Submitted by George Callaghan…
Nicola Sturgeon has renewed her demand for a second referendum on breaking up the United Kingdom. The proximate cause for this is the Scottish National Party’s excellent performance in the Westminster General Election. The SNP chalked up 45% of the vote. This have the SNP 48 seats out of Scotland’s 59.
There are a number of reasons why there should never be another referendum on Scotland departing the UK.
First of all, let us clear out of the way any notion that the SNP proposes independence for Scotland. The SNP is adamantine in its opposition to independence. What the SNP wants is for Scotland to be a branch office of Brussels. You might think that Scotland being an independent country is fantastic. It is a logical and respectable position though not one I share. Contrarily, you might believe that being an EU member states is highly desirable. Once again it is a rational viewpoint but again not one I subscribe. Independence within the EU is a contradiction in terms. You might say there is no such thing as absolute independence in this interdependent world. There is a certain logic to this line of reasoning. Even of utter independence is unattainable in a globalized world Scotland outside the EU would be closer to that idyll. In the 1960s the SNP’s position was to leave the United Kingdom and to stay outside the nascent European Economic Community. That was a perfectly logical attitude. Even today a handful of SNP people voted for Brexit. Why are they in the SNP if they are Eurosceptic? There is only one pro-partition party in Scotland. Having sundered the UK they then might be able to induce the SNP to change tack and seek to leave the EU.
In 2014 a referendum was held on Scotland leaving the United Kingdom. We were all told that this was to decide the issue for all time. Nicola Sturgeon and all other SNP politicians accepted that. Sturgeon herself said that it would not be a neverendum. In a completely fair poll the people voted 55% to say in the UK.
The possibility of Britain leaving the UK was known in 2014. Indeed, the SNP raised it in their campaign. The Conservatives and Lib Dems were in coalition government at Westminster. The two parties had already separately vowed to hold a referendum on EU membership. The SNP voted for that referendum on EU membership to take place.
The Scots chose to stay in the United Kingdom. It was an informed choice. The choice was to remain within the UK come what may. The issue of staying in the UK or leaving it has already been settled for all time.
A referendum is not the best of three. Otherwise the losers can hold it again and again until they get the result they like. That is what the EU does to recalcitrant member states Denmark 1992, Ireland 2001, Ireland 2012 passim. Moreover, the EU Constitution was repackaged as the Treaty of Lisbon. Several EU leaders openly acknowledged that it was, in essence, the same document. The changes to it were merely cosmetic.
The SNP is returning to its old policy of anglophobia. It is the oldest trick in the book. If the English are so evil then do not take their money. The SNP pockets the Barnett Formula cash adeptly.
As for some people in North Britain wanting to undermine the Union we have been there before. In the aftermath of the Second World War a campaign for Home Rule in Scotland gathered pace. It had been mused about since the 1880s. But in the late 1940s it became a mass movement. Hundreds of thousands of Scotsmen and Scotswomen signed a petition. They did not wish to break up the UK. They merely wanted to re-establish a parliament in Edinburgh to superintend certain affairs in Scotland. The Scots would continue to be represented in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Further, the petition said that this was done ‘in all loyalty to the Crown.’ This was a halfway house to separation. But precious few wanted separation. The SNP was a joke back then barely garnering 1% of the vote. The Saltire Society was behind the petition. The Westminster parties formed a united front. Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberals and even the Communist Party all said a very clear an unanimous No. This firm No meant that the movement for home rule withered on the vine. Within a couple of years people had shrugged and forgotten. They moved on to more pressing matters.
If Westminster says a crystal clear ‘No’ then Sturgeon’s demand might run out of steam. The majority people in Caledonia will agree. The large minority who are SNP supporters will mostly accept this. They will soon start to think about urgent matters such as public services. Scotland’s population is falling. How are the elderly to be provided for?
There is every reason to say No. These are the 2014 referendum, the SNP minority at Holyrood, the SNP’s minority vote in 2019 and the SNP’s ignoble motives.
The SNP polled 45% at this latest election. The Greens in Scotland are also in favour of the partition of the UK. But SNP + Greens is still under 50%. So the majority of people voted for pro Union parties.
How has partition worked out in Ireland. How has it worked in South Asia? How has it panned out in Korea? Great Britain has been united by a monarch since 1603. It has been united by a Parliament since 1707. The realms have been fused together. The peoples of the United Kingdom are soldered together by blood ties, by sympathy, by language, by history, by geography, by economics and by every bond of affection and loyalty that man can devise. The Union has been tempered by war against foreign foes. It has been built in peace by shared values and common endeavour.
Scotland’s distinct identity is respected. The collective individuality of the Scots is given its fullest expression. Even prior to 1999 when there was a full Union there were many institutions which were distinctively Scottish. Scotland’s educational system, church, courts and even banknotes are all different from the rest of the United Kingdom.
Why is Sturgeon raising this issue now? She would rather distract from the highly embarrassing rape trial of the SNP’s longtime leader Alex Salmond. She wants to draw attention away from the SNP’s disastrous record in government.
In Scotland the NHS is in parlous condition. Schools are in poor shape. Public finances are barely holding up. Taxes are rising as the economy is slowing. Unemployment is ticking up as is crime. South of Hadrian’s Wall the situation is similar. However, Westminster is not trying to change the subject.
In the Scots Parliament the SNP does not have a majority of seats. This minority government is propped up by the Greens. The SNP and the Scottish Greens together still got under 50% of the vote at the last Holyrood election.
The SNP have won three Holyrood elections on the trot. They probably will not win a fourth.
The next Holyrood election is slated for May 2021. It could come sooner than that. The other parties would do anything to bring down the SNP. What goes up must come down. The SNP cannot defy political gravity forever. The Lib Dems and Labour formed a coalition at Holyrood before. As the two parties performed so dismally at the Westminster election they are more aware than ever that they need to co-operate.
It is hard to remember now but until 2015 the SNP had only 4 Westminster seats. The SNP’s electoral dominance can disappear as fast as it appears.
Boris Johnson should at least play for time if he does not say an absolute no. There is nothing Sturgeon can do. Spain has shown that an illegal referendum can be disregarded. A country can use reasonable force against such sedition and not be criticized. The EU can hardly disapprove of the UK preserving its integrity.
The SNP’s popularity will dip. They may be out of office before long. This is especially so if they fail to achieve their central mission.
The SNP long opposed first past the post. But this system has done very well for the SNP in getting it lots of Members of Parliament. If they have a principled objection to first past the post they could of course not take their seats.
Labour at a UK level is due to get a new leader. The next one cannot possibly be as bad as the last one. This will give Labour a new lease of life in North Britain. The Liberal Democrats are about to get a new British leader. The incoming leader will surely have more gravitas than the last immature screecher.
Supposing the SNP get their way and leave the UK. Does that guarantee that they get to join the EU? No, it does not as Brussels said very plainly in 2014. The SNP maintains that the UK being outside the EU will be nothing short of calamitous. How much worse would it be for Scotland on its own to be outside the EU? The United Kingdom has 70 000 000 people. Scotland has 6 000 000.
What would an independent Scotland do for a currency? As we know from 2014 the SNP in its 100 year history had not answered the most basic questions. It would not be allowed to keep the Pound Sterling. If the UK is so ghastly why retain the GBP?
An independent Scotland would keep the monarchy. Elizabeth II would become Elizabeth I in relation to Scotland. She would be retitled Queen of Scots. Scotland would be a Commonwealth realm like Jamaica.
Scotland would get rid of nuclear arms at Faslane. The idea would be to join NATO. NATO might not let Scotland in. If NATO did so it might be with the proviso that nuclear arms must be kept at Faslane.
How defensible is Scotland if it is outside the UK and NATO? The Scots regiments of the British Army consist of about 6 000 soldiers. That is not going to stop a determined aggressor.
The SNP does not wish to be reminded of its communist founder Hugh MacDiarmid. As he said, ‘Scotland not merely Gaelic but free as well – not merely Gaelic but free as well.’ There he was quoting Patrick Pearse who was a half English terrorist. By ‘free’ this totalitarian meant separate from Scotland’s kith and kin in Ireland, Wales and England. How is reviving Scots Gaelic coming along? Not at all!
The SNP does not like people noting that it has Nazi members in the Second World War. There were those who tried their damndest to sabotage the war effort. There was an SNP man who actively recruited for the Wehrmacht.
Catalonia held two referenda on separating from Spain. Catalan nationalists are ideological soulmates of the SNP. Yet the SNP failed to speak up for them. The SNP want to be ‘good Europeans’. They offered no fraternal supports to the Catalans who had advocated for the SNP with such vociferation. It was a cowardly act of betrayal.
Do we really want to Balkanise the British Isles? There is no reason to do this. It would offer no benefit. People are now sick of constitutional and nationalistic issues.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.