Scottish threat to the Union backed by English…

TONY Blair leapt to the defence of the Union in the Scotsman recently, as support for the SNP grows (whether it’s due to pro-independence or anti-Labour sentiment is another matter). Blair’s argument to win the hearts of the canny Scots wisely steers clear of sentimentalism and focuses on how independence will hit them in their pockets. Nevertheless, the growth of the SNP has fuelled furious debate on the future relationship between Scotland and England, and the implications that has on the whole concept of a United Kingdom. There are some interesting dynamics at play here.

Imagine after the next election that the SNP becomes the largest party in Scotland just as a certain Scot becomes Prime Minister. Tony Blair has already had that vision, as he spoke for the final time as Prime Minister at a Scottish Labour conference at the weekend: “Imagine May 2007. The SNP plunge us into a constitutional nightmare. It’s not the constitution alone I fear for. It’s what it says about us, about the people, about our nations. That at a time of momentous challenge, when our path to progress was clear, we lost our nerve and turned in on ourselves.”

But among those now ‘turning in on themselves’ are the English, perhaps frustrated by the power Scottish politicians can wield in Westminster while ‘selfishly’ taking advantage of devolution at Holyrood.

A fearful Sunday Telegraph reveals the scale of anti-Unionism within the UK, while the Guardian and Herald take a more measured tone.

The Union has survived 300 years; will it last another 30?

  • While it’s extremely unlikely to see Cameron steer the Conservatives into the realm of supporting a dissolution of the union you do have to wonder just how tempting the prospect of an independent Scotland must be for him…
    If it happened after the next Scottish elections it’d send Labour into a tailspin, with the likes of Brown and Reid out of the equation for leadership… The Tories are supporting an English Parliament (largely seen as a way of annoying Brown) but I doubt they’d go that far… although Cameron is walking backwards on many traditional Tory policies, is he not?

  • Dee

    Adam, Cameron is not supporting an English Parliament. He says we must not have our own Parliament, but we can have a system call EVoEL (English votes on English Laws). This means only MPs voted for in England can vote for Laws and policies affecting England.
    However, if Gordon Brown became PM, under the EVoEL system he could formulate domestic policies for England (but not for Scotland), but could not vote on them. He could and would use the whip system to get them pushed through parliament. So although he could not vote, he could still impose discriminatory policies onto us and also set the funding allocated to each country, still using the outdated Barnett Formula, under which England pays the highest taxes and get the lowest funding in the UK.

    Also English cancer patients are the only ones in the UK (and the EU) not allowed certain life saving drugs. At the present time, it stands at 10 drugs denied to us, but the next one to be stopped for England, is a lung cancer drug. Alzheimers drugs are not permitted for our sick, either, until they reach the very ill stage – unlike the rest of the UK.

    From next year, the Scots will get free dental and eye checks and the Welsh will get free prescriptions (they only pay £3 now). England’s council taxes have risen by 84% since 1997, compared to 40% for Scotland and we also pay the highers water charges. My council tax and wter rates combined for a 3 bed semi in a cheap area of Yorkshire, come to over £2,000 a year. These are set to rise soon, when the government starts charging for home improvements, such as central heating and double glazing.

    Road pricing is set to be introduced in England by a Scottish MP, but not in Scotland. The Humber Bridge near me has the highest tolls in the UK. It costs us over £5 to go into the next county and back. We have to pay to park in hospital car parks for appointments (so do nurses working there) and its costs us £5 a day to watch the TV in hospitals. Hospitals are closing all over the place and the other weekend when my daughter was ill, the nearest doctor on call was some 60 miles away.

    English fishermen are not allowed to fish for mackerel because the Scottish Parliament demanded that the quota be given to Scottish fishermen. The Scottish Parliament is to start fining English people for fishing in English rivers near to Scotland. This means that for the first time, a Parliament in which we are not represented in, can choose to fine or imprison us.

    The list goes on. The Tories are jackasses. The face of politics is changing and the Tories cannot guarantee sitting in an independent English Parliament, especially after the Scottish Cameron made a vitiolic anti-English speech in Glasgow, in an attempt to beg the Scots to vote for him.

    So no, the Tories most certainly do not support an English Parliament and EVoEL is nothing like an English Parliament.

    There are plenty of people who are more than angry at the current state of affairs and the British Unionist Dinosaurs won’t be able to ignore us for much longer. Patience is wearing thin.

  • Cormac

    The solution for everyone – partition Scotland! Nationalists in the North, Unionists in the South.

    Worked so well here…

    And yes, I am joking.

    Actually, why IS Scottish partition never discussed? I mean it may well be a non-runner, but I never hear it mentioned at all. Perhaps it won’t be long before Scottish Unionists start to talk of it, the way things are going?

  • The only time that “partiton” was mooted for scotland was at the time of the Devolution referendum when it was discussed in the London media that Shetland and Orkney would not be part of any break from London-hence securing the oil revenues for England.

  • Cormac

    Interesting Phil – thanks!

    Been reading about it in Google.

  • pondersomething

    There are Unionists the length and breadth of Scotland, they aren’t mostly concentrated in just one part like they are in Ireland. There may be slightly more pro-Union sentiment in the southernmost counties but the LibDems, an avowedly unionist/federalist party wins most of the seats in the Scottish highlands for instance.

    Also there is a strong common sense of shared Scottishness, unlike here where more than 95% of Unionists reject the label “Irish”, preferring “British” (75%) or “Northern Ireland” (21%).

    Interestingly, before the Troubles, roughly a third of Unionists identified as “Irish” alongside their “British” or NI identity – 30 years of terrorism aimed at creating a united Ireland has literally decimated the numbers of “Irish” Unionists.

    Only in the South do the scattered unionist/’west brit’ minority have no problem combining Irish identity with British and seem to do so quite naturally.

  • Briso

    I liked the line in the Telegraph likening England to the Shire horse in the coracle. I would say Scotland is the pig (smart, manipulative but relatively small), Wales the cat and Northern Ireland the rat. No matter how unpleasant or frantic the rat is, it could never overturn the coracle.
    For those who are interested (I understand there are some on this site 😉 ), the quickest route to a United Ireland is Scottish or English secession from the union.

  • Cormac


    the quickest route to a United Ireland is Scottish or English secession from the union.

    But won’t that just result in more Unionists identifying themselves as ‘Ulster Nationalists’ and looking for indpendence too?

    Or would (NI) Unionists be happy with a much smaller UK (ie NI and England or even NI and Scotland (if the Scots agree, don’t think they would))

    Or would most Unionists just say ‘sod it’ and work to be British within a UI?

    Or would they start championing Greenflag’s repartition idea?

    But then if we knew the answers to these questions we wouldn’t need a site like Slugger 🙂

  • topdeckomnibus

    If the 68% of support for English independence were translated into a vote on the issue then it would be English deciding the future of England … and the aspirations of people from other parts of the former UK would not enter into it.

    The UK is already a rudderless union as the role of monarch as Fount of All Justice was abdicated (without reference to the people) over forty years ago.

    The Union of Republics ? The former Royal family housed according to their ethnicity … Scotland, Wales or Germany.

  • Old Tam Dayell saw all of this coming a generation ago.

    The West Lothian Question remains unanswerable.

    As the Scottish and Welsh legislatures develop and accrue more power(especially the Edinburgh place) then the English will become effectively the biggest stateless nation in Europe.

  • Greenflag

    ‘The Scots can go eat Porridge ‘

    according to the Mail .

    Wonder what’s on the Mail’s menu for Paisley ?

    ulster fry or humble pie ?

  • Phil

    I have become convinced that independence for England is in the best interests of the English people. The only things that keep England in the union are apathy amongst our people and the illusion that England and the UK are the same thing.

    As the differences in the way that we are governed become more obvious the calls for independence will only get louder. The press are now reporting on this issue which would have been unthinkable only a year ago and. The independence bandwaggon will eventually gain so much momentum that the unionist Labour and Tory establishment will not be able to ignore it any longer. The old unionist economic arguement that has been used to scare off potential independence supporters in Scotland and Wales will cut no ice with the English. As they say in Scotland, It’s time!

  • Phil

    Just to avoid confusion, I am a different Phil to the one spelling his name with a small “p”.

  • Hi Phil
    To avoid further confusion I’ll sign myself
    “Philbhoy” from now on 🙂
    phil(lower case)

  • Phil McAvity

    Hi Philbhoy,

    No problem, I’ll go for the name with which my friends christened me many years ago (it’s supposed to sound like “fill my cavity” in a north London accent you see) highly ammusing I’m sure you’ll agree!?