Saturday 30 November 2019

Nothing’s too good for the man who beat Alex Salmond

I remember seeing Alex Salmond sometime in 2017. He lives quite near me and it was common enough to see him around, but this time there was something different. He was locked out of his car. He was on his phone. He was trying to pull the door handles. He was talking loudly, and he was flustered. He noticed me looking down at him from the bus stop and he waved. I waved back. I knew him slightly. He tried to make light of the situation, but I could tell he was angry. When his flunkies arrived with the car keys, I wondered about a man who thought he could run a country being unable to run a car. This was a couple of weeks before Colin Clark defeated Salmond in the General Election.

Salmond was always cocky. If you like old films, you might recall Lee Marvin in The Man who shot Liberty Valance. Of course, Lee playing Valance was rather thinner than and more handsome than Alex playing Salmond. But there is the same swagger. Neither Valance nor Salmond believed they could be defeated. It’s what makes them both bullies. Salmond just knew he had won the referendum in 2014. How dare the voters of Scotland not follow his will anyway. But I wonder if he had just begun to have doubts in those weeks leading up to the election in 2017. Had he found rather too many Conservatives on the doorstep? Did the numbers not quite add up? But no, he was probably still thinking that he would beat the Tory in Gordon right up until the moment Colin Clark beat him.

“This time right between the eyes”, I can imagine Salmond thinking as he arrived at the count looked at his opponent with the blue rosette. But it didn’t work that way. The people of Gordon had seen through the SNP. They saw that they had a choice between a decent local man Colin Clark who understood Aberdeenshire and what its people really needed and Salmond an opportunist a man who had done more to divide Gordon and indeed Scotland than any of us could remember.

“Nothing’s too good for the man who shot Liberty Valance” is the line that closes the movie. The film is about a political career built upon the miracle of a decent ordinary citizen standing up to a gunfighter and winning. It’s a version of the tortoise and the hare and the proverb “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” It’s a morality tale that has been played out from Ancient Greece to modern Gordon, via the pages of the Shinbone Star and the Turriff Squeak. It’s about printing the legend. Here is the legend of Colin Clark.

The SNP had promised that the 2014 referendum would be decisive and that everyone would accept the result. They had signed an agreement stating this. But we all found out that we couldn’t believe anything Salmond says. The SNP didn’t take No for an answer and neither did Salmond. He thought he could ignore what the majority wanted. It has never mattered what anyone else wanted to Salmond. The only thing that mattered was what he wanted. This is the whole problem with the independence movement. Their goal of Scottish independence transcends everything and justifies anything.

This is the mistake that all politicians make who think that their goal, whether it be socialism or independence or anything else is an end that justifies whatever means they choose to arrive at it. People who think this way rapidly find it easy to justify bending or breaking one moral rule for the sake of their great cause. But once you begin to do wrong you rapidly find that the cause itself has been infected.

Once you are willing to break one promise its easier to break another. Once you are willing break one moral rule for the sake of the great cause it’s easier to break another. Once morality is subordinate to Scottish independence it rapidly becomes clear that law is too. What would the SNP be unwilling to do to reach their goal?

Hardly anyone put up a poster saying they would vote for Colin Clark, but there were lots of SNP posters. But this was the same story in 2014. Hardly anyone dared to put up a No poster. Was there intimidation or did this simply happen by chance? But we get to vote in secret. This is what defeated the SNP during the independence referendum. It’s what defeated Salmond in 2017.  It will defeat many SNP candidates in 2019 too.

I haven’t always agreed with everything the Scottish Conservative Party has stood for. I’m a Brexit supporter. I don’t believe that the SNP should have the right to continually threaten the existence of the United Kingdom. I believe in lowering taxes and gradually reducing the size of the state. I believe in free markets and free trade, which is why I reject the protectionism of the EU’s Common External Tariff. I was sometimes been critical of Ruth Davidson, but I also recognise that she did more to revive Scottish Conservatism than any one else.

It isn’t necessary to agree with everything an MP stands for, nor indeed is it necessary to agree with the Conservatives about everything in order to vote for them. We know that Colin Clark will defend the UK and that’s enough. We know this because of what he has already done.

Alex Salmond is a bully and a rogue. He has behaved in Scotland like a bandit. Who stopped him? All those people who rejected Scottish independence helped, but it wasn’t enough. Like Freddy Kruger Salmond just kept on going. The movie was over, but his hand shot out of the ground one more time. The nightmare on SNP street just kept on going, sequel after sequel. Salmond was elected MP for Gordon in 2015. Colin Clark tried to stop him, but he failed because too many Gordon voters chose the Lib Dems. But Colin Clark kept trying. No doubt he too had learned a lesson about spiders. I wonder if when Salmond was locked out of his car, he had a premonition that soon he would be locked out of Parliament. But no. Salmond like every other bandit will be cocky to the end.

It was Colin Clark who took on the SNP Goliath and came out victorious. He deserves our gratitude but only asks for our votes, because “Nothing’s too good for the man who beat Alex Salmond”.

Saturday 23 November 2019

Do you remember the 1970s?

Do you remember the 1970s? It was when Britain reached peak decline. I was at primary school, but still those years have stayed with me like no others.  Do you remember how we had three television channels? In fact, my family only had BBC1 and we could only watch it on a black and white set. Our house was heated by a coal fire in the sitting room and radiators elsewhere that were rarely turned on. I wore thick hand knitted jumpers to keep warm and, in the winter, there was ice on the inside of my bedroom window. We were well off. My mother was a teacher my father worked in the oil industry. But we were poor. We visited relatives and called it a holiday. We played outside and our games cost nothing. Food was made from what lived or grew in Scotland. The news consisted of strikes and terrorism and union bosses visiting the Labour Prime Minister in Downing Street.

Britain had been exhausted by two world wars which we didn’t need to fight. Although we won both of them, the result in each case was that we were in a worse position than before. The First World War plus overreaction to rebellion cost us the unity of our kingdom. The Second World War bankrupted us and cost us what we had fought both world wars to maintain. It also gave us socialism.

British socialism of the 1940s was patriotic but mistaken. Labour wanted to create a country that rewarded those who had fought but rewarded them instead with poverty and decline. Compare and contrast American films of the 1950s with British ones. As America boomed after the war and American standards of living increased, we had rationing until 1954, not because of U-boats, but because we couldn’t afford to import all that we needed.

British industry was dominated by trade unions and as a consequence was more inefficient than our competitors. What we produced was of a lower quality than the Germans or the Japanese and it was more expensive. Our productivity was lower than theirs but we demanded higher wages. The result was that our industry didn’t make a profit, but instead had to be propped up by Government subsidy. This not only bankrupted our industry it very nearly bankrupted our country. This is why most classic British brands of cars and motorcycles are no longer produced. They were produced inefficiently, and the cost was too high. Traditional British industry was destroyed by socialism.

There was a political consensus in Britain from 1945 to 1979. The Conservatives were moderates and they didn’t question the fundamentals of what the Labour Government had introduced in 1945. The Conservatives supported membership of the Common Market because they could see how much better the Europeans had done since the war than Britain. We looked enviously at the French, the Germans, even the Italians and thought we’d better join to do something about our decline. But it wasn’t the Common Market that made life here better.

Do you remember the Winter of 1978-1979? That surely was the lowest point. Endless strikes. Rubbish piled up in the streets. No room at the inn even for the dead. We together looked into a bleak Labour future and somehow reached a consensus that we just couldn’t go on this way and so we didn’t.

The person who changed everything of course was Margaret Thatcher. She was hated for it. She is still hated. But if you compare living standards in Britain today with how they were in 1979 it is almost entirely due to her. Do you really want to go back to the 1970s?

Thatcher broke with the Tory moderates who had simply managed Britain’s decline. Boris has just repeated the move.  She realised that it was socialism, vested interests and trade unions that were keeping Britain poor. It was Labour in partnership with “one nation” Tory wets and libertine Liberals who together wanted to keep us stuck in the Slough of Despond, because they called this morality and thought it was kindness.

The measure of Thatcher’s victory was that the next Labour Government after 1979 was no longer socialist. Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock had reformed Labour to the point where the Far Left had been almost completely defeated. Tony Blair’s Government was social democratic. It accepted capitalism but hoped to spend the profits on public services. Of course, it spent more than it earned, Labour always do, but briefly it even looked as if Labour might be able to run the country moderately sensibly and without leading us into penury.

But no. Same old Labour.

Do you remember 2008? It looked for one moment as if there would be no money coming out of the cash machines and when the Conservatives arrived in 2010 to begin fixing things, they found a note saying, “There is no money left”. Labour had bankrupted Britain again. Not only that. Tony Blair’s legacy was massively increased immigration just to “rub the right’s nose in it” and just when we could least afford still more people requiring access to our housing, health and public services.

Labour too were directly responsible for the catastrophic results of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The fault here was not so much fighting as failing to win and deliver peace. Labour unforgivably left both of these countries in a worse state than they found them. Blair’s legacy was ISIS and terrorism on our streets.

What has Britain done to deserve Labour? Every Labour Government leaves Britain worse off. People who remember Labour Governments know this. This is why we don’t vote Labour. The problem is that Labour promises to cure all society’s ills, just like a snake oil peddler promises with his confident patter to give you strength and vigour and the elixir of life. You just have to give socialist snake oil one more try.

The snake oil peddler now however is worse even than before. While Atlee, Wilson, Callaghan and even Blair and Brown were mistaken, they were at least for the most part patriotic. They got things wrong, but they usually had good intentions. Corbyn and the Far Left are something different. Given the chance they would very much like to run Britain along Marxist lines. Whenever Britain has faced threats in the past Corbyn has sided with Britain’s enemies. He backed the Soviets during the Cold War and Putin when he poisoned us. He backed Jihadis, Iranians and the IRA. We would be lucky if he merely brought back the 1970s.

If Labour wins the election, years from now people will look back with horror and say “Do you remember 2019?”   

Saturday 16 November 2019

Either Boris or Remain

There are two realistic outcomes to the General Election. Either there will be a Conservative majority or there will be a hung Parliament. It is highly unlikely that Labour can form a government on its own. This has been the case ever since the SNP started winning the majority of seats in Scotland. Most Labour Governments of the recent past depended on the block vote of Scottish Labour to win a UK majority. Labour still depends on them, but now they are the block vote of the SNP. For Labour to win an absolute majority without the help of the SNP it would have to win an absolute majority in England and Wales. This would be hard enough with a moderate Labour leader. It is simply impossible with Corbyn.

 Any party and any party leader can dream of an election that changes everything. The Lib Dems might go from less than twenty to three hundred and twenty-six seats, but the statistical chance of this happening is miniscule. Likewise, it might be possible to kick out every SNP MP, but everything we know about odds, polling and human behaviour tells us that the SNP will win at least thirty seats in Scotland and probably many more. The Lib Dems would be delighted if they kept their Scottish seats and in total won around fifty. It is hundreds of times more likely that Jo Swinson loses her own seat than that she ends up as Prime Minister.

So, the alternative to a Conservative majority is what? Could there be a Brexit Party Conservative coalition? There could be. But again, it is unlikely. The odds of the Brexit Party winning even five seats is minimal. It is most likely of all that it will win no seats. What this means is that anyone voting for a Brexit Party Conservative coalition has a tiny window of opportunity. They need the Conservatives to win just less than a majority and for Brexit Party MPs to just give them that majority. Moreover, if the goal is to force a “no deal” Brexit this would require every Conservative MP to be willing to vote for it. If only a few rebelled, we would be back to stalemate or worse we would end up with a Remainer Alliance led by Corbyn. A Brexit Party goal of a “no deal” coalition requires very precise numbers of Conservative MPs to be elected and for them to act in a very precise way. Too many and Boris has a majority for his deal, too few and Corbyn wins. The likelihood of the Brexit Party holding the balance of power and being able to force “no deal” is so statistically unlikely that it might as well be dismissed. For any Brexit supporter to rely on it is like betting on a hundred to one shot.

Could the Conservatives once more form a deal with the DUP? The DUP would prefer no Brexit to the Boris deal. They may be Brexiteers, but they are concerned most with Northern Ireland being treated exactly the same as the other parts of the UK. Which way would things go if the DUP held the balance of power? Would they support Corbyn? This is doubtful. But they might well abstain as Corbyn’s Remain Alliance voted either for a second referendum on the EU or got rid of the middle stage and voted simply to revoke Article 50. Oddly the DUP support either “no deal” or no Brexit, but nothing in the middle or at least nothing that is ever going to be available. The Conservatives would have to win a large majority for “no deal” to be possible in which case they would not need the DUP. But a Conservative Party dependent on DUP votes would struggle to get “no deal” through the Commons. The DUP then are most likely to be non-voting members of the Remain Alliance.

If the Lib Dems and the SNP hold the balance of power, which is by far the most likely result if the Conservatives fail to win an absolute majority, they will each demand that the price of their support is paid. The Lib Dems are now a single issue Remain Party. The SNP have always been a single issue Scottish independence party. The Lib Dems might in addition ask for something on proportional representation, but I wonder if the SNP would agree given that they benefit from first past the post in Scotland. But two things are clear. The condition for the possibility of Corbyn’s Remain Alliance continuing and getting anything done would be that he agreed to a second referendum on Scottish independence and that he held a second referendum on Brexit where the choices were between Brexit in name only and Remain.

Would the Lib Dems be able to stop a second referendum on Scottish independence? They could indeed vote against it as could any pro UK Labour MP. But this would immediately bring down the Remain Alliance as the SNP would no longer support it. The price the Lib Dems would have to pay for blocking a second independence referendum would be a new General Election. The Lib Dems would know that they had the chance to stop Brexit if they paid the SNP price, or risk the Conservatives winning an overall majority in another General Election that would resurrect Brexit from the Remainer Alliance grave in which it had just been buried.

Corbyn’s Remain Alliance will only occur if Brexiteers split the Leave vote. It is helpful that the Brexit Party will not stand in Conservative held seats, but it still remains the case that if the Brexit Part takes enough votes from Conservatives in the rest of the seats, we may end up with Remain. Still Leave voters might be fooled once, but we are unlikely to be fooled twice. The chances of a Conservative victory would be massively increased in a second General Election if it had become obvious that if you don’t vote Conservative, but instead vote for the Brexit Party you not only lose Brexit, you also end up with Marxism.  Even Farage has effectively admitted that if you vote for the Brexit Party you might end up with a hung Parliament. The logic of not standing in Conservative held seats is that the Brexit Party ought not to stand anywhere where it might prevent a Conservative winning a seat. Only the Conservatives can deliver Brexit. By standing down half his MPS Farage has admitted that it is indeed Brexit a Conservative Government will deliver. Let us hope that it will not take a Corbyn Government for Brexit Party supporters to learn this lesson. We won’t get a second chance.

If Lib Dems and Labour moderates ended up as part of a Remain Alliance Government, they would realise that if they didn’t stop Brexit now, they wouldn’t be able to stop it at all. Brexiteers would unite in a second General Election if the Remain Alliance somehow did not last.  Would the Lib Dems then really be willing to bring down the Remain Alliance by refusing to give into SNP demands? No. Of course not. To do so would be to all but guarantee a Conservative Government and Brexit.

It has become ever more obvious that the Lib Dems prefer the EU to the UK. Their Euro federalism means that they would be happy for the UK to be submerged into “ever closer union”. Would it matter to them that much if the parts of the UK were subsumed as a whole or separately? The Lib Dems therefore are not so much a Pro UK party as a Pro EU Party. This is why given the choice they will prefer Remain even if it led to a second Scottish independence referendum. Anyone who wants to maintain the UK as a united country which will neither be split by secession nor subsumed into the European Federation that EU nationalism demands as the price of EU membership must avoid voting for any party which will form the Remainer Alliance led by Corbyn, Swinson and Sturgeon. One way or the other the Remainer Alliance would destroy the UK. The Brexit Party cannot stop this. They probably cannot win any seats at all.  The only way to guarantee Brexit and protect the UK is to vote Conservative.

Saturday 9 November 2019

An existential threat to the UK

My first reaction to the announcement that we would have a General Election in December was to see whether it was possible to arrange a long holiday somewhere as far away as possible. The University of Almaty looked a more inviting prospect than Aberdeen’s granite turning ever more grey in the Autumn rain. But none of us can duck this one. This one is important.

Most British elections, even the historically important ones, like 1979 or 1945 are about what sort of Britain we want. They might bring about great change, which later nearly everyone can see as necessary. But the elections that gave us Atlee and Thatcher were not existential. The United Kingdom was no longer threatened in 1945 and in 1979 no one thought either that we would one day be subsumed in the EU or that there was a serious danger of the United Kingdom ceasing to be. The present election is about just that. Will the United Kingdom long endure as an independent united sovereign nation state? The stakes could hardly be higher.

The direction of travel of the EU is completely clear now.  European federalism is going to either succeed or the EU will fall apart. It simply isn’t possible to have monetary union without political union.  The EU will gradually take on ever more of the characteristics of a nation state and its members will gradually be subsumed. If you want to continue on this path you Remain, if you don’t you leave now. The EU is the Liverpool Care Pathway for the dying member state. Get out now. There won’t even be that choice soon.

The EU has thrown everything it can at Britain to stop us leaving. It has been helped first by Theresa May’s dishonesty and incompetence and second by the fact that for the first time in British history the losing side didn’t accept the result of a free and fair election. United we might have been able to get a much better deal. Divided it is remarkable that Boris Johnson got as good a deal as he did get.

If we could go back to 2016 and install Boris as Prime Minister with a majority, it just might have been possible to get something much better. He wouldn’t have been the push over that was Theresa May. He wouldn’t have signed up to the EU’s sequencing of negotiations nor to the Irish Backstop and he would have creditably threatened a “no deal” Brexit and meant it. But even Boris lacks a time machine.

We are where we are. The Boris deal is not ideal. Much of Theresa May’s deal Remains. Northern Ireland is treated differently from the other parts of the UK and there will be some bureaucracy involving trade between Britain and Northern Ireland. But the whole of the UK will legally be leaving both the EU Single Market and the EU Customs Union. The UK will be able make trade deals with other countries. We will over time diverge from the EU. We will no longer be part of “ever closer union”. We will avoid the disruption of a “no deal” Brexit. We may never know now what would have happened if we had left without a deal, the damage might have been minimal, or it might have been worse than that. But better by far to avoid any disruption if possible.

But anyway “no deal” is no longer an option. It couldn’t get through the last Parliament and it probably couldn’t get through the next. It is massively to the Conservatives advantage that they are campaigning to implement the Boris deal. Moderate Remainers and most Brexiteers will vote for this. It would have been much harder to win if the Conservatives had been forced to campaign for no deal. There just aren’t enough British people who want to risk it.

The choice then is really between Boris’s deal and no Brexit. If we wake up on the morning after the election to find that the Conservatives have a majority there will definitely be Brexit. If on the other hand all the other parties have a majority of one, there will definitely not be Brexit.

Labour plan to renegotiate Brexit. What sort of deal would Labour bring back? Well given that the Labour negotiators would be Remainers, they would bring back a deal that was even closer to Remaining in the EU than Theresa May’s deal. Labour would then give us a referendum on the Labour deal versus Remain. Who would campaign for Labour’s deal? I certainly wouldn’t. In fact, if I bothered to vote at all I would choose to stay in the EU. There are advantages to being in the EU, none at all to being half in and half out. So, Remain would win in the end by giving us a choice in effect between Remain and Remain. I don’t think British democracy would ever quite recover from that. Would any of us ever accept the result of an election ever again?

Not only this. Labour has already promised to give the SNP a second independence referendum. Corbyn may pretend to change his mind on this, but he knows, the SNP knows and everyone with any sense knows that the price of a Labour Government propped up by SNP votes is a second independence referendum. Labour cannot possibly form a government on its own.  

Corbyn would no doubt allow the SNP to decide who would vote and what the question would be. He would give them all the help he could and then half-heartedly campaign for Scotland to stay in the UK. The UK would still be in the EU, so there would be none of the disadvantages of Scotland being in the EU while the UK had left. Under those circumstances a second independence referendum would be a coin toss. Who would lead the Pro UK side of the argument? Would Corbyn even care if the UK broke up or would he in fact be delighted? After all he has always taken the side of Britain’s enemies.

Pro UK people in Northern Ireland would fair no better under Corbyn. He would want to reward his friends in Sinn Féin and would be delighted if there were to be a border poll which brought about his long-term goal of a united Ireland. A hard-left Labour Government would do all it could to jettison Northern Ireland and wouldn’t care one little bit for the British people living there.

So, this is really the choice. A Conservative Government would not merely make the argument for Scottish independence much harder to make by taking the UK out of the EU, it would also tell the SNP that they had no right to a second independence referendum at least for the next five years.

A Conservative Government would be committed to making sure both communities in Northern Ireland remain reasonably content.  The mistake that the DUP is making is that both “no deal” and no Brexit makes the breakup of the UK more likely. The Boris deal gives both communities in Northern Ireland some of what they want. Keeping open the border in Ireland is absolutely crucial for the long-term future of Northern Ireland in the UK and to do that a deal with the EU is necessary and unavoidable.

Labour is an existential threat to the UK. This is not a game. The existence of the UK was less threatened in 1914 and 1939 than it is now. The Conservatives need every vote possible to ensure that Boris gets a majority. Every vote on the other hand that goes to Labour, the Lib Dems the SNP or any of the others, just brings closer the Remain Alliance with Corbyn doing all he can to destroy the country he hates most in all the world. The United Kingdom.

Saturday 2 November 2019

Does the SNP have the right to demand a second independence referendum?

As I was going home the other day, I passed a group of students waving Catalan flags. I didn’t stop to find out what they were demonstrating about. Rather confusingly someone handed we a leaflet about socialism in Chile. Were they Chileans complaining about Catalonia, Or Catalans complaining about Chile? The flags have a certain similarity. But these were definitely Catalan flags. I’d seen enough Scottish nationalists waving them in sympathy. I moved swiftly on.

A little later I wondered if I might have asked them (L'esprit de l'escalier) what they thought about the fact that they were only studying in Aberdeen because they were Spanish citizens and because Spain was part of the EU. Otherwise they would have had to pay full fees like the Chileans. But I had seen enough scenes of Catalan anger over the past couple of years, to realise that the mixture of Southern European volatility and truth does not always end well.

Catalans have taken to the streets once more mainly in Barcelona, but no doubt also wherever one or two are gathered together, because their desire for Catalonia to become an independent nation state has not merely been thwarted, but quite possibly reburied in a different grave like Franco.

Catalan independence supporting parties demanded a referendum on leaving Spain. When the Spanish Government refused, they organised an illegal referendum. This referendum did not lead to independence for Catalonia, rather it has led to long jail sentences for those who organised it. There have been demonstrations. Some people in places like Scotland have sympathised with the Catalans. But these things will pass. It is quite clear now that Catalonia isn’t going anywhere. Spain will never give them a legal referendum on independence and anyone who tries to go down the illegal route will end up in prison.

Has anyone much complained about how Spain has acted? No. It is quite clear that the Catalans who tried to organise secession from Spain were acting illegally. They are Spanish citizens and they broke Spanish law. It might be harsh to imprison them and especially for so long, but each country in the world applies its laws differently and has the right to choose how to punish lawbreakers.

There are though some oddities about this situation. The EU fully supports Spain. Indeed, the EU would support practically any member state, which was faced with an independence movement. There isn’t a single EU member state that would allow a legal referendum on independence to take place within its borders, except the UK. There are very few UN member states which would allow such a referendum either. Canada allowed Quebec to have two referendums on independence, but I understand that a third would now be illegal and in any case is not wanted anymore. Where else in the world would a UN member state allow an independence movement within its borders to hold a legal referendum which successfully led to independence? I can’t think of anywhere.

Crimea was annexed by Russia after an illegal referendum, but almost no one in the rest of the world recognises that Crimea is legally part of Russia. It didn’t matter whether Crimeans wanted to be Russian or not. Crimea legally is part of Ukraine.

Kosovo was allowed to secede from Serbia, because the Serbs started a war against their own citizens and the price they paid was the loss of part of their territory. World opinion made Kosovo an exception, but that same world opinion almost universally supports territorial integrity.  The reason is obvious, member states of the EU and the UN do not want to lose parts of their territory.

Neither, Russia, the United States, China or France would allow secession under any circumstances. The past centuries and indeed decades have shown that they have been willing to fight wars to prevent independence movements succeeding. Have they acted illegally? No. The so called right to self-determination does not apply to these places. Nor does it apply to the UK. It only applies to colonies, which are not part of a nation states territory. For this reason, the UN and world opinion generally will support and sometimes demand that, for example, the United States gives up the Philippines, France gives up Indochina and the UK gives up India, but this is simply because these places were not parts of the USA, France and the UK.  

Catalonia is a part of Spain, in exactly the same way that Vermont is part of the USA and Scotland is a part of the UK. None of these places are colonies. To suppose that they are would immediately give rise to the question, who are the colonisers? If Scotland is a colony who are the colonisers? The English, the Pakistanis or the Poles?

So, Scotland no more has a right to secede from the UK than Hong Kong has the right to secede from China. Each nation state in the world has the right to protect its territorial integrity using force if necessary.  It has the right to protect its territory against foreign aggression and internal agitation. The rest of the world will only intervene if there is oppression as in Kosovo. But even here it will only do so if the nation state concerned (e.g. Serbia) is weak. No one seriously thinks that Russia should be forced to allow Chechnya to become independent. No one will intervene to give Uighurs in China freedom, though they certainly are oppressed. There is zero chance of Xinjiang gaining independence.

Some Scottish nationalists think that Scotland has the right to independence because we are a country. But this is rather begging the question. It is to ascribe a quality to Scotland that makes it different from the parts of every other UN sovereign nation state in the world. But neither history nor present circumstances warrant this. Taiwan, for instance is far more an independent country right now than Scotland but try telling this to Beijing. Scottish nationalists invariably assume that Scotland has the quality of independence in order to prove that it ought to be independent. They argue that Scotland is a country like France. But France is an independent sovereign nation state. In this way they surreptitiously assume what they are trying to prove.

Scotland is a country,
countries are independent,
therefore Scotland ought to be independent.

But Scotland in fact is more like those formerly independent parts of Germany, France, Italy and the whole of the rest of the world, that don’t nowadays have the right to independence. It matters not one little bit how what is now Catalonia was incorporated into Spain. It may have happened because a King married a Queen, or it may have been conquered in a war long forgotten. It is now part of Spanish territory. So too Scotland is now part of UK territory. The agreements that were made when the English and Scottish kingdoms were united and when later the Act of Union was passed are as beside the point as the Norman Conquest. It doesn’t matter what happened then, whether it was just or unjust. What matters is that all four parts of the UK are now part of UK territory. This gives the UK Government the right to prevent secession by any means it pleases.

Why was Scotland granted an independence referendum in 2014? Was the UK Government forced to do this? No. It chose to.  In the same way a Corbyn Government would choose to grant a second independence referendum while a Conservative Government would choose to refuse. But why would any UK Government choose to grant Scotland a vote on secession when no other Government would do something similar? This is because of a political convention that has existed in the UK for many decades.

Rightly or wrongly we do not view ourselves as being as united as France. Each part of the UK has an identity the like of which hardly exists anywhere else in Europe or indeed the world. Most nation states in the world did there best to eliminate such separate identities. No one now in the United States thinks that he is first and foremost a Virginian, but this was commonplace until the Civil War. No one in Saxony thinks he is Saxon, but not German, as some Scots think they are Scottish but not British. But as I keep pointing out Saxony has a much greater claim to independence than Scotland does, not least because it was made a part of Germany by force.

English people used to think of themselves mainly as British, secondly as English, but this has changed. There has been a response to Scottish nationalism in England, which frequently amounts to good riddance.  This is unique in Europe. How many Spaniards outside Catalonia want to lose a large chunk of their territory? How many Germans would say good riddance if Bavaria campaigned for independence? The UK is different. We do things differently here.

While no other member of the EU would give up one foot of its territory without a fight, the UK would and perhaps will give up both Northern Ireland and Scotland. This would mean the UK ceased to exist. What the remnant would be called is anyone’s guess. England and Wales? Perhaps just England. But I don’t think anyone is going to anything to stop it if it becomes clear that this is what the people living in the UK want.

The UK gets little enough credit for this attitude. In no other nation state would Scottish independence supporters even get one chance to legally achieve independence, let alone two or indeed three. No other nation state would make peace with terrorists by promising to give up a part of its territory if that should prove to be the wishes of those living there.

The UK is different, we don’t force anyone to remain. We could force them. But we choose not to. But there is a danger that people both inside and outside the UK take advantage of our good nature.

Ireland has no claim whatsoever on UK territory. It has no more right to annex Northern Ireland than Russia did when it annexed Crimea. Likewise, it matters not one little bit that parts of Slovakia used to belong to Hungary. If the Government of Hungary issued Hungarian passports to Hungarians living in Slovakia and continually agitated to get its land back, the EU would support the territorial integrity of Slovakia. The borders of nearly every EU member state are arbitrary and due to the accidents of history. They leave peoples on the wrong side of the border. But nowhere in Europe does this cause a problem except in Ireland and Ukraine.

The EU upholds the international borders of each and every one of its member states except the one that exists between the UK and Ireland. It does everything it can to undermine UK territory in Northern Ireland while doing what it can to help Irish irredentism and Ireland’s attempt by gradual steps to gain the territory of its neighbour by continually undermining UK sovereignty. It allows Ireland to behave in a way that it would condemn in every other EU member state and indeed every other UN member state.

The UK does not have to allow any further referendums from secession movements. The UN allows each nation state the right to defend its territory and this right supersedes other rights or treaties. So, there can be no demands from either Scottish or Irish nationalists. But the UK will neither hold itself together by force nor by law. But here is our problem. How are we to give the majority what it wants and how are we to determine what that majority is?

We have learned both in Scotland and the whole of the UK that referendums decide nothing. If there were to be a second independence referendum, neither losing side would accept the result unless it were overwhelming. The lesson learned from the Brexit referendum is that if the losing side is tenacious enough, it can delay, obstruct and perhaps overturn any referendum result it doesn’t like. If Pro UK Scots sided with London after losing indyref2, they could ensure that Scotland got the worst possible deal imaginable. They could use the inbuilt UK majority in Westminster to delay Scottish independence and demand second and third referendums until the result was overcome. This would hardly improve the atmosphere in Scotland.

Many Northern Irish people are rightly bitter about Irish interference in their internal affairs. They are also bitter that the other parts of the UK are happy to treat them differently. Northern Irish politics remains divided with neither side voting for the centre and each side still voting according to its background rather than Left and Right. Any future referendum on Northern Ireland’s future would be still more divisive. An overwhelming vote for one side or the other, might be accepted, but how could that occur when the demographics are close. If a close referendum on Brexit is not accepted by Remainers, why would a close referendum on Irish unity be accepted by the losers? How overwhelming would the result have to be before each community accepted its final defeat without a murmur? Would a close vote be accepted peacefully? Is it worth the risk?

There has to be another way to determine these issues. I don’t want to go down the Spanish route, but those of us who support UK unity cannot have it threatened continually. It may not be fair for Irish or Scottish nationalists to have the route to their goal blocked politically, but neither is it fair that Pro UK people in Scotland and Northern Ireland should face the continual fear of having to leave the nation state in which we were born. No one else in the world has to live with this. No one else would. The UK is my country, I don’t want it to be destroyed, nor do I want to live outside it as a foreigner. Germans, Japanese and Americans feel exactly the same way as we do, but their countries are not threatened with secession and never will be. If it was wrong to partition Ireland it would be equally wrong to partition Britain. Both Irish and UK citizens are going to need to find a way forward that gives all of us something of what we want, without depriving some of us of everything.

Friday 1 November 2019

Ten reasons not to vote Labour

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. He has agreed to this. Anyway Labour would have no choice. It would have 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 want a second referendum on a renegotiated by Labour Brexit in which Labour would campaign for Remain. Imagine the sort of Brexit deal we would get from the EU if our Labour negotiators didn't even want to leave. Large numbers of Labour constituencies however did vote 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. Brexit.

Some people think that Brexit will 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 difficulties of leaving the EU 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 is really more scary 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.