WHETHER nationalist or Unionist, academic historians agree Scotland is not a colony. Algeria was a colony of France, Mozambique of Portugal, Congo of Belgium. This is not hard to understand. We know what a colony is.

Scots were enthusiastic imperialists and tolerated the Union as long as it provided a global stage for their opportunism, ingenuity and ambition.

Despite these facts, I will show here how, over the period of the collapse of the Empire, Scotland haphazardly emerged as a colony de facto, although not de jure, and continues to be treated like one.

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My argument is that, beginning in 1924, Scots, actively or passively, became assimilated into an increasingly centralised UK state. In that year, Ramsay MacDonald unilaterally directed the Labour movement away from the Home Rule campaign and towards London support against the social and economic shocks of the post-1918 era that were destroying Scottish society.

Tories such as Walter Elliot joined in, and foreshadowed the consensus around the welfare state of the post- Second World War era.

The idea of a mixed economy with bureaucratic London management thus appeared just in time for increased state spending in Scotland on rearmament prior to 1939.

It is well known that the Scottish economy was over-dependent on heavy industry and this increased centralised spending perpetuated a structural weakness that was otherwise only mitigated by mass emigration.

The Second World War itself precipitated another major lurch into central planning and this carried on explicitly in the post-war era of British corporatism, while the Empire gradually disintegrated.

Eventually, in 1976, the IMF bailed out the bankrupt UK economy with a loan to which it attached such strict conditions that the government collapsed.

So, this period between 1924 and 1979 saw the constant centralisation of the UK on London as the boundaries of the empire shrank back to the domestic sphere. The world of Scottish opportunism and ambition vanished. The pragmatic balance between the empire and the Union was lost.

At this point there was no serious question concerning Scotland’s right or ability to abandon the Union. In principle, it could depart and take the new revenue stream from North Sea oil with it. Instead, however, the established process of empowering the centre, London, became turbo charged with that revenue.

With the strengthening currency, a wave of inward investment, and enough money to pay for mass unemployment, London was transformed throughout the 1980s as it implemented the new monetarist ideology.

Labour in Scotland resisted momentarily but weakened. Indeed, one of the first to capitulate was Gordon Brown, who in 1983 admitted he was all out of answers.

The concession to a devolved Scottish Parliament emerged as a tactic to contain the onslaught from Scottish cultural and civic nationalists. It was to be a self-avowedly Unionist structure, pledging fealty to the final authority of its superior in London.

Its design was intended to permanently exclude nationalists from power such that no further pressure might be exerted upon the UK constitution.

Naively, Donald Dewar (below) said that devolution would continue, that it was a process, not an event. But last year’s ruling by the Supreme Court showed that the reverse is true – devolution was an event, not a process.

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Throughout the entire existence of devolution, Labour and Tory have been expediently vague about the consequences of parliamentary supremacy. But they are often adamant that the UK is a unitary state – all power is finally held in London and not in any “parish council”.

In international law, there is no right of secession from unitary states. Unionists argue the UK is a unitary state and that the Scots have at least a nominal right to secede.

Thus, the 2014 referendum was facilitated by the Section 30 order rather than by testing the issue in law. At the same time, however, it is accepted that the UK is more accurately classed as a union state (for example, the 1706/7 Articles of Union are still law, there are different areas of legal jurisdiction within the state etc).

These positions on the state are obviously inconsistent but they have become tactically useful because of the process of assimilation to the centre that began properly in 1924.

That long process accelerated suddenly in the last 10 years. The summary removal of Scotland from the EU after Brexit, the blunt force of the Internal Market Act, the constitutional nationalism of the Supreme Court and the illegality and aggression of “muscular” Unionism all indicate an unprecedented level of impunity and by extension de facto colonialism.

Scots were assured that oil would prove to be a resource-curse, should they choose to become independent. Ironically, that is just what happened to the UK.

Oil revenues transformed London and the UK is now dependent on the London economy such that the government, helpfully situated also in London, must feed subsidy and spending evermore into it in a vicious circle, or the UK economy will come apart at the seams.

This is the resource-curse that Scotland was warned against and yet finds itself bound to.

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Nothing can stop this downward economic spiral, and there is no prospect of the state relinquishing its hold on Scotland, not least because it cannot afford the economic shock of the transition.

Scotland has therefore become a colony, de facto.

Dr Innes Kennedy is a lecturer on Philosophy, Culture and Heritage, Politics, Philosophy & Economics and British Studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands