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.


  1. Thanks, Effie.

  2. I am slightly concerned that a university administrator has so shaky a grasp of what statistics are, or how they work. Nevertheless, we may safely infer that Effie does not welcome the growing support for independence. This intelligence is not, of course, either new or surprising.

    What *does* merit consideration, however, is her bewilderment at the willingness of many people in England to jettison the rest of Britain in order to leave the Union. This phenomenon merits serious attention - as, of course, does Effie's apparent surprise.

  3. Nicely argued as usual Effie.. 😊

  4. An interesting week.

    A few commentators, Ms Deans included, have failed to note one of the more important returns from the poll, that, if you include the notional percentage points from the excluded 16-17 olds and EU residents, when the referendum for Scottish independence takes place, two thirds of the Scottish electorate expect Scotland to become an independent nation. This is known as the ‘Wisdom of the crowd’ where the collective opinion of a group of individuals can be more reliable than the opinion of one expert. But don’t let facts get in the way of a good rant.

    The media attention of the poll’s results and subsequent editorials including, in The Times, an interview with Stuart Campbell, (which will generate a few more page hits for Wings), is normalising the concept of Scotland as an independent nation and that genie is not going to go back in the bottle any time soon.

    It is being an ‘interesting’ week.

    John McDonnell (Labour) has now re-asserted his view, to ITV news that, ‘if Scottish people want indyref2, Labour will not block it’ while, elsewhere, Ian Murray (Labour) branded the comments “ludicrous”, saying it was a “thoroughly dreadful way to try and change policy” and a bunch of Scottish Labour party candidates stated, ‘As Labour Party candidates in Scotland we want to make it clear: we oppose another independence referendum…’

    “I don’t fear the verdict of the Scottish people – bring it on,” Ms Alexander (Labour) said in 2008.

    In 2016 Ruth Davidson has said that she would advise the next Prime Minister not to block a request by Nicola Sturgeon for a second independence referendum in the wake of the vote for Brexit.

    In 2019: The next British prime minister should continue to say no to another referendum on independence, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has said.

  5. Funnily Unionists used to use telephone Polls by all and sundry to try and legitimise their undemocratic calls to block another referendum vote. They preferred to attempt to block a vote on the basis of right wing newspaper polls in an effort to block a valid vote that was already passed in the Scottish Parliament.

    Now the polls have also swung to pro independence and pro referendum, they will need to get a new lie to base their anti democratic stance on.

    Polls are no longer valid or interesting seems to me to be a poor choice of hill to die on.

    I am personally continuing to enjoy the clamour to legitimise an unsustainable position by unionists.

    I suppose the whole wave of Tories who were anti Brexit who are now pro Brexit grandees tells us its rarely about the actual facts , more about the career opportunities or loss there of.

    Labour of course in line with recent strategy have watched the Tories and said "Hold my Beer" as they too insist on an internal battle on Scottish democratic grounds. We know they care little for democracy as they engineered the 79 referendum fix.

  6. "Losing Territory"

    "My strategy"

    "No-one in their right mind would argue for the independence of Flanders, Veneto, Catalonia or indeed Scotland."

    "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." How was your war Effie...lolz

    This is a wee view inside the ultra unionist mind.

  7. "No-one in their right mind would argue for the independence of Flanders, Veneto, Catalonia or indeed Scotland."

    As Effie presents no evidence at all for this wide-ranging assertion, we may properly dismiss it and move on.

    In a lop-sided way, Effie presents the epitome of the North British dilemma. The aim of the British Project was always to create England writ large, first in England's neighbouring territories and subsequently beyond the wider seas. This was very successful for a time, even when lands beyond the Channel were lost. Now that control over the outre-mer has been largely lost, and Britain has long ceased to be a major power, most people in England are losing interest in the British Project. The North Britons of Scotland therefore find themselves increasingly redundant and, as a consequence, irrelevant.

    1. The plain fact is that few people in England, unless they have family or other connections, are much interested in the immediately neighboring countries. The political classes of England feel no embarrassment at admitting to the most breathtaking ignorance about, for example, Northern Ireland. The traditional solecism of 'England' for 'Britain' is now becoming realized.

    2. The concept of Britain still made sense, even after Britain ceased to be one of the major powers. The post-1945 settlement offered to give the entire population a stake in the British project. The working class would be a recognized independent power within the existing economic and social order. Most political tendencies, including even many of the Tories, accepted this. If we examine that still highly-readable collection, 'The Red Paper on Scotland', edited by the Rector of Edinburgh University, we find that most of the contributors predicate their proposals on Scotland's continued membership of the United Kingdom. This predication,so widely accepted, was why the upsurge of Scottish nationalism in the Seventies failed to take off. A growing majority of Scots have for several generations ceased to think poorly of themselves because of who and what they are, the ways they think and speak work and live. At that time, however, Britain as a constitutional entity seemed able to accommodate this development.

      What brought an end to this was the change within the Conservative Party. For many years, and in a number of milieux (one thinks of, for example, the University of St. Andrews), various persons had been assiduously cultivating the social atomism and economic determinism that would inspire General Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte, Mr. Ronald Reagan, and Mrs. Dennis Thatcher. Instead of preserving existing institutions, laws, and customs, the Conservative Party would dismantle institutions, repeal beneficial laws, break the independence of the working class, close down entire industries and services, and sell off the public patrimony. This ideology also took hold of much of the Labour Party.

      Consequently, if you oppose such trends as these, as the overwhelming majority of Scots do, you are *always* going to lose. The system is ex hypothesi making you a foreigner, whose views and wishes are never going to count.

      Add to this the inherent instability of the United Kingdom, with its lack of constitutional coherence and the imbalance between its constituent nations, and it is not hard to see why a majority of Scots no longer see any point in continuing membership.

    3. To be honest the biggest losers of the English inspired British project has been the English themselves. Scotland has retained its identity despite hundreds of years of trying to rub it out. In fact its identity in the last 30 years has got stronger globally. While we have been gouged out industrially our society and cutural uniquness has remained.

      The English have managed to fall between two stools and are trapped in their own cultural gin-trap. They don't know who they are now and the English part of nationalism has been hijacked by racist boot boys.

      Wee Effie likes the idea of British Boot boys grinding their heel into the Scotch nationalists....That would be a gift to independence of course.

      Brexit going well so far, if you support independence :O)

  8. Whatever the thrust of our discussions here, all well-informed persons will be keeping an eye on the proceedings in the Court of Session.

    1. surely that would be the funniest outcome, Scottish court blocks English hard Brexit....Imagine the fury.

      They'd try and burst the union apart like an old couch there and then....