"More Powers" Debate: Principles, Guidelines and Strategies for UnionistsTweet
The 3 main unionist parties, and the official "No" campaign are in danger, this spring and summer, of moving into opposition territory, confusing the debate, losing the ball, dropping the vote, and throwing away the best opportunity we have to destroy organised nationalism for generations. There is still time to get it right, says Alistair McConnachie.
In this Paper, he lays out 6 Basic Unionist Principles which must guide the consideration of further devolution, 5 Guidelines to ensure we win the referendum overwhelmingly, and 4 Strategies to guarantee we dominate the long-term struggle.
You can click on any of the topic headings below to jump to the appropriate part of the text.
Posted on this site on 26 January 2014.
6 BASIC UNIONIST PRINCIPLES which Guide our Approach to the Question of Devolution
5 GUIDELINES TO ENSURE WE WIN OVERWHELMINGLY – and Why, if they are not Followed, then our Ability to Win Overwhelmingly will be Heavily Compromised
4 STRATEGIES TO ENSURE UNIONISTS DOMINATE THE LONG-TERM – and Why, if they are not Followed, the Separatists will Survive Defeat, will Dominate our Politics, and will Threaten our Union Again
UPDATE How You Can Help:
This major Paper has now been published in an attractive, illustrated, 20-page, A4-sized booklet, entitled Devo-Danger. Included in the publication as Appendices are our articles, The Danger of Devolution in the Context of an Aggressive Separatist Movement and If Devolution is a Process then Powers should Flow Back as well as Forth.
We encourage you to purchase this booklet, or several of them, and send them to your unionist MP and MSPs. These people really need to be aware of this material because their "more powers" plans are likely to endanger us all by handing Mr Salmond and his separatists a long-term victory, even if we manage to defeat them in September.
You can purchase a copy for a donation of your choice. (We suggest a minimum of £5 per booklet and £4 per booklet for orders of 5 and over.) Please click on the PayPal donation button towards the top right of this page or send us a cheque as per our donation page here.
If you don't wish to make a purchase, please consider printing off this material from your computer and sending it to your unionist MP and MSPs in hard copy that way. Legislators will always consider a printed copy of something more seriously than an emailed message.
Earlier in January, Better Together (BT) commissioned a poll where it gave people 3 options, "independence", "status quo" and "more powers". BT trumpeted the fact that most people wanted "more powers". 1
Yet, why should BT re-awaken this "third option" after the possibility of it appearing on the ballot paper was put to rest a long time ago?
The answer is because it is trying to seed the ground for the announcements in the spring of this year when the unionist parties will promote their proposals for "more powers".
Better Together imagines that because 30% want "independence", 29% want the status quo, and 32% are said to want more powers, then, if they add 29 and 32 together and get 61% then they can win 61-30.
But that is not how these things work.
Blair McDougall, BT's Campaign Director, said this debate will "change the frame". 2
He's right there, but not in a good way!
It will change the debate to endless squabbling about the supposed merits and demerits of the unionist proposals. No longer will it be about the very strong frame of "Do we Leave the UK? Yes or No?" Rather it will be about who is promoting the "best" options for "more powers".
It will change it to a debate where the "unionists" no longer find themselves promoting the merits of the UK but rather are constantly on the defensive about their devolution proposals.
The unionist politicians will have landed on ground they shouldn't be occupying and will be trapped. They will be forced onto the defensive, and it will be difficult to get back to higher ground.
The nationalists will control the terrain. They will succeed in getting many people to obsess about the rights and wrongs of the devolutionary proposals instead of whether or not to stay with the UK.
Consequently, we risk losing more votes than we will gain.
It will be a strategic error. Far from shoring up the pro-UK vote it is likely to see it decrease.
However, if we keep the choice as simple as possible, Do we Leave the UK? Yes or No? then the pro-UK side could win overwhelmingly. That is the simple choice. That is the hugely winnable choice. That is the choice which could, potentially, deliver an 80-20 victory.
To change the terms of the debate at this late stage will muddle the message. Muddle leads to confusion, which leads to losing votes.
As we will argue in this Paper, if BT and the unionist parties insist on reawakening this 3rd option, then not only will we be stranded on vulnerable territory, where we will be attacked every day, where we will be constantly on the defensive and losing ground, but we will also set ourselves up to be held prisoners – politically speaking – for years ahead.
Now, if BT and the unionist parties don't understand that, then at least their opponents do!
For example, The Scotman reported, "...the pro-UK parties will, in the spring, set out their own plans for life after a No vote, in the form of extended devolution to Holyrood. Neither will satisfy pro-independence campaigners...The proposals have also been identified by the pro-independence side as a major opportunity – finally, they will get a chance to throw some scrutiny back on their opponents and question the detail and validity of their plans. Mr Noon [Stephen Noon, the Yes campaign's chief strategist] declares: 'The No campaign's hope of a knock-out blow [in 2013] hasn't worked. All the attention is on Yes, but the gaping hole is what does a No mean. I am very confident that people will be focussing on what a No means.'" 3
Why give the opposition such ammunition?
WE MUST WIN and WIN WELL.
If organised political separatism in Scotland is to be put back in its box, then the victory for the pro-UK side must be overwhelming. It must be 70-30 at bare minimum. This is quite doable – providing everyone who wants to stay with the UK ensures they are registered to vote and gets out on the day.
However, it really needs to be 75-25. Again, this is doable.
Ideally though, it should, and could, be 80-20.
This would see the anti-UK vote driven right down to its hard core – which is possibly around 1 in 5 of the population. Above the 1 in 5, the rest are "soft" nationalists who can be persuaded to go either way.
IT MUST be a LONG-TERM VICTORY ALSO.
So the victory at the referendum must be overwhelming, but victory on the day is not enough. It must be a long-term victory. The only way to ensure long-term victory is to be planning for long-term victory now!
Long-term thinking is something that wage-dependent politicians, some of whom are mere functionaries, and many of whom are not here for the long-haul, and all of whom have jobs which require them only to react and respond on a day-to-day basis, are not good at.
Here is what must happen:
Referendum 2014: The Desolation of Separatism That is not a new film about The Hobbit. Rather it should be the name of the campaign that unionists should be planning right now.
The aim must be to figure out ways to break the SNP post-2014 – not go to its aid. We must figure out ways to scatter them, not provide them with a ready-made platform around which to regroup and bounce back.
In order to do this, there should be no soft bed, with consolation prizes, for Mr Salmond and his Separatists on the morning of 19th September, only desolation. The nationalists must be so utterly defeated that they have nowhere to go and nothing to grasp onto on the 19th September.
On that morning, they must look around at their crash landing and see nothing but barren, rocky wasteland where their only option for long-term survival is to turn inward on each other, fall out and consume themselves – politically speaking. They should not be heard from again until their curious remains are discovered one day by David Attenborough's great, great, great grandchild, while making a programme for the British Broadcasting Corporation.
However, if the unionist parties insist on laying out a nice bouncy bed for the separatists to land on, surrounded by political consolation prizes for them to feast on and regenerate, then they will be straight back the very next day, suffering only minor concussion, empowered anew, with an additional raft of exciting political prizes which they have been promised.
Mr Salmond will be able to claim the credit for these "promises". He will be able to claim victory even in defeat.
And make no mistake, the nationalists will ensure that those consolation prizes are delivered to them on a plate, by their enemies. Woe betide those "unionists" who do not make good their "promises", for they shall be held to account and the nationalist vengeance delivered upon their heads shall be mighty.
In the immediate aftermath of defeat, the SNP will find itself with the shot in the arm it needs to be straight back on the offensive. It will make its demands for the "new powers" the centrepiece of its 2015 General Election campaign, and the 2016 Holyrood campaign.
Absolutely nothing the "unionists" offer up to sacrifice on the Altar of Separatism will be accepted as good enough. They will be scurrying around with their tails between their legs, apologising, grovelling, reacting to, and trying to appease the Wrath of the Lord of Separatism at every turn.
The nationalists will still be in the driving seat. Political debate in Scotland will continue under this nationalist domination, making it easier and easier for them to bend the unionist side to their will.
Soon they will be back for another referendum, the very next time they achieve a governing majority at Holyrood, whether in 2016 or 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 years thereafter. By which time, thanks to the domination of the nationalist viewpoint and the unionist parties' constant concessions, the Scottish Parliament will closely resemble an independent one anyway, and the step to "independence" will seem much easier to achieve.
If the nationalists are given any consolation prizes then the above is how it will play out. Of that, there is no doubt.
At the moment, the SNP's Plan B, is the unionist parties' Plan A for "more powers".
Why should the unionist parties give the SNP a Plan B? Why should the unionist parties create a ready-made fall-back position for the nationalists, from which they will regroup and rebuild?
It is foot-shooting absurdity! And a form of appeasement.
It is a reactionary political tactic which is a doomed attempt to appease an ideology which cannot be satiated. And as someone once said, the difference between appeasement and surrender is...only a matter of time.
But it doesn't have to be like this.
So, What Should be our Correct Approach to Devolution? Before we lay out Reasons why offering "more powers" is a strategic error, let us first work from First Principles.
Scottish Unionism has, to date, been poor at laying out its Principles. To a large extent, the work really only began with the establishment of this website aForceForGood.org.uk
So often it seems to us that we are laying out these things, for the first time.
This important work enables us to operate from a position which is comprehensive, consistent and coherent. It enables us to understand the Principles upon which we stand, and it gives us a stable platform from which to develop aligned Policy.
6 BASIC UNIONIST PRINCIPLES which Guide our Approach to the Question of Devolution.
Basic Unionist Principle No 1: The Nature of a Union is Joint Commitment to a Greater Collective Good
Once you join a union, you give up a part of yourself to the other, or others, in that union. You submit yourself to a wider concern, a bigger project, a greater good.
Morally speaking, the union is our primary concern, not ourselves as individuals.
Morally speaking, demanding more powers for oneself is inconsistent with membership of a union.
If we want to continue in a union relationship with anybody, or anything, then we have a moral obligation to ensure that everyone in that relationship is happy with what we are doing. We must seek mutual agreement.
Basic Unionist Principle No 2: We Cannot continue to Demand More Powers and Expect to Remain in Union
At present, from a unionist perspective, the Principle behind more powers is an immoral one. The unionist parties are saying to the rest of the UK, "I don't want to divorce you but I want to continue to get what I want and you'd better lump it."
That is guaranteed to end in acrimony. In Practice, it leads to more powers leaving the centre, on a one-way road out the Union.
All the unionist parties have accepted this attitude and approach, which in essence is a nationalist, separatist frame. All the various proposals for "more powers" are conceived within it, morally and practically.
Our approach to the Union is entirely different from, for example, newspapers like The Scotsman or The Herald and their Sunday equivalents. These papers obsess about what is right for Scotland on its own and make blatant anti-union statements like, "Scots must be the architects of the new Scottish politics, with our relationship with Westminster decided here in Scotland, on our own terms." 4
No, actually, Mr Leader writer for the Scotland on Sunday! That is not how a union works. We will not accept your nationalist frame. Our relationship with our Union partners must be decided in union with our partners, with everyone's interests considered, and to the mutual benefit of all. That is what will bring peace. If we continue on your road, it will bring nothing but division and animosity in our UK home.
In any kind of relationship, whether business or matrimonial or political, it is not right to claim to want a union but at the same time think you can do what you want, without regard to anyone else. The Union must always be the main context, which is right up front; not us and our own personal interests. It is morally wrong, and practically mistaken in the long-term, to imagine that we can eat our cake and still have it – to imagine that we can do whatever we want within the Union.
As unionists we really must stop pretending that, in a partnership, we can keep demanding more and more.
Basic Unionist Principle No 3: Unionists have a British Frame of Mind
A true unionist position is based on the principle of what is best for Scotland and the UK (not Scotland alone). We put everything into an overall British context.
For example, we are concerned about "what Britain voted for" and "what is best for Britain". We don't think only in terms of "what Scotland voted for", or "what is best for Scotland" or "what England voted for" or "what is best for England" and then compare those things against the other. We don't think in terms of "putting Scotland first" or "putting England first". We think in terms of putting us all first.
We think in terms of Britain. Britain is our context – which is our shorthand for "the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland."
For us Scottish Unionists, the English, Northern Irish and Welsh are not "neighbours". They are family (sometimes quite literally) and that informs our entire view on the matter.
It has only been since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament that people in Scotland have been encouraged to see everything from the nationalists' "Scottish-only" perspective. It is the nationalists' perspective which dominates political discourse at the moment and all unionist attempts to come up with "more powers" are driven by, and are subservient to, that nationalist view of things – whether they will admit that or not.
Following on from having a British Frame of Mind...
Basic Unionist Principle No 4: Unionists are Concerned with the Implications of Policy for all the UK, not just for a part, whether England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales
We understand that if something is likely to introduce unfairness or division in the context of our UK relationship then it should never happen, or if it has happened, it must be reversed.
Student funding; whereby students resident in Scotland get university fees paid, but English, Northern Irish and Welsh have to pay, is a prime example of the extent to which a particular power – which should never have been devolved in the first place – has led to inequality, unfairness and resentment within our social union.
Basic Unionist Principle No 5: Unionists understand that if "Devolution is a Process" which is "Intended to Strengthen the Union", then it must be a Two-way Process
This means that powers can, and should, be returned to the centre, where necessary to strengthen the Union.
This is a point which we need to start hearing from the unionist parties. It is absolutely crucial to a proper understanding of "devolved" powers in any political state.
For example, if devolution is to "strengthen the union", as the Labour Party always told us, then there must be safeguards built in, which will prevent or reverse policies which would corrupt the union relationship; for example, when devolution introduces inequality in a British context (student funding for example).
A true unionist position would ensure that devolution leads to ever-closer union not ever-further-apart separation.
For that to happen, it requires in practice a two-way road, where it is natural for powers to be moderated, adjusted, rescinded or returned to the centre, where appropriate.
These are the things we should be hearing from unionist parties. Devolution is not, and should never be, "one way". It is a two-way process.
Two-way devolution is "Union friendly". One-way devolution is "Union hostile".
There is nothing controversial about this, from a unionist perspective. It should be obvious.
We don't hear these things said, at present, because the political discourse in Scotland is driven entirely by the nationalist side and their view of things. The unionist parties do nothing but react to, and appease, the nationalist agenda.
The fact that some unionists may find our proposals controversial simply demonstrates that they have lived for too long under the dominance of the nationalists' frame of mind.
Indeed, so consumed by the nationalist mentality have the "unionists" become that many are no longer aware that they are living within, and making decisions, in a personal state of "nationalist false consciousness".
The "we'll promise more powers" response is all part of that imprisoned mentality.
Nationalists see "more powers" as a step towards disunion. That is why they are demanding them from the unionists.
If you don't believe that many unionists in the political class in Scotland are in the grip of the nationalist false consciousness then consider this: Why is nobody (apart from us) asking the SNP what its plans are for more union if they should lose the referendum on separation?
They are the ones who will have lost. They are the ones who should be making the concessions. They are the ones who should be giving up the ground. They are the ones who should be backing down.
Yet, absurdly, only we, who support the Union, are being asked our plans for more disunion if we win. We are being asked our plans to further dissolve the Union even though we will have won the referendum to keep it together! We are being asked our plans to give up on the Union even though the majority of people will have indicated their overwhelming support for it.
We have developed the idea of devolution as a two-way process here and we give several suggestions on how this can be accomplished constitutionally.
Basic Unionist Principle No 6: Devolution is Dangerous to a Union in the presence of an Aggressive Separatist Movement This is not the United States of America where powers can be devolved safely to the individual States because everyone is relatively happy with the overall Union. This is Scotland – which has a hardcore national separatist party, where devolutionary powers will always risk being acquired by it in order to destroy the Union itself.
OK. Having built up the true unionist frame of mind from first principles, let us now look at why moving the debate onto the grounds of offering "more powers" is likely to represent a catastrophic strategic error, not only for:
1. the immediate goal of winning the referendum overwhelmingly on 18 September; but also for
2. the long-term aim of removing the threat of separatism and securing the future of the United Kingdom.
5 GUIDELINES TO ENSURE WE WIN OVERWHELMINGLY – and Why, if they are not Followed, then our Ability to Win Overwhelmingly will be Heavily Compromised.
1. To Win Well we must Polarise the Debate
The only way it will be possible to win by at least 70-30, and ideally 80-20, will be to polarise the debate. In order to polarise a debate the choice must be stark. It must be very clear and obvious.
It must be like the choice between jumping off a cliff or not jumping off a cliff. It must be like the choice between leaving the UK and staying with the UK.
That is the debate we must have. Leave the UK? Yes or No? That will deliver our result. Anything which risks complicating that matter must be disregarded.
There are enough "soft" SNP voters for a really strong and positive pro-UK campaign to win over – providing the choice is very stark. Leave the UK? Yes or No?
That is hugely winnable. The case is probably 80-20 winnable if laid out starkly.
2. To Win Well we must Keep Everything Simple
The choice is Leave the UK? Yes or No?
If we start talking about a choice being between "all powers" or "more powers" then we are complicating and confusing the matter.
People will not know what they are meant to be voting "for".
3. To Win Well we must be Rooted in Principle
The "more powers but not all powers" argument is ideologically very weak, because there is no principled basis for it, and there is no definite cut-off point.
For example, if "more powers" is good, then why is "all powers" bad? There is no real principle there. There is no "line in the sand" where it can be defended. It is a constant shifting, sinking sand, which will ultimately swallow up whoever tries to stand on it.
Moreover, as unionists, we can never win the "powers" argument because the people offering the best option on "powers" are the nationalists who are offering "all powers". They will surely point this out if the debate is shifted onto their ground. They would be right to do so.
We all know clearly that a "No" means a vote to stay with the UK. Let us not complicate and confuse it by suggesting that it means something else – especially something which cannot be justified with any appeal to real principle.
4. To Win Well we must Force the Nationalists to Concede our Pro-UK View, and we must Not do anything to Concede an Anti-UK View To move the debate from "Leave the UK? Yes or No?" to whether we "Leave the UK Entirely, or Almost but not Quite?" is to accept the opponent's view that the UK is something from which we should be leaving.
It is accepting that the UK is something that is problematic; but rather than leaving it altogether, we can leave most of it and keep some bits of it – the bits we like.
It is to accept the nationalists' belief that the UK is broken, but to argue that it can be fixed with some kind of half way house towards independence. It is to accept that the UK is not intrinsically a good thing but rather something damaged from which we should distance ourselves. It is to accept all these nationalist premises.
Yet this is, effectively, what the unionist parties are doing when they make "more powers" admissions to the nationalists.
In short, we must be careful not to accept the nationalists' view that the UK is a negative. We must be careful not to concede the nationalists' anti-UK principle. We have written previously about this.
5. To Win Well we must Encourage a Pro-UK Attitude, and we must Not do anything to Encourage an Anti-UK Attitude Sun Tzu was correct to say, "the clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him."
We must never accept, nor concede, nor argue on, the opposition's terms, or in their frame, or on their grounds or in their territory. We don't allow them to set the frame, and we don't inadvertently set the frame for them! To do so is to grant credibility to their views, which will only lead others innocently to accept those terms as if they were the natural state of affairs.
Conceding the nationalists' principles means that we give legitimacy to the anti-UK approach, which encourages others to start thinking in that frame of mind too.
After all, if we accept the UK is a problem and is broken and that we can "fix it" with some devolutionary measures then, why not just go the whole hog and have independence? That is the road that we start people thinking along.
We just end up encouraging others to change their basic view of the world to a nationalist, instead of a unionist, one. People start thinking in an anti-UK frame of mind instead of a pro-UK frame of mind.
It would just encourage people to start talking about "putting Scotland first", without any consideration for the fact that Scotland is part of Britain and that we must always consider Britain at the same time as we consider Scotland (see our 6 Basic Unionist Principles above).
Now, let us continue by looking at the long-term power such a move would hand to the nationalists.
4 STRATEGIES TO ENSURE UNIONISTS TRIUMPH IN THE LONG-TERM – and Why, if they are not Followed, the Separatists will Survive Defeat, will Dominate our Politics, and will Threaten our Union Again.
1. Ensure the SNP Flounder in Defeat, Fall Out in Acrimony, and Scatter to the Winds
As we said at the start of this article, it is not just about winning well on the day; it is about delivering as much political damage as possible to the nationalist machine in the long-term.
We do not want to give them anything which will enable them to recover easily from their defeat. We want to make things as difficult as possible for them.
We want them to flounder. We do not want to throw them a lifeline! We want them to fall out and scatter, not regroup.
"More powers" will be the lifeline they will grasp which will enable them to be quickly back into full operation.
Here is how it would work.
On the 19th September, Mr Salmond will be able to stand up, dust himself down, and say: "Even though we lost, we have secured a whole new raft of valuable promises from the unionist parties. That could not have been done without our efforts. We are going to hold them to those promises. If they do not deliver on those promises then you will know that only the SNP is to be trusted."
This will give the SNP a way to maintain its morale, and to stay together rather than break up in acrimony.
It will give it a way to bounce back into political relevance, almost immediately; a way to re-energise itself after a crushing defeat. It will have a ready-made political issue which has been handed to it on a plate. It will be a wonderful consolation prize to take all those tears away.
There must be no consolation prizes.
2. Do Not Build a Rod for our Backs
A promise of "more powers" will require the unionist parties to deliver on them.
This will be a Rod they will have built for their own backs.
No doubt the unionist parties think that if they promise "more powers" now, then they will be able to put those ideas into their Manifestos for the 2015 British General Election.
That means that if Labour gets elected it will use the fact that there was some small print on its Manifesto (which few will have read) to justify its claim that "the electorate of all the UK" voted for "more powers" for Scotland, democratically, at the 2015 General Election.
Consciously, people will have done no such thing! Hardly anyone reads Manifestos and nobody votes on them as a whole. But technically, that could be argued to be the case!
Labour will claim this gives it "a mandate" to deliver those new powers. It will then go into the 2016 Scottish election by pointing to the fact that Labour is going to deliver all these new powers for Scotland.
By such a move, it will be hoping to outflank the SNP. No doubt the Lib Dems are hoping for something similar. Perhaps, even the Conservatives too.
What this means is that the political debate in the run-up to both the 2015 and the 2016 elections in Scotland is going to be dominated by the debate about who is delivering "more powers" for Scotland.
That will be all that is talked about. The entire debate will be around the SNP v unionist parties, and the question of who is best placed to deliver "more powers".
It will go something like this: The SNP will say: "The unionist parties cannot be trusted. They won't deliver more powers, only the SNP can deliver all powers". Labour will say: "Oh yes we will, please trust us. We are the party of devolution."
In every single case, it will be the SNP which will be leading the debate, setting the terms, holding everyone else to account - holding everyone up to its "all powers" standard.
The unionist parties will have handed centre-stage to the SNP.
The SNP will set the agenda. The unionist parties will be constantly on the defensive.
The SNP will have the whip hand.
And the tragedy is that the "unionists" will have built that whip for their own backs. They will have made themselves hostages to this misfortune.
All of this will give the SNP much enjoyable sport. It will be much exercised and rejuvenated in the couple of years after September 2014 – a period when it should still be in intensive care after being democratically crushed at the referendum.
"When are these new powers coming? Why haven't the unionists delivered? Even if you say you have delivered, it is not good enough. It is not what you promised. Too much is never enough. You gave us an inch, we want a mile. You gave us a mile, we want the moon. Why can't we have the moon? Westminster is stopping us having the moon"...and so on ad nauseum.
If you don't think that the SNP can exploit more powers in that way, then look at how the SNP has already exploited devolution in order to bring us to the situation today where the very future of our country is imperilled. All additional devolution will be exploited even more effectively.
Nothing the unionists do, short of declaring independence from the rest of the UK will appease the separatists. Indeed, even that will not appease them, as we point out below.
3. Keep the Separatists Politically Impoverished
Let us give them nothing to grasp onto. Let us not purposely, or unintentionally, create a highway back to Holyrood for them.
However, allowing the SNP to hog centre stage in this way – instead of defeating them and marginalising them – will create a chain of events which will lead them back to Holyrood – perhaps as early as 2016.
Make no mistake, they will not sit about "for a generation" before holding another referendum. That is not their mentality. Anybody who thinks that they will not hold another referendum, does not understand them.
If re-elected in 2016 then another referendum will be on the cards again for sometime between 2016 and 2021. This time they will be in a stronger position to win because they will have shown that:
1. They can demand more powers and get them.
2. The similarities between a massively devolved Scotland and a separate one, by that stage may not appear too different.
3. Or, if they were promised "more powers" but didn't get them, then "unionists cannot be trusted to deliver more powers."
In other words, it is all lose-lose for unionists. Give the nationalists more powers and they will claim the credit and continue to be re-elected. Fail to deliver on your promises and it is the "lying unionists" who will be put on the chopping block.
It is remarkable that the Labour Party, especially, seem prepared to provide this "ready-made" platform for their main rival, Mr Salmond and his SNP, at the 2015 and 2016 elections.
4. Understand that Scottish Separatism Cannot Ever, and Will Never, be Appeased
Here is the absolute, fundamental truth which should govern all political relations with the separatists: Scottish nationalism is like a voracious tiger with a bottomless stomach. It can never be appeased. Feeding it more juicy morsels just makes it stronger and hungrier.
"More powers" will never appease the nationalists.
Independence itself will never appease the nationalists.
Here is how independence would actually make Scotland's relationship with England much worse.
Right now Scotland has a degree of control over which way the English elephant in the bed chooses to roll. Outside of the Union, we will still be lying in our Island Bed but this time Scotland will have no control over which way the elephant moves.
That will lead to all sorts of problems and will make the nationalists even angrier.
Every presumed slight, every presumed grievance, every snub, every disagreement, every contrary opinion, every rebuff, every frustration they meet, they will lay at the door of "England", "London", "Westminster", "English Tories", or "the Labour government of England". With every Holyrood policy that goes wrong, the people to blame will be found everywhere else but in Scotland. The south will always be the bogeyman. The south will always be the problem. The south will always be to blame.
Not only that, but as soon as Scotland becomes "independent", then the debate will start to shift to other ways to distance Scotland from "England", or to cast off vestiges of Britain in the public space. The Republic of Ireland took only 27 years to remove the Monarchy.
You could fire England to the moon, and they would still find a way to blame it for Scotland's woes. It is in their nature. Many unionist politicians do not even understand that basic fact about this particular ideology.
Blaming "Westminster" and "London" and "England" and sometimes "the English" is all part of the Scottish nationalist fundamental, philosophical world view. That will never change if the world is to last for another million years.
The best that can be hoped for is that, as we work to bring Britain closer together, the number of true believers decreases with time. In the meantime, we should do nothing to feed them, because the tiger of Scottish separatism cannot be appeased by feeding it. As we said at the start of this article, the difference between appeasement and surrender is…only a matter of time.
The only way to avoid being eaten by the tiger of separatism, is to beat it decisively at the ballot box, and create the political circumstances which keep it wandering lost in the middle of the jungle, rather than throwing it juicy morsels which keep it prowling around in the middle of our village.
WHAT IS TO BE DONE.
1. Understand that in a context where there is a significant national separatist movement, any devolutionary powers can, and often will, be captured by them and used against the UK.
2. Consequently the guidelines must be firstly, "Promote the Union in principle and in policy – in philosophy and in practice", and secondly, "Do no harm to the Union". Do absolutely nothing which will, or which may risk, empowering the separatists.
3. The general political approach should be to marginalise the separatists in the public and political space.
4. Free ourselves from the national separatist consciousness under which political debate in Scotland is held at present. Instead, adopt a UK Evolutionary frame – an Ever Closer Union mentality – which sees Britain and its people moving closer together with the passage of time; instead of a UK Devolutionary frame which sees Britain and its people increasingly fragmented, for the gain of the separatists alone.
5. This Ever Closer Union mentality requires us to:
a) Ask how we make things better for Britain at the same time as we make things better for Scotland – not how we make things better for Scotland with no regard for Britain.
b) Understand that for devolution to work within a union it must be "Union friendly", that is, it must be a two-way process, where powers can flow back as well as forth, where necessary. It does not have to be, and is not meant to be, and should not be, simply a one-way process of powers flowing from the centre outwards, never to return. "Union friendly" has regard to maintain the overall integrity of the Union and has regard for the constitutional position and concerns of all the partners in the Union.
c) Reject one-way devolution. It is what we have at the moment and it is "Union hostile". It is the only way of looking at devolution at the moment because the success and domination of the nationalists has imprinted that way of looking at things on everyone's minds. It is a short-term approach, conceived within a nationalist-addled frame of mind, and used as a way to appease separatists. It has no regard for its effect upon the overall integrity of the Union nor the constitutional position and concerns of all the partners in the Union.
6. Let us put much more emphasis on developing the social and cultural elements of Britishness which in the long-term will create a more united Britain. We made some suggestions in our speech on 18 June 2013: Ever Closer Union: Over 50 Suggestions to Promote the Social Union and the Cultural Value of the United Kingdom.
In this article, we did not examine the obvious impracticality of separate tax rates throughout the United Kingdom, or the likely financial inequality and social resentment which such policies would create.
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(1) Kate Devlin and Robbie Dinwoodie, "Celebrities lined up to lead fight against independence", The Herald, 6-1-14, p.1.
The poll was also commissioned to mark 25 years since Labour leader John Smith made his comment that devolution was "the settled will" of the Scottish people. Blair McDougall said, "This poll confirms that devolution for Scotland within the UK remains the settled will of the Scottish people." (Andrew Whitaker, "Poll shows strongest support is for third way – more devolution", The Scotsman, 6-1-14)
The fact is, as John Smith should have known, and anyone who quotes him should really know, that nothing in politics is "settled"...ever. To suggest otherwise, is absurd politically.
We should point out that we do not hold to the idea that there is any real, conscious, dynamic mobilised demand – outwith the chattering classes who get paid to take an interest in constitutional matters – for "more devolution".
As we said in a letter which was published in The Scotsman, 1-8-13, p.32: "Outside of policy wonks, the remunerated Scottish political sector, and those who report upon it, the 'more devolution' debate is simply not happening. The 'support' which is allegedly 'shown' in surveys indicates nothing more than that some people have an opinion if asked. That does not mean it is an informed or demanded or passionate opinion, or that it would not change if considered within a wider context."
In any case, it is the job of politicians to also lead opinion, not just follow it slavishly.
As we point out in the article above, a perfect opportunity to destroy organised political nationalism is being put at risk through a devolutionary obsession demanded only by those who work in the remunerated Scottish political sector, those who study it and those who report upon it.
(2) Eddie Barnes, "Game-changers to come for Yes camp", The Scotsman, 15-12-13: http://www.scotsman.com/news/eddie-barnes-game-changers-to-come-for-yes-camp-1-3233519
(3) Uncredited, "All eyes on September when future will be decided", The Scotsman, 3-1-14, pp.18-19 at 18.
(4) Leader, "Poll Warning to unionist MPs", Scotland on Sunday, 15-9-13, p.18.
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