Saturday, 17 August 2019

Only Euronationalism could make Tories vote for Corbyn

I’ve been trying to think of what would make Tory MPs bring down a Conservative Government. What would make them contemplate making Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister? Well it’s August. This is supposed to be the silly season. Perhaps alternatively Ken Clarke, Dominic Grieve, Oliver Letwin et al have all been out in the midday sun. Are we to see them foaming at the mouth if Britain leaves the UK without a deal? But there is unlikely to be much sun in late October.

I think part of the explanation is that the long Remainer rearguard has like many battles meant that the purpose for fighting has been lost. We’re here, because we’re here. Soldiers who have fought together will go on fighting even when the cause has been lost and when the reason for fighting in the first place has been forgotten.

All the Tory arch Remainers were willing to stand for Parliament on a manifesto that said, “no deal is better than a bad deal”. I doubt any of them could have imagined then a scenario where they would prefer Corbyn to leaving the EU. But somehow what was once grudging acceptance that the UK would leave the EU has become something else. 

The Tory Remainers started merely trying to obstruct Brexit and hoping to limit what they saw as the Brexit damage. Their aim was merely to make leaving the EU resemble as closely as possible remaining in the EU. But as the rearguard continued, they began to think that victory was in fact possible. They could overturn the result. We could stay in the EU.

This is what it is about now. No Tory would contemplate voting for Corbyn merely to water down Brexit, nor indeed to stop a “no deal” departure. The prize now is to stop Brexit completely. Since Theresa May’s deal was rejected the choice has always been no deal or no Brexit. Grieve et al would only be willing to ruin their careers for the prize of staying in the EU. They would do so for nothing else.

But why? What has stirred up all the passions in Britain about the EU? The only comparison I can think of is with the Scottish independence referendum. The long campaign. The moment when independence supporters thought they were going to win and the despair of losing created modern Scottish nationalism. It turned it from being a fringe movement of cranks and obsessives to something that was capable of destroying Scottish Labour and winning nearly all the seats at Westminster.

Something similar has happened in the UK. There was no such thing as a Remainer movement five years ago. Most people were fairly indifferent about the EU. You either thought it was a necessary evil or you hoped but didn’t expect ever to be able to leave. Few people were particularly enthusiastic about EU membership, but a good pragmatic argument could be made for staying. I didn’t expect Leave to win the EU referendum even while campaigning for us to do so. I would have met a Remain vote with a mixture of disappointment and relief.

I think it was the shock of losing that changed the Remainers. Calm indifference and pragmatism changed overnight into Euronationalism. They were absolutely certain that they had won. They planned to be conciliatory to the rather foolish Brits who had been so dull as to think Britain could ever go it alone. Then at some point in the early hours of a June night in 2016, the Remainers whole world view was shaken. They had lost and they reacted with a fury that was unfamiliar even to those of us who had gone through the aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum.

There are three forms of nationalism, but the word itself is horribly misunderstood and used in very imprecise ways. Donald Trump is sometimes called an American nationalist. But this is just a way of saying that his America first message is excessively patriotic, selfish and right-wing. This is the sense in which “nationalist” means something like fascist. Unfortunately, this sense of the word is unhelpful. It’s the equivalent of saying “boo”. The other two senses of the word “nationalist” describe political goals that are perfectly respectable and help our understanding of history.

The secession form of nationalism is at the heart of Scottish nationalism, while the unification form of nationalism is seen in 19th century German history. There is nothing morally deplorable in either seeking to leave a nation state or seeking to form one from formerly independent states. Virtually every European state is made up of parts that used to be independent. Likewise, many European states at some point seceded from larger ones.

I have been reading about German unification lately, because it is the best way to understand what is going on in the EU. In 1866 blind King George V led the independent Kingdom of Hanover. His army fought the battle of Langensalza and defeated the Prussians in front of him, but it made no difference because his army was surrounded and soon after it surrendered. After that there was no more independent Kingdom of Hanover. The process of German unification was relentless and once you were on the path to “ever closer union” there was no getting off it.

Britain won an unexpected battle again EU nationalism when we won the vote in 2016. But the Euronationalists are relentless and the forces under their control are far more powerful than those available to Moltke and Bismarck. The issue now is whether having won a tactical victory we go down to a strategic defeat three years later.

Euronationalism was awakened in Britain by the 2016 Remain defeat. Suddenly there were EU flags on the street and a love for the EU that had never existed before. But it is rather like that 19th century German nationalism which was expressed by people in places like Hanover and Saxony. They thought that they could express support for Pan Germanism while retaining their independence. German nationalism gave them a Zollverein or customs union, but Germany was far less unified in 1866 than the EU is today. Five years later by 1871 there was only really Germany.  Whether they wanted to or not the member states had been subsumed. Hanover had become Wessex, Saxony had become Burgundy. I doubt even Germans now know that in 1866 they both took on the might of Prussia.

What is perverse about British Euronationalism is that while Eurofederalism is a goal held by some Remainer fanatics, if you asked the British electorate whether they wanted the UK to join the Euro, Schengen and accept our place in a United States of Europe sometime in the next 5-10 years, it is obvious that the vast majority of the electorate would reject Euronationalism.
The problem we have is that the Remainer elite still want to portray British membership of the EU as simply a matter of trade and economic pragmatism. They tell us we must avoid at all costs an economically damaging “no deal”, but they would want to avoid it even if the price were a United States of Europe with the UK unable to escape ever. In fact, that is the price of the Remain rearguard succeeding.

The blind King of Hanover could not see until too late that he would be subsumed and his country forgotten. But he was of course, neither form of nationalist. He just wanted to maintain the territorial integrity of his kingdom. When we fight against either Euronationalism or Scottish nationalism this is exactly what we are doing. We want neither to be divided nor subsumed. Let us then be clear about what the next few months are about. If we lose the battle to leave the EU this time, we won’t get another chance.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

All the First Minister’s men

Imagine if sometime in mid-2014 we had discovered that Alex Salmond had been accused of committing a serious crime in 2013. What sort of effect would this have had on the independence referendum? Imagine too if between the alleged crime and the summer of 2014 the SNP Government had made an inquiry into the events, but that this inquiry was so flawed that Alex Salmond had been paid more than £500,000 pounds. Would this have made a difference to the Yes Campaign?

What if Boris Johnson a few months prior to the EU referendum had allegedly committed a serious crime. Imagine if a few days prior to the referendum we had found out that the police were investigating this crime, but that the Leave campaign had botched an internal investigation into Mr Johnson’s actions. How many percentage points would Leave have lost owing to this revelation just before polling day?

 But what if we had found out about Mr Johnson’s alleged crime only now, three years after his side had won the referendum. I wonder how Remain supporters would react. They have complained about the supposed lies that Vote Leave made. But what if Vote Leave knew way back in 2016 that Mr Johnson might have committed a crime, but somehow this information was never made public at the time. I think all of us whether we voted Leave or Remain would want to know why.

Scottish politics turns on two events. If the SNP had not won an overall majority at the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, we would not have had the independence referendum in 2014. If there had not been the long campaign for Scottish independence, leading to Yes getting to 44%, we would not have had the subsequent SNP dominance of Scottish politics. Imagine if Yes had lost by a few more percentage points. If Yes had won, for example 38% then, we would have been told that support for Remaining in the UK was overwhelming. For a very long-time support for independence was in the twenties and thirties. Imagine if in the summer of 2014 we had discovered that Alex Salmond allegedly committed a crime in 2013 and that a flawed Scottish Government investigation had cost the Scottish tax payer £500,000. How many percentage points would the Yes campaign have lost?

Amber Rudd said during the EU referendum that she would think very carefully about taking a lift home with Boris Johnson. The implication was that Johnson was something less than a gentleman. But what if Mr Johnson had been accused of a crime involving women. Would Amber Rudd have used this to suggest that he was still less to be trusted? Imagine the various debates that took place in the summer of 2014 between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling. If we had known about Salmond’s alleged crime that took place in 2013 how would these debates have gone? Would the Scottish public have trusted a leader who was due to stand trial? We all, of course, believe in the presumption of innocence, but we also tend to prefer political leaders who don’t end up in court. Donald Trump was condemned for just talking about groping women. What if the police believed they had enough evidence to convict him in a trial?

If we had known what we do now in 2014 it is likely that Mr Salmond would have had to resign both as First Minister and as head of the Yes Campaign. Who would have taken over? It is obvious that Nicola Sturgeon would have been in charge. But the Yes Campaign would still have been fatally damaged. The problem with Watergate was not so much the initial crime, but the cover up that followed it. In the summer of 2014, everyone would have been asking Sturgeon what she had known about Mr Salmond. After all, the SNP in 2014 was a team made up of people who had known each other for years. Had there really been no whispers at all. Had the various witnesses and victims not told anyone in the SNP and had those people really not told Nicola Sturgeon?

The revelations about Mr Salmond’s alleged crime and the subsequent flawed investigation by the SNP Government, would have finished the Yes Campaign in 2014. If we had known, then what we know now Yes would not have come close to 44%. The Pro UK side was not robbed of victory, but we were robbed of the overwhelming victory which would have killed off independence.

As I have argued elsewhere, I don’t see how you can prove one way or the other what did or didn’t happen in private six years ago. A botched investigation whether by the police or anyone else leading to large sums of money being paid to a defendant would appear to make conviction still less likely. But in the course of proving guilt or innocence beyond a reasonable doubt at some point we are all going to have to find out who knew what and when. Is it really possible that the SNP First Minister and head of the Scottish Government knew nothing from 2013 to 2018? When we first heard about Mr Salmond’s alleged crimes, was it a complete surprise to Sturgeon. But if Sturgeon did know, when did she first know? How did she find out? Was there an attempt like Nixon’s to cover up?  The SNP might have been decapitated in 2013 or 2014. If Salmond feels the need to bring down more than himself, the SNP could be leaderless again. Who then would take them to the promised land?

Saturday, 10 August 2019

The Brexit strategy

If there wasn’t enough excitement over Brexit, we’ve had an opinion poll suggesting that support for Scottish independence has increased and that a Labour Government would allow a second poll on Scottish independence.

It baffles me frankly why anyone pays any attention at all to opinion polls any more. I understand that opinion pollsters telephone what they hope to be a representative sample of the population.  They don’t just present the data they get, but rather adjust it and manipulate it to make it more accurately representative. If 520 out of 1000 Scots say they want Scottish independence then the SNP get to say that they have a 2% lead, but there might in fact have been only 480 saying they want independence only the polling company thought it necessary to adjust the data. We might as well use chicken entrails as a method of judging what is going to happen in future elections. Everyone got the result of the 2016 EU election wrong. Remainers thought they had won right up until the moment they lost. Better by far to simply ignore all polls whether you find them to be favourable or unfavourable. Use reason and experience instead.

The whole Brexit strategy against the SNP, is the realisation that Scottish nationalism depends on the UK as a whole remaining a member of the EU. It isn’t love for the EU that makes the SNP angry about Brexit. It’s the fact that Brexit fatally undermines their “independence in Europe” strategy. Independence movements across the EU have grasped that, for example, if only Catalonia and Spain can both remain in the EU then Catalan independence will not hinder the trade relationship between Spain and Catalonia, Catalans will have exactly the same rights as they do at present and the border will remain just as it is. It is the prospect of continued EU membership after independence that guarantees that life will go on more or less the same. It is for this reason that the EU has become the condition for the possibility of sub-nation nationalism. Outside the EU, no-one in their right mind would argue for the independence of Flanders, Veneto, Catalonia or indeed Scotland. Once you grasp this simple fact, then the argument for leaving the EU as a means of thwarting Scottish independence becomes obvious.

But the Brexit strategy recognises that in the short term it will make Scottish nationalists very angry. We saw this in 2016. Various polls suggested support for independence had increased. Some people blamed me for my strategy, but a few months later we found that anger had subsided, the reality of Scottish independence after Brexit had been realised and during the 2017 General Election the SNP lost seats.

A “no deal” Brexit will likewise cause some anger in Scotland. But we still need to think strategically. A soft Brexit like Theresa May’s deal or no Brexit at all, which is what the Remainers in Parliament really want, will appease the SNP. Nicola Sturgeon will be very happy indeed that the UK has either left in name only or not left at all. But she will still want independence. A little down the line she will find another reason to ask for a second independence referendum. At this point there would probably be a Labour Government in some sort of deal with the SNP. We now know that this Labour Government would say “Go ahead have your referendum”. Strategically what would remaining have achieved? It would have stopped Scottish anger in the short term, but we would have lost the best argument and the best strategy.

Something odd has happened to Britain. Many English commentators are willing to concede defeat because of one poll suggesting Scottish independence might have increased. They want to give Scotland federalism, or more money or pretty much whatever Nicola Sturgeon wants when she wants it. Some English nationalists would happily give up Scotland, Northern Ireland and perhaps even Wales, just because they find the whole debate tiresome. Which other nation state in the world is so blithe about losing territory? Everyone else would go to war to protect an uninhabited island from being lost.

We have lost the ability to think long term. Doing the right thing strategically and doing what is necessary to keep our country intact may in the past have required effort, struggle and sacrifice over the course of decades. This is something that all of us understood throughout our long history. Compared to the struggles of the past leaving the EU even without a deal is as nothing. All we are doing is reverting to how we were prior to 1972. We are becoming a country like Australia or New Zealand. Prior generations would not even have been able to see anything scary about a “no deal” Brexit. Yet our snowflakes melt at the prospect of their prosecco getting a little more expensive.

There has been an opinion poll. So, what. Just ignore it. But don’t ignore that Labour has ceased to be a Pro UK party. The Hard Left’s hatred of Britain knows no bounds. It would delight in giving the IRA victory by uniting Ireland and partitioning Britain. Now is the time for patriotic British citizens to get behind Britain. Brexit will bring us unity and will defeat a Scottish and Irish nationalism that has become one and the same threat.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

The danger of not leaving

It’s not accidental that truly democratic government is rare. Most of us don’t like to lose and democracy always involves the risk of losing. The acceptance of loss and the ability to change who rules us is what distinguishes democracy from autocracy.

If we are very lucky indeed Britain will finally leave the EU in October and the result of the 2016 referendum will be implemented. There are some hopeful signs, but it still may be that the Remainer Establishment will find a way to block us.

There is an almost complete lack of understanding between the two sides of this debate.  It’s as if we have become foreigners to each other speaking a language neither can understand.

This is the difficulty really because democracy requires the common identity that accepts that while we may disagree about politics, we are all still fellow countrymen with the best of intentions.

This is what is changing not just in Britain, but in other places too. The divide between Republicans and Democrats has not been so great since the election of Lincoln in 1860. It is a debate now about identity. It is not merely about what it is to be an American, but more importantly about whether Americans have a shared morality any more. If they don’t it’s unclear how they can have a shared country.

The divide in the UK is likewise about whether we still have the shared identity that makes our democracy possible or did we lose it somewhere along the way.
I find the hostility I frequently meet from Remainers to be remarkably similar to that which I used to meet from Scottish nationalists. It is grounded in the same failure to accept loss. It ruptures the shared identity on which our democracy depends.

Democracy in the UK like everywhere else depends on a single identity. If you think that the majority are foreigners, then you will never accept the will of that majority. But in the UK, we not only have four countries, which frequently play against each other in “international” sport, we now also have citizens of Remainerland and Brexiteerland.

Failure to accept the result of an election is to say our fellow citizens are in fact foreigners. This in essence is what happened in 1860. Those states that didn’t vote for Lincoln decided that Republican states were in fact foreign.

Scotland has been playing this game for a long time. Whenever Scotland voted Labour and England voted Conservative, the result was somehow illegitimate. It was foreigners who voted Tory not us.

We now have Scotland being dragged out of the EU against our will. Even supposedly Pro UK commentators accept this story. It is of course deadly for UK democracy. It simply does not matter which way the various parts of the UK vote in UK wide elections. If we care about UK democracy, we shouldn’t even count. We either accept the will of the UK majority, which means we are all fellow countrymen, or we treat that majority as foreign. Anyone who goes down the route of Scotland or Northern Ireland didn’t vote to Leave has already conceded the argument to the nationalists.

The problem with not accepting loss is that it infects not only your own side, but also your opponent and then everyone else. We all learn from each other and the precedents we set.

The SNP have given us the example of campaigning for a second independence referendum immediately after the first. They have followed this up with campaigning for a second EU referendum immediately after the first. They have used their seats in Westminster to vote against implementing the 2016 Leave result and would be delighted to revoke Article 50 if only they can find a majority of MPs to go along with them.

The problem for the SNP is that they have destroyed their only route to independence. The Scottish Parliament cannot rule on constitutional matters, because it is outwith its remit. An illegal independence referendum would be boycotted. But even a second legal referendum on independence would immediately be followed by calls for third one no matter who won. Any decision to repeal the Act of Union, which is the only way Scotland can become independent, could be overturned by a majority of Westminster MPs just like the SNP think such a majority could revoke Article 50. How would the SNP stop this? It’s not as if they will ever have a Westminster majority.

This is the danger of not accepting that you lost. Scotland has become much more divided than it used to be. Imagine if Pro UK Scots prevented Scottish independence by using a Westminster majority to block it. Imagine if the decision to leave the UK was held up by endless court cases and arcane pieces of parliamentary procedure. Would this improve or harm the atmosphere in Scotland? Would we even have a shared country or would we be still more foreign to each other?

Still worse there are calls by Sinn Féin for a referendum in Northern Ireland. Let’s imagine that 51.89% of voters chose to Leave the UK. Let’s imagine too that the Unionist Parties immediately campaigned for a second referendum and used their seats in Westminster to block the departure of Northern Ireland from the UK. How do you suppose Sinn Féin would react? What happens when the ballot box fails?

Our democracy depends on our unity and our acceptance of the result even when we don’t like it and even when we think our opponents were stupid, tricked and lied to. This is why it is absolutely crucial that the UK does in fact leave the EU in October. If you so love the EU, then campaign to re-join and put it to the electorate. Otherwise, why should any of us accept the results of any elections. If a Labour campaign contains any lies or promises that won’t be fulfilled why should Conservatives accept that Labour won? If Corbyn would be more disastrous than a “no deal” Brexit, why should he be allowed to rule? This all gets very dangerous very quickly.  

Many people in Scotland think that the will of the majority in a UK election is illegitimate if it is different from how we voted. But what if people in England took the same view. This would mean that any Labour Government dependent on votes from Scotland could be rejected by the people of England, especially as unlike the other parts of the UK they don’t have their own parliament. Worse still for Scottish nationalists, what if they so divide Scotland that we cease to view ourselves as having a common identity. If you think that is impossible you haven’t been paying attention lately.

Better by far if we all accept that we lost when we lose and that the majority covers every citizen of the UK not just some of them. The alternative is chaos, partition or worse.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

The EU must pay the price for punishing Britain

When Britain voted to leave the EU, we hoped that the split would be friendly and mutually beneficial, but the EU set out to punish Britain. All we ever really wanted was free trade. We have that at present. We already conform to all EU standards. It would be easy to simply say that this would continue. The EU would win because it sells more to us than we do to them. The UK would win because there would be a bare minimum of disruption. Trade would continue just as at present. No-one would even notice leaving.

A reciprocal trade agreement between the EU and the UK would solve the problem of the Irish border. Trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic would continue as before. There would be no need for a backstop, because nothing would be stopped or checked.

Unfortunately, the EU was never interested in arranging a simple, reciprocal trade deal, indeed the withdrawal agreement that the EU negotiated with Theresa May hasn’t even reached the stage of trade. All it does is provide the conditions for a transition period during which trade negotiations would begin.

The conditions notoriously involve the UK having to pay billions of pounds to the EU and sign up to the Irish backstop. This would mean that Northern Ireland would have to remain in the EU’s Custom’s Union until cross border arrangements could be settled. The UK could only leave the Custom’s Union if it were willing to put a regulatory border down the Irish Sea. In effect the EU would have trapped Britain.

Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement would mean that we would gain none of the advantages of leaving the EU, such as making free trade agreements with countries like the USA or Australia. We would continue to be governed by the European Court of Justice and the EU would have all of the advantages in any future trade negotiations. We would beg for free trade and they could ask for anything in return. Spain might want Gibraltar, France might want unrestricted access to the North Sea. Greece might want the Elgin Marbles and Germany might want compensation because we bombed its cities.

We would have already given them our billions and having signed the Withdrawal Agreement into international law we could not change it without the EU’s permission. It is the most one sided, biased and disadvantageous treaty Britain has ever been asked to sign.

The British people may not have understood all of the details of Theresa May’s deal, but we know when someone is trying to punish us, and we understand the concept of fair-play. It is for this reason that so many Brits support Boris Johnson’s willingness to walk away rather than submit to the EU. It would be an act of national pride, which would have an incalculable benefit for our sense of self-worth as a country. The long-term cost of national humiliation is something Remainers never take into account in their economic calculations.  

For decades Britain paid more into the EU than we took out. Why should we alone pay for a mutually beneficially trade deal? Doesn’t divorce usually mean dividing shared assets? Which EU country would accept a regulatory border between its various parts? Why should we still be subject to EU rules when the whole point of leaving was to get free from them.

It is very late in the day. The idea that the EU will suddenly change from trying to punish Britain to working with us for mutual benefit is hard to believe. If they really believed that we would walk away, then there is just a chance that they might offer something right at the last minute. But I rather doubt even that. They would prefer to damage their own trade with Britain if that meant making an example of us. The EU is a prison that depends on shooting escaping prisoners from the watchtowers. How else can you keep the inmates inside?

The EU has shown its true nature in the past three years. We have been told that the price for Brexit would be Northern Ireland. Can you imagine how France would react if a foreign power tried to take away Corsica? The EU would delight in breaking up the UK. It threatens to undermine our international credit rating, wants to take our jobs and would be pleased if Brexit led to recession, and poverty. It has become a hostile power. Friends do not behave in this way.

What do you do when someone wants to punish you? Do you just bend over like Theresa May and take it? No, you get away from the gang dishing out the punishment beatings as quickly as you can.  You also provide a downside for your opponent.

The greatest failure of Theresa May’s method of negotiating is that she did not make it absolutely clear that the EU’s punishment style of negotiating would have consequences. This is what the UK should do now. We should still offer the hand of friendship, but we should make clear that if the UK leaves the EU with no deal it will change everything about our future relationship.

We will need to save money after Brexit, so we should inform the EU that we will not have enough to spend any of it on defending them. We fought two world wars, when we didn’t actually have to be involved at all and liberated most of the EU. Why do so again? Instead the UK should focus its diplomatic efforts on coming to a new security and economic arrangement with the English-speaking countries with whom we are closest. We should defend our island, share our intelligence only with friends and let the EU pay the defence costs that it has been shirking for years.

Having left the EU without a deal, the UK should seek to undercut the EU in every possible respect. We should create an economy that has lower corporation tax than any in the EU and we should get rid of all EU regulations that restrict business growth. Again, we will need to do all of these things because of the EU’s attempt to punish us, fortunately they will soon mean that whatever difficulties a “no deal” Brexit brings will be short lived.

We should make clear to the EU that we will have a completely independent foreign policy and will use our seat on the Security Council to thwart them if and when we see fit. We will set out to provide an example to the inmates trapped in the EU and will offer whatever help might be required to anyone who wants to escape. A free trade deal will be on offer immediately to any country that gets out of the EU. There will be no charge, because no one who truly believes in free trade charges for it. To charge for something that is supposed to be free is dishonest.

Brexiteers are not anti-Europe. There are fifty countries in Europe. Only a little more than half of these are in the EU. It is therefore both ignorant and offensive to conflate the EU with Europe. We have nothing at all against anyone in Europe. But we have seen the EU for what it is. It is anti-Britain and wishes us harm. It could still change its mind and we should offer it friendship right up until the point of leaving without a deal. After that however we should go our own way and follow our own path and make the EU realise that there is a cost for them too of losing Britain’s friendship.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Don't let Labour ruin Britain again

Governments are very powerful in Britain. The power of Parliament on the other hand is limited. It can pass or fail to pass laws and it can vote a Government down. Governments have been able to declare war and make peace without asking the opinion of Parliament. What this means is that a Government fully intent on leaving the EU with or without a deal has many advantages. It will be the Government talking to the EU. Parliament cannot carry out negotiations with anyone because we are not ruled by Parliament, we are ruled by the Crown that appoints a Government. This means that if Parliament wants to stop a determined Government from taking the UK out of the EU it will probably have to vote down that Government. It is this that brings us to the possibility of a General Election.

Parliament is in recess now and comes back on 3rd September. If a General Election is called, Parliament is dissolved for 25 days. What this means is that there is a relatively short window of opportunity between early September and early October when Parliament can bring down the Government in order to stop Brexit by means of a no-confidence vote. A few Tory Remainers have that power. They would, of course, be kicked out of the Conservative Party if they brought down a Conservative Government, but for some of them Remaining in the EU is more important than anything else, so they may well do so.

It is impossible to predict anything in British politics at the moment, but a General Election will still primarily be a fight between Labour and the Conservatives. The SNP will still win a lot of seats in Scotland and a lot of Remainers will vote for the Lib Dems. The Brexit Party may repeat some of its success at the European Elections, but would this be helpful for a clean Brexit or a hindrance?

The Conservative Party would stand on a “no deal” manifesto promising to leave the EU come what may. If that Government had a working majority it could force through Brexit, but it couldn’t if it depended on the votes of Remainers or a Remainer party. Ten or twenty Brexit Party MPs might help, of course, but what if splitting the Brexiteer vote leads to the Conservatives not gaining a majority at all?

However well other parties do, it is still the case that the next Government will almost certainly either be Labour or Conservative. Such a Government may depend on the votes of others in coalition, but it is virtually impossible for these others to themselves form a Government. For this reason, it is crucial to focus on Labour.

Here are the reasons to vote against Labour:

1. Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour is no longer a moderate social democratic party. Nor is it working in the Old Labour tradition. Old Labour may have been misguided, but at least it was patriotic. Corbyn’s Hard Left Labour is something never experienced in Britain before. Corbyn has a record of siding with Britain’s enemies including the IRA and Middle Eastern terrorist groups. He would do his best to radically change the UK economy so that it as closely as possible matched his Marxist thinking. If you want a communist Prime Minister, now is your best chance of getting one.

2. Anti-Semitism

Labour’s anti-Semitism is not accidental. It is a feature of Hard-Left thinking that sides with those terrorist groups that would like to destroy Israel. It is anti-Semitic because it judges Israel by a standard that it applies to no other country. If a fascist became leader of the Conservative Party, I would expect every decent Conservative MP to resign. So called moderate Labour MPs are guilty by association. They all campaigned for an anti-Semite to be Prime Minister in 2017. They would all campaign for him to be Prime Minister in 2019. People who campaign for anti-Semites are themselves anti-Semitic.

3. Scottish independence.

A Conservative Government will not allow a second independence referendum for at least a generation. It is nearly impossible given the destruction of the Labour Party in Scotland for Labour to win an overall majority without the support of the SNP. The condition for SNP support will obviously be that Corbyn allows the SNP to have indyref2. Whatever Labour says, it would have no choice to make this deal with the SNP. It would be either that or not being in power at all. Pro UK people who vote for Labour in Scotland are therefore in effect voting for the SNP.

4. Remain.

The overwhelming majority of Labour MPs are Remain supporters. This would still be the case if Labour were to form a Government not least because it would in all probability have to form such a Government with the Lib Dems and the SNP. Labour policy on Brexit has been confused and opportunistic. In the past they have wanted an even softer Brexit than Theresa May’s deal. Now they appear to want a second referendum on Brexit in which Labour would campaign for Remain. Large numbers of Labour constituencies however voted to Leave. It makes no sense for any of these Leave voters to vote for Labour. Obviously too, any party that supports a second Brexit referendum because they didn’t like the result of the first, could hardly deny SNP demands for a second referendum on independence. So once more a vote for Labour is a vote for indyref2.

5. No deal.

Some people think that a “no deal” Brexit would be an economic disaster. But what would a Jeremy Corbyn Government do to the UK economy? I can think of no example of Marxist economics leading a country to becoming more prosperous. China is communist in name only. A Conservative chancellor could mitigate any difficulty of leaving the EU without a deal by means of tax cuts, lowering of tariffs with non-EU countries and a bonfire of EU red tape. A Corbyn Government would instead raise taxes as much as it possibly could. Would add still further layers of bureaucracy to British business. It would nationalise as much industry as it could and it would follow the policies of the Corbyn heroes that led countries like Venezuela into chaos and poverty. Which do you fear more a “no deal” Brexit or a Corbyn led Labour Government?

6. Moderate Labour

The Hard Left may control the Labour Party, but who put them there? The answer, of course, is so called moderate Labour. Despite Neil Kinnock and Tony Blair attempting to turn Labour into a moderate social democratic party, they allowed the Hard Left to remain. The Conservative Party would not tolerate fascists as MPs. It would not allow them to be elected year after year, but moderate Labour allowed racist Marxists and communists to be elected. Communism killed far more people in the twentieth century than fascism did, yet somehow communists are still acceptable to Labour. It was only because moderate MPs thought the Hard Left deserved a chance in the leadership contest following Ed Miliband’s resignation that Jeremy Corbyn was nominated in the first place. Labour isn’t a moderate party led by an extremist. It is a party that sympathises with Hard-Left socialism. Moderate Labour MPs may be willing to temper their socialist ideals out of pragmatism, but they would all prefer that it wasn’t necessary to moderate them. They are therefore not moderate.  

7. Tom Watson.

The leader of moderate Labour is Tom Watson. Does anyone believe that Tom Watson would have championed “Nick” if Nick had uncovered child abuse and murder involving senior Labour figures from 1970s? This illustrates the fundamental problem with moderate Labour. Even moderates hate Conservatives (“lower than vermin”) in a way that is quite irrational and is in no way reciprocated. Conservatives think socialism is mistaken, but there is rarely if ever hatred of the Left. Tom Watson made a catastrophic error in judgement when he supported Nick. It ruined the lives and reputation of innocent people. It helped the SNP depict Westminster as a cess pool.  Tom Watson has not even properly apologised for his actions. Given the chance to attack the reputation of Tories, he would no doubt do so again. Do you really want such a man even as an MP let alone one of the leaders of the Labour Party?

8. Defence.

We don’t know what threats Britain will face either from other countries or from terrorist organisations, but we do know that in order to defend ourselves we need our armed forces, our intelligence services and our relationship with the United States. If there were a terrorist attack in the UK, would Jeremy Corbyn support the terrorists? After all, in the past he has sympathised with the aims of the IRA and Islamic jihadists. He has refused to condemn Russian poisoners and has worked for Iranian TV. If Britain faced a crisis in the years ahead would you really want Jeremy Corbyn in charge?

9. Immigration.

The last time we had a Labour Government it opened the door to mass migration so as to “"rub the Right's nose in diversity”. This remember was a moderate Labour Party. The nature of Britain was changed forever. Pressure on housing and public services was increased. The Hard Left is even more in favour of mass immigration than New Labour was. Is there anyone from anywhere who Jeremy Corbyn would forbid from coming to Britain except perhaps Donald Trump? What damage would a few years of Labour do to Britain? They’d rub everyone’s nose in it, not just the Right.

10. Labour makes you poorer

Labour’s solution to any and every problem is to spend more public money on it. It is for this reason that each and every past Labour Government has either managed Britain’s decline or led us into economic crisis. Old Labour gave us 1979 and the Winter of Discontent. New Labour gave us 2008 and the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. Labour promises to help the poorest in society, but because socialism doesn’t work.  It inevitably makes them poorer instead. If even moderate New Labour wrecked the UK economy, what would Hard Left Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour do to our prosperity?

There is an alternative. Boris Johnson’s Conservatives offer us a UK that is fully sovereign and completely outside the EU. This will give us the chance to develop the low tax, pro-business, low tariff economy that is necessary to compete in the modern world. Brexit gives us the greatest opportunity in decades to become more efficient and richer. Economics is really very simple. Decrease the size of the state, lower public spending and tax and offer free trade to anyone who will reciprocate.  This will make not only the poor richer, it will make everyone else richer too. Brexit is about hope. Don’t let Labour wreck it.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Wasn't "Nick" just saying "Me Too"?

The debate between Left and Right used to be about economics, now it is about truth. The distinction between objective truth and subjective opinion founded the scientific revolution and was so uncontroversial that it would have been hard fifty or sixty years ago to find anyone who didn’t recognise it as valid. But the Left has been chipping away gradually at the foundation of Western rationality and in places it is crumbling. The result is barbarism.

It is not accidental that it was the Left that championed “Nick”, the fantasist who accused innocent Tories of unspeakable crimes. It followed logically from the frequently expressed Left-wing viewpoint that victims always had to be believed.

 There used to be the principle in all cases of criminality that the police would look for objective evidence. If it did not exist or could not be found, then there would be no prima facie case. No one would be charged, no one’s reputation would be ruined.

But somehow this principle was gradually undermined. It began, I think with the idea that there was a special case of crimes, usually involving women victims, where the woman’s opinion had to be believed even if there were no objective evidence for it. The Left in the form of the Feminist movement demanded that women’s viewpoints should count for more than male viewpoints, as if women’s testimony should count for double rather like the inverse of the law in the Middle East. It is obvious that such a way of investigating crime will lead to injustice.

There have been any number of cases where high profile men have had their lives and reputations ruined simply because someone said they did wrong with no other evidence at all. Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault decades earlier. It is obviously impossible to objectively prove what someone did or didn’t do in private twenty or thirty years ago. A case like this would at one time simply have been dismissed as frivolous. Likewise, mere accusation without evidence has been enough to ruin the lives of people like Cliff Richard and Kevin Spacey.

How is anyone supposed to prove what they did or didn’t do decades ago? Yet we have allowed people to be convicted on the basis of mere testimony without any further evidence. Some of these people are no doubt guilty, but how do we know that all of the witnesses were not like “Nick”? People have many reasons to lie. They like the attention. They want compensation. They want revenge. People misremember. Mere opinion should never be raised to the point of “beyond reasonable doubt” unless there is something objective to act as a foundation.

But we systematically undermined the law when we allowed some crimes to become aggravated based merely on opinion. A crime might be described as racist or homophobic simply on the basis that the victim perceived it as such. There need be no other objective evidence. But if a crime can be racist without objective evidence, there is very little preventing the next step of saying that there can be a crime of rape without any objective evidence, or even murder without objective evidence.

The Left has raised mere opinion in certain areas of life to the stage where it has become absolute truth that cannot be questioned. A person born as a boy can at any point in his life simply assert that he feels like a woman and demand that everyone describes him as such. Throughout human history it has been taken as obvious that people were either men or women and that this distinction was an objective fact determined at birth. Now mere subjective opinion in contradistinction with all the objective evidence is enough to determine truth.

We have reached the stage where women who refused to give a bikini wax to a “woman” with male genitalia lost their jobs because of their prejudice. Such “women” have been allowed into women’s prisons, women’s changing rooms and women’s refuges. When you raise the subjective over the objective, you end up losing all sense of what truth is. This is where we are now.

It is a mistake to change the practices of law because of particular, horrible crimes that attract the public’s attention. The murder of a black teenager has meant that some crimes are more equal than others, not because of objective evidence, but because of subjective opinion. Jimmy Saville’s depravity led to a hysterical reaction where decades old testimony was enough to ruin lives. Feminists believe that women should be able to sleep with who they please when they please, but at any time say that what happened in private was rape or sexual assault and be believed automatically.

What happens when you raise mere testimony to the level of truth. You end up with “Nick”. Human nature is such that a proportion of the population will realise that objective evidence is no longer required to convict someone. They will take advantage.

The Labour deputy leader who supported “Nick” and did his very best to use “Nick’s” testimony to destroy the reputation of prominent Tories was following the same principles that are universal on the Left. The victim of certain crimes must always be believed. Objective evidence is no longer needed to determine the truth.  “Nick” is a creature of the Left, he is what happens when we allow Labour to undermine evidence and abolish truth. Why convict “Nick” when he was only saying “Me Too”?

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

The Scottish establishment is wrong about Brexit and Boris

There is a conventional wisdom in Scotland about politics that everyone agrees on. It doesn’t much matter which party the Scottish establishment support, they still hold the same assumptions. The problem is that this same Scottish establishment has been wrong about everything ever since they came up with the idea that the Scottish Parliament would kill off the SNP.

Those who write for Scottish newspapers and the people who are interviewed on television are nearly all Remainers. They think that it’s a good thing if public spending in Scotland increases. While they may agree or disagree with Scottish independence, they do so in such a way that they form a consensus with Scottish nationalism. None of them think that the UK is “one nation indivisible” like the USA, Germany, France, Japan and nearly every other nation state on earth. Their biggest concern is not to inflame Scottish nationalism and so they think the solution to every political question in Scotland is to appease the SNP.

 The Scottish establishment thinks of the UK as if it were a three-hundred-year-old EU. Scotland is a member of the UK just like the France is a member of the EU. It is for this reason that they came up with the “Better Together” strategy that nearly cost us our country. Putting forward the advantages of Remaining while emphasising the costs of leaving, is not going to win in the long run. Independence movements throughout history have been willing to go through wars to achieve their goal. A few months of economic difficulty even a few years of economic decline would be worth it to any self-respecting SNP supporter.

So long as the Scottish establishment thinks of Scotland as a country like France that happens to be in a union with the other parts of the UK, then they have already conceded the argument. If you think that Scotland is a country like France, why wouldn’t you want Scotland to be independent like France? Why should Scotland be in that rare class of countries that are not independent? Is it because we are somehow second rate?

The problem with the “pro UK” Scottish establishment is that they watch too much rugby. They love to have their days at Murrayfield belting out Flower of Scotland while not quite meaning what they sing. But they only encouraged those who did mean it.

The SNP play the patriotic card. It’s a very strong card indeed. The thin gruel of appeasement and subsidy won’t win in the end, nor does it deserve to. The Better Together argument could equally have been used by the USSR to discourage Latvia from leaving. After all they had a shared currency and no doubt leaving the Soviet Union was disruptive.

But as the Scottish establishment shares the SNP’s assumptions about Scotland and the UK, it really doesn’t have a respectable intellectual argument left to use. All that is left is to concede the argument gradually. It’s the post-war declinist consensus that was overthrown in 1979 only to be resurrected by the pessimism of Philip Hammond and the wet mush and muddle of Theresa May.

We begin with the Scottish Parliament as some sort of Hadrian’s wall to keep back the Scottish nationalist hordes, only to find that a few years later they own it and use it to do the very thing it was built to prevent.

Why would anyone listen to Gordon Brown about anything? He was wrong about devolution. He thinks that if we just give the Scottish Parliament a few more powers the SNP will lose their support. This is like thinking if only we had given the Germans a few more bits of Czechoslovakia we would have prevented war in 1939.

The only way to defeat the SNP is to change the assumptions of the argument. With the assumptions that are shared by nearly everyone who writes and talks about Scottish politics, the SNP win in the end.

They all think that Remaining was the key to keeping the UK intact. We mustn’t inflame Scottish opinion. We mustn’t make the SNP angry.
But the Remainer Scottish establishment can’t think through the logic of Brexit. The reason is that Remain used a “Better Together” argument and was defeated by a patriotic sovereignty argument. It’s because the Scottish establishment feel nearly no patriotism for the UK whatsoever that they can’t understand this. Almost no one feels any patriotism for the EU. This meant that the Remain argument only had a little bit on the supposed advantages of an organization that is little loved in Britain and a lot on how it would be disastrous if Britain dared to leave.

Remainers kept telling Brits that we couldn’t possibly manage outside the EU, that every disaster possible would follow. But the only patriotic response to this is that we’ve been through worse and will no doubt manage again. “We’ll show them” was the correct answer to the Remain campaign, which is why we did show them.

It is just this patriotic argument about Britain that we have needed to defeat Scottish nationalism.

Apparently, Boris Johnson will inflame Scottish opinion so much that we are all going to vote for the SNP. I strongly suspect Ruth Davidson thinks this. Gordon Brown thinks this. Alex Massie thinks this. But I wonder if Nicola Sturgeon thinks this.

The SNP desperately wants the UK to remain in the EU. As I have argued repeatedly for years, leaving the EU is the best way for the UK to become truly united as indeed we were prior to our joining. Scots were as patriotic about Britain as anyone else when we faced great challenges together. The UK is a great country with a great history and a great future. We need no other story to defeat secessionists, just as the USA needed no other story.

Boris Johnson is patriotic. He is also a fine communicator. He is by far the best writer in Parliament and incomparable as a public speaker. His optimism and can-do attitude may just be what is needed to get us out of the EU completely and then make a success of it. There is a great story to tell about the adventure that might just be beginning. We could leave the EU behind and become a beacon of free-trade and democracy and once more an example of hope for the peoples of Europe who, for the most part, are unwilling to be united under French and German rule.

Gordon Brown et al will pretend to be intelligent about Boris. They will tell us that we need to make more concessions to the SNP and that the EU is crucial if the UK will be kept intact. But Brown has been wrong about everything for decades as has the whole Scottish establishment. When Nicola Sturgeon says next that Boris will make Scottish independence more likely, it’s worth remembering that she wouldn’t be saying it if she thought it were true.

Friday, 19 July 2019

The Brexit case against Scottish independence

Let’s imagine that somehow the UK leaves the EU sometime around the end of October and makes a clean break. The EU faced with the prospect of no deal might at the last minute give us a more favourable deal. Alternatively, the UK might actually leave with out further negotiation. All the attempts by Remainers to thwart Brexit might fail, not least because the EU might decide that it doesn’t want troublesome Britain to be an EU member any longer. What would happen next for the SNP?

There would, no doubt, be some economic disruption and therefore SNP attempts to blame the wicked Tory Brexit for any and all difficulties arising. There would be some Europhile anger. But what if despite all the Remainer warnings leaving without a deal didn’t lead to chaos and that the problems were short lived. After all Britain would simply be in the position in relation to the EU that most of the world is. Lots of countries get on fine without being in either the EU single market or its customs union. We did too prior to joining. The SNP therefore might be in for a rerun of 2016. Short term anger about the Leave vote lessened as it became clear that the UK economy was doing fine. So long as the UK economy remains resilient in 2019/2020 the same will happen again.

For so long as there is a Conservative Government it will be possible to block SNP requests for a second independence referendum. They can either go down the illegal route and face a Pro UK boycott and possible jail or they can wait. If the SNP loses its pro-independence majority at the next Scottish Parliamentary election, then that will be it. Independence will be off the table for the foreseeable future. The SNP’s best chance is that sometime soon there is a General Election leading to a Labour Government dependent on SNP votes. Would Jeremy Corbyn give the SNP a second referendum as the price for their support? Who knows? But faced with a choice between Britain and anyone who hates Britain he always goes for the latter. So, he probably would.

But the UK would already have left the EU. How would this effect the argument? This requires some detailed analysis.

1. Currency.

An independent Scotland, if it wished to join the EU would have to have its own currency and would have to promise to join the Euro. These are conditions of applying to join. There may be ways round this. There may be opt outs. But in principle the Scottish public would have to go through changing pounds sterling into pounds Scots and then into Euros. Any debt such as a mortgage denominated in Sterling could either increase or decrease depending on the exchange rates occurring during these transitions. It would be impossible to predict the result of this. If on the other hand Scots preferred to keep their mortgage in UK pounds, then voting to remain in the UK would be the only sensible course of action. Currency union between the UK and Scotland with one inside the EU and the other outside would be untenable. The mere fact that Scotland would have to promise to join the EU would make such a union inherently unstable even in the short term.

2. Free trade.

An independent Scotland would have to choose whether or not to join the EU. No one knows whether the UK would at some point in the future be able to negotiate a free trade deal with the EU. But if it did, this deal would not apply to an independent Scotland. Nor would any other deal that the UK was able to negotiate with anyone else, such as the USA. An independent Scotland would have to negotiate its own deals both with the UK and with the EU. The problem is that it could not automatically expect to have both. If Scotland were in the EU, but the UK was completely outside, then there would have to be tariffs between the UK and Scotland. Alternatively, if Scotland remained completely outside the EU there would have to be tariffs between Scotland and the EU. No one can predict with certainty what sort of deal Scotland would get from either the EU or the UK. The UK could negotiate à la Barnier demanding billions even to start talking about trade. It could demand “independence in name only” just as in effect the EU demanded “Brexit in name only”. Who can predict how negotiations between Scotland and the UK would end. The UK might give the SNP everything they want, but then didn’t Brexiteers think that the EU would give the UK everything we want. We have learned over the past few years that   negotiations don’t always go as we want them to.

3. Power.

The Scottish Parliament will gain extensive new powers, covering 153 areas, because of the UK leaving the EU. If the SNP were to argue for EU membership, they would have to tell Scottish voters that independence would mean giving up these powers. Why do you want the Scottish Parliament to be less powerful? Alternatively, if they were to argue that Scotland would not join the EU, they would have to explain why they were complaining about the UK leaving the EU?

4. Border.

If an independent Scotland were to join the EU, then it would have to agree to membership of Schengen. This would mean that there would have to be passport free travel between Schengen members and Scotland. This would mean that Scotland could not be part of the Common Travel Area that at present covers the whole of the British Isles. The Republic of Ireland can only remain a member of this area because it has an opt out from Schengen. Of course, Scotland could hope for an opt out too, but that would be up to the EU. For this reason and also because there is no way of knowing whether there would be a free trade agreement between the UK and Scotland, there is no way of knowing if there would be some sort of border checking between Scotland and England.

5. Fishing.

If the UK leaves the EU completely then the UK will regain control of our territorial waters. We will return to the situation that existed prior to joining the European Community. This will mean that for the first time in decades UK fishermen will no longer have to compete with the EU. The likelihood is that fish stocks will improve, catches increase and fishing communities will begin to do a great deal better. If the SNP wishes to join the EU, then they will have to explain to these fishing towns that the situation that they have wanted for so long is soon going to cease. Scottish independence in the EU would mean giving up control of Scottish territorial waters.

6. Rights.

At present everyone in Scotland has the right to live and work anywhere in the UK. We have the same rights to benefits, healthcare etc as any other UK citizen. At present EU citizens also have most of these rights too. But these rights are contingent on the UK being an EU member. There will thus after Brexit be a distinction between EU citizens and UK citizens. We may choose to give EU citizens certain rights post Brexit, but we could also limit those rights. In principle a citizen of France could be treated no better nor worse than a citizen of Japan. While the whole of the UK remained a part of the EU the SNP could argue that Scots would retain the same rights in other parts of the UK as we do at present. But with the UK outside the EU where is the guarantee that these rights will continue indefinitely? In the end if you wish to retain the rights of UK citizenship, you can’t vote to become a citizen of another nation state. Of course, dual citizenship might be possible for a time and a future UK Government might grant Scots all the rights we enjoy at present, but it wouldn’t have to. It would all depend on how the divorce negotiations went. Just as post Brexit UK citizens won’t automatically have the right to live and work in the EU, so after independence Scots would have no automatic right to live and work in the other parts of the UK.

7. Sovereignty.

If an independent Scotland were to join the EU, then it would have to recognise that in many areas EU law would be supreme. At present as a part of the UK the direction travel is towards devolution. The UK Parliament has less and less control over matters that only affect Scotland. The EU’s direction of travel on the other hand is towards greater and greater integration. The move towards the EU becoming a sovereign nation state is gradual but inexorable. The long-term success of the Euro will depend on the sort of political union that enables the US dollar and UK pound to work. The supremacy of EU law then at some point not far from now will amount to sovereignty. An independent Scotland then would become a state rather like Vermont or Texas. Under those circumstances it would no longer be able to leave the EU. The European Union, just like the USA would become one nation indivisible. The UK outside the EU on the other hand offers Scotland more practical power over our own affairs. There are rules that make the Scottish Parliament supreme over most devolved issues. This does not amount to full sovereignty, but over the issues that concern most Scots on a day to day basis it amounts to more power than we would have as an “independent” member of the EU.

8. Arithmetic

The UK puts more into the EU than it takes out, while Scotland gets more from the UK than it pays in. But if an independent Scotland were to join the EU it would have to pay more in than it took out. Leaving the UK to join the EU therefore has the double consequence of Scotland losing what we gain from the UK while at the same time having to pay more into the EU pot than we would be able to take out.
There is no membership fee required for the various parts of the UK to trade with each other. This is truly free trade. It is one reason why Scotland does most of its trade with the other parts of the UK. Why would Scotland pay a membership fee to trade with EU countries with whom at present it does a relatively small amount of trade, while having in addition to pay a fee (tariffs) to trade with our greatest trade partner (the other parts of the UK). Simple arithmetic suggests that Scotland is bound to lose from this arrangement, not least because Scottish goods might have to pay a fee to travel through England to reach the continent. How else, other than by sea, would they get there?

The EU and the UK are now on different economic paths. The UK may well become a low regulation, low tax, free trade haven off the coast of Europe. If Scotland chooses the EU path, then the Scottish economy is bound to diverge markedly from the UK economy. Would this divergence be compensated by increased trade with the EU? If so why hasn’t this happened already. After all the UK is still a member of the EU. If Scotland’s share of trade with the EU were likely to grow, why didn’t this growth happen long ago?

9. Union.

Scotland faces a choice between remaining in the UK or joining the EU. It could decide to leave both, which would be the only way for it to become truly independent. But again the SNP can hardly demand independence because Scotland is being forced to leave the EU if Scotland doesn’t intend to become a member. I suspect also that being outside both the EU and the UK would be a step too far for all but the hardcore Scottish nationalist.

Most nation states have the following things in common. Shared geography, such as an island or a peninsular. Shared language and culture. While most Scots would feel immediately at home in any part of the UK, few of us would be able to live and work easily in most European Union countries. The reason for this is linguistic. Many European Union countries are quite unknown to most of us. How many Scots can name more than one city in Slovenia or in Slovakia. Yet the SNP want us to choose to leave a nation state with which we are familiar (the UK) in order to join one with which for the most part we are unfamiliar. The EU lacks the sense of shared history and identity that is necessary for a nation state to function. Germans do not think that Greeks are their compatriots.  They are too dissimilar. Most UK citizens can fit in easily wherever they live in the UK and we are willing to subsidise the poorer parts of the UK without limit. There is no need for bailouts for our profits and losses are held in common.  It is this that makes the UK a nation state that has endured for centuries, while the EU may not survive even the next Euro crisis, because Germans won’t pay Greek debts. Why would Scots choose to leave a union that works for a union that doesn’t work?   

10. Democracy.

Each Scottish voter elects four representatives. One goes to Holyrood, one goes to Westminster, one goes to Brussels and one runs the local council. We have the same say as every other voter in the UK. Scotland’s five million people can be outvoted, but so can Yorkshire’s five million people. This would be the case in an independent Scotland too. Aberdeenshire would always be outvoted by Strathclyde. This is not a fault in democracy. It’s a feature. But who decides how Britain, Scotland and the local council are run? The people we elect. The UK Government is wholly made up of MPs who were directly elected. So too is the Scottish Parliament made up of such people. The local council too. But who runs the EU? Is the EU run by the people that we elect to the European Parliament? Do they form a Government that decides all the important matters? No. Every important decision in the EU is made by people who have been appointed. No one elected Barnier, or Juncker. Ursula Von der Leyen may become the next President of the European Commission and Christine Lagarde the President of the European Central Bank, not because Europeans voted for them but because of a behind closed doors stich up between France and Germany. Why would the SNP want Scotland to leave a fully functional democracy (the UK) where each Scot has the same democratic rights and power to influence events as every other UK citizen, in order to join what is an oligarchy with a democratic façade.

Scottish nationalists are liable to respond to these points with their usual mixture of fury and insult, but unless they can come up with convincing answers to how an independent Scotland would cope with the realities of Brexit, then they are liable to find that they have lost the argument and with it any chance of achieving Scottish independence.