Friday 17 February 2012

"This sceptr'd isle"

Cameron didn't quite go that far in his speech urging Sots to "remain in the union", but his rhetoric was certainly headed in that direction.  I don't know whether he and his advisors will conclude that his line is being successful or not, but it just left me with the impression that he still doesn't get it.

I don't doubt the sincerity of his wish to "preserve the union"; what I doubt is his ability to make the case convincingly to anyone who starts from a different perspective to his own.

Gareth Hughes has already done something of a demolition job on the line of argument advanced by Cameron.  The extent to which it's based on being bigger than the other kids on the street, and possessing bigger sticks, came as a surprise even to me.  It's very much a reflection of the days of Empire – and of an inability to let go of that viewpoint.

For those who still yearn for days gone by, it's a message which will probably press a lot of the right buttons.  But for those who don't, it will just sound irrelevant.  And that's what I mean about not getting it.  Telling Scotland that the main reason for not becoming independent is that there are a lot of kids out there who are bigger than them, and wielding bigger sticks to boot, is talking past them, not to them.

By background and nature, Cameron is stuck in a view of the UK's rôle in the world which has long since been overtaken by events.  It is Salmond and the SNP who are understanding that the future lies not in who can wield the biggest stick (a contest which the UK is doomed to lose in any event), but in how nations and states can combine greater localism with stronger co-operation.  That is a dialogue which Cameron and his ilk cannot, in the long term, win.

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