Tuesday 26 January 2021

It's not the Union that is in crisis


The United States has just had a mob enter the Capitol, a presidential election disputed by Donald Trump refusing to concede defeat and an electorate that cannot find common ground with each other. But no one has suggested that the Union is in crisis to the extent that it might cease to exist. In Britain no one has seriously questioned the result of any of the elections or referendums that have taken place in the last few years, there is no prospect in the immediate future of any referendum on breaking up the United Kingdom, yet we have banner headlines about the UK being in crisis. But it is not the UK that is in crisis it’s the SNP.

Something strange and unexpected happened in 2016. Although Remainers accepted that more people voted for Leave than Remain, a large number of them nevertheless sought to overthrow the vote politically. They questioned the legitimacy of the Leave campaign, arguing firstly that it was merely advisory and secondly that the Leave campaign made statements that were untrue.

In Scotland the SNP questioned the legitimacy of the result because Scottish voters voted to Remain while the whole of the UK voted to Leave. There was a concerted attempt by both Remainers in general and Scottish nationalists in particular to annul the result.

The SNP wanted not just Scotland to remain part of the EU, but for the whole of the UK too. They argued that because one part of the UK (Scotland) did not vote to leave then those parts that did vote to Leave, England and Wales, could not leave also. But imagine if the UK had given into the SNP, would this have meant that the SNP would have given up its desire to break up the UK? No of course not. After all the UK was a member state in 2014 and the SNP still wanted to break up Britain. So while the SNP thinks that Scotland ought to be able to annul the democratic wishes of England and Wales, by preventing the people there from being able to chose to leave the EU, it never thinks that anyone should be able to stop Scotland doing what it wants either with regard to the EU or with regard to independence. Whatever concessions are made to the SNP will never satisfy them. You cannot win.

Remainers both in politics and the media throughout the UK have seen the SNP as allies. They were a crucial part of the political attempt to reverse Brexit in Parliament and at the General Elections in 2017 and 2019. Labour, the Lib Dems and others were willing to work with the SNP in Parliament or as they hoped in a coalition to achieve a second referendum on Brexit, which they hoped would reverse the result. But this not only gave legitimacy to the idea that you can have a second referendum if you don’t like the result of the first one, but also to the idea that the SNP are one of us and that the central aim of the SNP  (independence) would be a legitimate response to Brexit.

It is this above all that has changed the media and the political class in general and made them soft on the SNP and sympathetic both to Scottish and Irish nationalism. Remainers have been proved wrong about nearly everything to do with Brexit. It hasn’t been the economic disaster predicted by the Remain campaign (a lie?). We have been able to achieve a trade deal with the EU that allows us to make deals with everyone else. Compared to Covid leaving the EU has been a doddle. But still Remainers remain desperate to be proved right. The cognitive dissonance of being proved wrong would be too much to bear.

But the 2019 election result, giving Boris Johnson a large majority not merely crushed the Remainer aim of a second referendum, it made the prospect of the UK ever returning to the EU (Rejoin) so politically unlikely that neither Labour nor the Lib Dems will campaign for it for the foreseeable future. It is this that is causing Remainers to lash out at the UK itself.

If in the next few years, the UK were to lose Northern Ireland and Scotland, this would prove the Remainers right about the damage caused by Brexit. This would enable them to tell the Brexiteers who universally support the unity of the UK, that their stupidity in voting for Brexit destroyed the thing they love most, the United Kingdom. It would be sweet revenge for the Remainers and would make up for the final collapse of their long rearguard to keep us in the EU.

But if the United Kingdom were to lose Scotland and Northern Ireland, does this mean that the former UK would apply to join? No. Of course not. Without Scotland and Northern Ireland which both voted to Remain, it would be even less likely that England and Wales would apply to join. So, the Remainer aim is not so much to get the UK as a whole nor even England and Wales to rejoin the EU, it is merely to take revenge on Britain for daring to leave the EU.

Just as it became clear that the EU was hostile to Britain for leaving, with talk of Northern Ireland being the price, so Remainers in the media now see it as their task to help the SNP and Sinn Féin to achieve their goals. But for British citizens to behave in this way is perverse at best, because no one hates Britain or the British more than the SNP and Sinn Féin.

Britain is not in crisis. That is simply a media invention. The majority of the population in Northern Ireland want to stay British. Ireland would somehow need to replace the one third of the Northern Irish budget that comes from Britain and deal with the economic consequences of breaking up Northern Ireland’s close integration into the British economy. Northern Ireland is the equivalent of East Germany, but this time it would be South that would have to pay. But East Germany did not have a large population that did not want to unify with the West. Nor did it have a history of terrorism with both sides liable to react violently if their wishes were thwarted by democracy. If Ireland wants to deal with the economic and military consequences of unification, let it come up with a coherent plan or else stop agitating and stirring up trouble.

Scotland too is closely integrated in the British economy. Free movement of goods and people in the UK’s internal market are much more important to Scotland than being in the EU, not least because vastly more Scots live and work in other parts of the UK than in Slovenia or Slovakia.

But anyway, Scotland has already had a referendum on independence. There is no prospect of another one unless those journalists writing about the Union in crisis somehow help to force one. No doubt this is what they want. The British Government can legitimately tell the SNP they will have to wait years if not decades, not least because we are going to have to deal with the economic fallout of Covid and won’t have time for Scottish grievances that anyway would not be lessened by independence. The SNP would still blame England after independence.  Just look at how Ireland continues to blame Britain for everything that has happened in the past thousand years. They even blame us for leaving the EU, which is none of their business.

It isn’t the Union that is in crisis, it is the SNP. If Remainer journalists were willing to do their job they would point out that Sturgeon has not been doing a good job on Covid nor indeed on healthcare in general, education and any other issue that the Scottish Parliament controls. If there is a measure on which Scotland is doing better than England, I would like to know what it is, because I can’t think of one. Yet still the media think she walks on water.

Not only do the SNP run Scotland poorly, they are now split into fundamentalist Salmondites and gradualist Sturgeonistas. Impatience at having to wait even six years for another go, has left the SNP tearing itself apart with Sturgeon accused of attempting to nobble Salmond and then corruptly trying to cover it up. If this was happening in England, it would be on the BBC every night. If Boris had done even a fraction of what Sturgeon may have done, the Remainer media would be going crazy. But because she is one of us, we have headlines about the Union being in crisis. It’s distraction at best, collusion at worst. Start reporting or find another job.

It’s not the Union that is in crisis. It’s the SNP.