Great observation from David Torrance on the bending of identity politics in an awkward stretch of the road between two referendums…
…while articulate Euro-sceptics such as the MEP Dan Hannan and Times commentator Tim Montgomerie frame their arguments in “British” terms, Little Englander sentiments are often to the fore, particularly among UKIPers. Indeed, it’s striking how closely their arguments – a quixotic mix of magical economic growth, regained “sovereignty” and an improved relationship with the “other” they seek to leave behind – resemble those of pro-independent Scots a couple of years ago
Suddenly those who warned of “uncertainty” and economic turbulence in the case of Scotland seem very certain that the UK leaving the EU wouldn’t have the same negative impact. The Brexit case lacks much empirical evidence beyond belief, faith and all the woolliest elements of modern identity politics, but that won’t really matter. Yesterday Nigel Farage took a leaf out of the SNP playbook by framing the EU referendum “as being the people versus the politicians”, and as we’ve seen that can work a treat.
It’s been equally entertaining to watch Nationalists grope around for pro-EU language that won’t make them sound like the proponents of “Better Together” they derided for being too “negative” back in 2014. Of course it’s almost impossible, for you can’t warn about the loss of influence and economic consequences associated with Brexit while simultaneously cautioning against “Project Fear Mark II”.
Hmmm, awkward. Torrance however concludes there is another answer abegging for both the UK and the UE…
Pete Wishart did say something sensible last week, when he urged Conservative MPs to “create” their own Parliament and then join him and Members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at Westminster to “consider the great reserved issues of foreign affairs, defence and international relations”. “It is called federalism”, he added, “and it seems to work quite adequately in most other nations.”
I’m glad to welcome him to the federalist fold, for the ideal, perhaps quixotic, is surely a reformed federal UK within a reformed, more federal European Union? For only that would give adequate expression to Scottishness as well as Englishness, Welshness and, admittedly more awkwardly, Northern Irishness.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty