Identity politicians are jumping sharks – so now's the time for ideals to resurface

Identity politicians are jumping sharks – so now's the time for ideals to resurface

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Wednesday 19, June, 2019

SOMETHING HAPPENED this week which shows just what a maelstrom Scottish identity politics finds itself in. Unionism announced it had run out of ideas. This is serious.

We saw yet another pivot-shift by Ruth Davidson on the question she simply cannot stop talking about. We are now, I think, at the point where an absolute SNP majority is a mandate for asking for another indyref. As if we need reminded, the only certain way to get a second indyref seems to be to have a Tory Prime Minister in office.

Of course the obvious points arise:

  • This suggests Brexit cannot be negotiated by the current minority Tory government in Westminster.
  • The main party talking about this is... the Tories
  • We are entering perhaps the SIXTH election since indyref where all we ever talk about is "Team Ruth for No referendum."

It is of course appallingly cynical electioneering which is forgivable, but the premise is not. To continuously set up two camps, them and us, to fight one another and to benefit from that conflict seems somehow, well, wrong.

Let's have a quick look at the Bible. Romans 16: 17-18 puts it quite clearly.


"I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.

For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 

Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil."


Quite heavy, though I did write this on a Sunday, it is vital we have some principles to build our broad political church upon.

The relationship between what we see as truth and evidence is what allows us to hold rational beliefs. The rationality of beliefs, then, depends on the testability and falsifiability of propositions.

In other words, instead of confusing coincidence with cause and effect, we can make progress towards truth only if the propositions are testable and falsifiable. Otherwise, we cannot create evidence at all (untestable) or we face an infinitely expanding tautology (unfalsifiable).

Scottish independence is an infinitely expanding tautology. Triangulating Scottish Tory positioning to create environment where there must be an eternal threat of independence that only Ruth Davidson can oppose is however very testable electorally.

There would be nothing at all stopping another minority government raising a section 30 request. There would be nothing stopping any Green list MSPs defecting to the SNP immediately before voting for this request in the next parliament. 

This must all be weighed against repeated statements that Westminster must not stop an indyref request, that it has been and gone for a generation, and of course that only 'She' can stop this happening. This thing that apparently cannot and should not happen except when it could but never really should.

Commentators in the media are finally seeing this for what it is, starting to fight to have another fight while saying all we want is peace. It is credible right up until the moment it is not. Then, as Colonel Kurtz would say, it hits you in the forehead like a diamond bullet. The genius, the genius of it all and then the madness of that genius. 

If all we are ever going to aspire to is maintaining the status quo by pitching one clan against another the danger is the clans get wise to it. The SNP are Flat Earthers and it is as needless to argue with them as it is with a drunk over the flatness of the Earth.

The moment the credibility of indyref2 evaporates then the SNP rejects so many other votes. Currently, support for an immediate indyref2 is about 20 per cent – and given that 52 per cent of respective electorates voted for Leave 2016 and 55 per cent for No in 2014 – that number is not high enough for the SNP to be convinced it will win.  It is clear that unless the Yes vote polls consistently above 55 per cent and unless there is a majority of the people wanting indyref2 (which would need a consultative vote to demonstrate) there is simply not the urgency to this that the Conservative leadership leads us to believe. 

The answer then is ensure the trend away from Yes must continue and that needs sound policies that deliver for everyone in Scotland.

Faith Family and Flag are vital aspects to Unionism. So too is a sense of economic justice, that Scotland should get a bigger slice of the pie and that the pie should be bigger too. 

  • A Scotland of Mum and dad with kids and a dog in a warm house they own with a car they can afford connected to the world without restriction.
  • A Scotland where we are able to eat a burger, drink a coke, smoke a cig and neck a beer without punishing tax.
  • A Scotland of Common Sense where parents outrank teachers, teachers outrank academics, gender is binary, private life is no one else's business.

In other words Conservatism must be about both an independent UK that matters in the world that champions the independence of individuals and peace and prosperity for families at home.

There are only so many times we are going to vote against having a vote. Time for sustainable Unionism. Together.


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