struggle to find indigenous bed and breakfasts etc, that are Scots’ run. The young have suffered most and have been driven out of their homes by economic oppression.

    The resident English have proven in voting terms to be antipathetic to our aspirations to rule our country again. The 72% vote amongst them in 2014 proved that beyond any anecdotal evidence, The BBC and the media is dominated by the English. The former, BBC Scotland, is noticeably employing more and more English reporters for sport, weather and news reading etc, making cringeworthy attempts at pronouncing Scottish words and place names. Alf has mentioned before the overwhelming preponderance of English academics in our Universityies. Edinburgh and of course St. Andrews are populated by a majority of English students. English people’s voices predominate even in political discussions on t.v. and radio, With the proportion expressing anti-Indy sentiments reflecting the 2014 result on a consistent basis

    Northern Ireland ‘celebrates’ its centenary this year. A shameful and bogus anniversary. The British after reneging on a democratic vote for Home Rule and lying to Nationalist Irishmen to implement it after they had sacrificed themselves for the Empire in WW1. Instead they allowed a mutiny by British officers to set the tone for Ulster loyalists to resist illegally the majority of Irish people and create a bloody conflict. They resolved it by butchering the ancient province of Ulster, Carving out a sectarian enclave which they anointed with an English flag and the travesty of the ancient Red Hand of O’neil emblazoned on it . Setting up a century of bloody intermittent oppressive protestant dictatorship. And yet are still interfering and hanging on to it.`

    Why do I mention this? Well Scots were ‘planted ‘ overwhelming numbers by the Stu, in most cases unwillingly. The rebellious border clans split up and dispersed or hung from the trees. However, by imperial brainwashing and intimidation added into the familiar divide and rule, they became the bully boys for England’s designs on subjugating the rest of Ireland. So I have no truck with blood and soil nationalism. But I do recognise Imperialistic and economic overbearing domination by another nation over us. England is that nation and has been guilty of oppression of Scotland for centuries. Northern Ireland was created to subordinate the original inhabitants. The settlers were increased until they drove enough natives out and replaced their culture and language with the dominant Anglo Saxon one, Incidentally they did the same with the Scottish dupes who sided with them. The Alien Act was designed to make ‘Dissenters’ second class. Let’s not forget the 10s of thousand of ‘Ulster Scots’ who got out, went to America an promptly kicked the Brits out.

    Scotland is facing a replication of the ‘Ulster’ experiment. Thus time a soft ‘planting; but still a cultural, linguistic and economic disembowelling of our identity. The new ways of working i.e. working from home, has sparked another feeding frenzy for rich English based professionals to buy the castle they always wanted in the highlands in exchand e for that semi detached in Fulham.I do not understand why some form of voting franchise restricted to those born here has never been employed by the S.G.. Alf has alluded to this frequently as being the norm in most modern democracies, The logic of an open border in a devolved subordinate colony allowing a nation 12 x times larger to permit unlimited emigration and allow the incomers access to jobs and housing, that are unavailable to its youth, because of its greater wealth and the cronyism that those immigrants often practice because of imperialistic disdain for locals, defies understanding. Wales already experiences this occurring on a greater scale. Shetland and Orkney have seen movements to isolate from Scotland commensurate with English immigration growth. It is no coincidence that Dumfries and Galloway and Borders also return large Unionist majorities when the demographic changes in these areas is considered. There lies danger for a weak unsure nationalist leadership in the future, But when we have a leader who wants other people to immigrate into Scotland to increase our population and enhance our skills; shows more interest in transition and self id than in Scots reproducing more wee Scots; and did nothing to stop all the other nationalities being ejected by Boris and the Brits; and in fact doesn’t like the word ‘National’ in her party’s name, then what chance do we have of halting ourselves from becoming a 21st century Ulster..divided and even more unsure of who we are and still in thrall to ‘Mother England’?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A further referendum is a major risk, Lochside, as you imply, largely due to ongoing material demographic and cultural change, plus external and propaganda interference; these are matters over which Scotland has no control. The identity divide becomes more evident, which is ethnic/cultural/linguistic. #Supermajority = negotiate independence is the optimal approach, as ALBA propose.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Sorry a couple of spelling errors and one incomplete word : ‘The Stuarts’ Planted Scots in Ulster , not ‘Stu’ …..freudian slip there…


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