Friday, 22 September 2023

A useless trip to New York


Humza Yousaf has gone to something called the Climate Ambition Summit in New York. Given that Yousaf lacks the ability of walking on water, we can assume that he flew there. It may also be that he is having a pleasant time on the Staten Island Ferry learning about how ferries work and not having to think about any other type of ferry including Broughty Ferry which likewise lacks a ferry in just the same way as many Scottish islands. New York in the early autumn will be still warm and Yousaf will be able to enjoy roaming in the gloaming with whoever he has to roam with.

But is there any point in Yousaf being in New York? No. Regional leaders of places like Bavaria, Burgundy and Bohemia will doubtless have reflected that their best contribution to limiting carbon emissions was to follow events in New York online. But it is crucial for the SNP to pretend that Scotland is a nation state just like every other UN member state despite Scotland never having been a member, because it is eh not independent.

But there is a more important reason why it is pointless for Yousaf to be in New York. It matters not one little bit what Scotland does about carbon emissions.

Rishi Sunak has decided to delay the ban on petrol cars and gas boilers from 2030 to 2035. There is an enormous fuss. But the truth is that it will not affect global warming in any measurable way. It would be impossible even to try to measure how this delay will change global temperatures 50 or 100 years from now.

It's nice for Humza Yousaf to feel involved and to think that the decisions he makes in Scotland will make a difference to climate change, but the truth is they won’t. A brief look at some figures shows this.

Carbon emissions in million tonnes

Scotland                 41.6

China                    11680.42
United States         4535.30
India                       2411.73
Russia                    1674.23
Japan                      1061.77

Even if Scotland had no electricity. Even if Scots drove no cars. Even if we lit no fires. Even indeed if we went back to the Stone age, it would make no measurable difference to global warming or climate change. Our 41 million tonnes will be well within the margin of error of China’s 11000 million tonnes.

People say the problem is not the amount of carbon emissions each country produces but the amount each person produces. But this is obviously false. The country in the world with the highest per capita emissions is Palau an archipelago of 500 islands in the South Pacific. Palau had 1.24 million tonnes of emissions in 2020, but it only has a population of 18,000. Perhaps they use a lot of petrol travelling between these islands. Palau though has done well in 2017 it emitted 1.41 million tonnes. But the idea that the actions of Palau will make a difference to climate change is clearly preposterous. It’s too small. The saving of 0.17 million tonnes changes nothing globally.

It would simply be a waste of aviation fuel for the President of Palau to travel to New York, but at least he would be a leader of nation state rather than a region of one.

But the most important reason why Yousaf’s trip is pointless is that the UK has already massively reduced carbon emissions, while other countries have increased theirs.

Change in carbon dioxide emission from 1990-2022


China                     +426.5%
India                      +348.3%
South Korea           +133.5%

United Kingdom    −41.4%


So, while we have been cutting carbon emissions since 1990 the savings we have made have been and are continuing to be made pointless by countries like China and India. It’s as if one member of a family is buying the cheapest Tesco tins of beans while another is buying caviar and vintage champagne. The savings of the one are made pointless by the extravagance of the other.

The SNP and the Scottish Greens want everyone in Scotland to be forced to buy an electric car by 2030. They want us to be unable to sell our house if we don’t have a heat pump. They want us to pay a deposit on every container we buy so that we have the pleasure of queuing to get our money back.

But Scotland already has the carbon emissions of Laos and if China continues to increase its carbon emissions at the rate it is doing, our decrease won’t make any difference at all. Whatever savings we make will be outstripped thousands of times over by China and India.

I think it is a good thing in itself to emit as little carbon as possible. There are better more efficient ways to get the energy we need.

There is no way to stop developing countries using ever more fossil fuels unless technology provides them with a cheaper more convenient alternative. China and India can reasonably point out that the alternative to burning fossil fuels is to remain poor. The same goes for every other developing country that wants the standard of living we have.

This is why it is pointless for Yousaf to go to New York. It ends with him virtue signalling about cutting emissions when we already are cutting, while the developing world burns as much coal oil and gas as it can buy and will continue to increase its rate of burning still further while we keep cutting.

It will be an advanced economy like the UK or the USA which will discover the technological solution to global warming, but we will only remain advanced economies if we ignore the SNP and the Scottish Greens who would prefer, we had no economic growth at all and went back to driving horse drawn carriages.

Net zero is a con and the con is created precisely by the kind of meeting Yousaf is attending in New York. It’s only a few Western countries that are even attempting to cut carbon emissions, because our leaders like Yousaf love to feel important at international meetings, enjoy making grand gestures and pretend that we set others and example, which in fact they ignore. 

But it is us that suffer from their virtue signalling when our houses are too cold, or we get stuck in Sutherland with an electric car and the nearest charging point is Inverness. We miss out when we can’t afford to fly somewhere warmer on holiday. Soon it will only be Humza Yousaf who can afford to travel anywhere.

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Saturday, 16 September 2023

Would anyone recognise an independent Scotland?


Few people in Britain would notice a football match between Romania and Kosovo in the qualifying round of the European championship. The match was stopped because of Romanian fans chanting and banners proclaiming that Kosovo is Serbia. Even this would not be especially interesting except for what it tells us about the political situation in Scotland.

There is a certain oddity too. Romania has played England on numerous occasions. There has been no chanting that England is the UK. Likewise, it is likely that Romania has played against the Faroe Islands. There have been no banners telling the Faroese players that the Faroe Islands are Denmark. Why are Romanian fans so interested in opposing the independence of Kosovo?

The problem with Kosovo is that it achieved independence by means of a unilateral declaration of independence. The war in Yugoslavia eventually gave rise to six new states seven if we include Kosovo, but Kosovo is the most problematic. The reason is that it was part of Serbia, and the Serbs were not and still are not willing to recognise that independence.

There were special circumstances behind Kosovo’s declaration of independence. The Kosovo War involved the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) in a civil war against the Kosovo Liberation Army. This led to the attempt to expel Kosovar civilians and the intervention of NATO.

Most Western countries due to these circumstances recognised the independence of Kosovo, but it set a precedent that was later used by Russia to justify the independence from Ukraine of Crimea and the Donbas. It is this precedent also that means that Kosovo is not universally recognised today.

Five EU member states Spain, Slovakia, Cyprus, Romania, and Greece do not recognise Kosovo’s independence. But all EU member states would need to recognize Kosovo before it could join the EU.

Why don’t these EU states recognise Kosovo? The reason is that it is not just the UK that has secession movements. Spain worries particularly about Catalonia being allowed to declare independence unilaterally. Slovakia worries about Hungarians and Rusyns (similar to Ukrainians). Cyprus worries about Turks in Northern Cyprus. Romania worries about Hungarians in Transylvania and on its border with Hungary. Greece worries about Albanians and Macedonians.

The borders of Europe exist for historical reasons most frequently due to wars. There are any number of formerly independent states which merged. Some states gained territory in the past while others lost.  Poland lost its eastern territories to Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania and gained its western territories from Germany. Austria and Hungary ruled much of central Europe until 1918, but now are small. Italy gained South Tyrol after the First World War, but the majority living there are German speakers. Once you go down the route of allowing formerly independent states to gain independence especially by means of unilateral declarations, the fear is that chaos would result and most likely war.

There are too many formerly independent states with conflicting territorial claims. There are too many past injustices about borders. There are too many ancient battles that could be refought like Bannockburn 1314 or Kosovo 1389.

It is in this context that the Supreme Courts judgement on the legitimacy of the Scottish Parliament legislating for a second referendum on independence is crucial. The SNP compared Scotland to Kosovo. But the historical context is quite different. The British Army has not attacked Scotland and attempted to expel its population. There has been no civil war in the United Kingdom. Scots have the same rights to live and work and vote as everyone else. There has been no oppression at all.

The Supreme Court ruled that Scotland was not a colony and therefore was simply part of the UK in the same way as Catalonia is part of Spain and the South Tyrol is part of Italy. The right to self-determination only applies to colonies, it doesn’t apply to the parts of modern European democracies. If it did then every formerly independent part of France or Germany would have the right to leave whenever it wanted.

We already have self-determination because we live in nation state where we each have a vote for Parliament. It is not undemocratic if Burgundy votes differently to France. If it were, democracy would everywhere be impossible.

This is what everyone else thinks in Europe. There is not a single EU member state that will grant a legal referendum to a part seeking independence.  

But let’s say the SNP the right. Let’s imagine that Scotland is indeed like Kosovo and that a vicious civil war had just been fought. The Scottish Parliament unilaterally declares independence. What would be the result?

Well, we already know from Kosovo. Five EU member states would not recognise the independence of Scotland. Romanian football fans would proclaim that Scotland was part of the UK. Scotland would not obtain EU membership because these five, perhaps more would oppose it.

Even under the best case scenario which obtained in 2014, with UK cooperation and permission to hold a legal referendum, it would have been necessary to persuade countries like Spain that Scottish independence did not constitute a dangerous precedent that Catalans might exploit.

If the former UK had argued for recognition of Scottish independence and had done all it could to help Scotland diplomatically then it is likely that eventually Scotland would have been allowed to join the EU.

But the SNP has not been arguing for this best case scenario. It has been arguing either to legislate for its own referendum on independence or to hijack a General Election or a Scottish Parliament Election. 

But all of these methods amount to a unilateral declaration of independence. So long as the UK Government does not recognise whatever method the SNP chooses to assert Scottish independence then the SNP is left with nothing but a unilateral declaration.

But Scotland is not Kosovo. No one is being oppressed. What’s more no one internationally thinks that Scots are being oppressed or that Scotland is a colony. If the SNP went down the route of a unilateral declaration of independence, it would obtain for Scotland even less recognition than Kosovo has received.

Kosovo rightly had the sympathy of much of the international community, but why would anyone think a unilateral declaration of independence was justified in Scotland?

If Scotland could obtain independence without the UK’s permission and that is really what the SNP is arguing, then anyone in Europe could set out to split from the country they are now in or to join another that they used to be part of. If Scotland could obtain independence because it once was independent hundreds of years ago, then anyone could.

The SNP’s latest ruse of claiming it will negotiate independence if it wins more seats in Scotland than any other party could easily be obtained in the following circumstance.

SNP 24 seats 35% of the vote
Labour 23 Seats 36% of vote
Conservatives 6 seats 15% of the vote
Lib Dems 4 seats 10% of vote.

Imagine the precedent this would set if it succeeded. The SNP would be saying to every breakaway movement in Europe you too can leave Spain or France by winning around a third of the vote in any election you choose to describe as a vote on secession even if another party wins more votes and parties opposed to independence win the majority of the vote.

Under these circumstances the threat to every state’s territorial integrity would be such that Scotland would not gain any recognition at all. There would be zero chance of joining the EU.

There is no constitutional principle that can turn a General Election into a referendum on independence. The SNP is acting unilaterally in supposing that it can define it in this way, and it would have to act unilaterally to obtain independence if the British Government didn’t agree with the SNP’s assessment that it had won independence with 35% of the vote.

Unilateral declarations are possible and might even succeed. But as the example of Kosovo shows this route won’t lead to EU membership. There is no prospect of Kosovo joining the EU.

The SNP needs to stop pretending that there is any alternative to waiting patiently. There is not.

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Thursday, 14 September 2023

Why I’ve chosen to support Rangers

I didn’t grow up supporting any football team. I would watch the occasional match on TV, but that was all. That’s how it is now too. I’m the sort of person that might watch a big international game in the World Cup, but I’ve only ever been to a few live games. I have only a limited knowledge of football. But gradually and over a number of years it has become clear to me that I follow Rangers. Not as closely as most Rangers fans, but still I found that I cared quite deeply about the club, not least because I cared about its supporters.

When I started to write about Scottish politics, I found that the people who were most likely to follow me were Rangers supporters. Of course, supporters of other clubs and none followed me also. That’s great. I’m not against any football team whether it’s an international side or a club side. But I began to gain a special affection for the Rangers fans who followed me.

Over the years I have had huge numbers of interactions with followers. The Rangers people I came across were universally good people. I have some followers who are Celtic fans too. These are usually good people too. Football doesn’t determine character.

But the number of interactions I have had with people who are Celtic fans who are unpleasant is off the scale. Most times I see bhoy in a Twitter name I find that it is accompanied with some sort of abuse against me personally.

Politics and football don’t always go together. There are Rangers fans who support the SNP and there are Celtic fans who are Pro UK. But my impression is that a lot of Celtic fans hate the UK and would delight in seeing it broken up, especially if that led to a united Ireland. I don’t want to generalise too much, but that is my impression.

On the other hand, Rangers fans generally disprove the SNP argument that being British and Scottish are incompatible. They are as Scottish as anyone could be, but they are happy to be British too. This is how I have always felt as well. No wonder I am drawn to them.

I don’t think that there is any place for sectarianism in Scotland. I am a Christian, but I respect all versions of Christianity. I was brought up as Protestant, but I don’t dislike Catholicism. It’s a bit different, but not that different. People should be able to support whichever team they like irrespective of religious belief.

What comes back to me most when I think of Rangers now is the great teams of the 1970s and 1980s when I watched more football as a child than I do now. I remember the Rangers players. Davie Cooper. Tom Forsyth. Ian Durant. Sandy Jardine. Somehow the players from other clubs fade from my memory. I discover with a little surprise that I was a Rangers fan all along without even realising it.

A few years ago, I had a problem with my web site that meant that I couldn’t share my articles on Twitter. A Rangers fan offered the use of a Rangers fan site to help me out. I never forgot it. Eventually I sorted the problem, but I always remembered the kindness.

When Rangers had financial difficulties a few years ago and were relegated to the bottom division, it would have finished most clubs. But Rangers fans travelled to Elgin or Peterhead or Dingwall just the same as they had when Rangers was in the top division. Every week Ibrox was full. Some people mocked Rangers for being sent down to the bottom. But it struck me as heroic to fight back win promotion and eventually win the Premier league. The measure of character is how you deal with adversity.

It was Ally McCoist that made me realise that I was a Rangers fan and that I had always been a Rangers fan. During his career I admired him as a player, but more than that I admired him as a man. McCoist has developed a new career commenting on sport. He is universally admired. He is as Scottish as anyone you could ever meet, but he is happy to say that he sings God Save the King. He personally disproves the SNP lie that only independence supporters believe in Scotland or indeed are fully Scottish. McCoist is fully Scottish and fully British too. He epitomises Rangers.  He is the best that Scotland has to offer.

None of us should hate other people because they are English, or Muslim, Catholic or indeed Celtic fans. Football is entertainment. Let’s enjoy it without hating anyone. I disagree with the SNP, but I don’t hate Scottish nationalists. They are my colleagues and my neighbours. Let’s discuss the issues with them agree and disagree in a friendly manner. It would help both sides to do this. It would make Scotland more pleasant for all of us.

But I have found my family with Rangers. You followed me and eventually I realised that my allegiance was your allegiance. If you follow me, then I will follow you. I may not know as much about football as the average Ranger fan but

Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God.

Follow Follow.

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Tuesday, 12 September 2023

Rejoining the EU is even more anachronistic than Rule Britannia.


The song Rule Britannia could hardly be more anachronistic. If Britain ever ruled the waves, which perhaps was just about possible to argue in 1740, it certainly does not now. Even in 1916 when Britain still had the largest navy in the world it suffered a tactical defeat at Jutland. But most national anthems are anachronistic.  Those feet probably did not walk upon England’s mountain’s green. But there is something still more anachronistic about the singing of Rule Britannia and that is to do so accompanied by blue and yellow EU flags.

Prior to Britain voting to leave the EU it was rare indeed to see people waving the EU flag. Support for the EU prior to 2016 was moderate. There were no people with berets with EU stars.

I had always assumed that the EU was one of those things that British people grumbled about, but which would never be changed. I never ever thought we would be given a referendum on EU membership. Having been given it I assumed that Remain would win easily.

I voted Leave primarily because I hoped that it would make the SNP’s argument more difficult as it did. The EU is the condition for the possibility of sub national nationalism in the modern world. Leaving I believed was necessary for otherwise Scottish nationalists would eventually realise that they could leave the UK without much changing. The EU would guarantee free movement with the former UK and Scots would have the same rights as before. The choice became do you prefer UK unity or EU membership, because you can’t have both.

But in other respects, I could see quite a lot of merit in the EU. Free movement made it easier to live and work in EU countries. The Single Market was probably beneficial economically.

Brexit has not failed. It has destroyed the SNP. The UK economy is doing about as well in comparison with similar EU economies. But Brexit has not succeeded either. It has not limited migration. Quite the reverse. We just get our migrants now from outside the EU. We have not gained an economic advantage from Brexit, because we have not really tried to gain it.

I can see why sensible people still regret that we voted to Leave. There were some good arguments for Remain. But here is where the EU flag wavers at the Proms are behaving anachronistically. They have not moved on from the Remain arguments of 2016. They still think that the EU that we left we could rejoin. But you can’t step into the same EU twice.

There is I think a very good reason why no serious British political party will campaign to rejoin the EU at the next General Election. While I think it quite possible that a second referendum on EU membership would give a Remain result, it won’t give a Rejoin result.

This is ably illustrated by the SNP’s views on EU membership. The SNP is keen for an independent Scotland to join, but only if it can avoid those aspects of the EU that were never popular in Scotland and the UK generally. Schengen and the Euro. So, the SNP argues that those bits that we don’t like we could avoid or at least put off indefinitely.

So too British supporters of rejoining the EU argue that the UK could avoid EU federalism and be given opt outs on the Euro and Schengen.

Perhaps we could, but here is the problem. Remainers and now Rejoiners are only enthusiastic about the Common Market. They are happy for us to have free movement. They are happy for us to be part of the Single Market, but if you offer them Euro federalism and the steps needed to complete it, they are not so keen.

But while it was just about possible in 2016 to argue that we could avoid those aspects of the EU that we dislike, it is not possible now.

If the UK came to the EU and said Brexit was a terrible mistake, please let us back we would come as a supplicant. The EU would set the terms of membership and we know how hard a bargain it made when we left. To suppose that it would not drive a hard bargain if we wanted to rejoin is to misunderstand the EU entirely.

It is not in the EU’s interest to have an unenthusiastic UK always trying to stop EU integration as we were before. Nor indeed would it want an unenthusiastic Scotland always resisting Euro federalism. For this reason, there would be no Thatcher rebate on the EU membership fee. There would be no leaving the ERM, there would be no impossible conditions as set out by Gordon Brown for joining the Euro. There would be no avoiding Schengen, just as there would be no avoiding anything else we didn’t like.

The EU has enough trouble with Poland and Hungary resisting edicts from Brussels without adding the UK too.

But if it became clear to the UK electorate that EU membership was to be either full membership or nothing, then it would choose nothing.

But this is not merely a problem for British rejoiners, it is a problem for the EU itself.

The EU exists as it does for historical reasons. France was successfully invaded three times between 1870 and 1940, because a united Germany was too strong for France to defeat on its own. Germany since its Septemberprogramm of 1914 has wanted to create a Mitteleuropa economic association dominated by Germany. Both France and Germany get what they historically wanted from the EU. Germany no longer invades France and France gets to feel it is still an important power ruling Europe like Napoleon, but in fact Germany rules. France gets the illusion of power and maintains its security. Germany gets a market for its manufacturing and pretends to have put behind it all that nasty militarism. But the EU fulfils Germany’s war aims from 1870 to 1939 quite nicely. Everyone is happy.

But no one else in the world is pursuing this model of federal integration. There are lots of security and economic associations in the world. There is the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. There is the North American Free Trade Association. There is the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But no one else is trying to create anything like the European Union.

The New York Times may think that Brexit is folly, but neither it nor any American voter wants either a single North American currency, nor passport free travel nor to have a North American Parliament or a North American Commission in Ottawa. The Japanese don’t want to be part of an Asian Union ruled from Beijing. No one in South America or Africa or indeed anywhere else wants what the EU offers and demands as a condition for membership.

But this is not merely a problem for those who want to persuade us to rejoin the EU. It is above all a problem for the EU. Poles and Hungarians are happy to gain the benefits of EU membership, but few if any want Poland and Hungary to become regions of a United States of Europe. Worse the French don’t want this either.

No one else in the world is trying to unite people with different languages, cultures and histories into a federal state. The single currency only makes sense if there is to be a political union, but no one wants political union. Least of all the Scottish nationalists. That is what they have now.

It makes sense for nation states to cooperate. It makes sense for them to have free trade agreements. It may even make sense for them to have a common market. But no one else is trying to create a federal state out of peoples who are so different as the peoples of Europe and who have almost nothing in common except geography.

The EU is a mass of contradictions that no one else wants to imitate. This is why despite the EU flags at the Proms there is no chance that the UK or indeed an independent Scotland would choose to join it. The voters would not allow it.   

Rule Berlaymont, Berlaymont rules not even itself.

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Monday, 11 September 2023

Can I change race?


I started reading David Copperfield earlier this year and got stuck. I was about a quarter of the way through and finding it a bit tough going and so I laid it aside. It might have stayed there, but something brought me back. Could I really be defeated by Dickens when I had managed Dostoevsky in Russian? So, I finished Copperfield’s adventures found the book wonderful and learned a lesson that was quite unexpected.

The landscape of London is quite different. Copperfield walks through countryside to get to Highgate. But it is the attitudes that are unimaginably different.  Copperfield must ask permission to court Dora. Steerforth cannot possibly marry Emily because she is working class, but the sexual relationship she has with him makes it impossible for her to marry anyone else.

But the biggest change between the early nineteenth century and today is of course the demographic makeup of the UK. There are no ethnic minorities in Dickens apart from Fagin. Indeed, hardly anyone is from abroad. The ethnic makeup of Britain had barely changed since the Norman Conquest.

But there is now a concerted effort to change this truth and to make the past more representative of the present.

The people whose families arrived in the UK since the 1950 have the right to the same fair and equal treatment as everyone else. It is wrong to discriminate against someone because of race or religion or any other characteristic.

It is reasonable that jobs, sporting teams, TV programmes and films set in modern Britain should reflect Britain as it is today. But it is not unreasonable that nine or ten members or indeed every member of sports team should be white so long as people from ethnic minorities are not discriminated against, because this does reflect the demographic situation.

But the demand now is not merely that the present should reflect the demographic reality of modern Britain, but that the past should too. This is a deception and the next woke battle, which will take it in a yet stranger direction.

Until very recently films based on classic English literature would have casts that reflected the characters. Dickens didn’t have black characters because he rarely if ever saw black people. To suppose that Pip in Great Expectations would meet a black Estella is to imagine something almost impossible in the society of the time. If Steerforth cannot marry Emily because she is working class, is it likely that he would marry her if she were black?

The idea that Dev Patel could walk through nineteenth century London while being treated equally by white people and without meeting racial prejudice is preposterous. If Dora’s father opposed Copperfield’s relationship with her even though they were colleagues, how much more would he oppose it if Copperfield were ethnically Indian?

This might all be dismissed as of no consequence. So, what if Copperfield is brown, so what if Anne Boleyn is black. It provides equal opportunities for actors. But the important issue is the reason why there is such a concerted attempt to pretend that the past was other than it was.

If Britain was always a multiethnic, multiracial society and we can show this because David Copperfield was brown, and Anne Boleyn was black then the present demographic makeup of the UK is not really a change at all. In embracing the present multicultural Britain, we are embracing the past too and demonstrating the one follows from the other. The children of David Copperfield or his real-life equivalent were diverse, and their descendants were the diverse population we have today.

People from ethnic minorities are British citizens. We are not allowed to make a distinction between British ethnicity and other ethnicities. It would be divisive to make the distinction. We are white British, or black British in the census. There is no option to say I have a British ethnicity.

But if this is true then it follows that a British character such as Copperfield or a British historical figure like Anne Boleyn could also be black British even if this is obviously false.

Once you get rid of the concept of a British ethnicity and this may well be necessary in a multiracial society where everyone is equally British, then the past too becomes multiethnic even if it wasn’t.

Even the British origin myths such as Gawain and the Green Knight involve Dev Patel pretending that Gawain could have been Indian. It’s like portraying the Bhagavad Gita as a conversation between King Arthur and Merlin.

But behind all of this is something else. The whole point of the new woke religion is to do away with objective truth. What matters is how someone subjectively feels rather than objective reality.

This has reached its peak in the concept of transgender. It doesn’t matter if your DNA says that you are a man or if you have a male body, the feeling that you are in reality a woman is more important. The result is to subjectify sex and gender to the extent that anyone without any sort of medical diagnosis can legally change sex and a man can become a woman.

From the objective point of view this is absurd and previous generations would immediately have pointed this out. But the triumph of feeling over fact has reached the stage where men can give birth and there is talk of transplanting wombs into male bodies so that they can grow babies.

But it is not merely sex and gender that have been made a matter of subjectivity. Race too is a social construct. If men can become women, why can’t black people become white people?

Well, they can? David Copperfield is white. Anne Boleyn was white. Now we see them transformed from a white character to a black or brown actor. If nineteenth century London was 99.9% white, now we see it transformed to a multiracial society like London today.

We are not there yet. While Dev Patel can play David Copperfield try including white actors in the Mahābhārata. Even opera and theatre that was designed originally for white actors such as the Mikado, Othello or Turandot cannot now be played by white actors without controversy.

Transracialism still only works one way. White characters can become black, white historical figures can become black, but not the other way round.

But if race really is a social construct, then it will have to embrace equal opportunity. Otherwise, it is the equivalent of saying that men can become women, but women cannot become men.

But once you allow that DNA or physical characteristics do not determine sex and gender, then it will logically follow that they do not determine race or indeed anything else.

We accept this already with cases of mixed race. Prince Harry’s children may define themselves as black because they have a black mother even if no one could guess that they were. But once you allow self-definition of race for one person how can you deny it for another?

A Redenção de Cam (Redemption of Ham) by Modesto Brocos

The problem for woke is this, however. It both depends on race being a social construct and race being something physically visible. If eleven white women play for the England football team, what is to prevent half of them saying they are really black? But you don’t have black parents? So, what. We have already accepted that being British has nothing to do with ancestry.

So, what is to prevent me defining myself as black even if I can trace my ancestry to the Norman Conquest? It cannot be my DNA that prevents me, because it doesn’t prevent me changing sex. It cannot be my appearance, because Prince Harry’s children can define themselves as they please.

At this point the race relations industry collapses. Critical race theory tells us that Black people cannot be racist against other black people and cannot be racist against white people, because white people have “white privilege”. But this means that if a white person says something derogatory against a black person, he can merely say I am black. He may not look black, but everyone if you go back far enough has a black ancestor. What’s more if I merely feel black, if I identify with other black people who is to say I can’t because of my appearance if Prince Harry’s children can. What has it to do with what I look like?

This is the endgame of woke. If David Copperfield can be black, why can’t I? In that case I will according to woke theory be incapable of being racist. There will no longer be an objective concept of race.

Unfortunately, too when white can become black, and men can become women there will no longer be an objective concept of anything. Humanity will have been remade and we will at last be ready for socialism.

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Saturday, 9 September 2023

The UK is not an equal union, because it is not a union at all


The key to winning a long-term political battle is to control the narrative. In this language is crucial. Scottish nationalists know this, for which reason they continually strive to avoid being called nationalists. They hate being described as trying to break up the UK. They don’t even want to say that they hope that Scotland will leave the UK. All of these things are perceived as negative, for which reason the whole SNP emphasis is on something positive. Independence.

There are limits to how much we can change the words in a debate. If I could do one thing it would be to take away from Scottish nationalism the word independence. When we leave school, get a job, marry, and set up home, we become independent. It’s a positive step in our development.

But independence was part of the referendum question in 2014 “Should Scotland be an independent country?” I have always thought the question grotesquely unfair. Not only did the SNP have the advantage of campaigning for Yes. It had the advantage of campaigning for Scotland being a country, which almost everyone thinks it already is and being something positive “independent”.

It may be too late to completely kick the word “independence” out of the debate, but we can try to modify the use of this word and others.

Above all never adopt language which our opponents have invented to portray us in a negative light.

Muscular Unionist

This term was obviously invented by people hostile to the Pro UK argument. It is supposed to remind us of Muscular Christianity. Muscular Unionist is similarly a term of ridicule. The aim is to make Pro UK people appease Scottish nationalism and to prevent us arguing that the UK is a unitary nation state just like any other. Any attempt to assert the unity of the UK or to limit the powers of devolution is portrayed as Muscular Unionism. Winning elections against the SNP is indeed too muscular. We must be weak instead.  


I never describe myself as a unionist. The term unionist in British politics invariably referred historically to the union with Ireland. This was contentious for which reason parties in Northern Ireland call themselves unionist. The Conservative party sometimes referred to itself as unionist too, but this was about Ireland not about Scotland.  The term unionist has the negative connotations of men in bowler hats and orange sashes and the Troubles. This has nothing to do with me.


I never describe the United Kingdom as a Union or the Union. The Act of Union of 1707 created the Kingdom of Great Britain. This was a merger of England and Scotland, just like the merger of Castile and Aragon and any number of other mergers in Europe. To call the UK a Union rather the result of a union implies that the parts that were united still exist and are held together by a union. This is to concede the argument to the Scottish nationalist. It says that the UK is a sort of confederation like the EU made up of countries. But in that case these countries would already be independent, which again concedes the argument. To describe the UK as a union is to conflate the union (marriage of England and Scotland) with the result of the union (the baby, the Kingdom of Great Britain). The UK is not an equal union, because it is not a union at all.

Four nations

Don’t describe the UK as being made up of four nations or four countries. No one is doubting that Scotland is commonly called a country, but its true status is that of a region of the UK. Real countries are sovereign nation states like France. If Scotland is like France, then it already is independent. Instead, the UK is made up of places that used to be independent countries, which happen to be still called countries and which happen to play international sport. But none of this changes the reality. Formerly independent countries being part of countries is commonplace in Europe. All of these places are regions. Only members of the UN and other international bodies are really countries.


This term gets an immediate and automatic block from me on Twitter. It is an attempt to come up with an equally negative equivalent of “Nat”. I am not a unionist. I don’t believe there is a union, and I won’t allow myself to be referred to by a misspelled abbreviation of this term. Above all don’t adopt this term about yourself.

Brit Nat

The concept of British nationalism is an attempt to come up with an equally negative equivalent of Scottish nationalism. It is applied to all Pro UK people. So, it refers to Mr Tomkins even if he thinks he is moderate and is friendly with people who support the SNP. There is nothing nationalistic about wishing to maintain the territorial integrity of the nation state in which you live. If that were the case then the word nationalist would refer to the inhabitants of every country, which would make it cease to be useful. The only context in which British nationalism makes sense is when it is applied to the far right. So, they are calling us fascists when they call us this. There are two varieties of nationalism. One wishes to secede (Scottish) while another wishes to join with someone else (Irish). British people want to do neither so to call us nationalists is either false or offensive.


There is no Yes movement. Nor are there Yes supporters or Yessers. Don’t keep giving them the benefit of Yes. There is no reason to suppose that a future referendum would have a Yes/No question. It would have a Remain/Leave question or something similar. Even the nationalists accept this by arguing for a de facto referendum that wouldn’t have a Yes/No question because it wouldn’t have a question at all.


Scotland leaving the UK would destroy the UK. There would be no Kingdom of Great Britain if Scotland left, so there could not be a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. So don’t say rest of the United Kingdom (rUK) instead say former United Kingdom, like former Yugoslavia.


Wherever possible use words like secession, separation and leaving the UK rather than gaining independence. It may not be possible to cease using independence completely, but always make clear that it involves breaking up the UK. It brings home the destructiveness of the SNP’s aims.


Don’t be negative about Scotland. We believe in Scotland just as much as the SNP does. We love Scotland, its symbols and its flag just as much as the nationalists. We simply prefer Scotland to be part of the UK. Indeed, this is the only Scotland any of us know. To suppose that the SNP uniquely believes in Scotland is to suppose that Bavarians disbelieve, dislike or hate Bavaria, because they are happy for it to be part of Germany.


The SNP are not Nazis, nor are independence supporters fascists. Using these sorts of terms and other forms of abuse makes our side look bad. Winning the narrative involves us being more polite, more reasonable and more pleasant than our opponents.

The UK is almost uniquely threated by sub national nationalism and by the irredentism of a neighbouring state. The reason for this is as much linguistic as it is historical.

There is no reasonable distinction between the formerly independent states of Germany and Italy and those in the UK, except the UK allowed sub national identity to continue long after Scotland, Wales and England ceased to exist.

Instead of asserting that the UK is a single unitary nation state, successive British Governments have attempted to appease nationalists with devolution and the bizarre idea that the UK is in some weird way a union of four nation states.

No one else in Europe has this problem as the formerly independent parts that make up European countries are not allowed to maintain a separate identity as countries from the whole. This invariably enables European countries to make secession and referendums on the issue illegal without this being described as undemocratic.

So too the British Government has appeased Irish nationalism by uniquely in Europe offering Ireland the chance to annex UK territory by means of referendums. No one thinks that it would be legitimate for Russia to seize Crimea by means of a referendum. No one thinks that formerly German Silesia could be given back to Germany by means of a referendum.

Try reuniting Old Mexico with New Mexico to form a United Mexico and see what happens.

The UK is unique in the world in allowing its territorial integrity to be subject to referendums. The reason for this is that we appeased nationalists rather than asserting that the territorial integrity of the UK was indivisible, which is what every other country in the world does.

We did this because we accepted the nationalist’s own language and story about the UK.

It’s very easy to change this. Parliament is sovereign. Pass a law that forbids both referendums and secession. Make the existence of devolved parliaments subject to their not being used to further the destruction of the UK. Tell foreign powers that they will have to win a war to gain our territory.

If that is too muscular for you, then you no doubt prefer appeasement and weakness, which is the very reason we have a problem with sub national nationalism that no one else does. 

I am not a muscular unionist, because I am not a unionist at all.

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Thursday, 7 September 2023

The SNP can now be decisively defeated


It’s now around 13 years since we last had a Labour Government. People in their twenties will barely remember it. In Scotland too we have had SNP Government since 2007. The days when Labour and the Lib Dems were in coalition are a distant memory even for those of us who do remember. Change is coming in both the UK and in Scotland.

I’m a free marketeer. I believe in lowering public spending, lowering taxes and being left alone. The state should interfere in our lives as little as possible. It should provide free healthcare, but not in the way that it does now. It should provide help for those who are unemployed or ill. But it should not try to micromanage our lives, nor should it tell us what to think and say about social issues.

I am a Thatcherite Conservative, but I have become like those independence supporters who are so disillusioned with the SNP that they now vote for someone else. Voting Conservative is no more a route to Thatcherite Conservatism than voting SNP is a route to Scottish independence. This is why the next General Election, and the subsequent Holyrood election will be about obtaining change.

The biggest problem with Labour is that it gets the fundamentals wrong. People join the Labour Party because they believe in socialism. But socialism doesn’t work. Human beings are not motivated by achieving equality with other people. They are motivated by profit for themselves and their families. The attempt to change that invariably leads to tyranny, laziness and decline.

But the ideological difference between Labour and the Conservatives is now minimal. Starmer’s Labour would be moderate. The far left is still there but it lacks power and influence. If we were fortunate a Labour Government might just bring the economic success of the early Blair years before Brown blew up the economy. That would certainly be better than the last 13 years of Cameron, May, Johnson, Truss and Sunak.

Labour disastrously gave us devolution, but Cameron even more disastrously gave us an independence referendum which fuelled Scottish nationalism still further. Each party is guilty of trying to appease Scottish nationalism and failing.

The only major achievement since 2010 Brexit was obtained despite the Conservative Government’s opposition. The advantages it might have brought to the UK were wasted first treacherously by May and secondly incompetently by Johnson.

Lockdown was contrary to basic Conservative principles of freedom that leave people to make their own choices. It obviously now cost more lives than it saved.

Britain feels like it is in a worse place now than it was in 2010. The NHS is in chaos. Debt has increased. The deficit is still huge. We are importing one million people a year legally and can do absolutely nothing to stop those arriving illegally.

Labour may make it worse. We may have more and weirder forms of woke. But there is no need to be hopeless. Labour may be more competent that the Conservatives.

There is a bigger prize too.

Imagine if Labour in Scotland approaches or even surpasses the SNP’s share of the vote. The latest poll puts Scottish Labour on 26 seats with the SNP on 22 with an equal sharer of the vote at 34%. This will happen only because former SNP voters in the Central Belt will return to Labour. It is rational for them to do so.

The SNP’s independence project is on hold despite the marching, which has more to do with morale than reality. If you are a moderately left-wing Scot, who doesn’t think there is much chance of independence happening any time soon, it makes more sense to vote Labour than the SNP. You are more likely that way to get some of what you want.

What have SNP MPs achieved in Westminster? I can’t think of a single thing. They even failed to obtain a softer Brexit when they had the chance, hoping instead to stop it altogether. But this was particularly stupid for a party that relies on the result of an independence referendum being fulfilled.

If Scottish Labour MPs are the difference between Labour having a majority and not having a majority, they will have a great deal more influence than any number of SNP MPs. Being part of the Government gives influence, being the difference between majority and minority gives still more.

The prize for Pro UK Scots is not so much a by-election in Rutherglen, nor indeed a Labour Government in Westminster. Both of these however may be crucial to a tantalising possibility unimaginable even a year ago. Anas Sarwar may replace Humza Yousaf as First Minister.

If SNP support falls to the extent that it loses Rutherglen, it will be still clearer that independence is not happening. If the SNP can’t win there, how can it expect to win a referendum? But this will cause still more independence supporters to rationally choose to vote for an obtainable some of what they want Labour, rather than an unobtainable all of what they want SNP.

If more Scots vote Labour than SNP at the General Election, then the SNP argument about Scotland not getting the Government it votes for would be gone.

The SNP will have been in power for 19 years by 2026. Who knows what further scandals may be revealed? Who knows what further incompetence may arise? If the General Election next year is a change election the Holyrood election may be one too.

Imagine if Sarwar in coalition with the Lib Dems and with a Pro UK majority in the Scottish Parliament were able to initiate a forensic audit into the SNP Government’s activities during the previous 19 years. They may be able to hide now, but they would be unable to hide then.

Of course, none of these things may happen. But if the SNP were to lose its independence supporting majority, it would be possible to expose it for what it is and to destroy it. Independence would then be a dead issue.

I will probably still vote Conservative. Where I live the Conservatives have the best chance of defeating the SNP. But we must all focus on the real prize. It begins with defeating the SNP in Rutherglen. It ends with the SNP completely routed with the battle won decisively.

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Monday, 4 September 2023

Wings over Britain.


When I first came across Stuart Campbell and his site Wings over Scotland it must have been in the years leading up to the referendum. He was combative, extremely popular with Scottish nationalists and was able to make a living from his site.

Naturally we disagreed. I disliked his site. I kept telling myself he was a charlatan and for a long time I stopped reading.

But I came to reevaluate the site over the past few years. Campbell has the best inside knowledge of anyone writing on the pro-independence side of the argument. He has very good contacts and quite frequently makes original points you won’t find elsewhere. He is the best critic of the SNP because his attack like a Trojan horse is from within.

I began to read his site regularly. I rarely read anything written by independence supporters. I think Ian Macwhirter is clever and willing to think about the issue. I think Craig Murray was brave and sincere but always approaches eccentricity. Robin McAlpine, I come across sometimes and usually find worth reading. But it’s Campbell I read regularly, because he tells me what my opponent is thinking.

A lot of Scottish nationalists especially those dissatisfied with the SNP think like Campbell. It’s extraordinary to me that the SNP didn’t give Campbell a job or make him an MP, instead preferring the likes of Ferrier and McGarry. This is someone who from nothing built the most popular pro-independence site and made a living doing it. If that’s not talented what is? Better by far to have him inside the SNP shooting cannon balls at opponents than outside the SNP lobbing those same cannon balls first at Sturgeon and then at Yousaf.

But what struck me most the other day was coming across Campbell’s reasoning for supporting independence. It gets to the essence of the issue.

Of course [Scotland] was a country. It had its own dialect and an identifiable culture, both things personified to my young self by Oor Wullie and The Broons …It had national football and rugby teams. It had a flag. Why would it be any less of a country than Germany or Italy or Holland or Brazil or Argentina?

This is why Scottish nationalists support independence. If you discuss the issue at all, you immediately come across Scottish nationalists telling you that Scotland is a country. From this everything else follows. 

A long time ago I put their argument this way:

Scotland is a country.
Countries ought to be independent.
Therefore, Scotland ought to be independent.

Campbell makes the same point. If we are a country, if we have a football team like Germany and Italy why should we be a lesser sort of country that is not independent? This is a very good argument.

There are large numbers of countries in the world. I can only think of the four parts of the UK that are not independent. What makes these four out of so many so second rate that they are unable to be independent countries?

But this argument is interesting precisely because it cuts both ways and cuts in a worse way for Scottish nationalism.

The Pro UK position must logically deny that Scotland is a country. By all means accept that Scotland is called a country, which for odd historical reasons has separate international rugby and football teams, but once you accept that Scotland is a country like France it’s game over. I can think of no respectable argument for why a country ought not to be independent. Chad manages to be independent, why not Scotland? Why not Wales?

The problem for the Pro UK argument is that nearly all of the Scottish population believes that Scotland is a country just like France. Most Pro UK Scots believe this too.

So, if nearly everyone in Scotland believes Scotland is a country and the statement countries ought to be independent is self-evident, how is it that Scottish nationalism doesn’t have overwhelming support?

People are not logical. This was ably demonstrated by the march for Scottish independence within the EU. What about those Scottish nationalists who oppose the EU? I strongly suspect a large number turned up at the march. If you oppose England and Scotland forming a union in 1707, why would you support a union with 27 other countries? Because it is a different sort of union. Really? How can you be sure that Scotland won’t end up a region of a United States of Europe just as it is now in truth a region of the United Kingdom?

Worse I think for Scottish nationalism is this. The overwhelming majority of Scots think that Scotland is a country. They accept that countries ought to be independent, but still, they voted No.

There is something deeply craven about Scottish nationalism and the yellow streak goes right down the back of the SNP and its supporters.

Scots are willing to support Scotland at football and rugby and are willing to get angry if someone suggests that Scotland isn’t a country, but at the least sign of difficulty they give up.

2014 was the best chance that there will ever be. The UK was in the EU. If Scotland had left the UK, it would probably have managed to retain the same relationship to the former UK as Germany has with Austria. But arguments over currency and the Barnett Formula and whether we could still watch Strictly come dancing defeated the SNP. Such trivia compared to being free!

If you can’t win when the conditions are that favourable, how do you expect to win when they are so unfavourable that independence might involve a hard border and having to wait 8 years and more to join the EU?

Scotland is full of 90-minute nationalists. It harms the Pro UK argument because very few Scots feel genuinely British. Few people nowadays in the other parts of the UK feel very British either. But it harms the Scottish nationalist argument more.

Scots and I think Welsh, English and the green side of the Northern Irish have a limited common identity, but we are not going to change things unless they will be obviously and significantly better.

Living in the UK is not that bad. There are things to grumble about. There are things that don’t work. There are things that are rubbish. But the UK standard of living is high by international standards. A few countries are better off, but the vast majority are much worse off. We have a fairly good democracy. There isn’t much corruption. We are fortunate.

Scottish independence is a risk. Welsh independence is a still greater risk. Northern Ireland leaving the UK to join the Republic is perhaps the biggest risk of all. It’s not just that you might lose the NHS, it’s what happens if a bomb blows off your leg and you have to pay 50 euros to see your Irish doctor? Who knows the price that would have to be paid in blood for Irish unity. I doubt very much it would be peaceful.

This is the problem for the SNP. Campbell’s argument about Scotland being a country wasn’t good enough in 2014. But that really is the only argument you have. That’s your best argument. I sometimes think it’s your only argument.

But it’s not enough and it looks like it’s never going to be enough. The UK has endured for more than 300 years even though most people think it is an oddly contradictory country made up of countries because we have separate international football teams. 

Nowhere else is like that, precisely because the countries that made up for example Italy and Germany prior to unification didn’t have separate football teams and lost their sense of being separate countries. But there is historically no difference between Saxony and Scotland apart from football. If you think there is a difference please point it out. Saxony fought a war against other parts of Germany in 1866. 

It would be better to tell the truth, that the UK is a unitary country with regions that happen to have international football teams and which for historical reasons are called countries. But no one quite dares. It would upset the 90-minute nationalists who might become permanent nationalists. And so, we appease Welsh, Scottish and Irish nationalism and hope that the English don’t notice the appeasement. 

Devolution is appeasement based on the lie that the UK is made up of separate countries. It almost cost us our country in 2014. 

But until someone convincingly shows that your standard of living would be massively better in an independent Scotland and there is no risk at all in leaving the UK, then the SNP will continue to gather only a few thousand true believers in Edinburgh. But these true believers will have no chance of achieving their goal, because no one else can be bothered enough to turn up.

Scots may continue to vote for the SNP, but only because they perhaps reasonably think this is the best way to gain more subsidies from London. This is the limit of Scottish nationalism. They may think that Scotland is a country. They may not feel at all British. But they dare not risk even the smallest hit to their living standards to achieve independence. Safely housed in Bath neither for that matter does Mr Campbell. Why risk living in an independent Scotland if you might be arrested for being a transphobe or anything else that might come with it? Safer in Bath. If this logic applies to Mr Campbell, it equally applies and still more to those of us actually living in Scotland who risk who knows what. 

My mortgage, my savings, because you think Scotland is a country and you like to dress up as a Jacobite. Why should I pay the price for your cosplay and your inability to understand the distinction between Scotland was a country and Scotland is a country?

Scottish nationalists want independence in theory, but not in practice. This is why we voted No in 2014 despite not feeling very British. It turns out nationalism isn’t enough and if nationalism isn’t enough to get you independence, what would be enough? Nothing. 

When you have nothing left you have nowhere to march. Nowhere to go. It must be devastating. This is why Scottish nationalists are in despair. This is why we need to establish a rescue mission to help them through their stages of grief. 

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