Saturday, 28 March 2015

Always do what your opponent least wants

At some point in early September last year I realised that my country was more threatened than at any point in its more than 300 year existence. I am sometimes accused of hyperbole, but this statement in point of fact is self-evidently true. If the Yes camp had won the vote with the most trivial of majorities, we would now be in the process of breaking up the United Kingdom. That country in its present form would cease to exist. We are very fortunate that the people who wish to break up our county are peaceful and wish to accomplish their goal by means of the ballot box. But the method they use does not diminish the threat. In fact, it increases it. When faced with previous military threats to our existence, this country has come together and fought as one. But when faced with an attack from within, we are left divided and floundering for a way to counter the threat.

We must start from the fact, which is also self-evidently true that the United Kingdom is a single country. It has parts that are called countries or nations, but they are so in a different sense. We are not a collection of a nation states like the EU, because the EU is made up of separate, independent, sovereign nation states. If the UK were like that, there would have been no need for its parts to seek independence for they would already be independent. I have explained the logic of this on numerous occasions but the nationalists cannot concede the point as if they did, they would have no argument left. Almost no other democratic country in the world would allow itself to be voted out of existence. What is clear today is that it was a mistake made by David Cameron to grant a referendum on independence. He did so on the assumption that he was dealing with honourable opponents. Moreover, he thought having the referendum would settle the question. The mistake was not to realise that our opponents while willing to use democracy are not democrats. This has been clear since September.  If No had lost by a tiny majority and No voters had campaigned for the UK parliament to ignore the result, we would have been accused correctly of not being democrats. But the reverse does not apply. The nationalists will keep asking the question until they win once. Once will be enough.  The problem is that the pro-UK side is weak and unwilling to follow through on the logic of our position. Too many of us are unwilling to fight for our country. Too many of us are happy to cooperate with those who wish to destroy our country.

The point can be illustrated with the following example. Some time ago a writer I admire wrote this:  

The Nationalists have a plan for what comes next and it is quite evidently the case that Unionists do not. Which is one more reason why, far from settling the Scottish Question, the referendum looks like becoming the Neverendum. Until, that is, the Nationalists win. That result will be permanent. Because the rules for one side are not the same as the rules applying to the other. This may be unfair but it’s just the way it is.

The reason that Unionists don’t have a plan is that people like Mr Massie are unwilling to change the way we play the game. We must always follow the rules that the nationalists want and we must passively accept that they have the right even after losing the referendum to campaign without interruption to break up the UK. We are faced with a Neverendum which the nationalists only have to win once, only because opinion formers like Mr Massie are unwilling to challenge the assumption that allows this state of affairs to continue. No doubt, if there were no threat to our county's existence he would have to find something else to write about as would I. But I would welcome this. When there is unfairness, we have no duty to maintain it. There is no obligation to cooperate with those who would try to break up our country, rather there is a duty to oppose them by all peaceful and legal means.

I keep coming across examples of defeatism from writers who are apparently pro-UK, but in fact would cooperate in the destruction of the UK. Corporal Massie keeps writing articles about how Scotland’s position in the UK is doomedOther journalists in English papers are either hostile to Scotland’s position in the UK or reflect that nothing can be done, and we must watch passively as the UK falls apart.

In almost no other country in the world would leading opinion formers behave in this fashion. Which other nation state would treat the prospect of losing a third of its territory with such equanimity? The Japanese and the Chinese squabble over which of them owns some uninhabited islands. Spain and Argentina fight for pieces of territory belonging to the UK tenaciously and for decades if not centuries. France under no circumstances whatsoever would allow any French territory, be it Corsica or Brittany, to leave France.  The same goes for the United States and virtually every other democracy in the world. There is no legal right for a part of a country to secede. It makes no difference if that part once was independent. Virtually, all nation states are made up of places that used to be independent. There is nothing exceptional about Scotland. These other democracies must shake their heads and wonder at the folly of the UK cooperating in our own destruction. They must think us gutless and decadent. We are.

In fact, it is very easy to come up with a Unionist strategy to defend our country. The first step is for the UK parliament to make it clear that there will never be another referendum on independence. This would be perfectly legal, of course, and would require a simple majority of UK MPs. There has for many years been a parliamentary convention allowing the parts of the UK a referendum on independence if they wished it. But there is no obligation that this question should be asked more than once. If one referendum does not decide the matter, there is clearly no point having another. For what is the purpose of referendums if it is not to decide such questions. The fact that we were granted a referendum (rightly) on independence means that the question in fact has been settled.  No country should have to face a continual threat to its existence. Of course, the SNP might try to break up the UK illegally. Let them try. They would soon find that this route didn’t get them very far.

The Spanish have shown us the way with regard to how to deal with separatists. They made it clear that there would be no legal referendum in Catalonia and when the Catalans organised a pseudo-referendum they simply ignored the result. Catalonia is an integral part of a single unitary state called Spain. It doesn’t matter how many separatists are elected in Catalonia, it won’t help them achieve independence. Even the attempt to do so will immediately be declared illegal. If the Catalonian parliament tries insurrection, it will be suspended or abolished. This is perfectly legal, of course, as the majority of MPs in Madrid have power and sovereignty over the whole of Spain.  Of course, the Catalonian separatists can try insurrection and illegal forms of declaring themselves independent, but one only needs to think of this for a few minutes to realise that no sane person would take such a course. It just leads to jail. 

The second part of the Unionist plan is the following. Don’t cooperate with those who wish to destroy your country. We must simply refuse to cooperate with Mr Salmond’s band of separatists, no matter how many are elected to be in Westminster. There are 650 seats. Let’s imagine that the SNP wins 60 of them. Well, 650 minus 60 = 590.  UK supporting MPs should simply ignore the existence of those who wish to destroy our country. Far from these SNP MPs being allowed to hold the balance of power, we should simply treat parliament as if it had only 590 members. This means that a majority of 296 would be enough to rule the UK. It might take a degree of cooperation from UK supporting MPs, but, and this is the crucial point, when our country is threatened, it is the norm for patriotic members of parliament from all parties to work together. We are threatened. This is why I use the metaphor of war. It is not hyperbole. It is a simple fact. If we allow Mr Salmond and friends to in affect rule Britain, they will use this power to break us.

There is no obligation to cooperate with those who seek your destruction. Quite the reverse, there is a duty to oppose them. We must use all legal, democratic and constitutional means to rule illegitimate any attempts to break up our country. This is how nearly every other democratic country would react to such a threat. Why should Britain alone be faced with this constant threat to its existence? If Scotland had become independent, we can be quite sure that the Scottish government would not allow parts of Scotland to secede even if a majority wished to do so. So there must be no more referendums and no more concessions made to the nationalists.

I will always be very grateful to Gordon Brown for doing so much to defend Scotland’s position as an integral part of the UK, but he is mistaken in thinking that making concessions to the nationalists will help us in the long run. They view these concessions as appeasement and it simply encourages them to want more and more until one day they succeed in breaking up Britain. So don’t appease those who want to destroy our country, rather fight them.

Last September when I realised that our country was in such great danger, I thought of all the other times when we had together fought those who wanted to destroy us. I took inspiration from that history as did hundreds of  thousands of others who turned out in droves to defend our country in its greatest hour of need for centuries.  The nationalists want us to quietly, passively cooperate in our destruction. It is for this reason they do not like people like me to use the language of a fight. It is for this reason that I do use it. Always do what your opponent least wants. This is the first rule of warfare. We have a battle on our hands for the future of our country. It is only when we absolutely understand that this is so, that we act accordingly. Our weapons are not physical. We must be polite and friendly to our opponents, but we must oppose them with everything we have. In the coming election we need every pro-UK supporter in Scotland to turn out to vote in such a way that we limit as far as possible the number of SNP MPs. We must vote tactically against the SNP as that is what our opponent least wants.

So long as the UK government rules out future independence referendums and refuses to cooperate with MPs who want to break up our country, the UK is safe and impregnable. My only fear is that people in the rest of the UK do not really care about keeping our country intact. The SNP want people in the rest of the UK to become hostile to Scotland. Always do what your opponent least wants.  Would either Ed Miliband or David Cameron do a deal with separatists for the sake of short term political gain? I hope and pray not. There are always those like Lord Halifax who are defeatist and who want to make a deal with those who would destroy our country, but history tends not to judge them favourably. Pro-UK MPs are always going to outnumber anti-UK MPs. Let us use our majority to make the nationalists impotent and powerless. Far from holding any balance of power, let us make the SNP irrelevant.

If you like my writing, you can find my books Scarlet on the Horizon (book, Kindle), An Indyref Romance (book, Kindle) and Complete Works (book, Kindle) on Amazon. I appreciate your support.


  1. I can't remember the last time I read such ill-informed and badly written bile.

    We know, up here in what you describe as an English territory, that Unionists appear to have little concept of parliamentary representation and only a passing conception of democratic enfranchisement, but to openly promote the "ignoring" of those members elected, by free election, to the political establishment you all wanted us to remain part of, is beyond absurd.

    It's called tyranny. You should be very careful in what you are advocating.

    1. My first thought was to delete your post as having no worth. Then I saw it did in fact have worth as an example. You people always in the end resort to abuse and insults. I have in no way described Scotland as English territory. I am Scottish in just the same way as you are. At no point in my article have I suggested anything illegal or undemocratic. Quite the reverse. You on the other hand resort to implied threats. Thanks for once more demonstrating what we are all up against.

    2. Okay, I have re-read my post and have failed to find any "abuse", "insults" or "implied threats". Point them out and I will respond to them in a considered manner.

      I believe you asked "Which other nation state would treat losing a third of it's territory with equanimity?" You imply that the UK is a nation state, and therefore Scotland/Wales and N Ireland is the third of it's territory whose MPs should be ignored if they don't happen to agree with a Unionist mindset. You are therefore presumably happy to disenfranchise an electorate which doesn't happen to agree with your particular politics?

      You don't think that is illegal or undemocratic?
      No, I must thank YOU for demonstrating what we are all up against.

  2. THANK YOU FOR SUCH A POWERFUL PIECE OF WRITING. It is refreshing to hear a strong voice in support of the Union. We have said "no" and it needs to be enshrined in law now, "no" it will always be for the sake of Scotland, the UK and the rest of the world.

    1. Thanks Mary. I've been getting a lot of flak because of today's piece. Nice to find there is some support too.

    2. To be fair, you've been getting flak on two fronts. The piece is in DIRE need of editing. As others have pointed out, it is rambling, repetitive and at least 50% too long. That's saying nothing about the actual content of course, reactions to which which will obviously depend on the readers personal point of view. I do encourage you however, irrespective of my views of the argument itself to have someone else read such pieces with a view to giving you some positive criticism.

      It can't hurt, and might actually help you interact on a more positive level with those like me who profoundly disagree with your views, and can't quite decide if you are actually a deeply unpleasant extremist trying to honey their words and hide behind faux outrage when called out for it, or alternatively if you are actually fairly harmless, and just don't really think through how extreme some of your writing appears.

      The jury is still out for me; you blocked me on twitter, and yet interact on here. You complain bitterly about abuse and insults when (as noted above by Humorous Vegetable and by me in your earlier piece last week) no such abuse or insult has occurred.

  3. Very interesting Effie, though it looks a lot like you're throwing out all of the good things about the UK in order to keep it together. Things like a belief in fairness and democracy.

    I'm interested that you say the UK was more threatened by the indyref than at any time since it's formation. Would you have written a similar article in the years before Irish independence?

    Not sure how your plans for the House of Commons stand up. Would you be banning the Welsh Nationalists, the SDLP and Sinn Fein from taking part in the UK's democratic institutions too?

    And even if not, what happens during a vote in the Commons. Are SNP MPs not allowed to vote, or are their votes just discounted?

    Can we expect the speaker doing a rough calculation and saying something like, "the Ayes to the right, 290, the Noes to the left, 330. The Ayes have it, the Ayes have it!"

    1. I don't believe anything I have written today damages the UK's sense of democracy. The UK government did not have to allow the Scottish Government to conduct a referendum. It was a choice and a calculation. It would be perfectly legal and democratic for them to say no. As I point out that would be the reaction of almost every other government int he world.

      With regard to the House of Commons. SNP, PC or SF members would have exactly the same rights as everyone else. They would vote and have their votes counted. But while the SNP would like to hold the a UK government to ransom, such a government has no obligation to allow itself to be held. There is nothing remotely undemocratic in pro-UK parties cooperating so as to prevent the SNP holding the balance of power. It is simply a matter of sensible tactics.

      So parliament would continue just the same as now except we would not allow ourselves to be hung.

    2. Despite your valiant denials Effie, your views and those of folk who think like you, are corrosive of democracy. You and they constantly call for future referendums to be either banned permanently of for some random period, even if the majority of Scots want one and vote for one. That isn't democracy, and anyone calling for it or acquiescing in it, is not a democrat in any conventional sense. However much you deny it, you stand condemned by your own statements.

      It would be neither legal nor democratic for them to say no, and worse it would be morally indefensible. The supposed explanation that almost no other government would allow this is specious. Empires didn't tend to allow parts of their empires to secede; the folk of the Baltic States, Slovenia, Timor L'Este, South Sudan, the former Central Asian Republics of the USSR all became independent. Are you seriously arguing they shouldn't have had it because territorial integrity and the rights of the former over-arching states takes precedence over self determination?

      You are adept at producing (over) long fairly stream of consciousness pieces full of self justifying assertion. When called out on details, you never respond. If any of us who disagree with you refer you to contrary evidence, or articles or arguments advancing the contrary view, you fail to engage. Why is that exactly?

      As for your supposed plan at Westminster, it's a non-starter and betrays a fundamental misunderstanding (or just plain ignorance?) of how Westminster works. Should the electoral arithmetic give the SNP the balance of power, there is no sensible tactic that will allow stable government without making a deal with the SNP, short of a Grand Coalition which only the most fervid britnat extremists really think will happen. Such a parliament will be voted down, and when nobody comes up with a workable coalition within 14 days the Fixed Term P'ment Act dictates a new election should be held. That's a win-win situation for the SNP, nationalists and the prospects for independence.

  4. Leaving aside your prose style, which I find depressingly repetitive; you used the word “threat” three times in the opening paragraph alone; with several uses of “destroy”, and its derivatives peppered throughout, the examples that you use as support to your argument strike me as illogical.
    Trying to shoehorn the constitutional arrangements of: a post-Franco Spain or the birth of the U.S. Republic, to serve your own particular agenda regarding Britain, are; fanciful to say the least. Surely, any solution to the political situation these islands face at present must come from only one historical perspective: our own.
    Could it possibly be, that the kind of proscriptive solutions you have garnered, and are recommending, as fillip to, what you see as less than strident condemnations from your fellow travellers and like minded commentators on the issue of the “threatened” “destruction” of the Union, be seen as a less than magnanimous expression of the spirit of our democracy?

  5. Great article, I agree with 95% of it. The UK's response to nationalism in Scotland has been to appease it, when that fails appease it some more, it's the easy solution to a complex problem and one that just produces more nationalism.
    Think of what we have in Scotland as a snowball rolling down a mountain, all the time it gains momentum it increases in size, we can either give it more momentum or stop it dead.
    We will never rid ourselves of it completely, but wherever you have "historic nations" you have nationalism, but devolution has taken the focus off being British and made everyone (not just the few) think more in terms of being Scottish, Welsh, English. What Britain needs to counter this is a stronger sense of national identity, a national day, a Union flag flown regularly and not just seen in England, a strong central government but one that listens to the people, and a strong constitution protected from further erosion on a whim (as it has been since 1973, and especially under Blair).
    We also need to establish pan UK campaigning organisations dedicated to lobbying and campaigning for a stronger, rather than weaker UK.
    The political situ as it stands is one that will deliver the SNP what they want within 10 years, the referendum enabled them to gain 100,000 extra members, inc all those who so enthusiastically told us they were "not SNP supporters" and "this is not about the SNP"! That is an army of support we can only dream of taking on, at this moment in time. The first rule of warfare is don't divide your force, concentrate it, yet we are divided by a political system not built to protect us from this - something that was not expected.
    We can win this but only if we all start working towards setting up some strong movements that will drive the agenda of keeping the Union, in the face of their drive to destroy it.
    The 5% of the article I disagree with is that in some respects the indyref served the purpose of waking people up, now we don't just need to stay awake but take on the fight. By preventing future referendums we would be saying to people there's no need to take on nationalism, plus there is no threat to the nation, when in fact there still would be and it would be one fuelled by a real sense of grievance that they were being denied any chance to change the system democratically. What we need to do is ensure that referendums don't come along like busses, all at once, or that they come along like a bad dose of flu when we're least ready to fight it, and at our weakest (as this one did). We also need to ensure referendums are not given on the terms of the side which wants to win them, while also letting them oversee them from a position of power, that is insane (as indeed the one we just fought, was).
    We may have another two, or three referendums left to see out before we can put nationalism back in the ugly box it crawled out of. We could lose any one of them, but if we survive we can grow a stronger, more resilient UK. It's down to the troops on the ground, the ordinary men and women who stand up to the separatist agenda and campaign hard for unity. A strong Britain, is in the interests of us all, a divided island, bitter, twisted, at each others throats is in no ones interests.

  6. I find it hard responding to your posts, generally because they are over-long and somewhat ill organised. To prevent my response bing overlong, I'll only hit some of the more major shortcomings in bullet format:

    1) The nationalist argument does not hinge on whether the UK is one country, or a "state nation" or whatever. It has been pointed out to you before that contrary to your assertion, quite a few countries make specific allowance in their constitutions for secession; it's a simple fact, easily verified.

    2) You appear to have a very limited understanding of what democracy is. This is very, VERY basic stuff. Any politics and Int. Relations 101 course would be able to help you. IT is ironic you accuse Yes voters of being undemocratic for not accepting the result (with a somewhat tendentious & self referential cross reference to one of your own previous blogs), and then go on to advocate a profoundly anti-democratic course of banning future referendums. No true democrat on the Yes side would object to No voters continuing to campaign for the union in the event of a future Yes vote; why do you insist on promoting anti-democratic details of the rights of Scots, Catalans or others to self determination?

    3) You are partially correct that international law (such as it it) does not recognise a right to secession. Sadly for your argument however, it also does nothing to prohibit it, as the ICJ opinion on Kosovo's UDI made clear. On the one hand you say we were rightly given a referendum on independence, then you lose the plot and insist we should never be allowed one again, ever. What on earth makes you think that is logical, let alone democratic or even morally defensible? The questions of legality in terms of international law, precedent and the tension between territorial integrity of states, legalistic/constitutional bans on seccession, and the requirement to uphold the right to self determination are by no means clear cut. Cases like Scotland, Catalonia and Quebec are sui generis; they don't fit the neat certainties of post WW2 de-colonisations. They share common themes with each other, and other independence movements, but they also have differences from each other. Once again you have signally failed to address these issues in this or your earlier blog when the same issue cropped up.

    4) Your analysis of the Spanish situation is superficial. Unsurprisingly you applaud the actions of the regressive crypto-francoist forces in Madrid, and appear happy to conjure the ghost of the Spanish Civil War, and the forcible suppression of a majority vote for Catalan independence. No true democrat would applaud the forcible suppression of a peaceful civic nationalist movement with the support of the overwhelming majority of ordinary Catalans.

    5) You patently don't understand the Westminster system and how it works, nor the likely outcome post GE15 in the event that an SNP bloc hold the balance of power. Unless the britnats try to form a Grand Coalition, which whilst possible would be electoral suicide for the Labour party in much of the North, and the coup de grace for the pathetic husk of New Labour left in Scotland, a minority government would only be able to function with SNP support. If they won't compromise and co-operate, the only outcome will be a second GE within 14 days of it being clear no workable majority can be assembled. Do you honestly think Scots will reward Labour for throwing away the chance to govern due to a fit of pique? Of course they won't, they will return another SNP bloc & independence will become even more likely.

    1. What is interesting is that for someone who abhors nationalism a large part of the argument is devoted to describing exactly what *is* and what *is not* a country. Britian being what *is* and Scotland being what *is not*.

      What this has to do with what is best for serving the needs of Scotland I do not know.

  7. I always find it hard to tell whether ndls61 is sincere in his deluded beliefs or just trolling.

  8. Which part of my beliefs do you consider deluded "not a"? At least I'm not just another anonymous britnat like you or Effie raging against the vile cybernate hordes, huh? It's possible of course to have a sincere disagreement about whether you believe independence is right, or would be desirable. However, interestingly you don't take the trouble to do that, you just declare my contribution deluded without explaining why the views I'm arguing against are right. So no actual reasoned debate, just evidence free insistence that I'm deluded.

    So stun us with your staggering analysis and back it up with some actual evidence. Do you really believe what Effie writes is correct? Banning further referendums in Scotland seems a democratic path to you? You agree it's OK for Spain to forcibly prevent Catalan independence? How about her assertion in the blog before last that we regard new Scots immigrants who decide support independence traitors?

    And you have the effrontery to call ME a troll? Honestly? It is to laugh.

    Come back to us when you can actually formulate an argument.

  9. Why is it that British nationalists so love their war rhetoric?

  10. You are quite right in that people who wish to save the Union have to do rather better than they are doing at present. But it can't happen in the way you suggest - which effectively is to advocate a legal clamp-down. That never works in the long run, and the history of the USSR and elsewhere demonstrates it. Because, in the end, once other measures have failed, you have no alternative but to use force. We have seen that clear threat already in the Catalonian context, and things will not end well if Spain chooses that path.
    The history of the British Empire shows that, in the end, the UK learned the lesson that neither legal compulsion nor force was an answer.

    Scotland voted to stay within the UK. But why do you imagine that this should be the final word, and that the UK can continue blithely onwards as if the referendum never happened? If the UK is to survive, it needs to change, and change radically. But are you thinking how that might or should happen? Not by the sound of things - you merely want to revert to the status quo ante and lay down 'rules' for the future.

  11. Is there anywhere you can go to get a decent, honest, open, reasoned debate about the referendum and all things Scottish politics? I was a no voter and would vote in exactly the same way if there were another referendum tomorrow. I would really like the opportunity to debate, in a measured way, the issues with some yes voters however. I think there are extremists on both sides and I am keen to ignore all of them. I hope that the vast majority on both sides are decent people who genuinely think they are doing their best or at leat arguing for what they think is the best future for Scotland. Anyone know where I can have such a debate please let me know....

  12. You've painted a frightening colonialist Greater England future for the UK, where democracy is effectively abolished in what would become the Northern Territories. Scary that people with these kinds of views exist in Scotland.

  13. Sorry? Did I actually just read this? I've had many NO voters that I've disagreed with on the issue of independence, but none of them would support this. What you suggest is highly undemocratic, and I don't think that you realize that by implementing what you suggest would cause violence and conflict on a scale much greater than the indyref. (Which I consider to have been a great example of democracy and debate, getting an entire generation involved in politics.)