Saturday, November 25, 2006

For the Union

Blair seems to have been sufficiently rattled by the possibility of an SNP win in the 2007 Holyrood elections to take the trouble of delivering "his most passionate and comprehensive condemnation of Scottish nationalism yesterday", according to the Scotsman:
"The Prime Minister has derided the Nationalists in the past. Indeed, it has become routine for him to sprinkle a few anti-Nat insults and jibes into every speech he gives in Scotland.

But this is the first time he has taken such time and effort to confront the SNP and its policies."
Perhaps, as the piece suggests, it's the legacy thing. Having insisted that devolution would cement, not undermine, the Union, he seems unnerved at the prospect that it might prove to have the opposite effect.

Blair is right to confront the nationalists - but it's the manner in which he is going about it I have a problem with. Blair said the SNP's politics are those of "fear and grievance". He's right about the latter, but wrong about the former; if there is fear, it is being peddled by Blair and Brown, not the nationalists. One just has to sample the arguments used, which depend heavily on the 'cost of divorce' theme - that separation would be a disaster for the Scottish economy.

But this serves only to cheapen the debate - serving only to give a constitutional angle to the tired debate in British politics where essentially statist parties attempt to woo the voters with promises to grow the economy faster, and redistribute the proceeds more efficiently, than their rivals.

There's another Unionist case to be made and perhaps I shouldn't blame Blair and Brown for not making it because I find it difficult to articulate myself. It has something to do with one's allegiance being a civilisational choice, rather than a calculation of potential economic benefits. Something to do with preferring a polity that is based on civility rather than ethnicity. Definitely something to do with an affection for what is familiar over a future state that cannot be known. For although I doubt it, perhaps a larger Scottish state would really make us more like Scandanavia instead of the Soviet Union. But even if it did, I don't want to be like Sweden or Norway. Because while I'm sure this is pure prejudice on my part, I think this would be a lesser fate for us.

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