I’m no Spring Chicken nowadays and auld age always insists on bring along ‘uncle aches’ and ‘auntie pains’ but I had promised a mate I would play in a charity 5 – asides football tournament in Airdrie to raise funds for the excellent work of the St Andrews Hospice. It was an unusually early 10.30am start and despite my presence, we managed to reach the semi-finals before exiting by a narrow margin. A couple of hours later I was waiting to cross the road near to my mum’s house. I had some milk and bread for her. She has been unwell recently. A car slowed down at the lights and an angry, and very ugly, man proceeded to shout at me from the passenger seat; “Sheridan ya Fenian bastard don’t ever insult our flag” as he waved a copy of a discredited red top newspaper and sped off.
Tsk, tsk whatever happened to reasoned discourse and informed debate? The black BMW Saloon car was already hundreds of yards away but I couldn’t help but shout out “It’s not my flag mate, and it never will be”. An exercise in futility I know but it was my knee-jerk response to being shouted at and abused in a public street. I may well be a Fenian but I am no bastard.
Now there is little I can say about the diminishing quality and relevance of the once popular newspaper, the Sunday Mail, which it’s disastrous declining sales does not already say. It is a snivelling servant of the dying British Union which each week is saturated with dross, drivel and dreadful reporting from a staff which dream one day of becoming journalists like those who once wrote for that former institution in Scotland. Only 30 years ago that paper used to sell a million copies every Sunday from an adult population of 4 million. Almost one in four Scots used to purchase a Sunday Mail. Today that paper is a rump of its former self, a comic, a joke, a sad unionist rag. That’s why its latest sales figures have plummeted to an embarrassing 131,416, many of which are actually freebie promotions. It has become an irrelevance in Scotland which serves no useful purpose other than propping up the British Union by attacking the independence cause and those who advance it.
As for the comment itself and the angry abuse from the guy with the Hollywood looks leaning out of the car, he was the spitting image of Shrek, the reality is the flag in question is called a ‘Butcher’s Apron’ because it is soaked in the blood of millions who have perished under its sharpened steel bayonet, sophisticated ballistic bombs, targeted rifle bullets and/or deliberate economic decisions designed to cause starvation and famine.
The Union Jack is the flag of the British Empire. An Empire which once straddled one-quarter of the world’s land mass and ruled over one-fifth of its population. It is an Empire that economically raped and pillaged from lands unable to defend themselves from conquest and literally raped and murdered those who dared to stand in its way. It was a dominant slave-trading power that deliberately stunted the growth and development of nations and continents to advance its own power and enrichen its own elite. The facts about the British Empire are not taught in schools which is why a recent YouGov poll found 44% of the sample were ‘proud’ of Britain’s history of colonisation while only 21% regretted it happened and 23% held neither view.
Proud of the Boer concentration camps set up during the Second Boer War (1899-1902), three decades before the concentration camps of the Nazis were built. Almost a sixth of the Boer population was rounded up and imprisoned in such camps. They were overcrowded and prone to outbreaks of disease. Many died of starvation. The majority of those imprisoned were women and children. Of the 107,000 rounded up and incarcerated 27,927 Boer deaths were recorded alongside an unknown and unquantified number of black Africans.
Proud of the Amritsar massacre of 13th April 1919 when peaceful unarmed protesters defied a government order and protested against British colonial rule in Amritsar, India and were corralled into a confined space inside the Jallianwala Gardens and fired upon by Gurkha soldiers under the specific order of British commander Brigadier Reginal Dyer. He ordered the soldiers to keep firing until they literally ran out of ammunition. Between 379 and 1,000 protesters were murdered that day and over one thousand others were injured. All in the space of a brutal and frenzied ten minute period.
Proud of the partitioning of India later in 1947 under the order of British Empire appointed Cyril Radcliffe who took no more than a single lunch course to draw a crazy and unwanted border through India and created the state of Pakistan based on religious lines which saw 10 million people forcibly uprooted. Hindus in Pakistan and Muslims in India were compelled to flee their homes as British inspired religious and sectarian violence descended across the area and up to one million lives perished in the fighting.
Proud of the British Empire which crushed the Kikuyu tribe rebellions against colonial rule in Kenya when mass rapes, imprisonment in concentration camps and literal and systematic torture was deployed by British troops to crush the Mau Mau uprising (1951-1960) and resulted in anything from 20,000 deaths to as many as 100,000. Thousands of elderly survivors of the brutal mistreatment at the hands of the British Empire brought a court action in 2010 seeking compensation from the British Government for what they had endured. During the case University of Warwick Professor of History, David M. Anderson, submitted a statement referring to 1,500 files that went missing from Kenya as British rule in the region came to an end. That statement forced the British government to admit they had deliberately hidden or destroyed those 1,500 files and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was subsequently compelled to admit they were hiding 600,000 historical documents in breach of the 1958 UK Public Records Act and that the stash of hidden documents included 20,000 undisclosed files from 37 former British colonies.
So not only is the British Empire guilty of heinous and bloody crimes against humanity it is also guilty of trying to cover them up, in breach of the law.
Time and space prevents me from detailing the British Empire’s critical and shameful role in the famines of Ireland in the 1840’s and India throughout colonial rule. In 1943 alone four million Bengalis starved to death when British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, diverted food away from Bengal to stockpile 170,000 tons of life-saving Australian wheat so it could feed Europeans after the Second World War ended. He also forced India to export rice rather than feed her own people. In reference to that horrific famine Britain’s Imperial representative Churchill said: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.”
A whole book could be devoted to British Imperialisms blood-soaked history in Ireland and I promise to return to that subject area in future columns but any sober and honest appraisal of the Ballymurphy massacre between 9-11th August 1971 or the Derry massacre on January 30th 1972 testifies unquestionably to the blood-soaked character of the Union Jack. In the space of only 36 hours in a small working-class community in West Belfast the 1st Parachute Regiment of the British Army, under order from the British Government, gunned down in cold blood 10 innocent civilians including a 44 year old mother of eight whom they shot in the face, a man shot 14 times while he lay injured and a priest shot twice while he attempted to give the last rites to another man who had just been shot. That is the bloody reality of British Imperialism and the British Empire summed up in one short 36 hour period. That same Regiment then went on to gun down 14 unarmed civilians in Derry only 5 months later. That is why I call the British Union Jack a Butchers Apron and it is why it has never been my flag and it never will. I am Scottish, not British.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.