Does Tory eurosceptics’ nationalism boost UK breakup chances?

The Financial Times (£) is alone  today among UK national papers  in spotting how the  English nationalism  of extreme Tory eurosceptics feeds Scottish separatism, in spite of all the fears for small nations’ survival in the gales of the eurozone crisis.

First, the news story

Alex Salmond, first minister and leader of the Scottish National party, accused David Cameron of blundering into apparently changing the UK’s entire relationship with the EU “without even discussing it with his own Lib Dem coalition colleagues, never mind the devolved administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast”.

Margaret Curran, Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary, said the SNP leader had been silent for weeks about the growing eurozone crisis because he did not want to answer the most basic questions about his plans for Europe.

“When will the SNP government publish the legal advice on the consequences of Scotland isolating itself from the rest of the UK in terms of a reaccession process for entry to the EU?” she said.

Then the comment by Phillip Stephens

Much of the Conservative party now speaks the language of English nationalism – driven to fury by Europe and increasingly driven out by the voters from Britain’s Celtic fringes. Mr Cameron’s party has only one MP in Scotland and just a handful in Wales.

This suits no one more than Alex Salmond. As Tory MPs demand a referendum on Europe, the Scottish National party leader promises one on Scottish independence.

English nationalism feeds Scottish nationalism. The more a Tory-led government in London detaches Britain from Europe, the more easily the pro-European SNP points to a divergence of English and Scottish national interests.

 

 

 

 

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  • Framer

    It is not the “English nationalism of extreme Tory eurosceptics [that] feeds Scottish separatism” (two pejoratives in quick succession) rather that Scottish separatism opportunistically moves to exacerbate and capitalise any differences between England and the rest of the world.

    This was the case with Abdul Baset al-Megrahi (late of East Renfrewshire) who was released not because he was terminally ill (he wasn’t) but because the SNP government had the power to, and thereby could demonstrate the beginnings of a separate Scottish foreign policy.

    Scotland’s economic prospects are and will always be secondary to separatism, just as with Ireland where independence was followed by 40 years of decline and emigration.

  • ayeYerMa

    Au contraire, it will boost British Nationalism as time will tell that Cameron’s current position is correct.

  • Cynic2

    “the English nationalism of extreme Tory eurosceptics feeds Scottish separatism”

    Wheres the evidence of ‘ENglish’ nationalism. Theys eem to me to speak of British issues not English ones

  • Mick Fealty

    Yes and no. This struck me at the time as being on the money:

    http://croydonian.blogspot.com/2007/10/cwf-forthright-debate-future-of-union.html

    “Tory policy to devolution is not seaworthy. It can be compared to the stance of the Partido Popular in Spain to Catalan separatism. It has accepted regional devolution in as far as it goes, in a reactive way, and in common with us, talks of a stance that evolves. However, maybe we need a revolutionary approach. The PP is associated with Madrid, Castille and the ‘centre’, and it has shrivelled in Catalonia (having checked, the PP has 14 seats out of 135 in Barcelona, and took 11% of the vote). The PP is seen as representing ‘Spain’ and the Left Catalonia. We are at risk of making the same mistake, as the Conservatives are seen in the same way in Scotland. I think that we need to move more towards a federation, and to quote that great conservative Lampedusa, “If you want things to stay as they are, things will have to change” (or in the original, and why not?, Se tutto deve rimanere com’è, è necessario che tutto cambi” C).”

    Devolution has change the UK. English nationalism is more cypher for those parties who have not yet adjusted to the new settlement in Scotland.

  • Ayeyerma. If cameron was so sure his position was so correct, why didn’t he tell his coalition partner at five a.m. of his veto. The european commissioner Barroso has mocked DC’s whole strategy by saying the the City of London will nbe no better off as a result of camerons veto, since qualified makjority voting will put even more regulations on them than before, and the veto will backfire spectacularly in the coming weeks since Cameron made no attemt at getting allies among the non euro members before his rash stunt on friday. Has DC never heard of the old adage,…. ‘Act in haste, repent at leisure’? In your own time Dave.

  • Drumlins Rock

    There also is the possibility the opposite could be true, if the perception that Europe is a common enemy it could bring England & Scotland closer together, are Scots really more Europhile than the English? I doubt it.

  • Cynic2

    Mad Raj

    What an appropraite name.

    I am sorry but there is a ftal flaw in your argumnet.

    While we trade with the EU the City is a pre-eminent International Market. The French envy it because their market is so inefficienet and costly. They therefore want to hobble London. They are trying to do that through their superior ‘regulation’ while they stand on a tower of rotten banks that are on the brink of collapse. At least we dealt with our banking crisis. The French are trying to hide tehirs biut it is catching up fast.

    Furthermore, while Barroso may mock now, already the ‘deal’ is unravelling. Apparently a draft agreement may not appear until the New Year then a Treaty may take a year – and that is before anyone has seen the text. Its now suggested that actually an EU Treaty may also be needed as well (veto anyone?) to give effect to part of the agreement! In other words its all a half baked big fat French souffle. Nice to look at but collapses at the first contact with reality and utimateley it will leave Europe feeing sickly and unsatisified. There is no real substance, its collapsing fast and the markets are reacting accordingly.

    The Euro is a dead duck. Kaput. Fini. The only argumemnt is when it will implode and the funeral will be held. That has been obvious for months and we will all pay an economic price – but our price will be lower than most and we will be in the best position to trade out of it.

    The sad thing – and I mean sad – is this politiucal shambles will probably take the European Union down with it. If it doesnt expect serious political upheaval and disorder in states who find themselves disenfranchised in the new Franco-German Repubic

  • grandimarkey

    Drumlins:
    “There also is the possibility the opposite could be true, if the perception that Europe is a common enemy it could bring England & Scotland closer together, are Scots really more Europhile than the English? I doubt it.”

    Regardless of the Scot’s collective Euro stance, they are extremely anti-tory and it’s doubtful that an old Etonian will change that decades old hatred.

  • WhiskeyChaser

    The Westminster government pre-occupation with protecting the City of London’s financial institutions is understandably less important to the Scottish Parliament and Scottish people in general.

    An agenda based around protecting London’s economic position, albeit with the obvious repercussions for the wider UK economy, will do little to bring England and Scotland politically closer together.

    Historically, the Scottish political and general position on interaction with other European states has been very different to that of her southern neighbour. I’m thinking of the Scottish Enlightenment movement in the 18th century and before that, the Auld Alliance.

  • DoppiaVu

    @Framer

    “It is not the “English nationalism of extreme Tory eurosceptics [that] feeds Scottish separatism” (two pejoratives in quick succession) rather that Scottish separatism opportunistically moves to exacerbate and capitalise any differences between England and the rest of the world.”

    – spot on. But at some point you would think the average Scot would like him to actually spell out a coherent alternative to the current arrangement

    @ DR

    “the perception that Europe is a common enemy it could bring England & Scotland closer together”

    – also true

    I think the SNP have to square a bit of a circle here. Which provides more stability to Scotland for the forseeable future – Britain or Europe? I don’t think may Scottish voters would side with Europe on this one. So he may use Cameron’s “veto” as a means of creating division, but I can’t see any further mileage in it for the SNP. Which is why he appears to be attempting to play up the whole Nordic thing again. I look forward to hearing about the “Arc of Prosperity” again.

  • Dec

    ‘are Scots really more Europhile than the English? I doubt it.’

    Historically, Scotland has been forging links with Europe for close to 800 years. The ‘Auld Alliance’ with France, dates back to the late 13th century. There was also the Scottish Kirk in Rotterdam in the 17th century which was the focus of Scots trade in Europe. Does this residual shared history mean much today? Not for me to say but Scotland and England, traditionally have a very different approach to integration with Europe.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “When will the SNP government publish the legal advice on the consequences of Scotland isolating itself from the rest of the UK in terms of a reaccession process for entry to the EU?”

    She does raise an interesting point, and before you all go suggesting Finland & Sweden had a very short courtship, do you really think Spain, Belgium, even France with sepratist inclined regions will really make it an easy process and thereby set an example?

  • Dewi

    “..do you really think Spain, Belgium, even France with sepratist inclined regions will really make it an easy process and thereby set an example?”

    There are a lot of issues with independence but I’m ceratin this would not be one of them. The EU would be delighted to accept a wealthy nation.

  • Reader

    Dewi: There are a lot of issues with independence but I’m ceratin this would not be one of them. The EU would be delighted to accept a wealthy nation.
    …which will be more than willing to take on its share of the old UK contributions to the EU on a GDP pro-rata basis, while also enthusiastically affirming its commitment to the Common Fisheries Policy.
    I agree, the EU won’t hesitate.

  • Home Rule for England

    English nationalism? What’s this got to do with English nationalism? David Cameron is a British nationalist and a unionist through and through.

  • The Financial Times is alone today among UK national papers in spotting how the English nationalism of extreme Tory eurosceptics feeds Scottish separatism, in spite of all the fears for small nations’ survival in the gales of the eurozone crisis.

    Which proves something, perhaps.

    On the other hand, it’s hardly a stupendous realisation. And the issue has been alive elsewhere, if overlooked among the metropolitans’ navel–gazing.

    A month back, before the present hoohah, there was a lively debate about Scottish/EU relations. On forargyll.com an editorial went up proposing three referendum questions:

    ✱ Are you voting today for an independent Scotland? Yes/No
    ✱ If Scotland chooses to stay in the UK, are you voting today for it to have more and greater powers of self-government? Yes/No
    ✱ If Scotland chooses independence, are you voting today for it to go on to become a member of the European Union? Yes/No

    That, however we might quibble about its innocent simplistics, has a certain symmetry to it.

  • I don’t know whether The Scotsman counts as a “UK national paper”. Either way, its write-up on the latest IPSOS Mori poll is worth a trip: 38% for full independence (up 3% since August) but a solid and stable 68% (+1%) for devo max.

  • FuturePhysicist

    yes

  • Wyrdtimes

    “the English nationalism of extreme Tory eurosceptics” huh? As far as I’m aware there’s not one UK MP who believes in England as a nation or one that even sees the need for an English parliament, Big Britishers the lot.

  • FuturePhysicist

    How many believe in the so called Celtic Fringe as equals, that have any concerns about any of these regions bar Scottish Oil, Welsh Coal and Irish Gas?

  • dwatch
  • I would agree that the “hardcore” Conservative Eurosceptics are, in all but name “UK Nationalists” and occupy a similar polical ground to UKIP but, large minority that they are, they dont control the Conservativbe Party.

    David Cameron has been described as a Eurosceptic. He is, in the sense that he opposes further political integration of the UK or further surrender of UK polical power. But he supports the single market. That is a world away from wanting the UK out of the EU altogether.

    Cameron’s position is mainstream within the Consevative Party. That is neither an English nor UK Nationalist position. As to the question posted in the headline of this blog?

    I would not agree. That is despite Salmond’s recent attack which suggested that the events of last week have weakened Scotland’s position on fishing quotas. Salmond would have attacked Cameron whatever the outcome but the SNP is not in a great position to score political points on European issues.

    The SNP lacks credibility on European issues, particularly after it previously supported entering the Euro. Their position now is that they would not enter the Euro until economic conditions are right and the Scots agree to enter after a referendum. That is one hell of a policy “u” turn.

  • The SNP lacks credibility on European issues, particularly after it previously supported entering the Euro. Their position now is that they would not enter the Euro until economic conditions are right and the Scots agree to enter after a referendum. That is one hell of a policy “u” turn.

    In which case, it is also one hell of a policy “u” turn made, sooner or later, by all three UK unionist parties. But memory is a convenient thing.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    David Cameron is someone who is openly committed to the Union, if he wanted to be an English Nationalist he could could have a majority in an English parliament for the long term after the boundary reforms.

    However that is not what he wants he wants a UK firmly together and will campaign for that and a robust Financial sector is important to all in the UK since it is nearly as big as the UK manufacturing sector.

    The SNP will soon have to live up all the promises they made and that will take some doing over the next 4 years, Scottish independence even in a limited form is a long way off.

  • The poll mentioned by malcolm had another interesting fact:

    Even among those who support independence, 37.5% would like independence from both Westminster AND Brussels.

    http://tinyurl.com/d76xjel

  • oneill @ 10:58 am:

    I, too, am an unbashed admirer of Lallands Peat Worrier, since someone here kindly recommended his blog.

    However, that figure for 37.5% who would like independence from both Westminster AND Brussels is not what I read

    Q3: which of these statements comes closest to your view? Quoth the respondents…

    Scotland, independent and outwith the EU: 12%.

  • Malcolm,

    I was talking about those who want independence and I think these need to be read in conjunction:

    Scotland, independent and outwith the EU: 12%
    Scotland, independent but within the EU: 20%

    So, a total of 32 % want independence from Westminister and of that total 37% (ie 12/32) also want independence from Brussels.

  • IrelandNorth

    Undoubtedly! After 800 yrs. of colonialism, unre-constructed English nationalists will actually ensure the destruction of their enforced union on others. The only salvation for those who subscribe to a more democractic and progressive paradigm of true unionism is to embrace a united states arrangement, bolstered by a democratised Commonwealth of Nations. A less Anglo-Centric arrangement would counterbalance EU hegemony. An in this, a reunited Ireland is indispensable. Tiocfaidh ar la!

  • oneill @ 12:11 pm:

    With considerable respect (because it’s a trick I’m up for myself on occasion), that’s why I used the clause “not what I read“.

    There is a distinction — fortunately not widely recognised and understood — between “massaging” the numbers and pummelling pseudo-statistics into total submission.

  • Malcolm,

    I’m not intelligent to know for sure whether that’s an attack on my analytical skills…. anyway, here’s another recent opinion polls which, again, confirmed that “Euro-scepticism” doesn’t stop at Hadrian’s Walls:

    http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/Cuts_Index_23Oct11.pdf

  • FuturePhysicist

    Big risk of UK credit downgrade triggered from inside Europe, added to the weed-killing of almost everything else, losing Scotland may not be the only problem, would the rest of Britian look to gain independence from the City too?