Scotland can be a great nation… within the United Kingdom!

By Peter Gibbs.

scotland-future

 

In 1914, Scotsmen of all backgrounds stood, shoulder-to-shoulder, alongside their fellow countrymen – from Yorkshire, East Anglia, South Wales, Cornwall, Northern and Southern Ireland. The cause: the defence of the British homeland and the survival of the Empire – from the Pitcairns to Perth (the Australian and the Scottish!); from Northampton to Nova Scotia. As the Kaiser’s armies devoured Europe, and the August harvest in Britain’s fields and farmlands turned to gold, the men of Britain united in the common cause…

One hundred years later, and we live in a world very different from this Kiplingesque vision. The Empire has gone (its downfall beginning, perhaps, in the mud of the Somme) and even the modern Britain itself, the victor of the two 20th-century world conflicts, seems to be fading: a country subjected to an intensive globalisation, asset-stripping, self-questioning and crisis of confidence. And it is from the latter, the contemporary obsession with overthrowing old ideas, questioning what was once certain, and cheerfully challenging all that is dear and familiar, that we find the United Kingdom on the brink of disintegration. For the year 2014 sees the possible end of the U.K., as the people of Scotland are given the opportunity to vote for secession and “independence”, the long-held goal of one Alex Salmond the First Minister of Scotland.

Alex Salmond, of course, is a highly-effective politician. The man is possessed of a wit and natural style, and can almost be seen as a Caledonian version of Harold Wilson: a tactician, able to position himself on the side of progress and “getting on”. He is also very fond of manipulating a situation to his advantage, and when compared to the autocue-reading ranks of Westminster’s dreary politicians, outguns and outclasses most of his opponents. When the battling Scottish tennis ace, Andy Murray, (eventually) triumphed at Wimbledon, Mr. Salmond was seen in the audience standing just behind the Prime Minister waving a large Scottish saltire! As a political stunt, it was very effective. Nobody should be surprised that David Cameron is unwilling to debate with Alex Salmond: one gains the impression that the Scottish First Minister actually knows what the words Magna Carta mean! (I refer here to Cameron’s disastrous appearance on an American chat show, during which he failed on several basic questions relating to British history.) Alex is unlikely to be stumped on basic facts, and would undoubtedly emerge with credit from any encounter with Downing Street’s present occupant.

However, having been generous to the SNP leader, we need to be realistic about what his party and his aim of independence actually mean. The Scottish National Party, encouraged by devolution and by a feeling in Scotland that Westminster parties have abandoned the people, has made enormous strides – especially in the last decade. The SNP has displaced Labour as the natural party of Scotland, particularly urban Scotland, yet has also managed the remarkable trick of appealing to Liberals and conservative folk. Smart suits, slick presentation, assurances about the survival of the Crown, and Scotland as part of the sterling area have enticed many into the independence camp – an independence that (according to Salmond) seems to be about parity rather than partition. Indeed, in a recent edition of Scotland’s Herald newspaper, the First Minister made great play of the fact that he is both a Briton and a Scot; a clever attempt to reassure a section of native opinion that Scotland would not altogether cut its historic and emotional ties with the rest of us.

But supposing Scots did vote to leave the United Kingdom? Just how Scottish would the new Caledonia be? Before the Euro-crisis and collapse, Mr. Salmond talked a great deal about his country enlisting in the European Union; with a vision of Scotland as a “beacon of progressive values” with a commitment to social liberalism. Immigrants in Scotland are, to Mr. Salmond, “the new Scots” and he is on record as believing that “Scotland is a mongrel nation” – so it seems likely that the SNP’s “independence” and nationalism will be very much in the shadow of Brussels, the European Central Bank, and the diktats of modern political correctness and multiculturalism.

There is also the question of what will happen to unionist parties and groups if “independence” is gained. For example, what will be the purpose of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, or the Scottish Liberal Democrats? Will the Orange Order or Rangers football club supporters be asked to fold away their Union Jacks – a mirror-image of what is coming to pass in an increasingly Sinn Fein-dominated Northern Ireland? And what if – say – Glasgow votes by 80 per cent to stay in the Kingdom, but the rest of the country votes to leave? Could Scotland be divided, so that its unionist part remains in the UK? Although a democratic party, it does seem that the SNP might possibly become the only party that fits into the newly-independent Scotland.

As mentioned earlier, Alex Salmond has stated that he is in favour of the maintenance of the monarchy (a union of the Crowns, which indeed long predated the Act of Union 1707). But the SNP does have a republican element, and after the First Minister’s eventual retirement, there is every possibility that his replacement might instigate a referendum on whether Scotland should have any ties to the monarchy at all. Just like Australia’s republican Premier, Paul Keating, an anti-monarchist SNP leadership could emerge – its aim, the complete termination of the last real link between Scotland and the rest of Britain. We should not forget that when the pro-independence camp launched its campaign, the SNP was happy to share a platform with the republican Scottish Socialist Party. (Can you imagine the outcry if the pro-union Better Together movement had invited UKIP – or the British Democratic Party – to its launch?)

From the existence of the BBC north of the border, to the continuation of the .uk email address for individuals and businesses; from the “Royal” in Royal Scottish National Orchestra to the survival of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, “independence” could spell the end for many well-known landmarks for Scots. There is, worryingly, an element which seems to revel in this shattering of the Kingdom: one contributor to a discussion forum on a Scottish newspaper website actually told the world that he was virtually weeping with joy that Alex Salmond had given him the chance to vote to free his country! It seems that to some, the SNP has created a political epiphany – an emotional force, which the “No” camp, offering as it does practical, statistics-based arguments, may have difficulty challenging.

Of course, Scots must make their own decision, but they should be mindful that many true, ancestral Scotsmen and women who happen to live in England are denied the right to vote in September’s referendum – in contrast to someone from Somalia, currently living in Scotland as a legally-settled Scottish citizen, who has the right to cast a vote.

Unionists (such as this writer) may have to face facts – that the Union itself may well become a federal arrangement; Westminster looking after defence and foreign policy, and the individual nations raising their own taxes and deciding upon their own internal affairs. But a federal United Kingdom, sustained by a common (if varied) British identity, is far better than a dismembered UK, with Scotland becoming little more than a Greece or a Cyprus within a dominant, liberal-left EU.

All those who love our island nation, and who value our great achievements together, will naturally hope and pray that Scotland stays within the United Kingdom. A proud, national, distinctive Scotland, within a sovereign, democratic and British Britain.

 

23 thoughts on “Scotland can be a great nation… within the United Kingdom!

  1. Really the dilemma about Scottish Independence is not that Scotland becomes independent but rather that Scotland lets us all down and decides not to become independent. This is something we have to brace ourselves for. The Scots have always talked loudly; but when the moment of truth comes will they deliver the goods? We have to be brutally realistic that it might not happen.

    The other side of the coin is that if Scotland becomes independent then England will find itself irresistibly propelled onto the road of self-government.

    As for the Royal connection in Scotland being severed, good luck to them. The monarchy is like that story dog, which did not bark in the night. What is the point of a monarchy if the monarchy will not speak out against the re-population of its own country with aliens who are hostile to the idea of monarchy? No don’t tell me that they have no power to effect events, I do not buy into that idea. If the Royals were so deeply imbedded in the hearts of the ordinary British then any politician who really wishes to remain employed would never cross the desires of the monarchy.

    I feel it is essential as a Nationalist that English people should encourage Scottish nationalism as the way forward to English independence then after that we may have good hard look at some other outstanding problems which will become clearer and more pronounced in the clear light of that new dawn.

  2. As a half-Scot, I feel judging from my own experiences with my Scottish relatives that there are two feelings pushing this vote along. One is an old hatred which has resurfaced, and the other is fear. Fear of the future, fear of being alone.

    There will be many Scots in Scotland who will have to decide which feeling to go with. The Somalians and other immigrants will not of course understand either of these feelings as they will not understand the history behind them.

    Sorry I can’t be more positive about this. I won’t blame you if you don’t publish this comment. The whole thing is just so unutterably sad.

    1. The saddest and most ironic thing is that most of this has been caused by what is laughably referred to as the Conservative and Unionist Party! If Mrs Thatcher had listened to the advice of experts in the Treasury in 1979, 1980, 1981 then Britain might still have some form of an industrial base and the jobs that go with it and we wouldn’t have the Tories constantly whining about the ‘dependency culture’. It is excessive neo-liberal economics with excessive globalisation of our economy which has denuded Scotland of jobs and hope which has enabled Mr Salmond to get to where he has.

      Too many people in England think UKIP with their equally insane addiction to Tory/Lib Dem/Labour globalisation is the answer when, in reality, they are PART OF THE PROBLEM! I despair as to the British people’s political acumen, I really do!

      Graham, we are meant to be a BRITISH nationalist party not an English one.

  3. The biggest political change should Scotland go independent is that Labour will lose its Scottish MPs and find it nearly impossible to form another government in the rump UK i.e. the UK of England, Wales and N Ireland.

    In which case, the Tories will hold power for a generation. But that may have unexpected consequences. Elections for Parliament, run on a first past the post system, generally turn not on who a person wants to vote for, but regarding the two main contestants, who you do NOT want to win. People vote accordingly.

    However, with Labour out for a generation, UKIP inclined voters may well be tempted to vote UKIP knowing that they wouldn’t thereby let Labour in.

    And, should UKIP break the two party voting pattern, that could pave the way for something more radical than UKIP.

  4. All the opinion polls in Scotland have shown over many years that Scottish independence is not popular enough to win this referendum. The strongest likelihood is that this will lead to a no vote, but even more powers will be handed over to the SNP dominated government in Holyrood.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that David Cameron knows this only too well, and this is why he promised a referendum. He knows that the Scots will not vote for independence but it will allow him to argue within Westminster that more powers should be handed over to placate them. It is also a very clever ploy by Alex Salmond to demand that sixteen-year-olds should be given the vote. Young people are normally far more idealistic and much less practical and pragmatic than their elders. They can far more easily be swayed by emotional and romantic arguments, and are therefore much more likely to vote yes. This will merely ensure that he and his party don’t look too foolish when independence is rejected, as the yes vote will not be too minute.

    Of course, there is an extremely outside chance that the Scots will vote by a narrow margin to leave the union, and I agree with Graham that should that happen we English could definitely use it to our advantage. However, a strong and united Great Britain would be far more preferable to me personally.

    1. “Young people are normally far more idealistic and much less practical and pragmatic than their elders”.

      Nationalist parties in Europe are growing as a result of young people backing them. Young people are more open-minded to new ideas and more willing to back radical ideals. They are actually more practical than old people. Idealism and selfishness is people voting in Labour and Tory governments for the past 50 years. Who did that – it was not 16 year olds!

      1. Paul, you are correct in saying that those who have voted in Labour and Tory governments over the past half century have been predominantly what are now the older generation, but remember that they were young themselves once, and very probably voted the same way even then.

        It is an unfortunate truth that not very many young people bother to vote in British elections these days. In fact, most of the young people I have come across have no interest whatsoever in politics. They are merely hedonistic and have embraced and accepted the multicultural society they see around them without much question. Many white youths have even adopted a kind of West Indian style accent, clearly showing that they have no respect for or real knowledge of their nations past.

        Those who join left wing organisations like “Hope not Hate” are predominantly young people from colleges and universities. They are easily influenced by extreme socialist ideology and are quite willing to physically attack peaceful nationalists trying to attend meetings or out celebrating Saint Georges Day. I doubt very much that we can count on the vast majority of young people to help further nationalism, but if you are one such yourself then you should know that you are sadly in the minority among your peer group.

  5. I doubt it, Tony.

    The truth is due to the crazy First Past The Post system, NO MP needs to be elected in Scotland, Wales or NI from the governing party. If you win enough seats in England you can have an overall parliamentary majority to govern the United Kingdom as a whole. The fact that Britain still uses this farcical and utter disgrace of an electoral system which is more akin to a lottery than a fair means of representing the people’s will is a significant factor the SNP have used to ensure their rise.

    The fact is that due to this system the Scots see the Tories as an exclusively English party because the the Tories only have one MP instead of the several they would have if PR was used and the English see the Labour Party as a Scottish party and not a British one because, also due to it, the Labour Party has such a huge number of Scottish MPs and has few in large swathes of England (particularly the Southern and Eastern areas)

    Put simply, FPTP creates ‘electoral deserts’ for Labour in Southern England and for the Tories in Scotland and Wales. Alex Salmond uses this problem to say the Tories have “no democratic mandate” to govern Scotland as there are “more pandas in Edinburgh Zoo” than Tory MPs.

    If FPTP had been got rid of when it first really started producing the ‘electoral desert’ effect ie in 1983 then we may well not have had such a strong SNP party today and no referendum on Scottish ‘independence’.

  6. What is the SNP and the Fat Controller’s logic in voting for independence and then throwing it away by rejoining the Marxist EU!!!

    It all seems to be driven by the ‘auld hatred’ and Hollywood’s biased, emotional version of William Wallace & Edward I in ‘Braveheart’. If ‘King Alex IV’ can find a horse big enough, he might wish to go riding at night around the cliffs of Kinghorn!

    1. His idea of ‘independence’ in the EU is mightily bizarre to say the least! I am inclined to agree with your second point. If it truly were about self-determination then why not strive for REAL independence? Having said that, if they do really hate us wouldn’t they have left already?

  7. A very interesting article.

    For my part, I would regret the end of the Union, but I would very gladly concede “devo max” to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and last but by no means least, England. Each of the four nations would have its own self-governing parliament within a federal structure, whose union parliament dealt only with foreign policy and defence.

    Australia adopted this approach to resolve the rivalry between New South Wales and Victoria, and the reluctance of Western Australia to be governed from a distant capital, and it has worked well.

    We might learn from that example.

    1. There are only three ways to repair Labour’s botched devolution shambles and they are:

      1.) Close-down the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly and return to a non-devolved and centralised state.

      2.) Give ALL parts of the Kingdom EQUAL devolution or

      3.) We all become ‘independent’.

      Needless to say, the first option is no longer politically practicable and the third one will diminish ALL of us so we have to go for the second option and just hope it works out. There is a need to restore some semblance of equality between all of us.

      A federal structure would guarantee the powers at various levels of government throughout the UK.

      Sadly though it looks as if Alex Salmond’s separatists may win. The latest poll may suggest the result in September is becoming too close to call.

    2. My own preference would be the scrapping of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly but Westminster being subjected to significant reform and top of that list would be a new electoral system for the whole United Kingdom ie one which is proportional and treats the United Kingdom as one constituency – either a list system or the Additional Member System with the list part of it with one list for the whole UK.

  8. I entirely endorse Adrian’s point in his second paragraph.

    I think British Nationalism as a concept would just have to be slightly modified ie not ‘Britain’ but ‘British family of nations’, enhanced I hope by dissuading Scots from embracing the EU but reuniting in a more equitable federal model with England, Wales and N. Ireland outside the EU.

    1. I should be very happy with “British family of nations”. Interestingly, at the time of the Anglo-Irish accord, the Ulster Unionist leader, Jim Molyneaux, said that Unionists had never opposed looking at what he called “the totality of relationships in these islands.” I agree.

      1. The Ulster Troubles have largely fizzled out, thank God since basically-Christian Celto-Saxon rival gangs watched the floods of aliens onto the big neighbouring island and into parts of Dublin. Loyalists and Republicans realized they have far more in common than with these deliberate imports.

        Tony Blair, and his smooth tongued propaganda machine, likes to take credit for solving the Irish problem. I reluctantly grant him only 10%!

        1. Personally, I would give a lot of the credit to Mrs Thatcher because her generally speaking tough stance on terrorism made the IRA realise they couldn’t win by the bullet or the bomb and therefore if they were to ‘help their people’ in NI they would need to enter into negotiations with the British government. John Major should also take a bit of the credit and the the Irish government too. By the time Blair became PM most of the hard work on this was already done.

  9. This referendum is about the break up of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, no matter how the Liberal elite dress it up. I have seen a number of televised debates and they are tense and bitter. I kid you not come nearer the time the debates will become more ferocious.

    The real Scottish people have every right to determine their allegiance to our Union or not. The Marxist left stand shoulder to shoulder with the counterfeit Scottish Nationalists, and they would do wouldn’t they! They want us all ruled by a centralised Stalinist European Union!

    It amazes me that the ‘British’ as a whole have only a half promise of a referendum on membership of the European Union, yet a sensitive and potentially sectarian referendum on the future of Britain is going to take place. Alistair Darling is to lead the cause to win the vote to save the Union. God help us!

    I do not want a watered down version of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. I am happy for a Scottish Parliament to exist; today it would only be fair and correct for an English Parliament to exist not just in sentiment but also in common with the rest of the devolved powers of our Islands.

    The cultural identity of the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish has everything to do with a union of a common bond that makes us all ‘British’. The anti-British left would love to smash our Union and dismantle our culture. We are unique despite the backward liberalism of the last sixty years, and I still believe we are the custodians of the greatest civilisation that has ever existed. Our problem is to unite a movement that can bring about a united patriotism that would benefit all of our people.

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