IT was an old Scottish Red Clydesider, if I rightly recall, who many years ago issued me a warning. “Fascism,” he said, “doesn’t necessarily crash loudly into the house wearing jackboots, it sometimes creeps in on tip-toe through the back door.”

Whether he was paraphrasing the words of someone else I don’t know and frankly don’t care, for that warning still resonates with me today and I couldn’t help thinking about it again this week as the UK Government endorsed the One Britain One Nation (OBON) campaign.

That very phrase, “One Britain One Nation”, gives me the heebie-jeebies.

It’s not simply that it’s factually wrong and insulting to those of us desirous of a very different concept of nationhood, but that it also smacks of something sinister like from a novel or drama series about some dystopian society.

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In short, it’s downright creepy, not least when as part of the campaign, schools are asked to encourage children to clap for a minute and give a rendition of the OBON Day 2021 anthem which includes the lyrics “One Britain One Dream” and “Strong Britain Great Nation”.

The very fact that most Scottish schools will have broken up for the summer holidays by Friday June 25 when this “national pride” event takes place is yet another reminder too of how unaware many down south are of Scotland’s devolved issues like education.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the shared values of “tolerance, kindness, pride and respect”, the campaign mentions. I’m just not convinced this UK Government actually represents any of these things, and that this manipulative charade is nothing more than a cynical attempt to underscore the sort of jingoistic British nationalism Boris Johnson and the Tories are hell bent on.

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This is just another leaf from that same “Global Britain” playbook that also includes sending gunboats to Gibraltar or aircraft carriers to China. It’s a blueprint where Britain, disguised as a “force for good”, is in fact engaging on what arguably, as one African commentator recently observed, is a pernicious if rather clumsy and pathetic re-enactment of colonialism.

In the same delusionary mindset where Britannia stills rules the waves, so then here at home schoolkids are being spoonfed the myth that everyone in the UK is pulling on the same rope.

That the rope is a garish red, white and blue, and being used to try amongst other things to pull the drawbridge up on Scotland’s independence aspirations goes without saying.

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Even the most cursory glance at the OBON website and its “mission” and “aims” should convince doubters that this is nothing more than UK state-propaganda.

We are asked to “promote, rejoice and celebrate the successes of our people under the common and collective identity of being British”. We are told the aim is to “re-appropriate the flag of Great Britain so that it represents all people of good conscience, in order to promote and celebrate our common and collective identity”.

All this before making sure that our “diverse communities and their cultural heritage”, are “acknowledged” while at the same time “harnessing their integration into mainstream Britain”.

You can dress all this up any way you like, but it still has the grubby pawprints of Union Unit thinking all over it. Bad enough as that is, it tells us much about the current direction of a UK state approved political culture right now. A culture where a discomfiting pattern is developing.

One where a government passes a law that allows it to change laws without a vote in parliament. One where there are differing definitions over the right to peaceful protest.

A culture where the power of the courts is increasingly subjugated by government and financial inducements and allocation of contracts are inextricably tied to those in power.

It’s a political culture too in which the government rides roughshod over our international treaty obligations and as One Britain One Nation again reveals, a place where a state-approved version of history is the order of the day.

I’ve always been very wary of levelling the accusation of being fascist at anyone or anything. It’s not that fascism doesn’t exist in today’s world, but rather that it’s sometimes all too easy an accusation to make without really understanding its true meaning and implications. Look around the globe right now and you will be hard pressed to identify a country that could be categorised as fascist in the definitive sense.

That’s not to say there is any shortage of political leaders who turn their nations into one-party states, suspend elections, dissolve legislatures, throw large numbers of their citizens into camps without trial or appeal.

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Right now, from Vladimir Putin in Russia to Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey or Viktor Orban in Hungary and Kim Jon-un in North Korea there are leaders who have abused constitutionalism and democracy to rationalise their abuse of power and their crimes against humanity.

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They might not fit the label fascist but are certainly authoritarians who often manipulate their nations’ political culture around a cult of national rebirth. You don’t need to commit atrocities to qualify as an autocrat and likewise fascism need not manifest itself in the way many of us might expect.

It’s all too easy to dismiss the likes of the One Britain One Nation campaign as just another aberration of the Johnson government. But to do so would be both foolish and misguided.

The inescapable fact is that for some time now in the UK what we have been witnessing is a broad attack on the institutions of democracy, be it the electoral commission or ethics advisers. When criticised over this, the UK Government’s response as ever is to revert to type with lies and threats.

Right now, Britain is in the throes of a democratic regression and ever-increasing political polarisation. There is no such thing as “One Britain One Nation”, and the attempted imposition of such a campaign serves only to remind us here in Scotland the extent to which Unionists will go to undermine our independence ambitions.

No, the UK is not a fascist state, there is no naked authoritarianism, but that has not stopped the Tories trying to slip authoritarianism in through the back door. Scotland must remain vigilant and contest it at every turn.