Friday, September 12, 2014

Scotch Mist - Occasional reflections on a referendum. No 7 – SNP and the destruction of the English language

I really was not intending to write any more about the referendum. But it is now the number one topic on current affairs programmes and inevitably one is drawn into the arguments. This morning I was idly listening to Today in bed, as one does when taking a day off. [He's been retired for a while but we don't want to shatter his pathetic illusions that the business world still needs him: Ed] I heard an SNP supporter using the phrase "this failed political union" and once again the blood rushed to my head, my eyes rolled and my writing fingers began to itch.

  • Direct control from Westminster over all matters of Scottish life including allocation of housing, education, the police, investment, control over candidates for Parliament - that might signify a failed union.
  • Scots unable to buy property in the rest of the UK, forbidden to travel, discriminated against when working south of the border, refused entry to pubs and hotels, singled out for stop-and-search by the police, kept waiting for many hours to cross the border - this would indicate a failed union.
  • No democratic elections for many years despite continuous mass demands for them - that would show a failed political union.
  • Arrests of anyone campaigning for independence, bloody suppression of demonstrations, secret police, disappearance of activists, English commissars with arbitrary powers including detention, torture and execution - that would indeed signify a failed political union.

And so on. Now you could say that some of these things did indeed take place following the battle of Culloden when the people of the Highlands were punished for support for the Jacobite cause. And you could counter-argue that even then the majority of Scots supported the union and were not Jacobites and that, within a generation, Scots were serving proudly in the British army, were represented in Government and were enjoying the full fruits of the economic boom accompanying the expansion of the British trading and political empire (as anyone who has wandered through the splendid Georgian streets of the "new town" in Edinburgh can witness).

All that was more than 200 years ago. To describe the current state of the British polity as failed is like a child who has not been picked to star in the class play (where there are only 6 main roles and 25 kids) screaming "It's not fair" and banging her head on the desk. Put it another way - the UK model is widely copied and respected around the world as an example of how to create a peaceful, representative, honest system of government. The very fact that the referendum is taking place and will be legally honoured if the result is for independence is testament to the strength of the system. Yet the SNP says it is failure, and sure the SNP are honourable men and women. [That's enough Shakespeare at this time of the morning, thanks: Ed]. Yugoslavia was a failed union. Pakistan was a failed union. When it all ends in militias, shelling of cities and slaughter of unarmed civilians, that's a failed union. The UK has been an outstanding success, despite the relative domination by the English over the rest, a domination that is acknowledged and is steadily being reduced as devolution increases, and the merits of the UK far outweigh its disadvantages. If this is failure, give me more of it.

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