Let’s STOP this ‘four nations’ nonsense

Let’s STOP this ‘four nations’ nonsense

by Roger White
article from Thursday 26, November, 2020

THIS IS going to be short and sharp. Politicians who in any shape or form accept the legitimacy of the United Kingdom need to stop talking about the ‘four nations’ it comprises.  

I’m not going to get into an abstruse argument about what nations are, whether they’re immutable, whether their soul is stirring (© A. Salmond most years he was politically active), or which is the oldest in Europe.  

I’m talking here about government and our actual constitutional arrangements. We have one overarching government and parliament and three devolved administrations. Politicians elected on a universal and equal franchise from all parts of the UK make up that overarching parliament.  The other administrations are not equal. They derive their authority from the United Kingdom parliament. The clue is in the word ‘devolved’.  

Nationalists don’t like these facts but that doesn’t bother me.  

What does concern me is the way in which other politicians have slipped into using the glib and easy ‘four nations’.  

I saw an example yesterday from the Liberal Democrats, although the disease has spread in all the three main UK parties.  

Talking of an easing of Covid restrictions for Christmas, they said that ‘all four nations’ must agree an approach.  

No. The UK government and the three devolved administrations must agree an approach. Not all functions relevant to health are devolved and the UK Government, as well as having the responsibility for the health of England, has overarching relevant responsibilities. The Welsh government doesn’t control international travel to the Principality. Scotland is not a member of the World Health Organisation.  

There’s a time and a place for the use of the word ‘nation’ within the United Kingdom. Others will make larger claims, but I’d be happy if it were confined to those sports where England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own teams. And then I’d precede its use with the word ‘home’, as in ‘home nations’.  

What shouldn’t happen is that pro-British politicians and parties adopt the ‘four nations’ mantra punted by, surprise – separatist politicians. Language is not neutral and they play into the hands of separatists every time they use it.  

This article was first published on Roger White's regular blog 'The people said No Thanks!' ThinkScotland is grateful to Roger for allowing us to republish it here. 

Photo of a STOP road sign by by 1stGallery via Adobe Stock 

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