Tuesday, January 16, 2007

300 Year Maintenance for the Union - Scottish Edition

Most nations would make quite a fuss for the 300th anniversary of their founding but all we've seen in Britain is Labour politicians giving earnest speeches about shared values that I'm unconvinced we share more with the Scots than anyone else in the broad sphere of the West. The public seems to be marginally less enthusiastic for celebrating the Union than they are for St. Georges Day. Meanwhile, the SNP appears likely to emerge victorious in elections for the Scottish parliament. Polls on the subject of Scottish independence are giving quite unstable results, particularly in England, and there is rarely a majority in favour of Scotland leaving but the Union is still, clearly, in very poor health.

Why don't we give the SNP the referendum they want? Pledge to hold a referendum and to make the question a fair one but to campaign for a "no" vote. That way we can steal the SNP's thunder and finally have the independence debate in the open. Given the nightmares of forming a new state and the financial benefits Scotland takes from the Union a "no" vote seems probable. I think we can hope that people might be encouraged to think about what the United Kingdom means more broadly along with practical considerations of economies of scale in states. Perhaps the debate might bring an appreciation for its achievements and the scope of ambition it makes possible for its people. If the Union then goes on to win, as I expect it would, then it is difficult to imagine massive positive changes not emerging from the Union having a popular mandate.

If the vote were to go the wrong way after a proper debate then it might be preferable to the simmering resentment that characterises the Union at the moment. Most of the ill effects would be felt north of the border by those choosing to face them. It would be a shame but it is, perhaps, worth risking that, fairly remote, chance of an end to the Union for the possibility of a resolution in its favour.

1 comment:

John Page said...

Yes, yes, but what benefits does the union bring to ENGLAND? G. Brown says we can't have English votes for English laws because that would be the Trojan horse that would destroy the union.

But what it would really destroy is G. Brown's premiership. And we can't have that, can we.