THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain

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The end of the Union

The Daily Telegraph is running a campaign to save the Union. It is too late.

Union_thumbnailNor 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.

Fair dealing?

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

Time for the Kingdom to be Untied

Link: newsBlog | Campaign for an English Parliament.

2002_07_28_pictures_112The 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.

Continue reading "Time for the Kingdom to be Untied" »

Telegraph | Comment | In praise of the Union

Link: Telegraph | Comment | In praise of the Union.

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.

Scotland go it alone? What a hoot.

Link: Anti-enterprise Scotland go it alone? What a hoot - Sunday Times - Times Online.

One recent calculation estimates that just 163,000 Scottish taxpayers, from a population of 5m, make any net contribution to the British exchequer. The rest receive more than they pay out in reliefs, subsidies and benefits.

In the name of all that's holy, will you Scots just go now? 163,000 of you are welcome to apply for English citizenship. You know who you are and if you don't want to run some very expensive whelk stalls, you need political asylum. Now.