Saturday, 9 May 2015

What we achieved twice running


My political views insofar as I have any are pretty much in the centre. I favour free market economics, but I also favour fairness, equality of opportunity and a society where no-one is left behind. I want to reduce poverty everywhere, but my solution to doing so is for our country to become more prosperous. I can see merit in each of the three main parties. There are good and sensible people in Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. There are people I agree with in each of these parties and people I disagree with.

I didn’t even stay up for the exit poll on the night of the General Election, but because I had voted Liberal Democrat I went to bed hoping beyond hope for a Liberal Democrat overall majority. You see I believe in miracles. The party I voted for did very badly. This is most unjust. The Lib Dems put country before party in 2010 and have been punished for it. This hardly encourages other parties to do the same. The UK is in a better situation because the Lib Dems were in Government. But they have nearly been wiped out.  Oh well the Centre ground looks rather vacant. No doubt it soon will be filled again.

My second favourite result would have been a Grand coalition of all the pro UK parties. The UK faces an existential threat from the SNP and we should act towards it accordingly. It is of course a democratic, political threat. The people who are trying to break up the UK are sincere and some of those I have met online are very nice indeed. Even those who are aggressive or abusive are so mainly because of an excess of enthusiasm for their goal. This is forgivable as passions are bound to run high about existential issues. But I try always to think clearly and it is simply a fact that the existence of the UK in its present form has never been more threatened that in the past few years and in the next few. Our opponents are peaceful, but recognise them for what they are. If you are in favour of the UK, if you have any love of our shared country that has existed for centuries through thick and thin, then you have a duty to oppose the SNP with everything that you have. When your country is threatened it is normal to put aside party politics for the duration. Our country is threatened. So take that seriously and act accordingly.

My third favourite result would have been either a Labour or a Conservative majority. I probably narrowly favoured the former as I believe the SNP prefer the fact that we now have a Conservative Government and I always follow the maxim of  doing what your opponent least wants. But no matter, the fact that we have a pro UK party with an absolute majority is massively beneficial to the cause of keeping the UK intact. The one result I feared was a Government that dependent in any way on SNP votes. With this they could have used such dependence to undermine the UK.

I am of course disappointed that so many pro UK MPs lost their seats in Scotland. I would like to congratulate the SNP on their achievement. Yours really is a remarkable party. You campaign very well indeed and have some remarkably effective politicians. You have been very lucky to have had a leader of the stature of Alex Salmond who brought you to this point. But if anything Nicola Sturgeon is still more effective as she campaigns with a smile and with friendly words. I don’t try to portray opponents in ways that are false or abusive. I’m quite sure that the vast majority of SNP MPs and supporters are people who would make pleasant dinner party companions. I don’t hate anyone not even those who delight in abusing me. Hatred only damages the person who hates. It need not even touch the person who receives it.

I took part in a tactical voting campaign in Scotland with the hashtag #SNPout. In one sense it failed. We did not prevent the SNP landslide as we had hoped. The pity is that in huge numbers of seats our analysis was correct. If pro UK people had put country before party, we would have limited the damage. But I suspect more people in Scotland voted tactically than ever before and we can build on this in future elections especially where some sort of proportional representation will favour the #SNPout cause. But in another sense our campaign succeeded massively. Our task was to keep the SNP out of government. We have succeeded. They are not in Government. Our campaign in part contributed to the mood that saw huge numbers of people in the UK vote so that the SNP would have no influence on a UK government. Job done.

The SNP are a party of Left, Right and Centre. They have supporters from across the political spectrum.  They only really have one goal, independence and say and do everything in order to achieve that goal. They have destroyed the Left in Scotland for the sake of independence. There are now equal numbers of Conservative and Labour MPs in Scotland. When was the last time that happened? Not only have the SNP destroyed the Left in Scotland they have pretty much destroyed it in England too. The SNP campaign of promising to rule both England and Scotland and propping up a Labour government has spectacularly backfired. English voters faced with this campaign preferred to vote Conservative rather than have Alex Salmond pulling the strings. The trouble is that having destroyed the Left in Scotland it is very difficult now for Labour to win an overall majority again without being dependent on the SNP. The same logic will apply next time. Look where nationalism leads.

Labour committed suicide in 1997 when it implemented unequal devolution. It just took 18 years for them to expire. By offering inequality of devolution they undermined the principle of equality of opportunity. With hindsight and with the opportunity to do things differently I’m quite sure Labour people would revisit 1997 and think again. All parties make mistakes. No-one can predict the future, but the root of the constitutional mess facing the UK today is what happened in 1997.

I am in favour of devolution. But it must be done fairly. This is the task now facing the UK. We need people from all parties to come up with a plan that both devolves and unites. The SNP only want independence. They are happy to make little steps towards the line and then fall over. That way lies the breakup of our country. We must find another path.

The UK constitutional settlement at the moment is tends towards disunity and  is also completely unfair. However, it will only make the situation even worse if we come up with a short term fix. What we need to do is to go right back to 1997 and start all over again. The solution is that we have one parliament that deals with all issues that we share and local democracy that deals with all other issues. This solves the West Lothian question by bypassing it.  Call this federalism if you like. But we must understand federalism in the correct way. Each state in the USA has equal devolution, indeed each county has a great deal of local power, if not each town. But there is a strong central government that unites the whole.

So let us devolve even further but let us at the same time unite. The key to this is to recognise that we are one country. By a quirk of history we call the parts of the UK countries, but we are not a union in the sense that the European Union is a union. There is only one sovereign and that is indivisible. If you think of the UK as a union of sovereign nation states, you have already conceded the argument to the SNP. Of course I am Scottish and I come from a country called Scotland. But this is just a manner of speaking. I could equally well come from Wessex or Strathclyde. They have just as good claims to independence as Scotland does. Anyway that argument is finished. The issue has been decided. I expect Mr Cameron to react to any demand for a further referendum with the answer “Sorry Nicola, you have already had your once in a lifetime opportunity. You lost”

Scotland has not got the government that it voted for. To be frank if you vote for a party that only stands in Scotland it is impossible that you will get the government that you vote for. Scotland only has 59 seats while a majority requires 325.  In every democratic country parts frequently vote differently to the whole. The UK is such a country too.  For that reason it matters not one little bit to me if the SNP win every seat in Scotland. Of course I would prefer that they didn’t, but it doesn’t actually change anything.

The only thing that I am scared of now is that David Cameron offers Scotland Full Fiscal Autonomy (FFA). He surely has learned his lesson by now. Don’t make concessions to nationalism. FFA fatally undermines the UK. It turns us into something resembling the Eurozone if not the Austro-Hungarian Empire and puts us firmly on the path to breakup. It amounts to independence, not now, but very soon. Out of self-interest English voters should realise such an arrangement, that exists nowhere else in the world, would damage their interests as much as Scotland’s. The UK is our country. We have defended it together for centuries. Don’t give up on it now.

No other country in the world is so blithe about the prospect of their nation state ceasing to exist. This is the problem with Scottish nationalism it undermines the centuries old ties that bind us. The SNP would be delighted if in England there were a rise in nationalism. Thus far there hasn’t been. Despite all the provocation, English nationalism was overwhelmingly rejected at the election. It won one seat. Be proud of that fact.


Frankly I am delighted by the General Election result. I didn’t get everything I wanted. But there is a government that has the power to defeat Scottish nationalism, by putting forward an alternative of devolution plus unity. Above all there is a government that morally and legally can simply say No to any further attempts to break up our country. This is what #SNPout campaigned for. This is what we achieved



If you like my writing, you can find my books Scarlet on the Horizon, An Indyref Romance and Lily of St Leonards on Amazon. Please follow the links on the side. Thanks. I appreciate your support.

23 comments:

  1. Hi there, by 'English nationalism getting one seat' I do hope you don't mean the UKIP seat as UKIP are not about English nationalism they are about the United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland exiting the European Union so it can be the normal independent country that you actually assert it to be!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My apologies for the little dig. I think it fair to say that many UKIP supporters like you are not English nationalists, but I fear some are. I could of course be wrong about this but that is my impression from far away

      Delete
    2. I wanted a Conservative win but this time round voted UKIP to ensure we get the choice on leaving the EU or not and the outcome of this election for me is the best of all worlds as there will be an EU exit referendum and the nationalists are out of power 98in Scotland and have no influence at all in Westminster but most importantly we have David Cameron with a mandate to limit EU nationals entitlement to benefits both in work and out and he also has a mandate to restrict EU immigration and repatriate powers from the EU and this is the will of the British people but what we are going to see is despite the mandate and despite the will of the people our government will be unable to do any of their promises because the EU wont let them and that will turn the already near 4 million strong voice for leaving the EU into a majority for leaving the EU.

      But you know I was UKIP for a while since the Tories decided it was a good idea for police forces and judges in far flung Eastern European countries to remove us from our own country without us having redress in our own courts but my partner was totally anti UKIP because she read what she read in the press and watched what she watched on TV but after meeting our UKIP candidate in the street and noticing she never had two heads and was an ordinary English woman of later years she warmed to UKIP but on the day after managing to see two ordinary men in the polling station voting UKIP she did as well.

      Delete
  2. As you say Effie rather have a majority government than a coalition or anything involving nationalists. It is not the party i voted for but that is life some things just don't happen. It seems the guy who benefited most was the dude in glasgow who won rather a large bet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Freddy. I think when things calm down well find UK supporters from all parties rather happier than nationalists. The other moral of the story is that opinion polling is best ignored.

      Delete
  3. http://effiedeans.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/what-we-achieved-twice-running.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. There were plenty of us around in 1997 predicting exactly what has come to pass. A lop-sided, unfair constitution was always going to present nationalists with a golden opportunity to create division and exaggerate differences.

    Those things we share with the rest of the country, the "ties that bind us" have been under attack since before even then. Armando Iannucci’s brilliant sketch “Except for viewers in Scotland” which compares the dismal, parochial offerings of Scottish television with that of the rest of the country sums up much of modern-day Scottish culture and society.

    Any opportunity to create a “distinctly Scottish” version of something is seized upon. It doesn't matter if it’s better or worse, just as long as it’s Scottish and, equally important, not British. British symbols are gradually being removed and replaced with Scottish ones, if they are replaced at all.

    Nationalism always forces you to choose. There is no longer an “All of the above” option. It’s either us or them, for or against, Yes or No. I have beautiful twin daughters and I love each of them dearly and equally. I could no more choose between them than I could between Scotland and Britain, Scottish and British.

    We have long enjoyed the best of both worlds in Scotland. Not only can we delight in knowing we share a country with the likes of Robert Burns, James Clerk Maxwell, David Hume and Kenny Dalglish but Charles Darwin, The Beatles, George Orwell and Daley Thompson also.

    Our children may not be so fortunate

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7scMC7YSDQ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If only we had a time machine and could point out to the Constitutional Convention what their work would lead towards. It's almost like a Greek tragedy. Labour destroyed itself in Scotland

      Delete
  5. That is an impressively mad argument. You campaigned to keep the SNP out in Scotland, not to get Unionists in in England. No Scottish nationalists were standing in England, it was going to deliver 100% Unionists no matter what. Your campaign was perhaps the most spectacular failure in the history of failures.

    But rather than waste time on the rest of the worryingly delusional madness above, I'll ask you one simple question:

    If you were Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond, and the Fairy Godmother appeared to you on the night before the election and offered you any outcome you wanted to further the cause of Scottish independence, could you think of a better one to ask for than "a vast SNP landslide in Scotland and a hideously evil Tory majority government in Westminster with only a single Scottish MP, coupled with a dismally shattered Labour Party"?

    I can't.

    Enjoy your "victory". You have much sadness in your future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trouble is 'Reverend' the SNP did not put independence in their manifesto so they have no mandate.

      Hows things in England anyway? Did you vote Tory given you could not vote SNP?

      Delete
    2. They don't need a mandate for a second referendum. They don't want one. Yet.

      Delete
    3. As always a pleasure to see you here Stuart. We are unlikely to persuade each other, especially as I am mad. But I actually think the SNP really wanted to influence Westminster and hold their feet to the fire. They hoped that this would lead to the the gradual steps that would lead to independence. No-one can predict the future. David Cameron may sell us all down the river. But then again he may just say No. The Spanish have shown how it is possible to simply ignore the nationalists. Spain will remain united in the coming years. The power to decide lies with the sovereign power. That sovereign power is the UK government. I think this is why our side is rather happier than yours today.

      Delete
    4. Yes, they did, because they genuinely care about the welfare of the people of Scotland. But they also recognise that their second-preference outcome, a Tory win, is the best possible one in terms of their ultimate goal of independence. Your "victory" - ie the utter failure of your goal, but let's not quibble - is the definitive example of a Pyrrhic one.

      Delete
    5. Hello 'reverend', you know you are the definition of a hypocrite because you preach SNP while you have escaped their tyranny to liberal England and show no sign of ever returning to the motherland to live in the nanny state but you are correct, for once, that the SNP do not want another referendum and it seems from their talk so far that they do not even want FFA so that leaves them happy to accept The Smith Commission.

      Delete
  6. So Mr. Stu, was the French Ambassador meeting memo such an evil lie? From what you're saying, this was the dream scenario. Interesting that you spent so many virtual column inches saying the exact opposite just weeks ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it was a lie. The fact that there's an upside to a Tory government for the SNP doesn't mean they wanted one.

      Delete
    2. 'If you were Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond, and the Fairy Godmother appeared to you on the night before the election and offered you any outcome you wanted to further the cause of Scottish independence, could you think of a better one to ask for than "a vast SNP landslide in Scotland and a hideously evil Tory majority government in Westminster with only a single Scottish MP, coupled with a dismally shattered Labour Party"?'

      You couldn't think of a better thing they could wish for, but they didn't want it? Is your position that the SNP are masochists?

      On reflection, based on their FFA policy and the GERS figures, I suppose it makes sense.

      Delete
  7. I would imagine the rev stu has a good chance of being that odious individual in Bath, bumped into any Liverpool fans yet I hear lots of them would like to meet you . Maybe one day that will happen i will enjoy hearing about it if it does toodle pip.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You say the SNP killed of the Left and that Labour commited suicide. Which is it?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Labour's bitterness blinds them to how easily their problems can be fixed.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I always thought the ultimate scalp for the SNPout campaign was Salmond. The complex wheel of fortune stuff is too much for your average punter.

    Anyone really dialled into this tactical voting stuff was never going to be more than a rounding error. Regardless of the constitutional risk Glasgow Labour man does not vote Tory.....ever. On the other side the SNP have been pretty OK in Holyrood so its hard to demonize them too much without looking a bit feverish.

    You might sway a soft Lib Dem or wet Tory to go the other way but again its few and far between.

    If you could not swing it against Salmond who is the Marmite of Politics then you would always find it near impossible against random SNP normal candidates.

    Note the only Labour survivor did so on the back of personality smears against the SNP candidate........otherwise it was a wipeout.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It panned out pretty well I thought. For all the sound and fury from the SNP they emerged as a small opposition party to a conservative majority government. That majority may be slender but with DUP/UUP/UKIP and possible lib dem backing, it becomes quite formidable indeed. Who would have thought this election would have turned out to be a slam dunk for the centre right? Life has a way of throwing up unexpected results, especially in politics (Nicola Sturgeon take note!)

    It was fun winding up the yessers on Facebook. "B b b but.....56 seats! They can't ignore this!!!!!!!!"

    Oh yes they can. In a British election, 56 means bugger all when someone else has 326+ :0)))))

    ReplyDelete