Thursday 24 February 2022

We must defeat the USSR again


Ukraine as a truly independent state has already ceased to exist. It may end up as a Russian vassal or it may largely be absorbed into Russia, but it is hard to see how it can truly regain control over its territory in the near future if ever. The Russians have taken over the second largest country in Europe. They cannot take over the first largest, because that is Russia.

There isn’t going to be World War Three. There will be a lot of hysteria about what has just happened, but NATO is not going to declare war on Russia, and Russia is not going to declare war on NATO.

The problem with NATO is that it has expanded beyond its real red lines. We were never going to fight for Ukraine or Georgia. So why offer membership? When Russian tanks went into Georgia in 2008 how was NATO supposed to stop them?

In theory we now are obliged to declare war if Putin decides to close the Suwalki gap between Belarus and Kaliningrad. This narrow strip is all that keeps the Baltic States from being annexed too. But are we really going to fight Putin over places that were part of the Soviet Union? It is unclear we are even going to fight him over places that were formerly part of the Warsaw Pact.

The real NATO red line is where it always was. Germany. But if that is the case then expanding NATO eastwards was senseless. We were making promises we could not keep.

It could be that we NATO intends to fight a conventional war if Lithuania is threatened, but it is hard to see how it could win given the geography and the troops available to each side. But if it cannot win a conventional war NATO would then be forced to use nuclear weapons. Seriously are we going to have World War Three and destroy the world over a town called Suwałki that most of us would struggle to find on a map, let alone pronounce.

The West needs clear realistic red lines just as we had in the Cold War. The Soviets understood what they could do and what they could not do and it kept both sides safe. We didn’t care much when the Soviets went into Hungary or Czechoslovakia because the Warsaw Pact was their business not ours. So too now. We defend what we can realistically defend and we return to the realpolitik of great power international relations.

We must deter aggression from the Russians in the way that we always have. We must focus on what is our real strategic interest and defend that by deterrence. But that doesn’t mean trying to defend everything. That way you stretch yourself too thin and your deterrence ends up looking weak. It is then no deterrence at all.

Putin has taken advantage of the West’s weakness. We have been weakened by a lack of seriousness about international relations and war. We have expanded our military actions into regions that we cannot realistically control such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. The result is that Western forces have been defeated because of a lack of willingness to lose causalities or to inflict them. This sort of attitude would have guaranteed defeat in every previous war in history and guarantees it now too.

The Russians fight differently. They do not care about the casualties they inflict on Ukraine and are perfectly willing to lose a significant number of their own troops. This is why they win.

The West has fried its brains with dope and woke and particularly in America it has been fighting a cultural battle against itself which has left it with a President showing signs of dementia unfit to lead anything.

But America has an inherent strength that it showed in 1941, coming back from initial disaster to prevail and become the strongest power in history. But to do so again it has to ditch what divides it and what makes it weak, obsessing over gender and race. The same applies here.

In order to bring NATO power back to the level where it could defeat the Soviet Union, it is crucial that France and Britain cease squabbling over Brexit. Germany which was man for man the finest military power in the world for a hundred years between 1845 and 1945 must again become a serious armed force. Germann pacifism since 1945 has left Central Europe free from threats of German expansionism, but also free from a defensive force that might protect it.

The Americans and the European Union must make clear to those who threaten the UK politically, that this will not be tolerated when the whole of Western European security is threatened. Breaking up the UK, which is the aim of both Ireland and the SNP would also break up the British armed forces which are needed now more than ever to deter Russian aggression. Scottish unilateral nuclear disarmament makes no more sense now than it did when Michael Foot proposed it in 1983.

I strongly suspect in the days ahead it will be made quietly clear to Nicola Sturgeon that there will be no further referendums in Scotland for the foreseeable future. She can pretend to her followers in order to keep them sucking on the pacifier, but that is all.

We must now treat Russia just as we treated the Soviet Union. We must protect what we can, defend what we must. The goal in the short term is to contain Putin and then gradually to undermine Russia from within just as we did the Soviet Union.

When we defeated the Soviet Union in 1991, we treated it gently, but it meant that Russia retained its taste for war just as Germany retained it in 1918 because we neither invaded nor destroyed German cities. If we defeat Russia a second time then we must teach it the pacifism that both Germany and Japan learned in 1945.

Russia has become the new Germany that threatened all of its neighbours from the 1860s to the 1940s. It may take just as long to neuter Russia. 

For the moment we are flying in from Miami Beach B.O.A.C. Back in the USSR. 


Tuesday 22 February 2022

A Scottish separatist


The BBC has just told us that Russia has recognised two Ukrainian separatist regions as independent. The Lugansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic have de facto been separated from the other parts of Ukraine since 2014, but the BBC still describes them as regions. The Ukrainian ambassador to the UN has told the world that Ukraine’s borders remain unchangeable no matter what Russia does and everyone nods their heads, agrees and will impose sanctions on Russia for supporting separatists and helping them gain independence. But it’s rather strange that this logic does not apply to another European country that also begins with U.

The truth that everyone also recognises including the unfortunate Ukrainian ambassador is that neither Lugansk nor Donetsk will ever be part of Ukraine again. No one now thinks that Crimea will rejoin Ukraine. Russian nuclear weapons are situated there. Who is going to take it back? Well, the same logic applies to the Donbass. What happened there is as illegal and unjustified as what happened when Germany and the Soviet Union carved up Poland between them in 1939, but the result of this change in borders is still reflected in the map today.

The people living in Donetsk and Lugansk already have Russian passports. Many of them have been evacuated to Russia. Soon these places will be integrated into Russia and until and unless the Russian state collapses or someone can force Russia to give back what it stole that will be as it remains. Eventually the world will recognise the new reality, just as we have recognised the results of any number of unjust wars and aggressions previously.  

But why are people living in Donetsk and Lugansk described as separatists, but we never hear the BBC describing those in Scotland and Northern Ireland who wish to leave the UK as separatists too?

There is little doubt that the majority of the population of the Donbass would prefer to be Russian. They speak Russian. They nearly all have Russian passports. But this makes no difference legally. Their territories are still part of Ukraine.

Compare the situation in Northern Ireland whose neighbour has spent the past hundred years trying to find a way to gain UK territory. Just as in the Donbass irregular forces waged a war against Ukraine, so too in Northern Ireland irregular forces waged a separatist war. Dublin disapproved but was pleased to enjoy the fruits of that war and to take advantage of its peace treaty.

No UK ambassador has ever stood up in the UN, nor has a British Prime Minister stood up in the House of Commons, to tell us that the borders of the UK are unchangeable. But why not? Ukraine came into existence in 1991. Why should the borders of a state that was part of the Soviet Union and before that shared between the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires have borders that cannot be violated while the UK can be split up because of the actions of IRA terrorists and those Scots who wish to continually refight the Battle of Bannockburn?

Imagine if the SNP had won the vote in 2014, would the BBC have reported Russia recognised UK separatist region as independent? But what’s the difference? Scottish nationalists will of course claim that the difference is that Scotland is a country. But I’m sorry to point out that today, both Lugansk and Donetsk have a much better claim to be countries than Scotland does. Each have in fact been separate from Ukraine since 2014. The people living in these places have different passports from those living in Ukraine and their independence will be defended by the Russian army.

Scotland was last an independent state in 1707 arguably 1603. Since then, we have been called a country, but we have lacked the vast majority of the characteristics that are typical of a country since then. We are culturally, linguistically, religiously similar to the other people who live in the UK. We marry each other and live without difficulty anywhere in the UK we choose. By comparison the people in Donetsk are Lugansk are vastly different from the people who live in Lviv in Western Ukraine.

Historically Lviv was known as Lemberg and was part of the Austrian Galica. It was then as Lwów part of Poland until Stalin annexed it in 1939. The people in the Donbass have a quite different history, which is reflected in their attitudes and language. In the Soviet Union they would have been indistinguishable from Russians.

While Britain will impose sanctions on Russia for violating Ukrainian sovereignty and while in theory at least our soldiers will defend the Baltic States and Poland if Mr Putin decides to violate their sovereignty, we will do nothing whatsoever to defend our own sovereignty and territory from separatists.

All it will take is for a majority of separatists in Northern Ireland and the IRA bombing campaign will have succeeded. Dublin will have achieved its long-term aim of taking UK territory by means of an irregular army just as Mr Putin will have achieved his aim by means of irregular forces in the Donbass. But while Ukraine endeavours to fight against the separatists who want to destroy it, we in Britain merely acquiesce.

I wonder if Scottish nationalists will be waving the flags of Lugansk and Donetsk. Will Scottish separatists be dancing in the streets in Lanark and Dunfermline because there are two new countries in the world today? Will Nicola Sturgeon send congratulations?

Every other country in Europe takes the attitude that Ukraine takes regarding its borders and its sovereignty. No other country apart from the UK allows separatist threats or claims from abroad on its territory. We alone allow separatists to separate so long as they can gain a simple majority in a referendum just once. What’s more we allow international bodies like the EU to encourage separatism both in Scotland and in Northern Ireland.

No wonder the EU’s response in Ukraine has been so feeble, you cannot very well oppose separatism in Crimea and the Donbass if you welcome and encourage it in Britain.  

Thursday 17 February 2022

The Grand Old Duke of York he had twelve million quid


In the Middle Ages there wasn’t much you could do if you had a bad king. If he killed princes in the Tower or drowned opponents in a vat of malmsey or if he chopped the heads off his wives, you were powerless. But you are not now.

The Royal Family is fortunate indeed that Prince Charles didn’t have an unfortunate polo accident in the 1970s, because in that case Prince Andrew would not be Duke of York, but rather Prince of Wales and due to become King Andrew the First on the death of his mother. Except in that case either he would be removed like James II or else more likely the Royal Family would be removed.

Unlike the Middle Ages the monarchy is really only one bad king away from ceasing to be. It has happened in lots of other countries and could equally easily happen here. All it would take would be a General Election with a manifesto commitment to abolish the monarchy and it would be gone.

There would be complications. The British constitution is intricately linked to the monarchy. Much of what the world associates with Britain depends on the monarchy. But the monarchy would not survive a King Andrew.

There is implicitly a bargain. So long as you behave like Queen Elizabeth the Second, we will accept the somewhat anachronistic situation that our head of state is a King or a Queen. The money spent on the monarchy is good value in terms of diplomacy and tourism and anyway any alternative would radically change the nature of our politics. Would the Prime Minister be head of state? If not and we had an elected President the nature of our political system would change completely. But other countries manage well enough with presidents and we could learn to do so too.

We will just about tolerate Prince Charles with his pomposity and his divorce. Camilla has come to be liked and respected and largely forgiven for her role in it. William and Kate behave well. But Andrew and his family remain a warning to the monarchy, which is why he has been ditched so completely.


The Grand Old Duke of York he had 12 million quid

He gave it all to someone he'd never met

For something he never did.


This permanently destroys Andrew’s reputation. Why would you pay 12 million pounds to someone you’d never met, when you are innocent of any wrong doing? Andrew’s legal team must have assessed that on the balance of probabilities he would lose a civil case or that the risk of pursuing such a case was too high. We don’t know for sure that Andrew slept with a girl only a little older than his daughters, there may be a reasonable doubt, but it is reasonable to treat his denials with suspicion. That’s enough.

It's bad enough that Andrew was friends with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, the mere possibility that he slept with 17-year-olds is enough to convict him of being so sleezy that the British public should be kept from seeing him on state occasions.

But something has happened to public opinion about sex in the past decades that is turning into a new form of puritanism and which is liable to turn us back to the 1950s if we are not careful.

Before the sexual revolution teenagers were expected to do not much more than kiss each other. When they wanted to have sex at the age of about 18, they were expected to get married. Instead of going to university you had babies, because the pill had not yet been invented and you had four or five of them. Sex outside of marriage was taboo and rather risky for women as you might end up a single mother with the neighbours tut tutting and few if any benefits to help you out.

The sixties and the pill changed all that. You could sleep with anyone you pleased. There was no need to get married. You didn’t need the permission of the church to go to bed with someone you fancied and sex was for fun not procreation.

This is the world in which we live now. Lots of young people don’t want to have babies, which if everyone took that view would end the world rather quicker than climate change.

But something else has happened. Teenagers today are not the innocents that they were in the 1950s. If the Scottish Government is right about its survey of sexual habits, young teenagers are routinely sleeping with each other and performing sexual acts that teenagers in the 1950s would have been quite unaware of. But we combine this with a view of teenage sex that pretends that they are still innocents and this is becoming increasingly absurd.

We are to believe that a 17-year-old who had lived on the streets chose to become a masseuse for Jeffrey Epstein without realising that something other than massage might be involved. The image of sexual trafficking and white slavery doesn’t fit with the story of the 19-year-old being given a free ticket to Thailand on her own where she met her husband. Was it really impossible to escape in the two years prior to that at one or other of the airports or hotels?

We were not there so we don’t know what did or did not happen. But it appears likely that some of Jeffrey Epstein’s victims chose this lifestyle and were quite happy taking part in it until something better came along. After all some of the “victims” of sex trafficking persuaded their friends of the merits of this lifestyle urging them to take part too.

The oldest profession has become the most lucrative at least for those who get paid 12 million pounds for sleeping with one man. If that were the going rate careers advisors be advising “Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington, put her on the game instead.”

There is something irredeemably sordid about Prince Andrew, but there is also a whiff of hypocrisy about everyone accepting the benefits of the sexual revolution without realising that it was more responsible for the corruption of minors than anything done by Jeffrey Epstein.

It was commonplace for young girls to chase after rock stars in the 1970s. It was only because sexual activity among teenagers had become so routine that young girls in northern towns were abused by grooming gangs.  It is only because so many young people in the West are sexually experienced at a young age that they even contemplate getting involved with an Epstein or an Andrew.

But it requires an antediluvian attitude as if we are listening to Buddy Holly for the first time and that we haven’t gone through the day when innocence died, to believe that young girls don’t sometimes choose to sleep with rich men in order to get money or a lifestyle they can’t otherwise afford. Why else do ugly footballers always have pretty girlfriends?

Much of human life is a transaction. We go to work to get paid, but we don’t generally expect our work to pay 12 million pounds twenty years after it was completed.


Tuesday 15 February 2022

The SNP would leave Scotland defenceless


Scottish nationalism depends on the idea that nothing much would change if Scotland left the UK. It would merely involve Scottish MPs ceasing to sit on green benches in Westminster, instead of which they would go to Holyrood. Instead of being First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon would be Prime Minster, perhaps President or even Tsarina of all the Scotlands. We would no longer have to worry about being ruled by Tories in general and Boris Johnson in particular, but everything else would be the same.

This is why the SNP has been so keen recently to argue that there is nothing to worry about pensions as the Former UK would continue to pay them. But this argument lasted about a week before the SNP discovered that there was no pension pot at the end of the rainbow because there would be no rainbow or indeed no UK after the departure of Scotland broke it up. But the same goes for some other things that we take for granted and which suddenly are beginning to look more important than they once did.

One of the consequences of the end of the Cold War was that Scottish nationalism began to look safer for the first time in decades. Only a few fascists and eccentrics in the SNP thought that breaking up Britain was a good idea during the Second World War. So too in the decades that followed few Scots thought that a sensible response to Soviet aggression towards small countries like Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968) was to become a small country ourselves.

But by the 1990s Russia was obviously no longer any threat to anyone. We could relax. We could indulge ourselves with our own parliament and then as memories of the Soviet Union faded, we couldn’t see any real danger in partitioning our small island just off the European continent.

But that island has been strategically important in the past few centuries. Britain has played a crucial role in both the First and Second World Wars. The outcome of both would have been radically different without our involvement. So, the idea that the departure of Scotland from the UK would make no difference always showed both ignorance and a lack of imagination.

The only serious armed forces in Europe are the British, the French and the Russians. The SNP’s idea is to destroy the British Army and remove Britain’s nuclear deterrent from its base in Scotland. This lacked foresight even when the Cold War had just ended, because it failed to predict a time when those armed forces and that deterrent might be necessary, but now when European security is threatened again it looks not merely foolish but selfish.

NATO members in Eastern Europe will be grateful that the British Army still exists and no doubt hope that our means of deterring Mr Putin might just extend to their being protected too.

Back in 1994 Ukraine gave up all of the former Soviet nuclear weapons that were still stationed on its territory. It received assurances from Russia about its sovereignty, independence and borders. If Ukraine had kept a few nuclear weapons in a silo near Kiev it would not now be worrying about Russia invading and it would not have lost either Crimea or the Donbass.

Sturgeon likewise wants to remove nuclear weapons from Scottish territory. Ukraine’s act of unilateral nuclear disarmament has taught her nothing. She is so stuck in the 1980s that she might as well still have a CND poster on the wall along with the one of Duran Duran and a young Alex Salmond.  

The SNP would leave Scotland defenceless. Scottish regiments are fully integrated into the British Army. The creation of a Scottish Army and a Former UK Army would not be the British Army. If the Scottish Navy was built in the same way as Scottish ferries, it might just be able to patrol Scottish waters some decades from now in a paddle steamer. Meanwhile the Russian Navy could do what it pleased.

It would take a remarkably small force of Spetsnaz to take over the Orkney and Shetland Islands which are strategically important for access to the Atlantic and Sturgeon would have nothing to defend them. The deterrent that the UK used to have to stop Russian aggression would have no home because the SNP in their wisdom would gone the way of Ukraine by disarming.

Russia is a long way away, but so to was Czechoslovakia when we decided at Munich to allow an aggressor to take what it fancied. But our lifestyle in Scotland depends on the security system that has kept us safe from invasion for the past centuries.

Scotland is integral to the defence of everyone in Britain. Prior to the UK both Scotland and England were diminished by continually fighting each other. England always had to worry about its northern flank and the influence that foreign powers might have over Scotland.  Imagine now if there were no RAF fighters flying out to meet Russian Tupolov Tu-95s approaching the Moray Firth.

The SNP’s defence plan amounts to destroying our armed forces and unilaterally removing our nuclear deterrent from Scotland. This must be because it thinks that there is no threat to Scotland and that the only enemies we have speak with posh English accents and vote Tory. It is a security plan that might have worked in 1314 when Scottish defence amounted to two handed swords, wooden stakes and bows and arrows, but it is essentially refighting Bannockburn when your opponent has Stealth bombers.  

But this is the SNP’s whole problem. It is stuck fighting the Scottish Wars of Independence. Its heroes and its goals have not moved on from Bruce and Wallace and so became obsolete with the invention of the musket.

Sunday 13 February 2022

He and She


When the Berlin Wall came down, the Soviet Union collapsed and China briefly looked as if it might go the same way with the Tiananmen Square protests, the West declared itself the victor, history had ended and we could sink into our sofas.

We began to get fatter and lazier. We focussed on trivia rather than issues of strategic importance. We obsessed about whether men could have babies, whether we were guilty because of slavery. We were unable to stop unarmed civilians arriving on our shores in rubber dinghies. How could we be expected to stop Russians?

My university has an excellent collection of Russian books. The subject was seriously taught until someone decided that it was no longer necessary. But hard subjects like Russian, were not replaced with something equally hard. Instead, there are courses dealing with the Da Vinci Code and the oppression of minorities in the Little House on the Prairie.

It is as if the West has decided to recline while eating delicacies only to stick a feather down its throat every few hours in order to continue its self-indulgence. Now we find that history isn’t over and we have a new Cold War only this time its coming from both sides of Eurasia. We no longer have any Russian speakers. We no longer have anyone who knows more than the basics about Russian history, society or culture.

Worse we can’t name more than two or three Chinese cities, we don’t know the Mandarin word for Hello and we can’t pronounce the Chinese leader’s surname, don’t know his first name and couldn’t name any other Chinese politician since Second World War apart from Mao.

Fortunately, we know everything there is to know about intersectionality, critical race theory and the ability of boys to become girls.

The Russians and the Chinese are laughing at our absurdity and they intend to take advantage.

China is a serious threat because of Deng Xiaoping. Unlike the communist leaders in the Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union he was able to prevent the collapse of China by crushing the protests in 1989. If these had succeeded China would not be the economic and military power that it is today. The Uyghurs in Xinjiang would have left China just as their neighbours in Kazakhstan left the Soviet Union and others would have followed leaving a Chinese core trying to be both a market economy and a democracy with a Chinese Yeltsin battling against corruption and the patronising of the West.

Instead, we have a China that can infect the West with Wuhan Flu with impunity, because it not only controls the World Health Organisation, but more importantly sell us the feathers that we stick down our throats.

It was the weakness of Gorbachev by contrast with the strength of Deng that led Russia to lose not merely the empire that it had spent centuries collecting, but also its core Rus territory.

Russia begins in Kiev and the history of Russia is the gathering together of all of the Eastern Slavic Orthodox people and then spreading Eastwards and Southwards. It was the lack of unity of warring Rus princes that led to the Russians being dominated by the Mongols for centuries. It was their unity that enabled them finally to defeat the enemy from Asia. It is not the West that Putin really fears but China. History is the same battle fought over and over.

Russia has been left so weak strategically by Gorbachev that it can no longer properly defend itself against Chinese expansionism in the Russian Far East, where the demographic situation favours China. The Chinese call Vladivostok by its Quing Dynasty name Hǎishēnwǎi. They think that it is theirs.

Putin will have made serious concessions to Xi to be given a free hand in Ukraine.

If we understood the Russian language and history better, we would know that Ukraine means literally “at the edge”, i.e., the edge of Russia. We would also know that anyone who speaks both Russian and Polish will have little trouble with Ukrainian.

Russians view Ukraine as a place that was at various times part of Poland, Austria Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. The people living there were called Ruthenians (i.e., Rus, or Russians). For this reason, it was common in Russia until recently to call Ukraine Little Russia and for the southern part to be called New Russia.

Modern Ukrainians resent this. They emphasise that they have a separate language and identity. But from the Russian perspective, Germany united people who spoke different forms of German in the nineteenth century by force of arms and if it does likewise it will be morally no different.

Putin has already brought Belarus (historically White Russia) back into his empire without actually annexing it. But if Russian tanks can invade from Belarus there is little doubt who rules and it is not Lukashenko. Putin may be satisfied with a similar situation in Ukraine.

Both Putin and Xi are intent on reuniting what they see as their territory. Xi has already gained Hong Kong and Macao, he now looks toward Taiwan.

Fighting wars to gain keep, gain or regain territory was the norm in the nineteenth century. Both Italy and Germany united by means of war. The United States held itself together by a war that prevented the independence of the Confederacy. If the Confederates had won there is little doubt that the Former United States would eventually have fought to get the South back.

The potential conflict in Ukraine is in essence the conflict between the secession movement that led to Ukrainian independence in the first place and the Russian resentment that it could not prevent it leaving in 1991. The Russians desire to get back they view as their core territory where their country began and which had been Russian for more than a thousand years. The motives of both Russians and Ukrainians would have been clear to people throughout history. It is the reason Ukraine been so partitioned so often.

The United States is going to focus on China over the next decades, because China is by far the greater threat. China has the population and it has the economics, which are the foundations of military force. The West is dependent on Chinese factories and labour.

Russia is a much lesser threat. It has a good army that it is willing to use and it has perhaps the best intelligence, plus an education system that produces people who actually speak Chinese, Pashto and Arabic. It therefore understands its opponent in a way that we do not. But the Russian economy is insignificant, it has a demographic crisis and although we depend on Russian gas, we won’t do so ten years from now.

We cannot do anything much to protect Ukraine. The European Union has shown itself to be weak, disunited and of no more strategic significance that the “First Reich” the Holy Roman Empire when faced with Napoleon.

Britain should do its best to protect our friends in Ukraine and other Eastern European countries threatened by Russian aggression and expansionism, but beside sending weapons and advisors we should recognise that we cannot stop what is going to happen there anymore than we could stop the wars of German Unification or the Risorgimento.

But the West needs to become serious. Cease teach woke idiocy in universities. This is mere decadence and self-hatred that rots student brains. Rebuild our intelligence capability by recruiting people with serious knowledge about Russia and China. Rebuild our armed forces so that we would have a chance to really deter Russian or Chinese aggression. Rebuild the NATO Alliance in Europe so that each European country makes a serious contribution to a force that the Russians might actually worry about. Cease being so dependent on the goods and resources of China and Russia. Our lifestyle depends on the whim of our enemies.








Wednesday 9 February 2022

The SNP variant

What is the greatest strategic threat facing the UK? Is it the next letter of the Greek alphabet Π [Pi] giving us a new more deadly variant of Covid? Well assuming that Π doesn’t offend the Chinese masters of the World Health Organisation like Ξ [Xi] did, it would still be no threat to the UK. An illness would have to be very deadly indeed before it led to the destruction of a country. 

If the Russians invade Ukraine or even if they decided to annex the Baltic States and reabsorb Poland into the Russian Empire, it is still unlikely that the UK will go to war with Russia. If NATO has a red line, it is not in Eastern Europe and indeed it may not be anywhere.

The Western Media has created armed forces that cannot fight wars and cannot win peace. We are unwilling to accept more than tiny levels of dead and wounded on both our own side and on the side of the enemy. This is why we were defeated both in Iraq and Afghanistan. How on earth could NATO take on Russia?

Putin would not care if he lost ten thousand troops taking back the former Soviet Union and his people would accept it without much of a murmur. He would not care if he killed Western civilians or bombed our cities flat. All NATO can offer in defence is technology. So, we will do nothing if either Russia or China decides to use serious military force, because the only alternative is to use everything, i.e., nuclear weapons. We are not going to blow up the whole world over Ukraine, nor indeed anywhere much east of the Elbe.

But this means that the Russians are no threat to the UK. We will do nothing and they may even be no more threat to Ukraine if Putin decides he has already won merely by parking his tanks on the border and demonstrating the impotence of NATO.

The EU is no threat to the UK, because we have already demonstrated that we don’t require it. If Britain can get through the worst pandemic in 100 years, then we can weather whatever Mr Macron wants to throw at us. The EU will merely damage its own tourist industry by trying to make it difficult for Brits. Its attempt to punish Britain has merely meant that we have pivoted away from Europe towards the rest of the world, which will long term be beneficial to us rather than to the EU.

The greatest threat to the territorial integrity of the UK comes from the EU’s semi-annexation of Northern Ireland which has become a sort of Danzig not so much run by the League of Nations as by Brussels. But Ireland’s manoeuvring its metaphorical tanks (it doesn’t have any actual ones) onto the Northern Ireland border always comes up against the problem that the orange part of its flag does not wish to be with the green part and requires a white peace wall to keep it apart.

Even if Ireland could afford to absorb Northern Ireland, which it could only do if the EU decided to fund it, there would still be around half of the population who have been resisting incorporation into a united Ireland since the nineteenth century. These people are not going to go away unless Ireland uses Serbian methods and their British identity is not going to change either if it hasn’t done so in more than one hundred years.

The uneasy peace in Northern Ireland will not change until Scottish independence destroys the UK and then like the Former Yugoslavia partition continues further until even Cornwall, Mercia and the Isle of Anglesey gain their independence.

It is for this reason that Irish nationalists pin their hopes on Scotland. With the destruction of the UK there would be no reason for English people to subsidise Northern Ireland and perhaps not even Wales. The damage would be no worse if Wales and Northern Ireland were jettisoned after Scotland and at least there would be no more nonsense about a country made up of countries with devolved parliaments.

Northern Ireland would then be someone else’s problem. Wales would have to accept either that it was part of greater England, which it has in reality been since the Middle Ages, or it would have to go its own way. I cannot imagine English people having much patience with Welsh nationalism if Scotland departed.

Just as Ireland’s problem is that a large number of people in Northern Ireland have a different identity, so too the structural problem in the UK is the lack of a common identity. Unusually in Europe people in Britain have two national identities. French citizens are French, without subnational national identities. The idea that we can have both Scottish and British national identities only exists in Europe where there are strong separatist political forces.

Scottish nationalists routinely reject the identity that corresponds to their citizenship, but it is becoming more common even in England for people to reject what unites the UK.  The bond that holds us together is financial.

Neither Scotland, nor Wales, nor Northern Ireland could leave the UK without losing the large sums they get from the Treasury and it is hard to imagine how they could do so without suffering a huge reduction in living standards. But English people have come to resent the subsidy which they see as English, when it is used by devolved parliaments to undermine the unity, even the coherence of the state.

While the threat from subnational nationalism in the UK is the greatest threat we face, far greater than any other, indeed greater than any we have faced in our history, in the short term it has rather lessened. Scotland is divided evenly between those Scots who are content to remain in the UK and those who are not.

Those Scots who voted to stay would be justly furious if an independent Scotland made their standard of living decline and even the Scottish nationalists might regret and blame an SNP that made them poorer. An overwhelming majority might be willing to endure privation for the sake of a new Scotland, but Scottish nationalists are not a majority at all.


Scotland is as divided as Northern Ireland in our aims for the future and the part that wants to remain British would only be content in an independent Scotland if financially, we would be as well off as now.

The SNP would do well to focus on improving the reality of the financial case for independence rather than continually trying base its argument on the economic ignorance of its own supporters. Scots will only ever vote for a separate Scotland it really would be economically no worse off than now.

The Pro UK argument can legitimately reflect that British history has been poor at creating a common identity and that this is its greatest failing. But there is no point regretting where we are now. The key is to create a UK where most people are content to have a shared British identity alongside their other identities.

I am neither a muscular unionist nor indeed a unionist. Muscular Christianity brings with it absurd images of cold showers and stretches for Jesus. The UK is not a union like the European Union, it is the result of a union. It is a single unitary nation state that for historical reasons has parts that are also called countries.

Devolution is here to stay. There is no majority to get rid of it. There is nothing even close to a majority. But devolution is directly responsible for the rise of nationalism in the UK to the extent that we are continually threatened by an SNP that wishes to destroy our country.

It is necessary to work out a way in which the UK can both be a single sovereign nation state and have devolved powers equally so that every British citizen has the same amount. Some of us have votes for two parliaments, some of us only one. That is unfair.

It must be pointed out to Scottish nationalists, that fiscal transfers depend on a shared national identity. An independent Scotland would not expect fiscal transfers between itself and people who were not Scottish. Well, if you think you have nothing in common with other British people then your acceptance of Treasury finance amounts to theft. 

If the SNP were honest, it would refuse all British money and raise all its revenue in Scotland alone before asking for another independence referendum. If Scotland can afford independence there should be no problem, if it can’t why have a referendum on it.  If you really think that you have no identity in common with other British citizens, why do you expect them to give you money any more than you expect it from the French.

Friday 4 February 2022

Cutting off the branch on which she sits


When I read that Nicola Sturgeon wants to chop off the bottom of all the classroom doors in Scotland to increase ventilation my first thought was why don’t they open the windows instead? Decades from now as people wander through Scottish schools with doors like no others in the world, they might be curious about the phenomenon of the Scottish door. It locks, but small people or at least children can crawl through the bottom. Perhaps this was a Scottish way of trying to redistribute wealth. Each word a teacher spoke could be heard from the corridor outside. Perhaps this was a way to make sure nothing subversive was being taught, such as that the miracles needed for the beatification of the blessed Nicola were not genuine. But while Scottish doors let in fire through the bottom, the SNP continued to tell visitors to Scotland about the benefits of Scottish fire doors, which although failing to stop the spread of fire did let those trapped to escape. They were clearly superior to English doors.

But it is not so much the bottom of the doors that Sturgeon is chopping off as the branch on which Scotland is sitting.

The SNP continues to insist that everything would go on exactly the same after independence as now.

We would still watch the BBC and English licence fee payers would still pay for TV channels in Gaelic even though the vocabulary of 99% of Scottish independence supporters extends no further than Saor Alba.

The British armed forces would still protect us even though there would no longer be any such thing as being British.

We would still be able to live and work anywhere in the Former UK and we would still be able to claim benefits. Our pensions would be paid by Former UK taxpayers, but Scottish taxpayers would have no liability to pay the pensions of anyone in England.

We would be able to access NHS treatment anywhere we wanted, even though the word National in NHS would no longer refer to the state that created it, but rather to two states which now had an international relationship to each other.

We would still be able to spend pounds Sterling and we would not even notice that there was no longer a currency union between England and Scotland. Indeed, we would not notice the fact that we had ceased to live in the same state as people in London, Cardiff and Belfast.

We would continue to be British citizens for as long as we wanted even if we also had Scottish passports, but British citizens would not be able to become Scottish citizens unless they were born in Scotland, had Scottish relatives or had lived here.

The SNP is arguing in essence that Scotland could be independent, while remaining a part of the UK. It is for this reason that it is cutting off the branch upon which it is sitting, because it is unaware that the UK is the branch connected to the trunk and with deep roots going back centuries. When you try to make your branch independent from the tree it has an unfortunate consequence for those sitting on it. It also has an unfortunate consequence for the tree.

I keep coming across English nationalists who claim that they would look forward to Scotland’s departure. But what would you call your country after Scottish independence? It couldn’t be called England unless you kick out Wales and Northern Ireland, nor could it be called the United Kingdom. It would be anything but united. It could not be called Great Britain, because Great Britain includes Scotland. It would have to be called The Disunited Kingdom of South Britain and Northern Ireland.

At the moment the UK is a bit of a laughing stock internationally because we are more bothered about birthday parties in Downing Street than fighting a war on two fronts with China threatening Taiwan and Russia threatening Ukraine. Mr Putin and Mr Xi therefore don’t take us very seriously. But they would take us still less seriously if we became the Former UK and so would everybody else. Oh, but it would be worth it, you say, just to say good riddance to the annoying Scots and that bossy little woman. Really, partitioning our small island would be worth it just for that.

But if other parts of the UK would lose out from the breakup of our country, Scotland would lose out more, because the whole SNP argument is really that cutting off the bottom of a door won’t change its nature as a door, nor will cutting off a branch on which we are sitting lead to us falling to the ground.

Most Scots like those aspects of being a part of the UK such as spending pounds and getting pensions guaranteed by the Treasury. If we thought we were going to lose the right to live and work in England and receive benefits there we wouldn’t vote for independence. This is why the SNP keeps telling us that everything we like about the UK would continue after independence.

But the UK would be no more after independence. Once you unstitch Scotland who knows where you end up. The threads that held us together would have unravelled. So, everything that all of us have now that is due to our being part of the UK, would become contingent on what the Former UK decided and what Scotland decided in its divorce settlement.

It may well be that the governments of these two states might allow some reciprocal arrangements, but they could equally decide not to do so. There would be shared assets and liabilities, but how these were shared would not be as the SNP thinks that Scotland would get all of the assets and none of the liabilities. If for instance Scotland refused a population share of UK national debt, it could not reasonably expect that the Former UK Government would be generous enough to continue to pay the pensions of those Scots who had paid taxes while living in the UK. What would Scotland do if a future Former UK government simply refused? Invade with claymores only to turn back at Derby.

The breakup of the UK might be amicable in which case some of the SNP wishlist might be granted, but it could equally be as hostile as Brexit. We now have very few of the rights that we previously had as citizens of the EU. We cannot live and work in the EU without permission, we cannot access most of the services that people from EU member states can. The EU was as difficult as it could be in the divorce negotiations. It used its greater population and power to demand as hard a bargain as it could, including treating a part of our territory (Northern Ireland) as if it still remained part of the EU. If the EU can do that to the UK, then the Former UK could do likewise to Scotland. After all, it would still have ten times our population.

The more fanatical Scottish separatist would revel in descending through the air on his free branch crying Saor Alba, but it might be more than his elbow that got hurt when he hit the ground. He might delight in eating skirlie with root vegetables in a draughty croft, but the vast majority of Scots tempted by the idea of independence are only tempted insofar as the SNP can persuade them that what they like about living in UK would continue after cutting off the branch.

But we would be not only cutting off the branch but cutting down the tree digging up its roots and pouring weed killer in the hole. It might seem mad to cut off the bottom of all the doors in schools when you can just open the windows, but it looks positively sane compared to destroying the tree on whose branches every British citizen sits. That is mere vandalism.