End the pretense of the Union now…

Simon Heffer, in ebullient form, is arguing that the Tories should abandon it’s age old pro Union stance, and “learn from the horrors contingent upon the rejection of Gladstone’s Home Rule Bill in 1886 that gave us 120 years of misery with Ireland – is that if a part of the Kingdom wishes to go its own way then nothing should be done to stop it.”

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  • DK

    “a part of the Kingdom wishes to go its own way then nothing should be done to stop it”

    Problem is that none of them want to… except maybe the English, but they’re not allowed.

  • overhere

    Dear Lord is it finally getting through, talk about special ED

  • Nevin

    Presumably, the PM will be gunning for the Hefferlumpen and his ilk within the hour:

    “Mr Brown also highlighted the importance of public vigilance and promised to help build “stronger communities” where extremists would be isolated.”

  • DK

    Nevin – what are you on about? What has Brown’s new security efforts got to with Heffer suggesting that the tories abandon a pro-Union stance?

  • Nevin

    Just merging the two loosely related stories for comic effect, DK.

  • Dawkins

    Would the breakup of the Union mean that our high streets become a little less homogeneous?

    Whenever I visit a city anywhere in the UK I’m confronted by the same dismal “choice” of chain stores, supermarkets, financial institutions, etc. There’s seldom anything truly indigenous on show. Contrast this with the wonderful variety seen on the Continent, the small shops of Italy in particular.

    I believe that nations shouldn’t be too quick to abandon their identities. Love it or hate it, the Irish, the Scots, the Welsh and the English have distinct identities and cultures. Long may they reign.

  • Yesterday, at a lunch at the Royal Overseas League, the Lord Chamberlain, Lord Peel, was extolling the merits of the monarchy.

    One was that the monarch provided a focus for the Union together (not a direct quotation).

    So there’s hope for an English republic yet. Meanwhile, the counties east of the Bann could re-unite with their Scottish collaterals in a new Calvinist kingdom of Alba.

    On the other hand, Heffer is not known for being a Cameroonie, and could be just having a laugh while stoking up a bit of mischief.

    By the way, am I the only one to notice how Mick’s translation to the Tottygraph has led to a growing number of threads stemming therefrom?

  • Eddie

    Mick
    I wish you would stop this habit of putting an apostrophe where it doesn’t belong – as in “the Tories should abandon it’s [sic] age old pro Union stance” You’ve done it before.

    “It’s” is short for “it is” “Its” as in “its stance” takes no apostrophe, as in same way as “his” doesn’t, or “hers”, or any such pronoun. You wouldn’t write hi’s or her’s.

    Yes, I am a boring old pedant! And, anyway, shouldn’t that be “the Tories should abandon THEIR stance” there being more than one Tory (God I get worse!)

    Otherwise, sorry for the interruption and congratulations on a first-class site.

  • Kombinat

    Surely that should read “part of a part of a kingdom”

  • Dawkins

    So Mick’s contribution “the Tories should abandon it’s age old pro Union stance…”

    … should actually read:

    “the Tories should abandon their age-old, pro-Union stance…”

    Fellow-pedants will note my fastidious insertion of two hyphens and a comma.

    I’ll stop now and allow Mick to get on with the important stuff :0)

  • kensei

    “One was that the monarch provided a focus for the Union together (not a direct quotation).”

    While following the debate on the EU Constitution in the UK, it occurred to me that despite the monarchy being treated as some kind of begin circus, it is actually still responsible for introducing poison directly into the system.

    The UK may call its inhabitant citizens, but in a very real sense they are not. The are subjects. Power is devolved from the top, from God, to Monarch to Parliament to People. Apparently meaningless, except it means that the Monarch-in-Parliament is absolute and Gordon Brown can prevent a referendum on a treaty that will affect the UK’s constitution because there is a big danger the proles might vote for what they want.

  • Greenflag

    ‘The UK may call its inhabitant citizens, but in a very real sense they are not. The are subjects. Power is devolved from the top, from God, to Monarch to Parliament to People. Apparently meaningless, except it means that the Monarch-in-Parliament is absolute and Gordon Brown can prevent a referendum on a treaty that will affect the UK’s constitution because there is a big danger the proles might vote for what they want. ‘

    Indeed . With 26 Bishops of the COE in the House of Lords the UK must be the most theocratic State in the world . NI with a cleric as First Minister must rank a close turd just ahead of the Mullah State of Iran 🙂

    BTW Queenie will not be visiting the Republic .

    Good riddance .

    Long live a future English Republic 🙂

  • Greenflag

    ‘I believe that nations shouldn’t be too quick to abandon their identities. Love it or hate it, the Irish, the Scots, the Welsh and the English have distinct identities and cultures. Long may they reign.’

    Well yes but what has this got to do with anything ? The nations mentioned above have just as much in common as what they have of what makes them distinct .

    What makes the Irish case different from Scotland is that only a very small part of Ireland i.e a 30 mile radius around Belfast benefited from the Union . For the rest of the island it was an unmitigated disaster economically and politically. But even the great Liberator Daniel O’Connell while seeking for Repeal of the Union to allow Ireland local self government did not want a complete break from England. The British Tories ensured that with their foot dragging reluctance to implement the necessary reforms which would have kept all of Ireland in the Union .

    Looking back we perhaps should thank said Tories . For without them we would not have our Republic and would instead be a public sector dependent backwater like NI .

  • Phil

    DK

    “Problem is that none of them want to… except maybe the English, but they’re not allowed”

    Too true for us English, wouldn’t bet against the Scots seeing sense though, too many Welsh have yet to see Labour for what they really are though and as for the Irish brits………

    Dawkins,

    “I believe that nations shouldn’t be too quick to abandon their identities. Love it or hate it, the Irish, the Scots, the Welsh and the English have distinct identities and cultures. Long may they reign”

    Spot on, vive la difference.

    Kensei,

    “Gordon Brown can prevent a referendum on a treaty that will affect the UK’s constitution because there is a big danger the proles might vote for what they want”

    Definately, the mandate-less uber-brit has grabbed the English by the balls and will hang on until we wrest ourselves from his iron, clunking fist.

    Greenflag,

    “Long live a future English Republic”

    I’ll drink to that!

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Dawkins

    Shouldn’t it be:

    “the Tories should abandon their age-old pro-Union stance…” ?

    Since “age-old” is a determiner, pro-Union” an adjective and “stance” a noun? No comma is required between determiner and adjective?

    I do have a life. Honestly I do…..

  • Dewi

    they taught you lot nouns and vowels and stuff in school ? see I always knew we were fundamentally different…….

  • sportsman

    Well said Greenflag.

  • Dawkins

    Billy Pilgrim,

    I don’t believe for a moment you have a life :0)

    I know I don’t. Isn’t “age-old” as much an adjective as “pro-Union”, therefore while strictly speaking not requiring a comma, ought to take one for the style?

    I’ll definitely stop now LOL.

    Greenflag,

    Maybe you misunderstood my post. I’m arguing against a Union. I believe all nations should be separate and autonomous. Wherever that wasn’t the case, tragedy followed, e.g. the British Empire, the Soviet Union, China. Now the EU is IMO stumbling down a dangerous path.

  • Nevin

    Post-nationalism proceeding slowly in the UK as Ireland goes NUTS

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Dawkins

    “Isn’t “age-old” as much an adjective as “pro-Union”, therefore while strictly speaking not requiring a comma, ought to take one for the style?”

    Well, strictly speaking, a determiner is a kind of adjective, and the critical theory categorising determiners as a separate word class from your common-or-garden adjectives is relatively recent……

    Okay, definitely gotta stop now!

  • Dawkins @ 10:13 PM:

    Which, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to:

    What ish my nation? Ish a villain, and a bastard, and a knave, and a rascal. What ish my nation? Who talks of my nation?

    Well, that’s got from James Joyce to Stratford Will in short order, but doesn’t answer my question.

    The assumption here seems to be that the various “nations” of the archipelago can go their separate ways, but that wholesale Balkanisation can somehow be prevented.

    Fair enough: but does it stop by having three different entities on the “mainland” and two on the island of Ireland? Is the concept of “Englishness” strong enough to hold that entity together?

    Surely, if the Tory dream of a “natural” eternal Tory majority in “England” became reality, the pressures for further sub-division would strengthen along the north-south divide.

    What makes us assume that, not far beyond that, there is not a cleavage between the Saxon south of England and the Anglic North? Indeed, that delineation goes further back that the Heptarchy of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, to the Roman provinces of Britannia Superior and Britannia Inferior, which may itself be some recognition of a division of the Celtic tribal groups.

    This is not untrodden territory: there was considerable thought given to a full federal system in the run-up to the Third Home Rule Bill. Around 1911-13 Churchill (by no means my favourite political machinator) came up with one of the fullest-developed schemes of regionalism, involving some ten (as I recall) local administrations across the then UK. He may yet be vindicated.

  • Nevin

    There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding devolution for England. Was Blair’s devolution project designed to regionalise the UK so that it could be more easily absorbed into a USE – a United States of Europe?

  • Nevin @ 11:54 PM:

    I think you attribute far too much intellect and Führergeist to the callow Blair of the 1990s.

    There was a desire for regionalism in the Labour Party in the 1990s. It was a reaction to Thatcherite centralisation, and reflected a public mood seen also in the LibDems. To every action, there is a reaction; and the predominantly Labour Scotland and industrial North were disenchanted with “Whitehall knows best”. That hasn’t entirely gone away: the use of Scotland as a test-bed for the Poll Tax, and the dismemberment of the coalfield communities still rankles (Dennis Skinner was voicing that in PMQs just yesterday).

    Yes, the EU has its planning regions, and they were as good a basis as anything to devolve to. Those germ of those regions, though, goes back to Wilson’s government, and a desire to qualify the power of the Treasury (see also the “Ministry of Economic Affairs”): and he was no great fan of the EEC in his first Government. Even beyond that were the RSGs of Cold War Civil Defence planning.

    I think, too, you may be ignoring a genuine desire of government to compensate for the “democratic deficit”. We have moved away from Morrisonian central state-planning, and most organisations (both in and out of government control) are based on some kind of regional structure. We have been very poor in introducing some democratic participation therein (especially the NHS structures).

    So, all in all, I don’t regard devolved regionalism with cynicism. Anything that balances out the preponderance of SE England has to be a good thing.

  • Reader

    Greenflag: and Gordon Brown can prevent a referendum on a treaty that will affect the UK’s constitution because there is a big danger the proles might vote for what they want.
    Along with almost all of Europe. Including a few Republics.

  • kensei

    “Along with almost all of Europe. Including a few Republics.”

    That was me.

    In fairness, the Treaty of Lisbon is being spun as not introducing anything new so almost everywhere bar Ireland (which must have a treaty as it amends the Constitution) can get out of it but it is generally not the case.

    I fully believe if England was a Republic, it would have similar safegaurds because if they weren’t there, the Tories would put them there to thwart European expansion and there would be a lot of people getting animated about the Constitution the same way they do about the Monarchy.

    Does Brown’s consultation on the UK Constitution come here? Can I make a suggestion vis guillotines?

  • Rory

    Eddie,

    Should not your final sentence read, “Otherwise I am sorry for the interruption and I offer you congratulations on a first-class site” ?

    No comma was required after “Otherwise” by the way.

    Do let’s keep standards up.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Maybe you misunderstood my post.

    Perhaps .

    ‘ I’m arguing against a Union.’

    I’m not . I’m just for what works for a particular nation/nations at a given time in it’s history. A voluntary ‘Union’ based on the democratically expressed preference of the majority of voters is going to be more stable and presumably will last longer than the ‘involuntary’ kind . Mind you the Roman Empire lasted 600 years and the British 200 but then that was a different world.

    ‘I believe all nations should be separate and autonomous. ‘

    How separate and how autonomous ? Does the traditional idea of national sovereignty make sense in a world where large multi national corporations have more ‘sovereignty’ than many states ?

    ‘ Wherever that wasn’t the case, tragedy followed, e.g. the British Empire, the Soviet Union,’

    In the above two cases ‘tragedy and collapse ‘ resulted from imperial overeach and from other factors such as increasing ‘democracy’ in the UK and from the ability of Soviet industry to deliver snow ploughs instead of much needed combine harvesters to the Ukraine!

    ‘ Now the EU is IMO stumbling down a dangerous path.’

    The EU is still a work in progress . So far it is the only example on the planet of a group of nations with a 1,000 year history of endless conflict voluntarily ‘uniting’ so as to put an end to such conflict.

    Greenflag

  • Joey

    Heffer is a dateless article. Always raises a smile, can imagine him huffing and puffing away along various right-wing themes.

    The current Tory focus on the Union is pure expediency and nothing else. If the Tories so abhorred the Union they would have done all they could to decimate it – as they were unafraid to do in other spheres – from 1979 to 1997. They didn’t because at that time SCOTLAND VOTED TORY. In fact Scotland was a strong centre of Toryism historically, and right up to Heath Scots populated the Conservative Cabinet, e.g. the decent Iain McLeod. It was only in 1987 that Scotland began to emphatically reject them. If the Tories had a serious base in Scotland still there would be none of this talk and Heffer would be unable to rant away about the drainage of the Union.

  • Holy shit, I’ve just found myself lost in the Valley of the English Teachers.

  • Dewi

    LOL LOL LOL Sammy. They’ve been at it all day !!!!

  • abucs

    From an irish Republican tradition i’d love England to become a Republic, though to be honest, i can’t see it in the forseeable future.

    If they did though, it would seem almost incredible that nations can be created and set aside so whimsically.

    In this case, mainly because some minority party (the tories) wanted to improve their chances of getting elected through the democratic system by deciding where exactly the boundaries should be.

    Historically, there’s a bit of irony there as well, but that’s for another day. :o)

  • Suilven

    Joey,

    ‘The current Tory focus on the Union is pure expediency and nothing else. If the Tories so abhorred the Union they would have done all they could to decimate it – as they were unafraid to do in other spheres – from 1979 to 1997. They didn’t because at that time SCOTLAND VOTED TORY.’

    Rubbish. Scotland has returned at least double the number of Labour MPs compared to the Tories since the early ’70s at least.

  • Dewi
  • manichaeism

    Since Scotland wasn’t really a proper democracy in 1868 the above results may not have been a reflection of the views of the majority of people in the nation.

  • Dewi

    Manichaeism – just trying to provide a service Lol – pattern since the thirties however pretty clear.

  • Dewi

    …and didn’t the SNP win a seat in 1945 I seem to recall. Back out with the shovel…..

  • Dewi

    “Despite their internal problems, 1945 saw the election of the first SNP Member of Parliament at a by-election in Motherwell, where Dr Robert Macintyre won 51.4 per cent of the vote in a straight fight against the Labour Party. However, Labour regained the seat at the subsequent General Election in a multi-party contest. At the 1945 General Election,”

    By- election subsequently lost.