The left-wing media continue the narrative of a Conservative Party in crisis. Nothing could be further from the truth. Brexit removes the Conservative Party's only serious division. Once the dust settles and practical politics resumes, the party's EU-philic elements will have no choice but to unite with the new mainstream. The Conservative Party is more a machine for winning elections than anything else and the EU issue has been the main impediment to that for a long time as it separated the party from its core voters.
Labour's problem is more complicated. Its core voters hate it because they see it as a remote metropolitan elite that cares only for identity politics. The one group that the party most sees (after the eevil Tories) as the enemy of all the victim groups it sponsors is the native working class that founded it. It is now the party of sociology lecturers at universities that used to be polytechnics and colleges of Ed. Exactly like my own Labour MP in fact. People who have lived their whole lives as costs to society rather than producers. It is the political wing of the public sector trade unions that fund it. The unions that also represent the spenders not the earners. If the Party were to go in for truth in advertising it would be called Unproductive Labour. The provincial working classes who founded the party think it now despises them. They are right. Hilary Benn's attempt to stage a coup is all very well but even if he succeeds in forcing a new leadership election, Ed Miliband's crazed reform of the electorate is a poison pill. Even if Corbyn steps aside, someone just as remote, crazy and extreme will win.
Without hope of office since the Labour Party displaced the old Liberals (and with a sour experience when in office as part of a coalition) the Liberal Democrats have had no pressure to form a consistent party line. In consequence they are a very broad church, ranging from Gladstonian Liberals so respectable that I could imagine being in a party with them to leftists who are just too snobbish to be in the same party as John Prescott. Their main distinguishing feature was that they were NOT divided over the EU. They have now announced they will campaign for the UK to rejoin in future. Given that the application would not be accepted, they are now officially pointless.
As is UKIP. It did the nation a great service in forcing the hand of a party that was no more inclined to give the demos a say than any of its Continental counterparts. It won us the referendum we so desperately needed and is owed our thanks. A statue to Nigel Farage should be placed on the spare plinth in Trafalgar Square. He has endured decades of vilification by the leftist Establishment in his nation's cause. Arguably he should be up there with Nelson himself, rather then at the base of his column. But he is now redundant.
An orderly dissolution of UKIP would allow its members and voters to move back to the Labour and Conservative parties from whence they came. Ex-UKIP Labourites could explain to the Islington Mafia how to talk to the honest working folk that make up most of their potential voters. Ex-UKIP Conservatives could replace the MPs who lied to their Constituency Associations that they were EU-sceptics and then campaigned for Remain. A dissolution of the LibDems would allow the Gladstonian Liberals to hold their noses and join the Conservative party, the sandalled loonies to join the Greens and the snooty socialists to join Labour. All three parties would benefit from their moderating influence.
You will note that I don't mention the SNP. That's because I can't see how Scotland can now remain part of the UK. It's a Civil Code jurisdiction and has always had more loyalty to the Auld Alliance with France than to the Union. I would love it to stay but unless there is a massive resurgence of Scottish Conservatism to defeat the SNP its course now seems sadly fixed. When I was young it was a firmly Conservative place and my Scottish friends are quiet Conservatives still but its national character has been debased by dependency. It needs to get its dignity back. Only Independence can do that. Ideally proper independence not the leech-on-Germany kind. But that's for them to decide.
Britain's first past the post constituency-based electoral system works best with two parties. The electorate can steer the nation like a tank, advancing either the Left or the Right track at five year intervals to keep us moving forward in roughly the right direction. If the state can be reined back to its key tasks in the wake of Brexit, we can eliminate the influence of pressure groups, fake charities and other single issue fanatics and persuade those two parties to rebuild mass memberships. Labour needs to do that to reconnect with its historic voters. Focus groups are not enough. The Conservatives need to do it to ensure that no renegade hooligan like Heath ever induces it to spit on its historic constituency again. It's time to get Britain back on a course that suits the national temperament and accords broadly with the peoples will. If the Conservative Party moves in that direction, I will join it.
As for Farage, the statue is not enough. He should be elevated to the House of Lords, appointed to the Cabinet as Minister without portfolio and despatched to Brussels with Boris (our new Foreign Secretary) to negotiate Brexit.
I said I was afraid of how the separation of Scotland from the United Kingdom would be handled by our political leaders. Already the difficulties begin to become clear. As presented by the BBC and other leftish media yesterday, two things happened. Firstly, the money fairies expressed concern about the status of the UK's debts after Scottish independence. Secondly, the UK government assured them it would continue to be liable.
Alex Salmond chortled openly. The UK's negotiators had just weakened their position. Others attempted to explain that the assurances given to creditors did not mean an independent Scotland would walk away from its share of debt, but rather that the share-out of liabilities would have to be structured. This is far too complicated for most observers to grasp and so we are left with the overall impression that "Scot-free" may be a justified slur.
This neatly illustrates the current situation in the independence "debate". The SNP states the benefits of independence (both real and imaginary) almost entirely unchallenged. The Unionists fail to express their positions for fear of antagonising the famously touchy Scottish electorate by appearing to demean or to threaten them.
Because only one part of the Union is being allowed to vote on its future, the continuing UK (cUK) is positioned as a suitor. In such a sitution, you woo with flowers, meals and gifts - not hard explanations of financial reality. Hence the Scots are getting no explanation of the financial consequences of independence, but the likes of Gordon Brown are offering them new gifts to stay. The interests of the majority of citizens of the cUK who want the Scots to go are - it goes without saying - being thoroughly trashed by both sides.
Our creditors are bound to be considering the implications for them of independence, just as they would if a private sector borrower were in the process of dividing its business. If their debtor was a conglomerate, they might ask such questions as "when the Whisky and Tourism division separates from the Finance and Engineering business, will the two parts be new debtors, refinancing the entire debt, or will the smaller business be spun off with new debt raised to pay off a share of the old?" Or "Will the new owners pay a higher price to have the company debt-free so that we can be repaid from the increased equity?"
Their questions will be similar in the case of the UK's sovereign debt. Uncertainty has a price and I suspect they have told HM Treasury that unless the post separation debt structure is clarified, they will start to charge the UK more today. HMG is constantly borrowing to bridge the deficit between its income and outgoings. The UK's credit rating was already downgraded last year. If lenders are nervous to lend to an entity they know well, imagine their nervousness about major change.
In an ideal world, the two entitites would walk away with their fair share of the debt by dividing it in the same way they will divide assets. But the creditors will have a say in that. They have no obligation to consent to a division and are entitled to a say on the terms. For example, the BBC (without comment or explanation of the implications) interviewed a fund manager yesterday who stated the blindingly obvious fact that Scotland will have to pay higher interest on its debts. He explained politely that this would reflect its status as "a new borrower". In truth he and his colleagues have every right to be concerned about the prudence of the new government of a nation distinguished by an almost total absence of fiscal conservatives.
So to achieve a fair result, the UK's sovereign debt will have to be re-structured. I would personally favour a total refinancing, because I would like the cUK to benefit from reduced interest rates. However, the most likely approach is that new debt will have to be issued to an independent Scotland to repay its share of the UK debt. That new debt will be at higher rates and there is nothing in the propaganda published by the SNP to suggest that an independent Scotland's leaders have given any thought as to how to service it. Salmond's stupidly gleeful reaction to the Treasury's statement of the bleeding obvious yesterday rather suggests the contrary.
I have tried to compare the situation with a corporate restructuring but perhaps that's too dry an example? Imagine how rapid a divorce would be if the parties got their decree absolute without first resolving the financial terms. Human nature being what it is, each spouse would imagine a favourable outcome from the negotiation. The spouse with the greater sense of entitled victimhood would be the more disappointed. Fair enough, but imagine how messy the settlement negotiations would be, how long they would last and how acrimonious they would become.
It was an insanely stupid political decision to allow a referendum without first agreeing the terms of independence. I don't fear independence per se - in fact, like most English people, I would welcome it on fair terms - but I fear the consequences of that stupidity for both sides and I don't trust my own leaders not to do something truly insane like guarantee the debts of a new Scotland.
Let me be clear. Since I overheard a ned pour vile anti-English hatred into the ear of his toddler son at the Wallace Memorial some years ago, I have been in favour of Scottish Independence. I realised that poor, innocent little boy was going to grow up hating me and my own innocent children no matter what we do. I love Scotland and my Scottish friends but for so long as the Scottish masses can ignorantly blame England for everything, it is a country that will never grow up. The Scottish Nation needs to stand alone and realise that life is difficult, requires unsavoury amounts of work and that nothing comes for free in the end.
"...if a UK-wide per capita average were a notional 100%, identifiable per capita expenditure on services in England would be 97% and the Scottish amount 117%..."
The BNP is on the wane, but its spirit lives in Scotland. We knew the Scots were not fond of us, but who knew it was this bad? McKenna's piece is probably criminal, given the extent to which it incites the English to hate his fellow Scots. Not to worry. Spare yourself the cost of a lawyer, laddie. We are not the whingeing, easily-offended types. We have been hated by far better men than you, McKenna, and thrived.
You ask if Scotland and England have ever been farther apart. Aye, laddie. We have been at war far more times than you like selectively to remember. Usually with England's deadliest enemies as your allies, and you their dupes. It only ended when you bankrupted yourselves in a vain attempt to emulate us and came crawling to be bailed out. Of course, it's all forgotten now - South of the Border - but if you want to write fetid stuff like this...
I also detected a mounting fury among Scots voters at what they regarded as a very English election and the viciousness of the vendetta that was mounted against Gordon Brown. We believe that we share with him a sense of rectitude not apparent in louche England.
At times during this election he was like a dancing bear tethered to a wall and suffering the little torments of the mob. Many hearts bled for him, even those who had not previously been well-disposed to him.
...you may expect even the relaxed English to remember their history. "Louche" are we? My dictionary defines that as:
disreputable or sordid in a rakish or appealing way
I don't deny we have our black sheep, but I think you can give us a run for our money in the "disreputable and sordid" stakes. Good luck with the "appealing" part though.
By the way, no wonder you are so catastrophically stupid in your political judgements. You can't even distinguish pompous hypocrisy from rectitude. We don't hate him for being Scots, you ass. We hate him for bankrupting our country while (rather like you in this article) pretending to be our moral superior. We shall feel free to hate you, however, for thinking us as petty, tribal and class-ridden as yourself.
Before you get on your moral high sheep, please bear in mind that you have imposed a government on us we do not want - and not for the first time. Bear in mind also that we are well aware you have the irresponsible luxury to do it because a mere 163,000 of you are net contributors to the national Treasury. The rest of you are serpent-toothed ingrates, as you and your fathers have been since the Acts of Union they grovelled for. You tell us that;
An economic recovery programme that targets the public sector and thus the poorest and most vulnerable will strain the union to breaking point.
I have never read a more high-toned piece of self-serving pompous tosh in my life (and I am a regular reader of the Guardian!) You are hopelessly out of date if you think we give a drunken ghillie's fart for the Union. We are all for anything that will promote the Scottish non-dependence you bang on about, but never actually want. Face it laddie. You want to leave the Union as much as a flea wants to leave a dog.
Be off with you. Found your Socialist Republic. Try not to be shocked when the United Kingdom you have left vetoes your application to join the EU. After all, why should we let you continue your parasitism by other means? The best of luck bleeding white those poor, isolated 163,000! You might have to nail them to their office floors to do it. It might even be amusing, before the borders are closed, to offer them political asylum.
Perhaps that would even be the kindest thing to do? After all, it's about the only way you will ever learn to stand on your own feet and stop blaming everything on us.
I support the SNP's campaign for Scottish independence. I have even been known to send Mr Salmond's party a donation. More English people now support Scottish independence than Scots. Let's face it. We have not heard a friendly word from north of the border since the Acts of Union.
I became an English Scots Nationalist one day in Stirling. I am an admirer of Sir William Wallace, a brave, proud man who would despise those modern "nationalists" who confuse a plan for EU parasitism with "independence". Near his memorial, I listened to a Scottish chav (I believe the word is "ned") explaining his significance to his toddler son. He spoke of the English to this innocent in blood-curdling terms. I watched the child's eyes as he drank it down and knew there was no hope. Forget shortbreads, tartans and crude provincial poetry. Scottishness is defined by hatred.
At least the idiotic father gave me a laugh. He was doing this in front of what he thought was the Memorial; the figure of Mel Gibson as Wallace which was standing near the visitor centre. I walked sadly up the path to the real memorial.
Scotland is one of my favourite places and I have valued Scottish friends, but I would lose nothing (and gain much) by its independence. It needs tourism income, so I will still be welcome there. Something tells me my favourite distilleries will be just as ready to sell me my tipple.
However Mr Salmond has no right to promise British citizenship to Scots after independence. No man can give what he does not have. If he rejects Britain, he must live with his choices, as Wallace would have bravely done. For that matter, if Scotland leaves an EU member state, it also leaves the EU. The United Kingdom, minus Scotland, would be perfectly free to veto its application for membership. I believe it should do so. Scotland begged for the Acts of Union. It was a failed state brought to beggary by the Darien Venture. It has been subsidised by England ever since. At the least, it should prove itself by 50 years of economic independence before it is even allowed to apply. During that time, a Scots passport should give no special rights in the United Kingdom.
Of the entire Scottish nation, only 163,000 are net contributors to Britain's budget. If Scotland opts for independence, those ladies and gentlemen should perhaps be offered British citizenship. The rest know what to do.
The Daily Telegraph is running a campaign to save the Union. It is too late.
Nor is this a matter to be decided, as the Scots and Welsh seem to think, by them alone. The Union is ours too and we can decide if we want it to continue, just as much as they. The faux-colonial way in which the Nationalists describe the situation is - and always has been - a mortal insult. This was never any more a question of "self-determination" for the Welsh and Scots than it was for the English. Indeed, until "devolution" (that ugly weasel-word of spin) occurred all citizens of the United Kingdom were equal before the law.
Before devolution all UK citizens were liable to the same obligations and enjoyed the same rights. A Scottish or Welsh vote counted for as much as an English one. Indeed, given that the Scots and Welsh voted en bloc for Labour, theirs counted for rather more. For most of my adult life, Socialists have governed the United Kingdom on the back of Scottish and Welsh votes. In 1979, I stood at the bar of a Welsh pub with my father on the day Mrs Thatcher won power. We smiled secretly (and somewhat dangerously) at each other as a distraught Welsh Labourite wailed; "How can she have won? Who voted for her? I never even met a bloody Tory!"
True, some of the injustice in the relations between the Home Nations was always there. There is nothing new about the Barnett formula, for example. One can therefore sympathise, up to a point, with those Scots and Welsh who wonder what the fuss is about. Up to a point. How politically stupid was it to draw the attention of English voters to established injustice, by demanding still more?
I nurture no ethnic hatreds. There are no ethnic differences here. Jan Morris in "her" book, "Wales," acknowledged that there was no way to know if you were Welsh, other than to ask yourself if you have a sense of "cymreictod" (Welshness). For many years, I thought I had. But the increasing shrillness and nastiness of nationalism and the manifest injustices of devolution, killed that. If you require me to think less of my English mother and grandparents on the basis of such trivia, then frankly - though my Welsh lineage is richer than most of yours - to hell with you. I stand now four square with Dylan Thomas, a Welshman and perhaps the greatest ever user of the English language, who famously said; "Land of my fathers? My fathers can have it!"
I would love to see these islands united. In my opinion, all men and women who teach their children the same nursery rhymes and who sing the same songs belong together. The Scots, Welsh, English and - for that matter - Irish have much more in common than they have to separate them. In truth, there is damn all to separate them but that most pathetic (and mighty) of forces; sentiment.
That the Union should have been so damaged by the film "Braveheart" speaks volumes as to the poor quality of history teaching in the UK. How many Scots know how ahistorical is the climactic scene in which Robert the Bruce confronts Edward Longshanks in Stirling Cathedral? From the film, you would never picture the truth: Two feudal leaders met; a Plantagenet King and a lord whose family came from Brieux in Normandy. They would have been united in regarding their waiting armies, Scots and English, as little better than cattle. They would have spoken in Norman French or Latin rather than vulgar English. It had as much to do with today's nationalisms as I have with the Great Khan; perhaps less.
No attempt is being made, however, to address that ignorance. The field of historical battle has been yielded to the sentimentalists and propagandists. I wish I could hope otherwise, but we English are nothing if not pragmatic. It's time for our fellows in the Union to make it worth our while, or go.
Labour's policies make no sense when approached from the point of view of reason, fairness and justice. That is because they were not conceived from that point of view. The logic behind Labour's policies is simple and corrupt. Their objective is to steal public funds and use them to bribe Labour's supporters.
That is why Labour-donating Northern Rock, with its legions of Geordie depositors was saved from its idiocies. That is what all those non-jobs advertised in the Guardian are about. That is what selectively closing hospitals in Conservative constituencies is about. That is what cash for consultations is about. That is what devolution is about. Scotland and Wales are voter farms, with Socialists hand-reared at the flowing teat of Mother State.
Once you understand that, your sense of puzzlement at Labour's poll lead will evaporate and be replaced with a desire to find another homeland. It was a Scot, Alexander Tytler, who perceived that
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse out of the public treasury."
But in siding with the visceral hatred of the Celtic fringe for the Saes or Sassenachs (don't deny it boyos, I grew up among you) Labour has gone a step too far. The English are famously tolerant and forbearing. They take pride in it. But Margaret Thatcher put her finger on the matter when she quoted Rudyard Kipling's "Norman and Saxon" to Francois Mitterand;
“The Saxon is not like us Normans, His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealings,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone"
The Barnett Formula is very far from fair dealing. it is theft, pure and simple. It is the theft of the English taxpayers' life work to bribe the legions of Labour-voting Celts. It is corruption, nothing more.
h/t the CEP
The growing English desire for a Parliament is entirely a reaction to the West Lothian Question. Englishmen have never before shown any desire for more layers of government. Were it not for devolution, we would be quite content to be governed from our historic parliament at Westminster.
Personally I love Scotland. It's a beautiful place and I have friends there. I really wish the Scots could get along with us in the UK, but then I love Ireland too. I see no reason why all of us in these islands can't live together as one nation.
Now there's a long-lost cause!
People who share the same language, teach their children the same nursery rhymes, love the same drama, music and literature and cherish common values should be in the same nation. That the tribal hatreds of prehistoric times have outlasted the long-miscegenated tribes is sad. That modern nations should define themselves by long-dead tribes of a lost race is pathetic. Sad, pathetic or not, the right to self-determination is inalienable and it's not for me to question the reasoning behind any given exercise of that right.
The Scots seem cautiously to be gearing up to go the way of the Irish, no doubt encouraged by their recent example. The SNP is cleverly making it "safe" for voters to elect them, by promising a referendum on full independence in 2010. It will have three years, and the resources of the well-funded Scottish government, to make its case. I think it will succeed. The sight of a nationalist government running the country (and under the leadership of the most impressive politician in these islands it can scarcely do less well than the current lot) will stoke the fires lit by Labour with the establishment of what Billy Connolly calls "the wee pretendy Parliament".
Though we will shed a tear, it is not all bad news. They have never, shall we say, fully embraced the United Kingdom. Only 163,000 of them currently make a net contribution to the UK Treasury. Most Scots are unreconstructed Socialists. An election-deciding proportion of them work for (or are kept in idleness by) the State. I do not say they are no loss, but I am a polite Englishman. Economically, it would not be far wrong. Of course, they will take their share of North Sea oil, but it's not as great as the SNP thinks and becomes less important with every day of delay.
We need to get our act together for the negotiations which may begin in 2010. Few people seem to have thought the consequences through - on either side of the border.
Since Scotland will be leaving the UK, which is the Member State of the EU, an independent Scotland will need to apply to join. It would be irrational for a new nation, with no recent track record of political and economic stability, to walk immediately into membership. The nations of New Europe, very sensibly, had to prove that they were stable democracies with viable economies before they could join. They were made to jump many hoops of the kind now being held up before Turkey. Scotland should jump them too.
All of the achievments the Daily Telegraph's leader writer claims for the Union would arguably have been greater without the dead weight of the ever-grumbling Scots. The Scottish employees who were of use did not need to be of the same nation as their employers, whether they were engineers, soldiers or steelworkers. The Scottish entrepreneurs who contributed to our prosperity did so for their own profit and might well have been even more energetic if their businesses had flown the Saltire. To the extent they traded in England & Wales, the Chancellor would have taxed them - and would not have been obliged to send that money north of the border. The UK's only "loss" would have been the Scottish statesmen who have graced Westminster. I am sure we would have managed somehow.
The idea that the UK's constitutional problems can be "stitched up under local anaesthetic without major surgery" is ridiculous. Logically, the English and the Scots belong together. Ethnically and culturally their differences are too trivial for words. Families are so mixed that only the most remote peasants have any claim (as if such a thing mattered) to ethnic purity. Even those claims are often mistaken. But the same is true of the English and the Irish - and who now would call for the Irish Republic to rejoin the UK - logical though that might be?
England's affection for her neigbours has never been reciprocated. The petty nations of the Celtic fringe have proved time and again, often violently, that they are not prepared to let go of their historical (and ahistorical) grievances. England should no longer impoverish herself in the vain attempt to buy their allegiance.
I have blogged before about one last attempt to reform the United Kingdom's constitution, but in my heart I fear it is time to let it go.