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Scottish nationalism will survive Sturgeon Both the SNP and unionists are too weak to triumph

Nairn was no false prophet (Jeff J Mitchell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Nairn was no false prophet (Jeff J Mitchell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)


February 16, 2023   4 mins

Nicola Sturgeon has exited the stage, but the threat of Scottish independence has not. Whatever the triumphalism in London over the First Minister’s resignation yesterday, the idea that the secession crisis has ended is absurd. For the time being, the grim truth is that neither Scottish nationalism nor British unionism is strong enough to triumph — not because of some personality problem, but because of deep, structural weaknesses on both sides.

Today, both secessionism and unionism feed off the other’s incoherence. Sturgeon’s press conference in Edinburgh compellingly proved this: she described her decision in ways that made it sound as if she were some kind of martyr. Under her leadership, she said, the cause of Scottish nationalism had suffered because it had become caught up in the irrational partisanship of her opponents, who had grown to dislike her so much that they could no longer judge Scottish independence on its own merits. She was, she intimated, sacrificing herself in the hope that a new leader would be able to bring more people into the tent of Scottish nationalism. Unionists should not be complacent about this prospect — she may actually be correct — but the structural problem for Scottish nationalism is not the prejudice of its opponents, but the failings of its own offer.

Brexit has made Scottish independence a far more complicated prospect than it was before. It is now possible that we will look back on the referendum in 2014 as the moment Scottish independence made the most sense. Fair or not, Brexit means that Scotland cannot dilute the dominating reality of England simply by leaving the union and joining the rump UK in a wider EU. If anything, Brexit has made England’s hulking presence next to Scotland even more pronounced, while demanding answers from the SNP that it does not seem ready or able to provide. What happens at the border with England? Will Scotland introduce the euro? Will Holyrood accept common European debts? Will it rejoin the Common Fisheries Policy? For the SNP, Brexit has turned out to be both the casus belli for its second push for independence and a strategic disaster. The best thing that could happen to Scottish nationalism would be for Britain to rejoin the European Union.

For unionists, however, Brexit might be an unexpected weapon in their constitutional arsenal, but it is one whose very existence is a reminder of the union’s inherent Englishness. Today, it is impossible to escape the reality that the UK has ceased to function in any meaningful sense as a unified British state; it now operates as an incoherent and imbalanced union of separate entities whose English character has not been softened by devolution, but incalculably sharpened. The fact is, the more Holyrood dominates Scotland’s national life, the more English the actual national parliament in Westminster becomes. This is a hole in the national barrel, draining the legitimacy of parliament and in time the union itself. The irony, then, is that just as Brexit acts as both an irritant and a salve to the threat of Scottish independence, devolution itself is a prime source of the union’s instability, the unbridgeable fault line in the body politic which no-one in Westminster is prepared to confront.

Watching Sturgeon’s resignation, I was reminded of the late Tom Nairn, the great academic pin-up of Scottish nationalism whose book The Break-up of Britain argued that the British state was destined to collapse like the Hapsburg, Tsarist or Prussian regimes of the 19th and early 20th centuries. “It is a basically indefensible and unadaptable relic, not a modern state,” wrote Nairn. “The only useful kind of speculation has assumed a geriatric odour: a motorised wheelchair and a decent funeral seem to have become the actual horizons of the Eighties.” Nairn’s book was published in 1977 and yet the geriatric old relic endures, still supported by half  of Scottish voters, despite Brexit and the political crises in Westminster that have followed.

Yet Nairn cannot be dismissed as a false prophet. As a political force, Scottish Nationalism has been transformed since 1977. The SNP is now the dominant force in Scottish politics, with independence supported by almost half the population and most of the young. As a result, Britain is easily the most fragile power in western Europe, or indeed the wider Western alliance. Almost no other country — apart from Canada or Spain — is as close to breaking apart.

Nairn was also right to argue in the 2002 edition of his book, when devolution was being hailed as a great reform which would permanently obstruct the demand for independence, that the British state remained structurally unstable. “A new tide seeking real independence is forming itself beneath the facade of Blairism,” he wrote. “It will rise into the spaces left by New Labour’s collapse, and by the increasing misfortunes of the old Union state.” Thirteen years later, the SNP expelled Labour from Scotland, winning every seat but three.

Nairn, in my view, was right to see long-term structural challenges to the British state, but wrong to believe that this made it uniquely outdated, or somehow destined to collapse. The fact that after eight years as First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon has resigned, still unable to answer how Scottish independence will be enacted, is testament to the inherent challenges of secession, not just continuity.

When I asked Nairn a few years ago about the challenge Brexit posed to Scottish nationalism, he was thoughtful and reflective, arguing that it changed the type of relationship an independent Scotland would have with the UK after the latter’s inevitable collapse. In his last interview before he died, Nairn argued that what would eventually replace Britain was still being worked out. “We’re trying to replace Great Britain… with something else, but what that is, there is no ready and living example of it to which we can turn. We have to make it up as we go along, because there is nothing else.”

In this he was right, but the truth is both sides are making it up as they go along. None of us have been here; everything is new. Unionism has yet to offer coherent answers to the problems posed by devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but not England; Brexiteers have yet to offer coherent answers to the problem of Northern Ireland and its border with the Republic; and Scottish nationalists have yet to offer coherent answers to the problem of seceding from Britain after Britain has seceded from Europe. Nicola Sturgeon departs as First Minister of Scotland having failed to find them. But her opponents should not crow, for they have not succeeded in this task either.


is UnHerd’s Political Editor. He is the author of Betting The House: The Inside Story of the 2017 Election.

TomMcTague

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Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago

Scottish Independence is a romantic cause – though not grounded in any pragmatic reality.
I’m a staunch unionist. Why? Because I’m a British citizen of Scots and Irish descent who lives in England. I see myself as British. (I’m only ‘English’ during the 6N Rugby.) But I see the 4 home nations as 4 parts of one nation, the longest-standing and most successful union (I think I’m right in saying) in the World.
I’d no more want to see Scotland cede from the union than I would Cornwall. But of course I accept that Scotland has its own history and culture and many Scots feel it is a separate country. If they voted to be independent then who am I to try and stop them?
All that said – I still think Scotland would vote to remain in the UK because even if an IndyRef2 was allowed to happen the debate would be much as before.
Whatever the nationalist’s feelings, however much they might want to see an independent Scotland – which is entirely their right – it is simply, factually wrong to pretend Scotland gets a raw deal out of the union. It receives – AS A MATTER OF FACT – more monies, per capita (and, yes, allowing for North sea oil revenue as well) than any other region within the UK. I don’t begrudge this fact. There are reasons for it: Scotland makes up less than a tenth of the British population but almost a third of the landmass and obviously it costs more, per capita, to provide education, health, transport and so on in sparsely populated parts of Scotland.No problem with that whatsoever.
Where I do have a problem is with the SNP “gifting” goodies to their constituents – free University, free prescriptions, free bus travel, free ipads, the list goes on and on.
This profligacy from the SNP is deliberate and cynical. They can buy votes with the generosity of UK taxpayers and when their IOU is finally called in – if that day ever dawns – they’ll blame those unspeakable Tories in Westminster for taking it all away.
As a Brexit supporter, who wholeheartedly believes in the right of self-determination, I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t agree that there was an understandable case to be made for the Scots being allowed another crack at their “once in a generation” indy vote because (if we’re honest) we have to admit that the situation has materially changed since the last one. We cannot insist that Brexit was a necessary corrective to a remote power structure that sought to impose laws without the consent of the governed and then dig in our heels and insist the Scots have no right to another vote. It would not be a fair or consistent argument to deny them, much as I would rather it didn’t happen.
That said, the Scottish Govt needs to be honest and consistent. Which they are NOT – really, REALLY NOT. That is my problem with the Indy debate and those who espouse it. The SNP are not even able to be honest about the fact they want to maintain the right to complain, without ever taking responsibility even for their own devolved powers.
As I say, Scotland receives more monies, per capita than any other region within the UK. To suggest otherwise is simply wrong, yet that lie is told and retold by those who need to believe that somehow the Scots get a raw deal out of the union. Without that lie, and the resentment it fosters, the case for Independence becomes impossible to sell.
You could also argue that a Scot has more say in policy making than their English counterpart. Given the number of powers that are now devolved to the Scottish parliament, given the disproportionate power Scots MPs have over their cousins south of the border, with no reciprocal arrangement where English MPs have any say in Scotland, given this pretty sizeable discrepancy in expenditure, can you explain why Scots Nats feel so hard done by Westminster?
I totally respect the right of any Scot to wish for independence – though it does seem bizarre that they’d wish to ‘throw off the yoke of the accursed English oppressor’ only to become a far smaller country within a far larger union, one that will dictate policies that affect Scots yet give them far less democratic control – and far, far less money than they get from those awful Sassenachs the SNP appear to hold in such contempt.
Among the more Anglophobic, Braveheart-channeling, ScotsNats, the conversation runs along the lines of “we are an independent nation descended from kings and warrior poets, we demand our freedom from foreign control, we want Scotland for the Scots, to run our own affairs, to be truly free and independent and be masters in our own house …… we must throw off the yoke of those accursed English oppressors who, with their hated taxes, pay for everything in Scotland – and when we are finally rid of them we can go cap in hand to Brussels and see if they’ll take us in and pick up the tab.”
On the subject of Brexit – as the deal-breaker, it’s often overlooked – by those who seem to consider Scotland as a Remain monolith – that more people in Scotland voted FOR BREXIT than had voted for the SNP in the previous election.
And also the fact that over a third of SNP voters (34.9% according to a June 2016 Survation poll ) themselves voted for Brexit in the referendum.
Sturgeon has gone. Personally I think we have already seen the high-water mark for independence, but if they go ahead and keep up the pressure, I still think the SNP top brass will be hoping that the Westminster Govt block the vote. I’m not at all convinced Sturgeon, Salmond or other senior SNP figures actually want to gain Independence. They surely want the ‘fight’ for independence to continue, as it is nominally their raison d’être, yet if they achieved it, then what?
If the Tories hadn’t worked so hard to make themselves so unpopular over the last few years, I’d almost be tempted to suggest a Tory Govt should acquiesce and agree to another indy-ref – just to shut the Nats up. But given their performance of late, and the fantasy narrative-building of partisan Scots media, it would be too close a thing to chance.
And so we’ll bump along, with the SNP turning every political twist and turn into another reason to damn Westminster and promise a fantasy Scotland flowing with Milk & Honey (and, for them and their ilk, Gravy)
Just so long as there’s a common enemy south of the border then the SNP can hold together as a party. Remove that and they’d implode – in a return to the clans squabbling over who has the best claim to the throne of Scotland.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paddy Taylor
Chris W
Chris W
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I agree with you in a way but you are commenting only on Scotland, as if it lived in an isolation funded by England. We also must consider the wishes of England and of Wales.

Wales also gets a lot of money from the English taxpayer. It also gives away this money, copying Scotland, and blames England for not providing even more money.

Surely the people in England have a right to an opinion as well. I think that English people should be able to vote for the future of the UK. If there was a referendum in the whole of the UK at the moment, I think there would be a large majority for Wales and Scotland to break away.

Note that I have not included Northern Ireland because the situation is different there.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

Chris,
I understand your position – but have to ask, “Did you support Brexit and vote to Leave the EU”?
By your rationale every voter in the EU should have had the right to vote in 2016 whether the UK should Leave or Remain.
To my mind that would not have been a fair vote, given how they would have outnumbered us considerably. The same maths would apply if English voters were able to decide on Scotland’s fate vis a vis remaining in our Union.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

The problem with that argument is who is the paymaster? And what ‘rights’ they should they have?

In the case of the EU we were, along with “you know who”, the only net contributor, and thus why should the other EU supplicants have any say at all?

The same case appertains in the UK and it should be for England and England alone to decide whether we jettison the Scotch from our Union or not.

Chris W
CW
Chris W
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Sorry but your logic is not correct. The EU is not a country or a nation. Scotland is not a nation although the politicians use the word. The nation is the UK.
According to the democratically-elected politicians, Wales and Scotland are nations and this jargon has spread to the media and the people. Scotland is either a nation or it is not a nation. If it is a nation it has the right to secede from the union. If it is not a nation the people of the UK have the right to make decisions about Scotland.
So, put up or shut up is the message. The nation just can’t survive with two hangers-on who don’t know what they want.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

But then, by your logic, a majority of Scots in a nationwide poll might potentially vote to remain part of the Union, whilst a majority in England might vote for them to go.
Are you suggesting that, in such a scenario, the minority nation should then be ejected by the majority? Do you think that constitutionally fair?
I understand the resentment felt by the English who see their taxes paying for things that only benefit the Scots, I would change that if I could. Equally I would see the Barnet formula reconfigured to be fairer, but as a Unionist I’d be horrified to see the Union broken up – particularly if it was against the wishes of the majority of the Scottish electorate.
There are no objective right or wrongs in this debate, but what are your thoughts?

Chris W
Chris W
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Exactly. So we agree. It seems that allowing devolution for Wales and Scotland to permit local micro-management has resulted in a plethora of very bad politicians who are trying to make themselves seem more important than they are. The whole devolution thing has failed.
Either the terms and powers of the micro-management should be more clearly defined so that Wales and Scotland can continue to be part of the UK or they should leave. As it stands, devolution does not work.

Chris W
CW
Chris W
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Exactly. So we agree. It seems that allowing devolution for Wales and Scotland to permit local micro-management has resulted in a plethora of very bad politicians who are trying to make themselves seem more important than they are. The whole devolution thing has failed.
Either the terms and powers of the micro-management should be more clearly defined so that Wales and Scotland can continue to be part of the UK or they should leave. As it stands, devolution does not work.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

The “nation” is surely whatever it decides to be. The Scots and Welsh feel themselves to be nations, but I suspect a lot of their citizens would like to be independent but are nervous about the practicalties of going it alone. Mainly because their home-grown politicians are utterly incompetent and cannot at heart imagine how to create economically viable states. But the Republic of Ireland shows it can be done and highly successfully. Eventually I am sure both countries will become independent, maybe with the sort of open borders etc that the Republic used to have.

But England is not a nation at the moment; most English feel themselves to be British, part of that larger union. In time that too may well change and it would be a first step if the English did also have a vote on dissolving the union, the United Kingdom. Which is a slightly different tack on the English voting on Scots and Welsh independence.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

The Irish Republic was economically dependent on the UK from its inception in 1922 up until it joined the Common Market in 1973.
Only a few years ago we ‘loaned’ it £3.23billion when the EU refused to do so. So to describe it as “highly successful “ is an exaggeration.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
JR Stoker
JR Stoker
1 year ago

It took a long time for the Irish to become enterprising, until the 1980’s, when the Celtic Tiger awoke. Now they are an example to small nations of how to succeed. It is a tragedy that they are in the EU who may try do to them when was done to Greece

CHARLES STANHOPE
CS
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Low Corporation Tax seems to have helped, but NOT for much longer.

JR Stoker
JS
JR Stoker
1 year ago

Its more than that though it certainly helps. It’s also a young population, much improved education, a self belief that Irish people could succeed, a more open liberal society, and some inspiration from the Irish diaspora, especially from the US.
The Scots already have that; they just need to reinvent the SNP as a party of liberal enterprise, low tax, and optimism

CHARLES STANHOPE
CS
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Yes I completely agree about the Irish young…….what an astonishing transformation, and all in my own lifetime. Truly remarkable, but there is still someway to go.

Their so-called political elite need sorting out “root and branch”. Currently they are a corrupt self-serving oligarchy, enthralled by the EU, and frankly have become a national embarrassment.

True thing are EVEN worse in the UK, but that is NO excuse.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Yes I completely agree about the Irish young…….what an astonishing transformation, and all in my own lifetime. Truly remarkable, but there is still someway to go.

Their so-called political elite need sorting out “root and branch”. Currently they are a corrupt self-serving oligarchy, enthralled by the EU, and frankly have become a national embarrassment.

True thing are EVEN worse in the UK, but that is NO excuse.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
1 year ago

Its more than that though it certainly helps. It’s also a young population, much improved education, a self belief that Irish people could succeed, a more open liberal society, and some inspiration from the Irish diaspora, especially from the US.
The Scots already have that; they just need to reinvent the SNP as a party of liberal enterprise, low tax, and optimism

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Low Corporation Tax seems to have helped, but NOT for much longer.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
1 year ago

It took a long time for the Irish to become enterprising, until the 1980’s, when the Celtic Tiger awoke. Now they are an example to small nations of how to succeed. It is a tragedy that they are in the EU who may try do to them when was done to Greece

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

The Irish Republic was economically dependent on the UK from its inception in 1922 up until it joined the Common Market in 1973.
Only a few years ago we ‘loaned’ it £3.23billion when the EU refused to do so. So to describe it as “highly successful “ is an exaggeration.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

But then, by your logic, a majority of Scots in a nationwide poll might potentially vote to remain part of the Union, whilst a majority in England might vote for them to go.
Are you suggesting that, in such a scenario, the minority nation should then be ejected by the majority? Do you think that constitutionally fair?
I understand the resentment felt by the English who see their taxes paying for things that only benefit the Scots, I would change that if I could. Equally I would see the Barnet formula reconfigured to be fairer, but as a Unionist I’d be horrified to see the Union broken up – particularly if it was against the wishes of the majority of the Scottish electorate.
There are no objective right or wrongs in this debate, but what are your thoughts?

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

The “nation” is surely whatever it decides to be. The Scots and Welsh feel themselves to be nations, but I suspect a lot of their citizens would like to be independent but are nervous about the practicalties of going it alone. Mainly because their home-grown politicians are utterly incompetent and cannot at heart imagine how to create economically viable states. But the Republic of Ireland shows it can be done and highly successfully. Eventually I am sure both countries will become independent, maybe with the sort of open borders etc that the Republic used to have.

But England is not a nation at the moment; most English feel themselves to be British, part of that larger union. In time that too may well change and it would be a first step if the English did also have a vote on dissolving the union, the United Kingdom. Which is a slightly different tack on the English voting on Scots and Welsh independence.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

The problem with that argument is who is the paymaster? And what ‘rights’ they should they have?

In the case of the EU we were, along with “you know who”, the only net contributor, and thus why should the other EU supplicants have any say at all?

The same case appertains in the UK and it should be for England and England alone to decide whether we jettison the Scotch from our Union or not.

Chris W
CW
Chris W
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Sorry but your logic is not correct. The EU is not a country or a nation. Scotland is not a nation although the politicians use the word. The nation is the UK.
According to the democratically-elected politicians, Wales and Scotland are nations and this jargon has spread to the media and the people. Scotland is either a nation or it is not a nation. If it is a nation it has the right to secede from the union. If it is not a nation the people of the UK have the right to make decisions about Scotland.
So, put up or shut up is the message. The nation just can’t survive with two hangers-on who don’t know what they want.

stephen archer
stephen archer
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

Scotland will never flourish as 10% of the UK governed by Westminster. It will neither flourish governed by the SNP, and in any respect there is no viable economic case för Scotland as an independent nation outside of the EU, where EU-membership is now a dead duck. The English can think what they want, it’s Scotland’s decision whether to break free or not and succeed or fail economically as a nation, hopefully not endangering the UK’s “national” security by closing military bases. Scotland is and has been no more deprived and just as supported as English regions north of the Midlands. To talk of about England in terms of government priorities and subsidising other parts of the UK it’s basically London and the SE which constitutes England. OK, they subsidise everywhere else but that’s where the investment is concentrated and they’re doing wonders in slowly strangling the rest of the UK northwards: Choking point for trade and movement to Europe, HS2 (London-centric), Fortress Heathrow (London centric), Crossrail (London centric), financial markets (London-centric), etc. And you wonder why Scots want independence? Do you honestly think the Westminster government gives two hoots about Scotland or the north of England? They might want you to think that to quell the discussion. If you want to understand where I’m coming from in general, read my studiously approved comment on the last Sturgeon article.

Chris W
Chris W
1 year ago
Reply to  stephen archer

Believe it or not, we are saying the same thing. Scotland (and Wales) have been talking about independence at least since the referenda of 1978. They are still talking and the constant background noise is creating a confusion. I am in favour of Scotland and Wales leaving the UK but they need a push.
Either they should stop wasting time and resources talking and preparing to be independent but never actually getting there and just be British … or they should leave.

stephen archer
stephen archer
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

The thing is, once Brexit happened there is no feasible path for Scotland to become independent, it’s not a viable alternative. There will be no EU support of disadvantaged countries which Ireland and Eastern Europe have benefited from and there are a number of countries in the Balkans already in the queue. Being shackled to the Westminster govt. with devolution powers is not going to get Scotland anywhere, especially if the Scottish government continues to be as inept and totally incompetent as has been the case over the last decade. The mindless nationalist idiots in Scotland, of whom there are an increasing number, do not get any of this. I’m becoming more and more embarassed and ashamed of my compatriots. My basic message in my other comment mentioned is that there seems to be a downward spiral in Scotland’s situation and future, meaning it will be just as well to stay in the UK and continue the constant suffering under Westminster and Holyrood. The north of England is probably no better off, they’ve just not had to put up with someone like Sturgeon or her disciples messing things up even further.

stephen archer
stephen archer
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

The thing is, once Brexit happened there is no feasible path for Scotland to become independent, it’s not a viable alternative. There will be no EU support of disadvantaged countries which Ireland and Eastern Europe have benefited from and there are a number of countries in the Balkans already in the queue. Being shackled to the Westminster govt. with devolution powers is not going to get Scotland anywhere, especially if the Scottish government continues to be as inept and totally incompetent as has been the case over the last decade. The mindless nationalist idiots in Scotland, of whom there are an increasing number, do not get any of this. I’m becoming more and more embarassed and ashamed of my compatriots. My basic message in my other comment mentioned is that there seems to be a downward spiral in Scotland’s situation and future, meaning it will be just as well to stay in the UK and continue the constant suffering under Westminster and Holyrood. The north of England is probably no better off, they’ve just not had to put up with someone like Sturgeon or her disciples messing things up even further.

Chris W
Chris W
1 year ago
Reply to  stephen archer

Believe it or not, we are saying the same thing. Scotland (and Wales) have been talking about independence at least since the referenda of 1978. They are still talking and the constant background noise is creating a confusion. I am in favour of Scotland and Wales leaving the UK but they need a push.
Either they should stop wasting time and resources talking and preparing to be independent but never actually getting there and just be British … or they should leave.

Ted Ditchburn
TD
Ted Ditchburn
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

I feel that the argument is basically one framed by the Imperial Roman settlement sometime before AD 200 when they decided there wasn’t enough money in prospect to justify marching up to where Dingwall would eventually be and joining the whole landmass into one entity.
That at that time there were no Scots in Scotland, only Picts, destined to be as effectively ethnically cleansed from history as almost any people in history, by…ironically..the Scots, who actually arrived a few centuries later from..Ireland; is just one of many ironic pranks history constantly plays on the present day.
It is impossible to have some kind of devolved Swiss or German state that works in the 21st century without rejecting Imperial Rome and instead adopting the ‘European’ settlement of the islands in what we used to call ‘the dark ages’, post-the Roman Imperium.
And split England and Scotland and Wales into administrative regions using that settlement from the 7th and 8th centuries to create more equally sized units for the truly modern state, that also reflect more accurately the balance of economic interests and tensions within it.
And, importantly, allow for ‘balance of power alliances to form and form and re-form in which regions would have a real chance of curtailing the power of London, one of the foremost global cities and economic powerhouses.
So a Humber to Forth *Northumbria* with Tyneside, Edinburgh and Humberside extended to Aberdeen as the region with a great interest in energy whether wind or oil and gas.
A Manchester and Liverpool, and North wales, extended like the old Strathclyde to Glasgow and Clydeside.
The 21st century Mercia of East, West and ‘Mid’ Midlands, and a Danegeld of East Midlands, East of England, East Anglia, with finally a Wessex of the South East outside London and through to Dorset, Bristol and South Wales, and Greater London.
The last unit could be a rural one..so a Cornwall, Cumbria, Highlands, Islands, Mid Wales etc could leave their geographic units, where they all mistrust and fear the big city people more than anything else, and with other rural areas join, thanks to the wonders of our digital age, in a Rural-shire.
Those units would be similarly sized apart from the rural one..and that would be able to leverage it’s influence in the inevitable power games played amongst the bigger players..a bit like a Switzerland or Norway.
Scotland , Wales and England would still exist for cultural matters etc after all arguably the Scottish, English and Welsh identities managed to not only survive the period of British history we call ‘Empire’, but thrive without any devolved parliaments at all.
THis whole *British Isles* based settlement, offered as an alternative to the, let’s face it, disastrous one we got left by Rome, is offered slightly tongue-in-cheek .
But only slightly; the more I think about it the more sense it makes in separating nationalism from political and economic levers within these islands, and avoiding the drift to Balkanisation that seems so fashionable these days, but would return us to a distant and gloomy past rather than a modern and prosperous future.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

Chris,
I understand your position – but have to ask, “Did you support Brexit and vote to Leave the EU”?
By your rationale every voter in the EU should have had the right to vote in 2016 whether the UK should Leave or Remain.
To my mind that would not have been a fair vote, given how they would have outnumbered us considerably. The same maths would apply if English voters were able to decide on Scotland’s fate vis a vis remaining in our Union.

stephen archer
SA
stephen archer
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

Scotland will never flourish as 10% of the UK governed by Westminster. It will neither flourish governed by the SNP, and in any respect there is no viable economic case för Scotland as an independent nation outside of the EU, where EU-membership is now a dead duck. The English can think what they want, it’s Scotland’s decision whether to break free or not and succeed or fail economically as a nation, hopefully not endangering the UK’s “national” security by closing military bases. Scotland is and has been no more deprived and just as supported as English regions north of the Midlands. To talk of about England in terms of government priorities and subsidising other parts of the UK it’s basically London and the SE which constitutes England. OK, they subsidise everywhere else but that’s where the investment is concentrated and they’re doing wonders in slowly strangling the rest of the UK northwards: Choking point for trade and movement to Europe, HS2 (London-centric), Fortress Heathrow (London centric), Crossrail (London centric), financial markets (London-centric), etc. And you wonder why Scots want independence? Do you honestly think the Westminster government gives two hoots about Scotland or the north of England? They might want you to think that to quell the discussion. If you want to understand where I’m coming from in general, read my studiously approved comment on the last Sturgeon article.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

I feel that the argument is basically one framed by the Imperial Roman settlement sometime before AD 200 when they decided there wasn’t enough money in prospect to justify marching up to where Dingwall would eventually be and joining the whole landmass into one entity.
That at that time there were no Scots in Scotland, only Picts, destined to be as effectively ethnically cleansed from history as almost any people in history, by…ironically..the Scots, who actually arrived a few centuries later from..Ireland; is just one of many ironic pranks history constantly plays on the present day.
It is impossible to have some kind of devolved Swiss or German state that works in the 21st century without rejecting Imperial Rome and instead adopting the ‘European’ settlement of the islands in what we used to call ‘the dark ages’, post-the Roman Imperium.
And split England and Scotland and Wales into administrative regions using that settlement from the 7th and 8th centuries to create more equally sized units for the truly modern state, that also reflect more accurately the balance of economic interests and tensions within it.
And, importantly, allow for ‘balance of power alliances to form and form and re-form in which regions would have a real chance of curtailing the power of London, one of the foremost global cities and economic powerhouses.
So a Humber to Forth *Northumbria* with Tyneside, Edinburgh and Humberside extended to Aberdeen as the region with a great interest in energy whether wind or oil and gas.
A Manchester and Liverpool, and North wales, extended like the old Strathclyde to Glasgow and Clydeside.
The 21st century Mercia of East, West and ‘Mid’ Midlands, and a Danegeld of East Midlands, East of England, East Anglia, with finally a Wessex of the South East outside London and through to Dorset, Bristol and South Wales, and Greater London.
The last unit could be a rural one..so a Cornwall, Cumbria, Highlands, Islands, Mid Wales etc could leave their geographic units, where they all mistrust and fear the big city people more than anything else, and with other rural areas join, thanks to the wonders of our digital age, in a Rural-shire.
Those units would be similarly sized apart from the rural one..and that would be able to leverage it’s influence in the inevitable power games played amongst the bigger players..a bit like a Switzerland or Norway.
Scotland , Wales and England would still exist for cultural matters etc after all arguably the Scottish, English and Welsh identities managed to not only survive the period of British history we call ‘Empire’, but thrive without any devolved parliaments at all.
THis whole *British Isles* based settlement, offered as an alternative to the, let’s face it, disastrous one we got left by Rome, is offered slightly tongue-in-cheek .
But only slightly; the more I think about it the more sense it makes in separating nationalism from political and economic levers within these islands, and avoiding the drift to Balkanisation that seems so fashionable these days, but would return us to a distant and gloomy past rather than a modern and prosperous future.

Chris W
CW
Chris W
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I agree with you in a way but you are commenting only on Scotland, as if it lived in an isolation funded by England. We also must consider the wishes of England and of Wales.

Wales also gets a lot of money from the English taxpayer. It also gives away this money, copying Scotland, and blames England for not providing even more money.

Surely the people in England have a right to an opinion as well. I think that English people should be able to vote for the future of the UK. If there was a referendum in the whole of the UK at the moment, I think there would be a large majority for Wales and Scotland to break away.

Note that I have not included Northern Ireland because the situation is different there.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago

Scottish Independence is a romantic cause – though not grounded in any pragmatic reality.
I’m a staunch unionist. Why? Because I’m a British citizen of Scots and Irish descent who lives in England. I see myself as British. (I’m only ‘English’ during the 6N Rugby.) But I see the 4 home nations as 4 parts of one nation, the longest-standing and most successful union (I think I’m right in saying) in the World.
I’d no more want to see Scotland cede from the union than I would Cornwall. But of course I accept that Scotland has its own history and culture and many Scots feel it is a separate country. If they voted to be independent then who am I to try and stop them?
All that said – I still think Scotland would vote to remain in the UK because even if an IndyRef2 was allowed to happen the debate would be much as before.
Whatever the nationalist’s feelings, however much they might want to see an independent Scotland – which is entirely their right – it is simply, factually wrong to pretend Scotland gets a raw deal out of the union. It receives – AS A MATTER OF FACT – more monies, per capita (and, yes, allowing for North sea oil revenue as well) than any other region within the UK. I don’t begrudge this fact. There are reasons for it: Scotland makes up less than a tenth of the British population but almost a third of the landmass and obviously it costs more, per capita, to provide education, health, transport and so on in sparsely populated parts of Scotland.No problem with that whatsoever.
Where I do have a problem is with the SNP “gifting” goodies to their constituents – free University, free prescriptions, free bus travel, free ipads, the list goes on and on.
This profligacy from the SNP is deliberate and cynical. They can buy votes with the generosity of UK taxpayers and when their IOU is finally called in – if that day ever dawns – they’ll blame those unspeakable Tories in Westminster for taking it all away.
As a Brexit supporter, who wholeheartedly believes in the right of self-determination, I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t agree that there was an understandable case to be made for the Scots being allowed another crack at their “once in a generation” indy vote because (if we’re honest) we have to admit that the situation has materially changed since the last one. We cannot insist that Brexit was a necessary corrective to a remote power structure that sought to impose laws without the consent of the governed and then dig in our heels and insist the Scots have no right to another vote. It would not be a fair or consistent argument to deny them, much as I would rather it didn’t happen.
That said, the Scottish Govt needs to be honest and consistent. Which they are NOT – really, REALLY NOT. That is my problem with the Indy debate and those who espouse it. The SNP are not even able to be honest about the fact they want to maintain the right to complain, without ever taking responsibility even for their own devolved powers.
As I say, Scotland receives more monies, per capita than any other region within the UK. To suggest otherwise is simply wrong, yet that lie is told and retold by those who need to believe that somehow the Scots get a raw deal out of the union. Without that lie, and the resentment it fosters, the case for Independence becomes impossible to sell.
You could also argue that a Scot has more say in policy making than their English counterpart. Given the number of powers that are now devolved to the Scottish parliament, given the disproportionate power Scots MPs have over their cousins south of the border, with no reciprocal arrangement where English MPs have any say in Scotland, given this pretty sizeable discrepancy in expenditure, can you explain why Scots Nats feel so hard done by Westminster?
I totally respect the right of any Scot to wish for independence – though it does seem bizarre that they’d wish to ‘throw off the yoke of the accursed English oppressor’ only to become a far smaller country within a far larger union, one that will dictate policies that affect Scots yet give them far less democratic control – and far, far less money than they get from those awful Sassenachs the SNP appear to hold in such contempt.
Among the more Anglophobic, Braveheart-channeling, ScotsNats, the conversation runs along the lines of “we are an independent nation descended from kings and warrior poets, we demand our freedom from foreign control, we want Scotland for the Scots, to run our own affairs, to be truly free and independent and be masters in our own house …… we must throw off the yoke of those accursed English oppressors who, with their hated taxes, pay for everything in Scotland – and when we are finally rid of them we can go cap in hand to Brussels and see if they’ll take us in and pick up the tab.”
On the subject of Brexit – as the deal-breaker, it’s often overlooked – by those who seem to consider Scotland as a Remain monolith – that more people in Scotland voted FOR BREXIT than had voted for the SNP in the previous election.
And also the fact that over a third of SNP voters (34.9% according to a June 2016 Survation poll ) themselves voted for Brexit in the referendum.
Sturgeon has gone. Personally I think we have already seen the high-water mark for independence, but if they go ahead and keep up the pressure, I still think the SNP top brass will be hoping that the Westminster Govt block the vote. I’m not at all convinced Sturgeon, Salmond or other senior SNP figures actually want to gain Independence. They surely want the ‘fight’ for independence to continue, as it is nominally their raison d’être, yet if they achieved it, then what?
If the Tories hadn’t worked so hard to make themselves so unpopular over the last few years, I’d almost be tempted to suggest a Tory Govt should acquiesce and agree to another indy-ref – just to shut the Nats up. But given their performance of late, and the fantasy narrative-building of partisan Scots media, it would be too close a thing to chance.
And so we’ll bump along, with the SNP turning every political twist and turn into another reason to damn Westminster and promise a fantasy Scotland flowing with Milk & Honey (and, for them and their ilk, Gravy)
Just so long as there’s a common enemy south of the border then the SNP can hold together as a party. Remove that and they’d implode – in a return to the clans squabbling over who has the best claim to the throne of Scotland.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paddy Taylor
Peter B
PB
Peter B
1 year ago

This is nonsense. The Union is the status quo. It does not need to do anything.
More fantasy about how Westminster is apparently dominated by England and English issues. Reality check: Scotland and Wales are both still over-represented (in terms of voters per MP) – plus they get their own parliament/assembly – plus they get to live off the English taxpayer (Barnett formula).
How anyone can write such an article without considering the fact that it is England which is most discriminated against by the current arrangements is beyond me.
But that’s “Sturgeon think” for you – always the victim, never my fault. As yesterday’s press conference and her blatant bid in it for victim status (taking zero responsibility for her failures) underlined.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago

This is nonsense. The Union is the status quo. It does not need to do anything.
More fantasy about how Westminster is apparently dominated by England and English issues. Reality check: Scotland and Wales are both still over-represented (in terms of voters per MP) – plus they get their own parliament/assembly – plus they get to live off the English taxpayer (Barnett formula).
How anyone can write such an article without considering the fact that it is England which is most discriminated against by the current arrangements is beyond me.
But that’s “Sturgeon think” for you – always the victim, never my fault. As yesterday’s press conference and her blatant bid in it for victim status (taking zero responsibility for her failures) underlined.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
1 year ago

The Brexit referendum result certainly changed the game, and I think Scotland should have another independence vote if it so wishes.

For me the thing about articles like this is that they treat the subject as though it was so terribly momentous. I really don’t think it is. I would welcome a reunified Ireland with England having nothing to do with it.

And if Scotland, or even Wales, wished to try their luck as independent states in the EU, I would have absolutely no problem with the concept. Quite the reverse in fact, and I speak as somebody who is half English, quarter Scottish, and quarter Welsh.

For the English especially, I really do not think that a break up of the UK in this fashion would be any sort of big deal at all – except for politicians and other similar obsessive, narcissistic failed “personalities”.

Last edited 1 year ago by Albireo Double
Albireo Double
Albireo Double
1 year ago

The Brexit referendum result certainly changed the game, and I think Scotland should have another independence vote if it so wishes.

For me the thing about articles like this is that they treat the subject as though it was so terribly momentous. I really don’t think it is. I would welcome a reunified Ireland with England having nothing to do with it.

And if Scotland, or even Wales, wished to try their luck as independent states in the EU, I would have absolutely no problem with the concept. Quite the reverse in fact, and I speak as somebody who is half English, quarter Scottish, and quarter Welsh.

For the English especially, I really do not think that a break up of the UK in this fashion would be any sort of big deal at all – except for politicians and other similar obsessive, narcissistic failed “personalities”.

Last edited 1 year ago by Albireo Double
AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

And yet many ordinary people in England would be quite happy if Scotland voted for independence. Converting the Referendum into practice would be a big basket of issues though – just like Brexit.
The ‘weakness’ of independence referendums is that we rely on politicians to implement them.

AC Harper
AH
AC Harper
1 year ago

And yet many ordinary people in England would be quite happy if Scotland voted for independence. Converting the Referendum into practice would be a big basket of issues though – just like Brexit.
The ‘weakness’ of independence referendums is that we rely on politicians to implement them.

Samuel Gee
Samuel Gee
1 year ago

There is no secession crisis. There is a decently large minority of Scots that want to secede. They had a referendum with the best set of cards to play available. High oil price, no Brexit, pre-pandemic, Cameron in No10. And yes, sure Cameron soiled himself a bit one weekend near polling day. But that was it. Since then, with a shiny new and very pugnacious and effective communicator as FM. Nada. Tried the Covid Border thing, tried the Supreme Court, tried next GE as a proxy referendum, tried having Woke policies on gender ID to show how Scotland is different to England (that went bang) Indeed every possible way to get a wedge in. Zilch.
They have had a go with greased axles, downhill with the wind behind them and an aggressive little driver. Still couldn’t win.
Are we to believe that with everything now uphill into the wind there is a secession crisis? Pull the other one.

Last edited 1 year ago by Samuel Gee
Samuel Gee
SG
Samuel Gee
1 year ago

There is no secession crisis. There is a decently large minority of Scots that want to secede. They had a referendum with the best set of cards to play available. High oil price, no Brexit, pre-pandemic, Cameron in No10. And yes, sure Cameron soiled himself a bit one weekend near polling day. But that was it. Since then, with a shiny new and very pugnacious and effective communicator as FM. Nada. Tried the Covid Border thing, tried the Supreme Court, tried next GE as a proxy referendum, tried having Woke policies on gender ID to show how Scotland is different to England (that went bang) Indeed every possible way to get a wedge in. Zilch.
They have had a go with greased axles, downhill with the wind behind them and an aggressive little driver. Still couldn’t win.
Are we to believe that with everything now uphill into the wind there is a secession crisis? Pull the other one.

Last edited 1 year ago by Samuel Gee
Martin Bell
MB
Martin Bell
1 year ago

It has been interesting to read the hot takes from metropolitan journalists on the resignation, including this one. Only The Economist, which has recognised that the Sturgeon resignation marks another step towards the end of populism in the UK, has picked up any of the real implications. While I disagree with some of the analysis, Paddy Taylor’s response here is much better informed than McTague’s, which is wide of the mark in most respects.

Ben Jones
Ben Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bell

The Economist would say that, I think, being the technocrat’s newspaper of choice. I think Scotland’s circumstances are unique and don’t really map onto the rest of the UK; Wales is too small and England is politically adrift. I’d wager Populism is far from finished in England. In fact, quite the opposite. Five years of Starmer’s Millibandite government might be just the accelerant a new English Poujade needs.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bell

I find that to be true of many commenters with regard to the columnists. If it weren’t for the comment section, I wouldn’t subscribe to UnHerd or most other publications.

Dermot O'Sullivan
DO
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 year ago

Yes, the comments, kicked off by the articles, can round out the subject at hand; however, there are several inaccuracies, biases and half truths (not to mention fibs) to contend with as well.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 year ago

Yes, the comments, kicked off by the articles, can round out the subject at hand; however, there are several inaccuracies, biases and half truths (not to mention fibs) to contend with as well.

Chris W
Chris W
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bell

Populism is obviously a dirty word. The reason why populism is mocked is that it does what the majority wants – and so it is popular. The corollary is a system which ignores the majority completely and panders to the rights of thousands of minorities. So it is not popular.
But which of these is democracy?

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris W
Martin Bell
MB
Martin Bell
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

Neither, I’d say. Good policy needs public support, but that needs to be supported by due process. There is definitely wisdom in crowds, but running a country based solely on what one group wants, be they majority or minority, does not end well.

Martin Bell
MB
Martin Bell
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

Neither, I’d say. Good policy needs public support, but that needs to be supported by due process. There is definitely wisdom in crowds, but running a country based solely on what one group wants, be they majority or minority, does not end well.

Ben Jones
Ben Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bell

The Economist would say that, I think, being the technocrat’s newspaper of choice. I think Scotland’s circumstances are unique and don’t really map onto the rest of the UK; Wales is too small and England is politically adrift. I’d wager Populism is far from finished in England. In fact, quite the opposite. Five years of Starmer’s Millibandite government might be just the accelerant a new English Poujade needs.

Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bell

I find that to be true of many commenters with regard to the columnists. If it weren’t for the comment section, I wouldn’t subscribe to UnHerd or most other publications.

Chris W
CW
Chris W
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bell

Populism is obviously a dirty word. The reason why populism is mocked is that it does what the majority wants – and so it is popular. The corollary is a system which ignores the majority completely and panders to the rights of thousands of minorities. So it is not popular.
But which of these is democracy?

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris W
Martin Bell
Martin Bell
1 year ago

It has been interesting to read the hot takes from metropolitan journalists on the resignation, including this one. Only The Economist, which has recognised that the Sturgeon resignation marks another step towards the end of populism in the UK, has picked up any of the real implications. While I disagree with some of the analysis, Paddy Taylor’s response here is much better informed than McTague’s, which is wide of the mark in most respects.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Like many Englishmen I am faced with a dichotomy, whilst I rejoice at the demise of Ms Sturgeon, I have an awful feeling that it will retard Scotch Independence.

As Paddy Taylor (of this Parish) mentions today (twice), the Scotch “get more monies, per capita (and, yes, allowing for North sea oil revenue as well) than any other region within the UK.” He may not begrudge them that, but I certainly DO! There are many areas of England that should be subsidised in preference to the ungrateful Scotch.
As Guy Fawkes put it so beautifully “to blow you Scotch beggars back to your native mountains”. Who can seriously deny that he was correct?

It will interesting in May to see if the Scotch return the Coronation Stone, otherwise known as the Stone of Scone, for the Coronation of King Charles III. Originality looted from Scotland, more that eight centuries ago by a victorious English Army commanded by King Edward I (aka: ‘Hammer of the Scotch’.) it was returned to the Scotch by the supine John Major as a conciliatory gesture in 1996. A more pathetic, naive action is hard to imagine, and one I very much doubt that Lady T would have sanctioned.

Chris W
Chris W
1 year ago

100% agreed. Either stop moaning and work towards a stronger nation (UK) or leave.

Jim Glass
Jim Glass
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

Well, that’s the problem right there. There’s half of us happy to live on an island without a medieval border and all that goes with it. What do you suggest I do with the my compatriots? You’re lucky down south that everyone thinks the same way, eh?

Jim Glass
Jim Glass
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

Well, that’s the problem right there. There’s half of us happy to live on an island without a medieval border and all that goes with it. What do you suggest I do with the my compatriots? You’re lucky down south that everyone thinks the same way, eh?

Chris W
Chris W
1 year ago

100% agreed. Either stop moaning and work towards a stronger nation (UK) or leave.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Like many Englishmen I am faced with a dichotomy, whilst I rejoice at the demise of Ms Sturgeon, I have an awful feeling that it will retard Scotch Independence.

As Paddy Taylor (of this Parish) mentions today (twice), the Scotch “get more monies, per capita (and, yes, allowing for North sea oil revenue as well) than any other region within the UK.” He may not begrudge them that, but I certainly DO! There are many areas of England that should be subsidised in preference to the ungrateful Scotch.
As Guy Fawkes put it so beautifully “to blow you Scotch beggars back to your native mountains”. Who can seriously deny that he was correct?

It will interesting in May to see if the Scotch return the Coronation Stone, otherwise known as the Stone of Scone, for the Coronation of King Charles III. Originality looted from Scotland, more that eight centuries ago by a victorious English Army commanded by King Edward I (aka: ‘Hammer of the Scotch’.) it was returned to the Scotch by the supine John Major as a conciliatory gesture in 1996. A more pathetic, naive action is hard to imagine, and one I very much doubt that Lady T would have sanctioned.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
1 year ago

For more on Sturgeon’s legacy, google “SNP £600k missing”, “Trans Butcher Charged” or “Craig Murray Stewart McDonald emails”.

Aden Wellsmith
AW
Aden Wellsmith
1 year ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

That’s my guess. Someone has the file, with the proof and said, go or its released.

Aden Wellsmith
AW
Aden Wellsmith
1 year ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

That’s my guess. Someone has the file, with the proof and said, go or its released.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
1 year ago

For more on Sturgeon’s legacy, google “SNP £600k missing”, “Trans Butcher Charged” or “Craig Murray Stewart McDonald emails”.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago

Am interesting article, although I would quibble with the statement that “Brexiteers have yet to offer coherent answers to the problem of Northern Ireland and its border with the Republic”. Brexiteers have offered completely coherent and practical solutions to the problem. The EU has declined to accept them.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago

Am interesting article, although I would quibble with the statement that “Brexiteers have yet to offer coherent answers to the problem of Northern Ireland and its border with the Republic”. Brexiteers have offered completely coherent and practical solutions to the problem. The EU has declined to accept them.

David Hedley
DH
David Hedley
1 year ago

There may well be a case for Scottish independence, but it’s unlikely to be made by a party such as the SNP who have in multiple ways demonstrated their unfitness for power, and certainly not by Nicola Sturgeon, who is essentially a Poundland Trump, despite her ‘progressive’ policies. An independent Scotland under the SNP would take on significant debt in order to pay for short term welfare, and rapidly run out of road.
The case for independence is however likely to remain sharply in focus as Northern Ireland moves inexorably towards a border poll within the next few years, irrespective of any changes in the relationship between the EU and post-Brexit UK.

David Hedley
David Hedley
1 year ago

There may well be a case for Scottish independence, but it’s unlikely to be made by a party such as the SNP who have in multiple ways demonstrated their unfitness for power, and certainly not by Nicola Sturgeon, who is essentially a Poundland Trump, despite her ‘progressive’ policies. An independent Scotland under the SNP would take on significant debt in order to pay for short term welfare, and rapidly run out of road.
The case for independence is however likely to remain sharply in focus as Northern Ireland moves inexorably towards a border poll within the next few years, irrespective of any changes in the relationship between the EU and post-Brexit UK.

Phineas Bury
Phineas Bury
1 year ago

“Almost no other country — apart from Canada or Spain — is as close to breaking apart.” I am a Canadian and well it is not ‘close to breaking apart’. Quebec came close to it years ago but sensibly stayed in Canada which has insisted on French being put on all retail products and is generous in subsidies to Quebec. Not that this satisfies the now defeated separist movement but they are yesterday’s people thanks to the good sense that prevailed in referendums to separate.

Phineas Bury
Phineas Bury
1 year ago

“Almost no other country — apart from Canada or Spain — is as close to breaking apart.” I am a Canadian and well it is not ‘close to breaking apart’. Quebec came close to it years ago but sensibly stayed in Canada which has insisted on French being put on all retail products and is generous in subsidies to Quebec. Not that this satisfies the now defeated separist movement but they are yesterday’s people thanks to the good sense that prevailed in referendums to separate.

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
1 year ago

Is Devolution the great mistake? Has it fed a romantic but irresponsible nationalism in Wales and Scotland, demonstrated the political fragility of Norther Ireland and left the English feeling disliked, undervalued and underrepresented?

Finding a continuing and deep harmony between England and these countries seems an increasingly implausible idea . Maybe the Northern and Southern Irish need to be encouraged to unite and the Welsh and Scots encouraged to find their own way.

I don’t foresee the Irish then ever coming back but the Welsh and Scots I suppose might fail and as the Scot’s have done before, themselves suggest a fresh union with England. However, history seldom if ever repeats itself and surely both these countries, given their resourceful populations, could make it on their own, whilst of course continuing to grumble loudly about their much richer and more powerful neighbour. – which I think would remain a friend, albeit maybe at times a domineering one, especially after it regains a national pride and confidence similar to that of its former confederates in the then broken Union.

Aden Wellsmith
Aden Wellsmith
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

Undervalued? Mugged is the answer. Defrauded.
That’s why the Scots need to push English nationalism. England voting to leave is their only hope left.

Dominic Murray
Dominic Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Aden Wellsmith

The SNP simply needs to push for a union-wide referendum: “Do you think each nation in union should become independent?” England would vote “Out” in a heart beat!

Dominic Murray
Dominic Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Aden Wellsmith

The SNP simply needs to push for a union-wide referendum: “Do you think each nation in union should become independent?” England would vote “Out” in a heart beat!

Aden Wellsmith
Aden Wellsmith
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

Undervalued? Mugged is the answer. Defrauded.
That’s why the Scots need to push English nationalism. England voting to leave is their only hope left.

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
1 year ago

Is Devolution the great mistake? Has it fed a romantic but irresponsible nationalism in Wales and Scotland, demonstrated the political fragility of Norther Ireland and left the English feeling disliked, undervalued and underrepresented?

Finding a continuing and deep harmony between England and these countries seems an increasingly implausible idea . Maybe the Northern and Southern Irish need to be encouraged to unite and the Welsh and Scots encouraged to find their own way.

I don’t foresee the Irish then ever coming back but the Welsh and Scots I suppose might fail and as the Scot’s have done before, themselves suggest a fresh union with England. However, history seldom if ever repeats itself and surely both these countries, given their resourceful populations, could make it on their own, whilst of course continuing to grumble loudly about their much richer and more powerful neighbour. – which I think would remain a friend, albeit maybe at times a domineering one, especially after it regains a national pride and confidence similar to that of its former confederates in the then broken Union.

Mark epperson
Mark epperson
1 year ago

A perfect case of one agenda governing by Sturgeon and her cronies. All talk, little action for the common good of Scotland or England, and her record more that proves that. Not rare, we have the same situation in the U.S but it is more out there as in Florida vs California. Totally different agendas so I look at the living conditions,. Florida has been much more successful in almost any measurement of taking care of the needs of families, businesses, children, homelessness, and freedom of speech. I live in California and it has been a nightmare for most except for the tech/medical/bureaucratic sector. Chose your path and you will reap what you sow.

Mark epperson
Mark epperson
1 year ago

A perfect case of one agenda governing by Sturgeon and her cronies. All talk, little action for the common good of Scotland or England, and her record more that proves that. Not rare, we have the same situation in the U.S but it is more out there as in Florida vs California. Totally different agendas so I look at the living conditions,. Florida has been much more successful in almost any measurement of taking care of the needs of families, businesses, children, homelessness, and freedom of speech. I live in California and it has been a nightmare for most except for the tech/medical/bureaucratic sector. Chose your path and you will reap what you sow.

Paul T
Paul T
1 year ago

If few other countries are close to breaking apart, that is for various reasons but in some cases because they have not tolerated any form of regionalist or separatist movement, to the point of suppression (e.g. France) or forbid it constitutionally (e.g. USA). I do agree it is odd that we are so relaxed about the prospect of breakup, I have always wondered if it’s a sign of overconfidence in our status as a nation-state rather than any inherent instability. A less relaxed nation wouldn’t tolerate talk of IndyRef2 (sounds like a game) nor a separatist executive in power.
The Englishness of the Union? It’s not all that long since the entire country was run by Scots: Blair, Brown, Darling, Cook, Reid, Robertson, etc.. There is a parallel universe in which Nicola Sturgeon could have joined the Labour Party instead of the SNP, and become UK Prime Minister. Perhaps we would still be in the EU. Scotland can absolutely punch above its weight in the Union and on the world stage, but it has chosen to turn in on itself and become irrelevant instead.

Paul T
Paul T
1 year ago

If few other countries are close to breaking apart, that is for various reasons but in some cases because they have not tolerated any form of regionalist or separatist movement, to the point of suppression (e.g. France) or forbid it constitutionally (e.g. USA). I do agree it is odd that we are so relaxed about the prospect of breakup, I have always wondered if it’s a sign of overconfidence in our status as a nation-state rather than any inherent instability. A less relaxed nation wouldn’t tolerate talk of IndyRef2 (sounds like a game) nor a separatist executive in power.
The Englishness of the Union? It’s not all that long since the entire country was run by Scots: Blair, Brown, Darling, Cook, Reid, Robertson, etc.. There is a parallel universe in which Nicola Sturgeon could have joined the Labour Party instead of the SNP, and become UK Prime Minister. Perhaps we would still be in the EU. Scotland can absolutely punch above its weight in the Union and on the world stage, but it has chosen to turn in on itself and become irrelevant instead.

Sandy Henderson
Sandy Henderson
1 year ago

What are the chances that we Nicola decides to stand as an MP in the Westminster parliament at the next election so that she can form a Coalition government with Labour and take Scotland towards independence from inside the ‘enemy’ camp?

Ben Jones
Ben Jones
1 year ago

I strongly suspect her ambitions lie on a loftier plane than the green benches. She will become a supra-national ambassador of Wokery, I suspect, flying around the world lecturing people about the dubious benefits of co-ed prisons.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

Which was, of course, her reason for the GRC; it polished her “woke” credentials. She wasn’t concerned about how the Scottish people might react to the bill, she intended to leave as soon as the deed was done, and then use her posturing as credit for a coveted international post.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben Jones

Which was, of course, her reason for the GRC; it polished her “woke” credentials. She wasn’t concerned about how the Scottish people might react to the bill, she intended to leave as soon as the deed was done, and then use her posturing as credit for a coveted international post.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

What an absolutely splendid idea!

Ben Jones
BJ
Ben Jones
1 year ago

I strongly suspect her ambitions lie on a loftier plane than the green benches. She will become a supra-national ambassador of Wokery, I suspect, flying around the world lecturing people about the dubious benefits of co-ed prisons.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

What an absolutely splendid idea!

Sandy Henderson
SH
Sandy Henderson
1 year ago

What are the chances that we Nicola decides to stand as an MP in the Westminster parliament at the next election so that she can form a Coalition government with Labour and take Scotland towards independence from inside the ‘enemy’ camp?

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

In much the same way the Brexit helped strengthen the EU bonds between the remaining 26 it has done the same for the Scottish dynamic within Britain, making more starkly evident the problems with succession in the modern world.
Many predicted the EU would fragment and fracture as a result of Brexit. It hasn’t happened precisely because of the example Britain has subsequently set. The ‘grass isn’t greener’. Scottish voters in sufficient numbers will have noticed.
So whilst there is still much nostalgia in the Nairn thesis, the impact of succession on ’emotion’ now has an exempli gratia. This does not mean supporters flock away from the Nationalists but it does mean the wind is no longer in their sails.
Whether the same applies in Northern Ireland more debatable. Unification will retain considerable emotional gravitation pull, but just perhaps a more nuanced view will emerge there where the best of both worlds will be retained as another key lesson from our collective folly.

Last edited 1 year ago by j watson
j watson
JW
j watson
1 year ago

In much the same way the Brexit helped strengthen the EU bonds between the remaining 26 it has done the same for the Scottish dynamic within Britain, making more starkly evident the problems with succession in the modern world.
Many predicted the EU would fragment and fracture as a result of Brexit. It hasn’t happened precisely because of the example Britain has subsequently set. The ‘grass isn’t greener’. Scottish voters in sufficient numbers will have noticed.
So whilst there is still much nostalgia in the Nairn thesis, the impact of succession on ’emotion’ now has an exempli gratia. This does not mean supporters flock away from the Nationalists but it does mean the wind is no longer in their sails.
Whether the same applies in Northern Ireland more debatable. Unification will retain considerable emotional gravitation pull, but just perhaps a more nuanced view will emerge there where the best of both worlds will be retained as another key lesson from our collective folly.

Last edited 1 year ago by j watson
Louise Weale
EW
Louise Weale
1 year ago

As far as I know, I have no recent Scottish or Irish ancestry. I have read the essay and some of the very detailed and interesting commentary. I wanted to say I value the Scottish (and Irish and Welsh) contribution to the UK. You add perspective and interest and make us a better group.