May, Be Just – For Sure

This week, the Scottish Parliament will debate a motion to request a Section 30 order from the UK Parliament. A good number of journalists & commentators seem convinced that the Prime Minister has outright blocked such an order even before a vote – though, as ever, what the PM actually said was no such thing.

There’s a very good reason I would be extremely surprised if the Prime Minister does, indeed, take measures to block a Scottish Independence Referendum outright – and it’s nothing to do with what the people of Scotland want.

This reason can be illustrated in two points. The first is a survey conducted by the Centre for English Identity and Politics at Winchester University, which made some startling discoveries about what the Prime Minister’s own party activists think of her “precious union”:

Which of the following would best summarise your view of the end of the Union?

It would inflict serious damage on the power, influence and well-being of the remaining parts of the UK – 33%

It would finally end the unreasonable demands on England to provide ever-greater financial and political concessions to Scotland – 29%

It would not be in the best interests of the remaining parts of the UK but that any problems could be managed – 22%

It would be a shame to lose the history and association but it would have no real significance for the remaining parts of the U.K –  15%

That only 55% of activists think the end of the UK would at best not be “in the best interests” or at worst “inflict serious damage” on the constituent nations is bad enough. That 44% think it would have either “no real significance,” or be actively beneficial to England, is even worse. But the idea that as many as 29% – almost a third – of the governing UK party’s activists are so welcoming to the prospect of Scottish Independence is undoubtedly something the Prime Minister is looking at very carefully, as well as some other things which should give pro-UK Scots some serious concern:

  • When asked if the UK Government should offer the Scottish government further financial support, policy powers or involvement in foreign policy in the course of a referendum campaign, 68% of English respondents would rule out any further powers.
    A further 28% would support further policy devolution, and less than 4% would support either further financial support or involvement in foreign policy.
  • A total of 83% of ’English only’ activists believe devolution has been harmful to England, but just 61% of those who identified themselves as ‘British’ agreed.

Again, this is difficult to reconcile with polls suggesting a majority of UK voters oppose the idea of a second referendum – much like the many self-contradictory polls regarding what should happen following the UK leaving the EU. So, if there is a significant faction within the UK Government’s party which is not only sanguine about Scottish Independence, but is vocal and belligerent about it, then it would be foolish for the Prime Minister to antagonise them by blocking a referendum that could get rid of those dreadful Scots, wouldn’t it?

But it clearly isn’t just the UK Government’s party which the Prime Minister’s concerned about.

Brexit is more important to voters than keeping the United Kingdom together, an opinion poll for The Telegraph has indicated.

60% of respondents agreed that Britain’s EU departure mattered more than stopping the UK’s break-up, while just 27% disagreed.

Furthermore a majority of people said they would still vote for Brexit even if they knew it could trigger Scotland’s independence.

The results suggest there is no “buyer’s remorse” over Brexit despite a dramatic week in which the UK’s future has been called into question.

Now, it is an online poll, so take that for what it is, and it is interesting that recent polls show a majority of rUK respondents agree with blocking a second referendum. Nonetheless, it is clear from the vociferous outrage following the First Minister’s announcement that there is a significant minority of people in the rest of the UK who are getting fed up with Scotland.

And to be perfectly frank, who can blame them? For decades – centuries, even – Scotland has been presented as a leech, a basket case which simply wouldn’t survive without the generous largesse of the English taxpayer. In feeding this narrative to quash the movement for Scottish Independence, the British establishment has neglected the danger it presents by fostering resentment in England. The end result: it isn’t just the Scots who are being lied to about Scotland.

The pro-EU mob are just as wrong if they think that shroud waving about Scotland will damage the Brexit cause. Just the opposite is true. For many voters in England, the idea that a Leave vote could lead to Scotland’s departure is a bonus, not a problem.

Large swathes of the English electorate are fed up with the two default modes of Scottish political culture: the outstretched palm for subsidy and the clenched fist of grievance.

It would be such a relief to bring an end to the soundtrack of Caledonian whingeing. Brexit, accompanied by Scottish separation, would at last mean freedom for the English from the twin expensive millstones of Brussels and Edinburgh.
– Leo McKinstry, 13th March 2016

If you think these voices and sentiments have little influence on the direction of the UK Government, then consider what’s happened in the last nine months.

Look at how the Prime Minister has acted following England & Wales’ votes to leave the EU. Every single action she has made has been to placate the extreme Eurosceptics in her own party – withdrawing from the European Court of Human Rights, the Single Market, Freedom of Movement, the Customs Union – all things that even the most fervent advocates of a Leave vote claimed were not necessarily under threat, until the vote was done and dusted. Just like the Independence Referendum, the UK Government have falsely presented a majority vote as an endorsement of the extremists within that majority… and if we dare to object to this hijacking of a mandate, then we’re the “anti-democratic” ones. The opportunist Mays, Johnsons, and Goves are letting the zealot Fabricants, Redwoods, and Foxes dictate the terms of leaving, even though they make up a fraction of Leave MPs, let alone Parliamentarians.

But why? For the same reason as anything they do – power. If only a fraction of the dozens of the UK Government’s MPs which support leaving the EU split from the party SDP-style, then that demolishes the government’s overall majority. The Prime Minister knows this. She also knows that majority was won, purely and simply, on the back of the promise of that EU membership referendum in the first place – a big reason that the UK Separatist Party had good results in safe Other Party seats, but not in UK Government Party seats.

The UK Government won the election in England because they promised a referendum on the EU – something that was most desired by those who wish to leave it. Similarly, the UK Government & UK Separatist Party combined won a greater proportion of the popular vote in Wales than the largest pro-EU party. Sure enough, those who wanted to leave the EU won the referendum in England & Wales.

To the UK Government, power is the only motivator, the only justification, the only cause: given the choice between doing the right thing, and retaining their grip on power, of course they will choose the latter. The only day they have ever cared about what the people of Scotland want was the 18th of September 2014 – every day since, they have ignored the clearly established & defined mandate, falsely subsuming it into a “UK-wide vote” which makes a mockery of the notion of a “precious” “union of equals.”

Thus, the Prime Minister must navigate the twin dangers of Scylla & Charybdis – placate the Eurosceptics for the sake of their dominion in England, or placate the Scottish Independence Movement for the sake of the United Kingdom. We’ve already seen how she responds to pressure from both parties.

Will the United Kingdom as we know it survive leaving the European Union?

Not forever and a day,
Not forever more,
Not for always,
Not that way,
Maybe just for sure…

Love is what we hunger for, the appetite is strong;
Baby, take a little more;
Baby, come along.

Not forever and a day,
Not forever more,
Not for always,
Not that way,
Maybe just for sure…

It’s like walking on little feet, one small step at a time;
Just like when we learn to speak,
Small words do just fine.

Not forever and a day,
Not forever more,
Not for always,
Not that way,
Maybe just for sure…

You know, I’ve been as honest with you as I’ve been true to myself.
Counting my fingers, one of every kind.
I’m taking inventory, making sure what’s mine, and when I look for someone to count on I take my time.

Baby, when we speak of love and promises to keep, when it comes to push or shove vows can fall asleep.

Not forever and a day,
Not forever more,
Not for always,
Not that way,
Maybe just for sure…

Now you know exactly how I feel about making promises I can’t keep and about saying the small words “I love you”.

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4 thoughts on “May, Be Just – For Sure

  1. Tedious Tantrums says:

    There is only one question that requires to be answered – if we Scots are so dependent on England why do the English continue to hold on to us. We know the answer do we not? They can’t afford to let us go. Simples.

  2. I can’t help but continue to be appalled at the division nurtured, over so many years, between people because it suits agendas. The level of manipulation makes my skin crawl. I want everyone concerned to wake up to the realisation that people are being played off of each other, stories told and fed, religious and national bigotry cultivated to keep everyone in their place. That there are people not only still falling for it but actively embracing and pursuing more of the same is unbelievable. I despair, at times, that change is possible. Then I see how far we’ve come in acknowledging the problem and that there are many who desire change and I have to believe that a better future is possible for all, regardless of underlying factors.

  3. Another crisis out of a drama explained…thanks Al.

  4. […] So, if this isn’t about the UK leaving the EU, then what is it about? I look back to what I wrote a month ago: […]

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