Tuesday, 30 July 2019

The ties that bind us

The aim of the new future ex-Prime Minister’s quick tour of the UK this week has been billed as being to “strengthen the ties that bind us”.  I’m sure that it looked like a nice rhetorical flourish to whoever came up with it, although it may not have occurred to him or her that it could also be heard as meaning “tighten the knots”.  As with much – most – of what he says, the rhetoric replaces rather than illuminates the detail, and it’s not at all clear that he’s really thought about what the nature of those ties might be, let alone how they might be strengthened.
I’m in no doubt that there are factors which lead many in Wales and Scotland – the majority in the case of the former, but maybe not any more in the case of the latter – to believe that the union is of some value, whether economic or emotional, but I’m not at all convinced that the PM understands what they are, seeing the union, rather, from an Anglo-British nationalist perspective.  When pushed, people will generally refer to the economic factors, or at least, their own understanding of the economic factors, but I’ve long suspected that the emotional factors are actually stronger and more influential.  But the nature of the emotional attachment to the union, in both Wales and Scotland, is not the same as the nature of the emotional attachment to the same union which is common in England.  Many people in Wales are quite relaxed about considering themselves both Welsh and British (and similar feelings apply in Scotland); it’s not so much dual nationality as overlapping and complementary nationality.  In England, the distinction between being English and British is a lot less clear. 
The result is that they can end up taking a very different approach to strengthening those ties.  From an English perspective, emphasising Britishness is much the same thing as emphasising Englishness – they genuinely seem to find it hard to understand why that approach doesn’t work very well in Wales and Scotland.  Taking control of the money being spent in the devolved administrations in order to rebrand it as British spending and increasing the number and prominence of union flags around the place may, to them, look like inculcating a greater sense of Britishness and togetherness, but they look entirely different to many of us.  A leader serious about strengthening the ties would start by trying to understand the differences and then look to see how a successful union might reflect those differences, pay heed to different voices and perspectives, value the views of those with a different viewpoint.
That’s precisely what they are not doing – perhaps “tightening the knots” isn’t such a bad translation of Johnson’s policy after all.


dafis said...

That's the totalitarian AngloBrit supremacist in action pushing the big fib that what's good for England must be good for the rest of the UK. Well like f**k ! It's now almost axiomatic that anything conjured as good for UK - like all those vanity projects Crossrail, HS2, Trident etc - will inevitably be a disproportionate burden on Wales, Scotland and N.Ireland. Soonest Boris gets derailed by whatever means the better for the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

If Johnson's policy really is to tighten the knots then he won't receive any complaint from me.

We are either a united kingdom or we are not. If not, the minorities will be wiped out. If we are, everyone can expect to be allowed to live their lives in relative peace.

I don't think it gets any more complicated.

Spirit of BME said...

Your words ring so true.
What the chaps in England don`t get is that Wales, as we all know, is not a member of the UK, as where we are did not come about by an Act of Union. We were annexed to form the legal entity of Englandandwales, while Scotland and Ireland signed a contract of Union (albeit under some coercion) that retained some of their institutions and rights.
Annexation does not do that and lands, property and titles were deemed to be of no value or stolen without compensation and the occupier’s laws imposed upon you. That in any law is theft and theft is a crime and the laws that govern us is based upon that crime.
The term “the ties that binds us” is based on tyranny and oppression and is akin to being in jail and getting a message that the Governor wants to see you in his office, to talk about the “ties that bind us”- you can be sure te outcome is not going to be very pleasant.

John Dixon said...


'If we are not a United Kingdom, the minorities will be wiped out'. What have you been taking?