Monday, 6 March 2017

Closet independentista?

The UK Prime Minister took herself off to the Scottish Tory conference at the end of last week to deliver her profoundest thoughts on the future of Scotland to the assembled handful, in an event held in a hall with inverse Tardis-like properties.  (Those booking it must surely have assumed that it would be smaller on the inside than it appeared on the outside.)  The main point in her speech seems to have been an accusation that the SNP have tunnel vision because they are continuing to argue for independence rather than concentrating on managing the decline in Scottish services which her government has mandated through its approach to setting the Scottish budget. 
In fairness to her (and to many other UK politicians), I can understand why the idea that a party sets out a goal and then tries to achieve it must appear a very strange one.  Having an aim and trying to realise it is not a concept which much troubles the UK parties, for whom the only objective is to get elected, and for whom policy is what you say to achieve that aim, not what you actually intend to do after the election.  For the SNP to try and do what they have always said they wanted to do is clearly not playing by the accepted rules, and thus inherently unfair.
She repeated the usual guff about the UK being the bestest and strongest union ever known to mankind, which has created a land of milk and honey across the whole of Scotland, whose people would be begging from each other in the streets were it not for the munificence of the UK Government.  Or something like that.  (There is just the teensiest possibility that she may have over-egged it a bit by telling the Scots that one of the great ‘benefits’ of the union is that they get to host the UK’s nuclear weapons systems.)
What she understands, but those SNP types seem completely unable to comprehend, is that the UK is a part of the natural order of things.  It was created by divine intervention; a beneficent intervention which also gave us the Windsors to rule over us, as well as the right to tell the rest of the world what to do.  That simple fact is what explains not only why the UK is so much stronger by being a single united whole but also why the UK is so much weaker as part of a greater whole.  Anyone who thinks that there is the slightest possibility of contradiction in that is obviously mistaken.  It isn’t about being bigger or smaller, it’s about being the UK; no further argument is required.
To cap it all, just for good measure, she added that the Scots might be labouring under the delusion that matters such as education are devolved, but she’s still Prime Minister of the UK, and education in Scotland is as much a matter for her as is education in England.  

During the EU referendum, she managed to give the impression that she was a supporter of the Remain camp, albeit a very quiet one.  The enthusiasm with which she’s embraced doing that which she predicted would be a disaster suggests to me that she was actually a closet Brexiteer.  I wonder if she’s trying the same trick in relation to Scotland – her speech certainly makes a great deal more sense if we assume that she secretly wants to see Scotland independent.


Anonymous said...

You may have a point there John.

I wonder whether Theresa May is actually quite open to the idea of Scotland becoming independent and remaining within the European Union, since it would provide an European market for England on it's door step. Perhaps a Free- Trade area between England and Scotland?

John Dixon said...

An interesting thought, but from the way she's setting about Brexit, I'm not at all sure that May cares very much about trade. In any event, as a member of the EU, Scotland would not be allowed to negotiate its own separate deal with Greater England; trade deals have to be negotiated collectively. There is, perhaps, a possibility of some sort of interim arrangement to assist both Scotland and Greater England, under which Scotland remaining in the EU might have some benefit to Greater England.

Anonymous said...

All political parties have but one goal, the achievement of highest office. Recently the SNP has done rather well in this regard. UKIP too, albeit for differing offices. But clearly the Tories are the absolute masters when it comes to achieving the highest office in the land.

Turning to the matter of independence, everyone agrees that the people of Scotland have the right to determine their own future. It's just a question of minimising the disruption caused to other parts of the UK whilst such determination is under discussion. And if Scotland wants to be set free I doubt anyone will stand in her way. You try to make it sound as if the UK government is actually against democracy when clearly it isn't, it just wants democracy to be as non-disruptive as possible.

But we shouldn't assume that just because Scotland has the right of self determination Wales also has such a right. It doesn't and I suspect it never will have. Wales is an integral part of England, a home to the peoples of England and Wales and it will always remain such. Yes, there are issues that need to be addressed and rights that need to be protected when it comes to 'Welsh people'. But by and large the lot of 'Welsh people' has never been seriously threatened by the peoples of England and Wales or not since the twelfth century and it would seem to daft to assume that anything in this regard is going to change.

As such, what goes on up in Scotland is just a bit of a sideshow for the rest of us. Good entertainment, non too disruptive and yes we can be sure the right result will out. But what happens if Scotland having gone on it's own way for a couple of years suddenly decides it wishes to re-enter the fold. Yet more referendums followed up by and appeal to the good nature of Northern Ireland, England and Wales. Maybe this is when things will start to get tricky.

John Dixon said...

Where to start...

"All political parties have but one goal, the achievement of highest office." And your basis for that sweeping statement is what, exactly? It looks like a statement of your own viewpoint, masquerading as a fact, to me.

"... everyone agrees that the people of Scotland have the right to determine their own future." Actually, that simply isn't true. There are plenty of people who would not agree with that at all.

"But we shouldn't assume that just because Scotland has the right of self determination Wales also has such a right. It doesn't and I suspect it never will have." And who, precisely, has the right to decide who does and who does not have the right to self-determination? You seem to be making the same mistake as some nationalists with whom I've had disagreements in the past, by declaring that only nations have the right to self-determination, and by deciding for us whether we are or are not a nation. Perhaps you have some easily-explicable definition of what is or is not a 'nation'; I certainly don't, and it's an issue that I've been pondering for decades. Ultimately, 'national identity' is inherently subjective; people are Welsh if they decide to be, English if they decide to be, British if they decide to be, and EnglishandWelsh if they decide to be. Not only is it inherently a subjective decision which cannot be imposed externally, it's also a fluid definition - self-identity can and does change over time.

But, in any event, why should the right of self-determination be limited to those groups of people who consider themselves (or are considered by others) to be nations? If Ynys Môn, or even Upper Cwmsgwt wants to be an independent state, why should they not have the right to become one? If sovereignty comes, as I argue that it does, from the people themselves, then how they organise themselves into states and countries is surely up to them? There are implications, of course, in terms of the availability of facilities and services, and the financial costs thereof. But put those aside for a moment, step back and ask the question - why should not the people in any defined area decide for themselves collectively how they wish to be governed? There is a difference between having a right and exercising that right, of course. And you have as much right to argue that Wales should not exercise that right as I have to argue that it should; that's a proper area for debate. But your unilateral assertion that the right does not exist because you've decided that Wales is not and never can be a nation is an attempt to close off debate, not participate in it.

"But what happens if Scotland having gone on it's own way for a couple of years suddenly decides it wishes to re-enter the fold" I suppose it's always possible that, having attained independence, Scotland will follow all those other parts of the former Empire which have demanded to be reincorporated into the mother country... But I wouldn't hold your breath on that one.

Anonymous said...

You derserve a much wider readership. How can I post this on Facebook?

John Dixon said...

Thank you. You should be able to use the facebook button in the share block at the end of each post.