Monday 7 June 2021

Narrowing the gap


Yesterday’s Sunday Times reported that the English royal family is worried that actions by politicians are going to lose Scotland from their realm, and is consequently deploying William and Kate to visit Scotland more often in an attempt to woo the Scots away from independence. The first part of that seems to be an eminently sensible conclusion to draw. Whilst the PM has announced that ‘the union’ is to be at the heart of everything the government does, the interpretation placed on that by some, which is that Johnson is looking for ways to persuade the Scots and the Welsh that they are better off in the union, is way off beam. In practice it just seems to mean looking at every policy to determine whether it offers another opportunity for undoing the devolution settlement and/or for plastering union flags around the place. Scottish and Welsh sentiments are not to be accommodated or assuaged, but overridden and rejected. The conclusion reached by the royals – that this is likely to be counter-productive – is an obvious one to just about everybody except the PM and his coterie.

The second part of their plan, however, is much more problematic. “I used to support independence because of the way the government treats Scotland, but now that our kids have been given more opportunities to wave little plastic union flags at some younger members of a posh English family” is a thought voiced by no-one, ever. And the mindset behind believing that more royal visits would have such an effect whilst the government continues to trash the devolution settlement is a very strange one indeed. Given that it is perfectly possible (and is the policy of Scottish independentistas for the initial phase of independence at least) to retain the union of crowns whilst ending the union of parliaments, the royal family associating itself with the overtly political aim of maintaining both unions is more akin to lashing themselves to the mast to make sure that they go down with the ship than avoiding the shipwreck.

Whilst opinion polls tell us that the Windsors are considerably more popular in Scotland than Johnson, that is a very low bar to set. It’s entirely possible that a royal charm offensive (which may or may not be an oxymoron) in support of the union will indeed reduce the popularity gap between the Windsors and the Tory leader. Just not necessarily in the way they expect.


Jonathan said...

Disillusion with the Royals starts very easily. When I was pre-school, my mother marched me off to see the Queen drive through Bristol. Waited for ages and ages. Then black limo cruised up Blackboy Hill (Oh dear..) and a woman in a flowery hat swished by. Result - disillusion. The Scots have Balmoral which some Royals seems like but others don't, it being freezing. We in Wales have, er, Llwynywermod. The Royal push for the Union in Wales didn't really get out of the gate. So the Scots needn't worry.

dafis said...

The Royals will be the least of Scotland's problems and distractions. It is the self damaging inclination of SNP in getting too wrapped up in the dangerous fabric of gender identification that will provide its opponents with ammo. Electorates will come to see what dangers are spawned by the "gender ishoos" and turn away from a party that's seen as fostering or failing to deal with them.