Panama has been in the news recently thanks to revelations of the activities of one of its law firms which specialises in helping rich buggers to get richer by avoiding taxes which those of us whose net worth is peanuts are forced to pay.
For Scots, Panama has another claim to fame: the collapse of the Darien scheme of the late 1690s, a project aimed at breaking the restrictions on Scottish trade posed by he English Navigation Acts by setting up a trading entrepot straddling the the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Given the level of investment lost in its downfall Scotland was effectively bankrupt and thus weak enough to allow the movers and shakers of the time to abandon independence and accept the Act of Union with England in 1707.
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.
And in the waters of Panama, off the port of Nombre de Dios, lies the body of Sir Francis Drake..inveterate foe of Spain who attacked their silver fleets and their colonies in the Americas year after year…not forgetting his participation in the defeat of the Armada celebrated in Newbolt’s poem:
Drake’s drum was returned to England at his death and forms another of the legends concerning heroes who will arise from sleep when their country is in peril.
Finn McCool, Cadwalader, King Arthur….every country seems to have one – though typically enough the only Scottish one that comes to mind is Thomas the Rhymer. – but then the Scots, ‘secure in valour’s station’, don’t need dead heroes to stir them up….
But it appears to me that it is well time someone started to beat out that rhythm on Drake’s drum, to summon him to the rescue of his country which is fast going not to the dogs, but to the hyenas.
Britain has a referendum to decide whether or not to stay in the bosom of the European Union with the unforeseen consequence that it will force voters to look at the state of their country as they try to decide whether to keep ahold of nurse or whether ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world’..
Can the U.K. survive outside the E.U. is the question.
But the answer demands an examination of the U.K. as it stands.
Does the U.K.have an industrial base? Does it make anything that people wish to buy?
Decades of successive governments have willfully destroyed the industrial potential of the U.K., replacing it with a financial services sector. Do other people wish to buy these services?
Despots, oligarchs, exploiters of the human race are all in favour.
London is the money laundering capital of the world.
This provides rich pickings for the bum brushers of the City of London…but nothing for the rest of the population.
In those same decades education has suffered both in availability and quality….
The National Health Service too – in the cause of letting private profit exploit public need.
Employment now means existing on precarious contracts – how can one found a family life on that? How can one buy goods beyond the bare essentials for life?
The country is in hock both financially and morally.
Slavery lives in the U.K. as official life turns a blind eye to the fate of indentured servants of wealthy Arabs who come to live in the country….
Arms are sold to countries who support groups which are a threat to the U.K…..
U.K. politicians support armed interventions which benefit only the U.S.A. companies who direct its government – and bring risk to the general population who do not benefit from the security surrounding the rich and powerful.
I have both fear and hope: fear that the generations accustomed to cowed acceptance of propaganda rather than suspicion of it will let things stand as they are – hope that being forced to make a decision will make people look further; ask themselves if the U.K.is the country they want it to be…and, if not, what they can do to change it.
And Sir Francis Drake…arriving at Plymouth Hoe, dripping water from his suit of armour? I suspect he would take one look at the U.K. and, had he acquired a grasp of the Glaswegian vernacular in his sojourn in the hereafter, announce that if anyone thought he could solve the problems – drum or no drum – then their ‘erse was oot the windae’.