Union and Centre Collapse

A Union – by definition – needs at least two willing partners. Research from Edinburgh University’s Centre on Constitutional Change and the Wales Governance Centre for Research shows 49% of English Tory voters do not think Scottish MPs should even sit in the UK Cabinet, and incredibly, 24% of Scottish Tory voters agree.

As the virulent tone of anglo-normative dialogue about Europe and the ‘sunny uplands’ of post-Brexit Britain becomes more shrill, the Union is in peril, not by the massed throng of the increasingly confident and organised democracy movement in Scotland, but by the unthinking nationalism unleashed by the 2016 referendum.

This is a long way from the era of ‘love bombing’, cairns in car parks and the wise words of Alan Titchmarsh, Ben Fogle or Eddie Izzard. How is the ‘precious Union’, the ‘partnership of equals’ supposed to function in this context?

Comments (35)

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  1. Jo says:

    I really am suspicious of polls when they come out with sweeping statements on behalf of whole groups.

    You see claims like, “70% of Scots want…………” fill in the blanks. Then you read on and discover that only a few hundred folk have participated yet the result is broadcast as if every living Scot has expressed a view.

    The research in this survey appears to have involved “thousands” and the announcement made claims the results represent “Tory voters”.

    I do realise the purpose of polls. Even so, I think it is foolish to take them too seriously.

    1. John O'Dowd says:

      This research comes from Edinburgh University. The sample ‘of thousands’ is pretty large, and will have been carefully designed to obtain a statistically significant outcome.

      The questions will have been carefully drafted, and the population extrapolations will have been made scientifically. This is how social science research is carried out. It’s not perfect, but this is a s good as it gets.

      The investigators have no axe to grind and are independent academics.

      I tend to believe the outcome.

      1. Jo says:

        No offence, John, but I’m aware of the process and your explanation wasn’t needed.

        I simply don’t find polls helpful.

        1. John O'Dowd says:

          fair enough Jo. That’s your right.

          In contrast, I found it both highly informative and very, very interesting.

          Someone whose views I value has always said that Scotland won’t get her freedom until Middle England wants rid of us – or doesn’t care.

          I think we are reaching this stage – this polling supports that trend.

          Sooner the better.

  2. Jamsie says:

    Quite a wishy washy article Mr Ed.
    Who are you trying to convince?
    Anyway as if today wee Nicola’s not ready to chance another referendum.
    The conference ended on a damp squib eh?

    1. Julian Smith says:

      The article is about the results of opinion polls about the attitudes of Conservative voters towards the possible constitutional implications of Brexit. It is not about the Annual Conference of the SNP or the emphatic support for Independence shown by the turnout in Edinburgh on Saturday, although I would be happy to debate these in an appropriate forum.

      1. Jamsie says:

        What or where could be more appropriate?
        The conference died a death when the faithful were told we cannot call a referendum as we’re too feart.
        And a few thousand flag waving idiots will neither enable another Indy referendum or win one.
        This article is meaningless drivel full of wishful thinking that somehow Brexit will blow the U.K. apart and miraculously facilitate independence for Scotland.
        Utter nonsense.

        1. This brief article has nothing to do with the SNP conference or the march in Edinburgh. Keep up.

    2. Kenny Smith says:

      Foam fart fart foam, Yoonyun!!!!

  3. Zen Broon says:

    Brexit was the first real spasm of a resurgent English nationalism. It won’t be the last.

    1. Swiss Toni says:

      Over a million Scots voted for Brexit.

      1. Kenny Smith says:

        Lots of English never but the majority there did and the majority here never. Some Scots voted against devolution, some Scots still vote Tory, Jamsie can list them for you he’s just back from Birmingham with them. Bottom line there was a clear line drawn across the border that night, whatever way you voted for whatever reason the family of nations myth went up in smoke. It’s no longer an argument that this is a union it’s domination

        1. Jamsie says:

          There are 13.5 billion reasons to consider that the U.K. is strong and very much alive.
          Most of the people who are voting Tory in Scotland are former SNP supporters who have become disenchanted with wee Nicola’s surge to the left and towards the Irish Catholic Republican diaspora to try to prove her party’s credibility as a left of centre organisation.
          She has turned her back on the Tartan Tories and those Indy supporters who voted for Brexit in the former SNP heartlands.
          That is why the Tories have become resurgent in Scotland.
          Does it not make you sick to think that by abandoning likeminded support to cultivate traditionally oppositional sections of the electorate that it still does not get Indy over the line?
          Surely someone in the party has principal enough to say that this is a failed strategy.
          Worse has anyone even thought about what would happen if Indy did come along by these means?
          At the first election the SNP would be cast aside and condemned forever to be shouting from the sidelines as this section of the electorate returned to its traditions of supporting real left wing parties.
          Could that really be the reason she is saying she cannot call a referendum?
          She might actually be frightened she does win it and puts her party into the wilderness forever?
          Questions now bring raised about whether pro union parties would seek to reverse any Indy result in favour of independence in that event.
          So far from playing the long ball she remains dazzled in the headlights of the oncoming uncertainty which she has no answers to.
          The economy and the electorate are only two considerations being pushed but if you think she will push for Indy at the cost of destroying her and her party’s future then you are a fool.

          1. Me Bungo Pony says:

            This is pure comedy gold. If you can be sure of one thing with J*msie, its that you’ll always get a laugh out of his posts.

          2. Jamsie says:

            MBP
            Glad I cheered you up.
            Here is some more cheeriness for you :-
            I predict in no particular order that
            1.) 2021 elections lead to Indy supporting parties losing seats although still in “government” with a minority position of around 6 seats between them and pro union parties. Hence no Indy referendum anytime soon.
            2.) Scottish “government” continuity bill is declared incompetent by the Supreme Court. Hence no legal challenge to Brexit and no Indy referendum anytime soon.
            3.) Scotland and the U.K. leave the EU with a deal which enables trade but does not commit to entry of the single market.
            4.) Scotland becomes more dependant on U.K. financial support as the deficit rises due to SNP policy failing to deliver on taxation revenue, or in delivering public services. Hence any referendum will be deferred indefinitely and only brought out at conference time as the electorate will become progressively more apathetic.
            5.) When wee Eck has dealt with the knives in his back from his “friends” he will campaugn to form a new “real” Indy party to take back control of the debate in an attempt to undo the damage done by Murrell and Sturgeon. The Indy movement will split in two halves of so called left wing progressive and centre right liberals killing off the likelihood of Indy for a lifetime.
            These regardless of the Brexit outcome and wee Nicola’s assertions.
            The wee Eck situation is like a festering boil just about to burst spreading pus everywhere.
            Watch and see.

          3. Me Bungo Pony says:

            “Its being so cheery …. ” and all that J*msie 🙂 Its quite the fevered imagination you’ve got there.

        2. Swiss Toni says:

          Having spent the first half of this year living and working in England, I can assure you that the family of nations is very much alive and well.

          The people of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland have far, far more which unites us compared to what divides us.

          It is only a small minority of people, perhaps 10%, whose identity is largely shaped by their political leanings.

          1. Jamsie says:

            Totally agree!
            For Scots there is £13.5bn which binds us as family members.

          2. Me Bungo Pony says:

            What J*msie is hilariously/disturbingly describing here is “Debt Bondage”. An aspect of Modern Slavery and illegal.

            “Rule Britannia” claims Britons never will be slaves …. but apparently Scots are slaves and, according to J*msie, should be grateful for it.

          3. Me Bungo Pony says:

            Debt Bondage;

            Debt bondage, also known as debt slavery or bonded labour, is the pledge of a person’s services as security for the repayment for a debt or other obligation, where the terms of the repayment are not clearly or reasonably stated, and the person who is holding the debt and thus has some control over the laborer, does not intend to ever admit that the debt has been repaid. The services required to repay the debt may be undefined, and the services’ duration may be undefined, thus allowing the person supposedly owed the debt to demand services indefinitely. Debt bondage can be passed on from generation to generation.

            Hooray for J*msie’s Union 😉

          4. Jamsie says:

            MBP
            As usual you fail completely to understand or even to argue coherently.
            The £13.5bn I refer to is not debt.
            It is what we in Scotland are allowed to spend annually over and above the pro rata spend per head of population in England.
            Being part of the U.K. allows us to do that and if were not for this”government’s” fiscal incompetence it might actually make a bigger difference to people’s lives.
            So put away your kinky assertions and try to focus on reality.
            There is no reason for the electorate to believe that they would be any better off after Indy.
            There is every reason to believe they will be much worse off if it were ever to happen.
            Third world status would beckon.
            Until the questions on the economy and currency are answered and the electorate are satisfied that they will not suffer the case for Indy remains dubious at best a pipedream in reality.
            This “government” are incapable of convincing the electorate and look shortly to be put back to a position of no overall control.
            We can all rest peacefully in that knowledge that as part of the U.K. our standards of living are constantly improving.

          5. SleepingDog says:

            @Jamsie, so you would “rest peacefully” if UK standards of living were constantly improving… even on the backs and sweat and blood and chains of all those labouring and slaving around the world to make those standards “rise”, even as our failing and unsustainable economic model poisons, desertifies and ravages the planet, even as our exports promote warfare around the globe?

            This is only a small part of what UK standards of living cost:
            https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bn6034/stacey-dooley-investigates-fashions-dirty-secrets

          6. Me Bungo Pony says:

            Amongst the now standard delusional wishful thinking and dissembling, one statement stands head and shoulders above the rest in newly outed slavery enthusiast J*amsie’s last post.

            He laughably claims “we can all rest peacefully in that knowledge that as part of the UK our standards of living are constantly improving”. With average UK earnings still well below what they once were (and below our small, independent, European neighbours), and almost certainly about to take a further nose dive with Brexit, the sheer dishonesty of his statement is breathtaking. There is clearly no guarantee of either high or improving living standards within the UK. That is simple demonstrable fact.

          7. Jamsie says:

            Barbie Hen
            Yer no very good when it comes to simple records of fact ur ye?
            The U.K. standards of living have increased progressively since 1979.
            Scotland’s rate of growth alongside that has been lower over the last 10 years.
            Now you might say that this is because of the crash but more knowledgeable economic experts know better and have actually written to the Scottish “government” finance minister pointing out that under SNP rule Scotland has failed to match anything like UK growth except for very briefly.
            If you paid a bit more attention to what us actually going on you might become aware of facts and actually put together a credible argument but no you prefer to shout and bawl total inaccuracies.
            Perhaps Mr Kerevan would like to inform on a congratulatory e-mail sent to the finance minister detailing these very facts and his opinion on why Scotland benefits from rising living standards and growth across the U.K. as a whole whilst underperforming in comparison.
            There is no economic case for Indy.
            That is a statement of fact which underlies everything.
            Now is not the time!
            Ye’ve been telt!
            She knows she cannot win and moving forward if polls are to be believed then the moment will have passed.

          8. Me Bungo Pony says:

            Are you, in all seriousness, claiming that UK average earnings have not fallen, and remained, below what they were 10 years ago? Is that your actual claim? Are you also claiming UK average earnings are not lower than almost all our small, independent W.European neighbours? Is that your belief? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, are you able to provide any actual evidence to back up what has hither-to been little more than empty rhetoric? If so, please provide it.

            [rhetoric: language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect, but which is regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content]

          9. Me Bungo Pony says:

            And before you try to capitalise on an omission, I’m talking of average earnings falling in real terms; ie purchasing power.

          10. Jamsie says:

            MBP
            You said “He laughably claims ‘we can all rest peacefully in that knowledge that as part of the UK our standards of living are constantly improving'”.
            Did you not?
            https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/dec/11/uk-living-standards-eu
            I said and repeat that since 1979 the standard of living in the UK has progressively improved.
            I stand by that.
            Going back to 2014 standards were noted as rising even in comparison to other states in the EU as you can see from the attached.
            And there is loads of other information available to you if you care to research which clearly shows the correctness of my statement.
            Whilst wages maybe flat the measure of the standard of living is a more complex beast which you may not understand.
            I accept you do not understand and do not criticise your slobbering but even your claims on wages do not stand up to scrutiny.
            The truth is out there.
            Seek and ye shall find.

          11. Jamsie says:

            But for a really up to date analysis …..
            https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-2247536/UK-standard-living-slides-EU-rivals–Britain-slips-sixth-table-nations.html
            Where do you think Scotland would be after Indy?
            Off the scale down amongst third world economies for twenty five years or perhaps more.
            What was the economic case for Indy again?
            Oops I forgot there isn’t one is there.

          12. Me Bungo Pony says:

            J*msie, your attempt to justify your position was, sad to say, “laughable”. Lets take each bit of “evidence” one by one.

            (1) Your Guardian Article.
            That article is four years old. Things have moved on since then. The Brexit vote happened for one thing. The utterly inept UK Govt response to it is another thing. The UK is tumbling down the various prosperity/living standards/income league tables. Even little Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Luxembourg have higher standards of living than the UK. By 2016, the UK had slipped to 10th (out of 18 W.European countries excluding Luxembourg) and was “below average”;
            https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/uk-standards-of-living-lag-behind-european-average-glassdoor-finds-a7004061.html
            By 2017, even the IFS was rubbishing your claim;
            https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/mar/02/ifs-growth-uk-living-standards-worst-in-60-years-pensions-poverty-budget
            Its all a little embarrassing for you.

            (2) Your This is Money Article.
            Even more embarrassing for you, this article is actually two years older than your Guardian one despite you claiming it was “a really up to date analysis”. It even describes how “other nations have seen their standard of living rise in that time, and Britain’s slide will renew fears that we are taking longer to recover from the financial crisis than rival countries”. This article you have cited as evidence of the veracity of your claim that “as part of the U.K. our standards of living are constantly improving” actually gives the lie to it and backs up my statement instead. Did you even read it before you cited it?

            (3) Your Graph.
            This is perhaps the most embarrassing yet. To reiterate, you claimed “as part of the U.K. our standards of living are constantly improving”. I claimed that was nonsense and that “there is clearly no guarantee of either high or improving living standards within the UK”. I even claimed it was a ” simple demonstrable fact”. In response you posted a link to a graph you triumphantly believed proved your point. However, your graph does indeed show a marked decrease in real disposable income after 2008 and also shows that the latest figure for 2017 is still lower than in 2008 and falling. Unbelievably (but given past performance …. maybe not) in trying to prove your point, you have actually furnished me with the evidence to show it for the nonsense it is.

            I can only therefore conclude, J*msie, that you have been making spurious claims …. again …. and the evidence, kindly furnished by yourself, is there to prove it. Any other “facts” you care to share with us should be treated with that context in mind.

  4. Voline says:

    The English seem to feel bizarrely detached from the Troubles, as if the conflict had no consequences for them at all. Harrod’s and the Old Bailey are not in Ireland.

  5. SleepingDog says:

    Today I encountered the first episode of Al Murray’s Why Does Everyone Hate the English, and a summary of Emile Durkheim’s views on sacred symbols of national unity protected by taboos.
    https://www.history.co.uk/shows/al-murray-why-does-everyone-hate-the-english
    If someone wanted Scotland to part ways with England, then it might make sense to concentrate on these sacred symbols, discuss and challenge them openly, to see if there is a genuine difference in how people in England and Scotland view and engage with them. People talk about and often deride Westminster, it may be a totem but not a particularly sacred one. But behind Westminister is the British Constitution, the Monarchy, the Civil Service with its Oath of Silence-Unto-Death and all the militarism, elitism and residual imperialism that regularly goes unchallenged. If large numbers of Scots want to cling on to these sacred symbols, maybe the Union is not going to break up any time soon.

    As an aside, it was interesting to hear Al Murray (in his pub landlord persona) describe the English invaders’ war crimes at Agincourt (slaughtering their French noble prisoners) as “changing the rules of the game” (if I recall). Of course, there were some Scots in that army too.

    1. Graeme Purves says:

      That bizarre series certainly seems to reflect the zeitgeist of England’s curious sense of grievance. But the weirdest aspect of it is that the Scottish perspective is provided by… er… Fred MacAulay – the SpongeBob of edgy comedy.

      1. Me Bungo Pony says:

        I’ve yet to see the episode featuring Mr MacAuley, but I doubt he will provide a “challenging” foil to Mr Murray. He’s a pleasant enough chap, Mr MacAuley, and amusing to listen to, but very much a Conservative and Unionist. Nobody’s perfect 🙂

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