A very simple choice

A very simple choice

by Hugh Andrew
article from Monday 16, March, 2015

DANNY ALEXANDER has received some degree of criticism for uttering a clear and simple truth. The General Election in Scotland is a choice between two movements. One wishes the end of Britain, one wishes its continuance. If you wish to see Britain continue then you have only one choice you can make, one choice whatever flag it flies on the ballot paper. For Liberal, Tory, Labour – for all their differences – accept Britain. 

They work within a familiar field of politics and policy. We may like it, we may not, but we elect one or the other in the knowledge that in time we can get rid of them and the field will remain the same. The SNP do not accept that field. The mark of a revolutionary movement is that it will tell any story, assume any narrative to achieve the pivot point at which it can break open the structure within which it exists. 

To her credit Nicola Sturgeon has been clear that another referendum would be necessary to achieve independence.  Is that what her followers think? If, having lost a referendum on 45 per cent of the vote, the vagaries of first past the post gives the SNP a clean sweep in Scotland at the General election on the same percentage (roughly the same percentage as Sinn Fein got in 1918 in its clean sweep in Ireland) do you think that those soothing and emollient words of Nicola's will hold? 

Do you think if such a referendum is held entirely under Scottish government terms with that Westminster mandate it will be entirely fair? Do you think that many nationalist followers actually believe that democracy is anything other than a potentially useful adjunct to the achievement of their dream? Would mere soothing words bind them?

And is it really credible that two movements with such barely suppressed loathing as Labour and the SNP could come to any kind of agreement? Beside such the Molotov- Ribbentrop Pact would seem a true meeting of minds. And do you think the terms of such a deal would be about the UK or about a farther wedge to be driven into it? Do you think the SNP would have any interest in mollifying middle England or in creating a howl of rage against Scotland, a howl which too serves their ends?

I don’t hold a brief to defend our unionist politicians. They come, they go. Sometimes they are bad, sometimes good. I don’t defend Westminster. It needs reform, serious reform. Its failures lie at the root of our current malaise and are a direct counterpart of nationalism's success. It expanded into a vacuum. 

But I do defend Britain. I do defend a great nation that we built together. Should Marie Le Pen be elected in France will a native of Gascony or Artois claim he is no longer French? It is nonsense. And the great deceit of nationalism is that it is defined by who rules us and not who we are. That there is a Tory government is neither here nor there in that regard. I have no great love of the SNP administration in Scotland. Does this make me any less of a Scot?

Behind all this is something darker. Independence is not simply about who you are. It is about what you believe. It is about your loyalty to the collective. It is about a set of political beliefs. Those of us who do not share those beliefs with the SNP are simply deluded, timid, second class Scots. This is not the country I love of passionate plurality, of debate, of disagreement. This is about the cold dead hand of conformity, the whispered word not to speak too freely, the power of the state and its patronage. Where will the 55 per cent go in a world of a triumphant governing movement and opposition parties shattered and broken beyond all credibility? This is not a true democracy but its antithesis.

But if the 55 per cent stand together then First Past the Post gives an unassailable rampart on which the Nationalist wave can break. And above all it gives us time, time for Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat parties in Scotland to heal and recover, time and space to begin the fightback against a movement which threatens to overwhelm us. Danny was right. There are times when the exigencies of party vanish before the needs of country. You, the 55 per cent, need to speak and speak with one voice. Fail and you will never have that chance again.


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