THE Scottish National Party has a very interesting, and dangerous, immediate future if it becomes the second biggest party in Westminster. It has been called the best club in Europe. Food and drink there seems good, plentiful and cheap. Some extravagant perquisites have been curtailed through scandals about them, but no doubt many still exist. A Scottish Labour MP told me that no matter what your hobby – rare porcelain, stamp collecting, hunting, gardening or sport – you would find two or three fellow enthusiasts to share conversations with. But the most intoxicating experience for a new MP in Westminster, if he has any confidence, is being heard and reported all over Britain as a Very Important Person.

Westminster’s chumminess was the main seduction which destroyed the Labour Party in Scotland, though a majority of Scots MPs occupied their safe parliamentary seats with hardly ever opening their mouths. When Glasgow was still a thriving industrial centre my friend Dave Foulis wrote a song about that.

I am a Scottish MP

from a city, grey and black,

and I shut my mouth

when in the South

in case they send me back.

But the Scots MPs in Westminster after May will not have comfortable sinecures, because they will have been elected, not to become an established part of that parliament, but to start creating an independent one for their homeland. The first step will be negotiating a treaty of separation in a chamber where their opponents outnumber them seven to one, and will work hard to prevent or delay them getting what they want. English politicians and civil servants are expert aborters of political acts by endless delays, backed by a careful mixture of bribery and threats, delivered openly or secretly. In 1919, after 40 years of debating Home Rule, a majority of Irish MPs ended the delays by going home and founding their republic without Westminster’s leave.

Which may become Scotland’s solution to the problem. My last article mentioned that the UK Government’s first response was to announce that British troops in Ireland would not be treated as mutineers if they refused orders to support Ireland’s new government, then they sent in more armed forces who actively opposed it. I once thought a UK Government would never do such a thing to an independent Scotland, but now think there are no crimes of violence or fraud that a strong nation will avoid when seizing the natural resources of a weaker one.

Offshore oil is not the only resource the UK Government wants kept out of Scottish control; England needs our water supplies. Over-population has begun a series of famines which will increase throughout the century. More wastelands must be cultivated, and Scotland has many used as sporting estates by very few. Unionist politicians thwarted Irish Home Rule by giving a separate UK parliament to northern Protestants who owned Ireland’s heaviest industries. In the 1970s the Westminster party leaders created an oil fund for the Shetland Islands, whose people have quietly benefited from local oil fields in a way Westminster openly denied to the rest of Scotland. The Shetlanders have now a generally higher standard of living than on the Scottish mainland, and higher than many parts of London.

Divide and rule is the motto of every state controlling another. By first dividing them, England for centuries ruled many lands in its vast empire. The US seized the Philippines and Cuba by arming groups fighting for independence from Spain, then invading them when they had won it. By funding military coups, the US turned elected governments in South America and Iran into military dictatorships. When Mohammad Mosaddegh decided to nationalise the Anglo-Iranian oil fields, a military coup organised by the British secret service and CIA replaced this semi-socialist president with a shah who kept the oil fields for global capitalism. The CIA and MI5 agents spoke frankly of their doings a few years later, because their governments are no longer ashamed of playing dirty tricks on a weaker nation with desirable natural resources, as they are now also proud to fight wars for them.

THESE facts will be in the minds of both sides when those who want Scottish independence negotiate with those who want to have it as little possible. Shetland will certainly be discussed, as Shetlanders rightly think many other Scots envy their higher standard of living. (So would many in England if their sympathetic imaginations stretched so far north.) I have mentioned a novel that starts with a separate Scottish government massacring the Shetland Islanders for asserting their own independence from it. This would certainly not happen if the Shetlands decide to stay in the UK with Northern Ireland. The Royal Navy would defend them.

I suggest the SNP leaders guarantee that Shetland’s share of oil revenues remain unchanged in a home-ruling Scotland, whose government will then work to raise living standards everywhere to the level of the Shetlands, or even Norway – one of several nations where oil company revenues support good public welfare services. And if enough Shetlanders wanted independence of both Scotland and the UK, why should anyone object, if an oil field to support its prosperity was accurately mapped?

I wish such negotiations could be concluded without the use of military force, bribes and threats by which British secret agents helped to destroy democracy in Iran. In future articles I promise not to invoke so much past history, but here I’ll continue with a bit of autobiography and an even weirder tale of British politics.

As a young man I was a British rather than a Scottish patriot. I thought Britain more democratic than the US because it was not ruled by millionaires, more democratic than Russia because it was not under a one-party dictatorship. Like most folk with a reasonably secure childhood, for years I took it for granted that enough work, comfort and leisure were normal for everyone. My good healthcare and schooling for professional work had not been paid for by my parents, who could hardly have afforded them, but out of everybody’s taxes. I was sure no parliament would undermine the Welfare State, because Conservative governments had left it alone. But like other left-wingers I was pleased when Harold Wilson became Prime Minister, because he seemed to be promising more socialism.

He said Labour would revive British industry and create employment by encouraging new scientific technologies. His election manifesto said Britain would get rid of Polaris and other nuclear weapons, which would certainly save the taxpayers a lot of money. It also suggested an oil fund for Scotland. The trade unions supported him. But his government achieved very little. Labour leaders committed Britain to nuclear weapons, rejected the oil fund (except for Shetland) and (I learned years later) agreed with Tory leaders to keep secret a report on the huge size of North Sea oil fields. I heard a broadcast in which he explained he was postponing radical changes because economists had told him the time for them was not ripe. I realised that the economists he spoke of were bankers, so the time would never be ripe. After that speech I started voting Scottish Nationalist.

I now think Wilson’s adoption of Conservative policies came from discovering that though most of the British electorate were for him, there was a bigger undercover threat to him than he had believed possible, and indeed, it sounds like the plot of an unconvincing spy thriller. A clique in the British Secret Service decided (though they had no evidence for it) that Wilson was a communist with links to the Soviet Union. They had discussed the matter with someone in the CIA who was sure of it, or if not his British counterparts should act as if it were. So Britain’s secret agents planned a military and police coup that would instal Lord Louis Mountbatten, the Queen’s cousin, as temporary unelected Prime Minister. Wilson forced an investigation which showed he had no links with international communism.

He did not expose Britain’s Ministry of Cheats, Liars and Licensed Killers by announcing their plot to the world, probably because some of them helped to exonerate him, and the head of MI5 apologised to Wilson. It is mentioned in Spycatcher, an autobiography by Peter Wright, former assistant director of MI5. Margaret Thatcher got the book banned in England, forgetting that a separate gagging order was needed for Scotland, where it was sold as freely as in Australia and other countries with independent governments. On YouTube you can learn more about it in a 2006 BBC documentary The Plot Against Harold Wilson.

I wonder if Willie McRae would have been mysteriously shot in 1985 if 10 years earlier Wilson had exposed this Anglo-American plot for changing the government of Britain as well as Iran? (My article of February 23 tells why he too was thought a danger to Britain.) But I suspect no number of crimes, stupidities and ghastly mistakes will stop a rich government using a secret service. The defection of three top men to the old Soviet Union did it no harm, nor the fact that Anthony Blunt was a Soviet agent. When exposed as one, the fact that he was the Queen Mother’s cousin made him untouchable and respectable.

WIKIPEDIA says Wilson was first British Prime Minister to use the New Year’s Honours list for purely personal reasons. Selling titles had always been a discreet way of raising party funds or rewarding a useful colleague. Wilson had been attacked in the Commons because one of his assistants had made money using information kept from the public. He answered the critics by getting the secretary a seat in the House of Lords. Conservatives were pleased and amused. On the BBC one Tory leader said, almost chuckling, that this was certainly a very 18th century response to criticism. By “18th century” he meant “shamelessly corrupt”.

Nowadays that degree of corruption is taken for granted at every level of government. Senior politicians exposed for renting their parliamentary efforts to global businesses or foreign powers feel no need to apologise or show signs of shame. They believe politicians have always been as corrupt, but were once better at not being found out. I don’t agree. I believe that until well after World War Two most British Prime Ministers, their cabinets and civil servants were mainly honest and keener to serve the public than exploit it, though many had inadequate ideas of who the public were. Only a widespread determination to share public duties let Britain survive against Nazi Germany, then try to make a new Britain where pre-1939 poverty, exploitation and empire would vanish.

Wilson’s failure to strengthen decent socialism led to Thatcher’s strength in abolishing it. That her family and members of her government were enriched by arms sales to countries they publicly denounced was preparation for Tony Blair’s huge wage as a UN peacemaker, while running a company working for oil-rich sheikhdoms. After years as an MP, Robert Cunninghame Graham left Westminster convinced that an independent Scotland would be better ruled. He said its government would tend to corruption like all others, but would have fewer opportunities being watched more closely by their countrymen.

I want him to be right.