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?