Category Archives: Unionism

The Green Tribe of Scotland

Shreks
Shreks.
I thought I'd have a closer look at the four tribes of Scotland as described in my two earlier blog posts.

I defined the Green Tribe as being "home to the pro-EU unionists who were perfectly happy inside both unions (28% of voters) [mnemonic: green for hope, because they will hopefully vote Yes next time]".

Members of the Green Tribe typically voted No to independence but Remain in the Brexit referendum. They also typically vote Lib Dem or Labour (or in some rarer cases Green or Tory). This means that most of them have been used to being in power for a while, and seeing the SNP take over in Scotland and then losing the Brexit referendum must have been a shock to many of them, which means they're now angry and confused, in many cases even passive-aggressive.

The interesting thing about this Tribe is that it has just lost its ancestral land. The Brexit referendum was won by Leave, and there's no signs that the UK as a whole will reverse that decision. As a result, they now have to choose between their two beloved unions, the British one and the European one. If they go for the former, they'll effectively join the Red Tribe, and if they opt for the latter, they'll become part of the Blue Tribe instead.

What we don't know is how the Green Tribe will split. Those members who weren't very strongly attached to the EU, perhaps only supporting it because the tribal elders told them to, will probably remain faithful to the UK and will thus become Reds. On the other hand, those who mainly supported the UK because they saw it as a vehicle for internationalism will soon realise that the Blue Tribe members tend to share their goals, perhaps helped by yesterday's #WeAreScotland tweets.

Obviously joining the Blue Tribe is only attractive to Green Tribe members if they think it's a safe way to escape the newly xenophobic rUK and remain within the EU. If a new independence referendum gets put on the back burner, there won't be anything of interest for them to find in the Blue lands.

We independence supporters need to be very welcoming to Green Tribe members looking for a new home, and we need to stop ourselves for reminding them that "we told you so", tempting as it is. They'll bring a new perspective on things – for instance, they might be nostalgic for the liberal and internationalist UK of yesteryear, and waving Saltires might enthuse them less than other independence supporters – but I'm sure that'll do us no harm.

If we manage to win over a significant proportion of the Green Tribe, we'll win Indyref2 easily. If we don't, it'll be a sair fecht. That alone should be enough to convince everybody to welcome them with warmth and patience.

The United Kingdom must be competent, or it is nothing

Crew of the HRESS Nevergonnagetbuilt
Crew of the HRESS Nevergonnagetbuilt.
I grew up in Denmark with the impression that the UK had great politicians and civil servants. Very old-fashioned and conservative ones, yes, but very well-educated and competent.

Having lived here since 2002, I would now perhaps revise my earlier impression and add that they were often bastards, but at least they were competent bastards.

To a large extent, that explains why Scotland for so long was reasonably content to be governed by Westminster. The decisions they made on Scotland's behalf might have been reactionary and horrible, but at least they were made by competent people and presented elegantly.

However, ever since the morning of Brexit, the UK has been the laughing stock of the world. Scotland is now universally regarded as having better, nicer, cleverer and more competent politicians that the rUK.

This must be the final nail in the coffin of the UK. The United Kingdom must be competent, or it is nothing.

Making Scotland a British region

Day 150
Day 150 by Matt Preston, on Flickr.
Effie Deans (a.k.a. Lily of St. Leonards), who is well-known for suggesting last year that Unionists should vote tactically to keep out the SNP, has written a long article about how to defeat the independence movement and the SNP.

It's worth reading the whole thing, but here's the main argument:

There’s only one good argument for an independent Scotland. But it is a very good argument indeed. It can be stated in the following way:

  1. Scotland is a country.
  2. Countries ought to be independent.
  3. Therefore Scotland ought to be independent.

[...]

In order to defeat an opponent it is necessary to put forward his best argument and then refute it. The only way to refute an argument is by either refuting the reasoning or the assumptions. [...] In order to defeat the SNP we must defeat their assumptions. The initial assumption “Scotland is a country” must not be allowed, for if we do allow it, the rest of the argument follows as a matter of course.

[...]

We must attack the SNP at their roots. I have tried to outline how to do this in the past few weeks. First, accept that the UK is one nation, that is indivisible. Therefore, cease treating the parts of the UK as if they were really countries. [...] It has turned out to be a long-term historical mistake that in a number of respects the parts of the UK have been treated as if they were independent countries. No other nation state in the world allows its parts to have separate money and separate international football teams. [...] Secondly, rule out any further referendums ever. No-one would allow Aberdeenshire a referendum on independence. Well, on the same basis we should say that Aberdeenshire is to Scotland as Scotland is to the UK. Because it is an indivisible part of the whole, there is no right to secede. [...] Thirdly, don’t make any sort of deal with those who have only the goal of destroying our country. Don’t work with them even if they pretend to be our friends. They are nothing of the sort. They are the greatest threat to the UK in over 300 years of history. Treat them as such. [...] Fourthly, we must find a way to bring about more unity into the UK and promote a feeling of common identity.

Effie Deans is not very explicit here about what exactly will need to happen to stop Scots from perceiving Scotland as a country, but I reckon it will include the following:

  • Abolish Scottish separateness in sports, such as the Scottish national football and rugby teams and the Scottish football leagues.
  • Abolish Scots law and introduce English law in Scotland.
  • Abolish the Scottish education system and introduce the English curriculum, GCSEs and A Levels in Scotland.
  • Force all charities to set up UK-wide bodies (outlaw Scottish charities).
  • Merge the Scottish NHS with the English NHS.
  • Remove all powers from the Scottish Parliament that wouldn't be granted to an English regional assembly (if these are ever created).

In my opinion, Effie Deans is both right and wrong. She's right that only by making Scots think of Scotland as a British region (like Yorkshire) would the dream of independence ever die. However, she's wrong to think that a plan such as this could ever gain widespread support in Scotland. I reckon only a very small part of Scots (perhaps 10%) think of Scotland as a region of the UK, and the rest of us agree that Scotland is a nation within a political union called the United Kingdom -- we just disagree whether this union is a good or a bad thing.

Unless I'm completely mistaken, any plan to execute Effie Deans's plan would cause opinion polls to show at least 80% support for independence within a fortnight, and Scotland would become independent soon afterwards.

Perhaps her plan could have been implemented successfully in the 1980s, when Scottish self-confidence was at a historic low. Not today.

That said, many leading Unionists -- both in Scotland and in England -- might quietly agree with Effie Deans, and we should watch out for any threats to Scotland's status as a constituent nation of the UK. They'd probably start with small things and only deal with the highly symbolic areas (such as the education system) after many years.

Finally, I'd like to quote her request that many more Scots should join the SNP:

Some people who voted No in Scotland will object to what I write here. My answer is as follows. If you think that Scotland is a country in the same sense as France is a country, you should join the SNP. If you don’t feel particularly British, you likewise should join the SNP.

I very much agree, but how she can possibly think that'd help the Unionist cause is beyond me.