I NEED your money. I’ll explain why in due course. I’m involved with an important project to honour the memory and take forward the work of the late, great Tom Nairn.

Tom was perhaps the most preceptive political philosopher to emerge in Britain since the Second World War.

A well-travelled Fifer, Nairn’s insights into the contradictory phenomenon of nationalism, the permanent structural crisis of the British state, the evolution of contemporary European culture and politics and the rise of globalism have been internationally influential. Except, it seems, in parochial Little Britain.

Tom died in January at the ripe age of 90 – though I can never think of his energetic, questing brain as being old. He was a very private personality and insisted on a quiet internment.

But his impact on political ideas – in Scotland, the United States and globally – has been too great to let Tom slip away quietly.

Some of his friends and those impacted by his written work since the 1960s have come together to organise an international conference themed on the title of his most influential book – The Break-up of Britain.

This conference is now scheduled to take place in Edinburgh in November.

The Break-up of Britain was first published in 1977. Sceptical Unionists will happily tell you Britain is still intact. True, but only just. In case anyone hasn’t noticed, the British state has been in permanent crisis since the 1970s.

Bits of the constitution are falling off everywhere, every day. Last week Dominic Raab, the deputy prime minister no less, resigned in petulance, denouncing pro-EU senior civil servants for conspiring against the Tory government.

A government at permanent war with the civil service? The traditional organs of the oligarchic British state are in meltdown, as Tom Nairn long predicted.

I need to interject here that Dominic Raab – a rather unpleasant man as I remember from my brief time as an MP – is not wholly wrong in his analysis of the senior civil service in Whitehall.

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I have noticed SNP MPs coming to the defence of the civil service on a number of occasions recently, as if these were somehow the politically neutral servants of the state implied by conventional constitutional theory.

But that model has long been obsolete – if it was ever true.

No folks, the civil service mandarins are indeed politically biased and getting more so. Which means they are a permanent threat to the Scottish independence movement.

Let me give you two examples. Take the arrogant former head of the UK Treasury, Nicholas Macpherson, now Baron Macpherson of (seedy) Earl’s Court. Macpherson ran the Treasury campaign to denigrate the idea than an independent Scotland could be economically sustainable, during the 2014 referendum.

Indeed, Macpherson led the public charge against independence, using the resources of the Treasury to back the No campaign.

When I questioned his impartiality at a select committee hearing, he told me it was the responsibility of the civil service to protect the integrity of the British state. On leaving government, Baron Nick has become chair of a private bank.

Oddly, the SNP government appointed him as an economic advisor –a classic case of the fox being let into the chicken coop.

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Then there is the outrageous Sue Gray, former number two at the Cabinet Office, whose report into partygate led to the ouster of Boris Johnson.

In March, Ms Gray quit the civil service to become chief of staff to Keir Starmer. Outraged Tory backbenchers criticised her lack of impartiality in a Commons debate. But again, SNP MPs jumped to her defence.

OK, I understand the concept of my enemy’s enemy being my friend. But Sue Gray could end up fronting opposition to indyref2 in a Starmer administration and using her insider knowledge to sabotage the autonomy of Holyrood. She is the enemy.

The politicisation of the senior civil service is but one aspect of the deepening crisis of the British state predicted by Tom Nairn. Thatcher turned the UK economy into a giant casino where gambling in financial assets overtook actually making things as the source of enrichment.

As a result, investment in manufacturing has shrunk as a proportion of GDP compared with other industrial countries and productivity growth has stalled. Result: the UK has become the weakest of the major economies.

Brexit has only isolated our manufacturing economy further. Now inflation is being used to boost declining profit rates, crushing living standards. As the crisis deepens, the ruling elite is bitterly divided over what economic plan to follow next.

No wonder the Oxbridge-educated civil service high command is tempted to take over, with former banker Rishi Sunak as technocrat-in-chief.

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Tom Nairn understood the deep structural crisis of the British state. He argued that only the ideological carapace of British nationalism – the Crown, pageantry, the BBC, the supine British Labour Party – kept the whole thing from exploding. Especially His Majesty’s Labour Party, of which Tom was particularly excoriating.

Ever the gentleman, Tom maintained cordial relations with Gordon Brown, whose famous Red Paper of 1975 first published Nairn in his homeland and (arguably) provided the first real intellectual foundation to modern Scottish nationalism.

In that Red Paper, a youthful Brown argued: “Scottish socialists cannot support a strategy for independence which postpones the meeting of urgent social and economic needs until the day after independence.

But neither can they give unconditional support to maintaining the integrity of the United Kingdom – and all that that entails – without any guarantee of radical social change”.

That is true still. But Brown, of course, abandoned his youthful socialism for traditional Labourism, giving (in his own words) “unconditional support to maintaining the integrity of the United Kingdom”.

In fact, Gordon Brown’s true political role has been to defend a dying British state and with it the last 13 years of ruinous Tory rule. For that service to Unionism, Tom christened Gordon Brown “the bard of Britishness”.

Tom Nairn’s work dissecting and analysing decadent British nationalism and the counterfeit claim of progressiveness offered by British Labourism has never been more potent. His more recent work on globalism is also important for reorienting the debate on Europe, especially in the light of the Russo-Ukraine War.

Alas the backwardness of British academic debate means we have found it very difficult to raise the cash needed for the proposed conference on the enduring significance of Nairn’s ideas.

The usual English funding bodies have proved either uninterested or uncomprehending. Such is the hermetic nature of British political culture.

So we have launched a crowdfunding appeal.

You’ll find this on gofundme.com under the title “The Break Up of Britain Conference”.

The organisers are Peter McColl of the Scottish Greens and Jamie Maxwell, co-editor of Tom Nairn’s collected essays. Also involved are Pat Kane (of this parish), the journalist Joyce Macmillan and Tom’s old friend and English democracy activist Anthony Barnett.

Among those who have agreed to speak is the Irish writer Fintan O’Toole.

It will be an international event. Who knows, maybe The Bard of Britishness himself might attend.