Why does the United Kingdom have to be destroyed?
Or, to put it another way: Why, Yes voter, are you voting to destroy the United Kingdom?
Or, put it this way: Why are you trying to destroy this political Union, which, despite its imperfections and room for change, has served the people of these islands well for over 300 years and continues to do so?
Whichever way you put it, it’s the biggest of the questions the Yes campaign fails to answer. Salmond and his fellow travellers duck and dive on the currency, oil, the EU, the monarchy and everything else, but they never say why they want to destroy the United Kingdom. Scots created it. The Jacobites wanted to take it over without destroying it. It is 307 years old, but would be 410, if James VI and I had had his way; but on 18 September it could be killed by Yes voters, if they win.
I want to know why. I am a proud Scot and proud Briton, but as a Scot living outside Scotland, I am disenfranchised through Salmond’s manipulation of the franchise to better his chances of winning and by Westminster’s craven surrender. As a Scot born and currently living outside Scotland, I would be denied automatic citizenship of the SNP and fellow travellers’ new Scotland, according to the notorious (because its production has compromised the Civil Service’s neutrality) 650-page White Paper. Also, being half Welsh and born and brought up in England and with Irish cousins, I am a product of the Union as well as being a citizen of it; and, I want to know why Yes voters are determined to destroy it.
We are told how rich and great the new Scotland will be. It will be a utopia for every taste: business friendly and neo-liberal, for business supporters of a Yes vote; a social democratic land of equality free of poverty, if you are on the centre left; a green Elysium, carbon-free and absolved from any effects of climate change, if you are a green; a chance to rule and change the doorplate from “First” to “Prime” and then maybe…, if you are one of the first minister’s acolytes; and so on. Whatever your utopia, a Yes vote will deliver it. All inconvenient facts will change to become convenient facts.
But, if that is what you believe, it will not happen on the declaration of a Yes victory. It will be at least two years later, in 2016 or later, on independence day that you can start to expect utopia.
Yet, the moment a Yes victory is declared the unity of the United Kingdom will be destroyed. There will be no period of grace for negotiations to get used to the idea and perhaps change your mind. It will happen then, at that moment of declaration.
So Yes voters, however noble or liberal, or constructive, or idealistic your intentions, the moment you cast your “X”, you need to know why you are destroying this Union and be able to live with the consequences. This Union has given us peace instead of war, freedom in place of oppression, faster improvements in living standards than in many countries, families and friends in all four nations of the Union. Why do you want to destroy all this?
We hear that it is because Scotland has to endure Conservative governments it does not vote for. That is true of everywhere in the United Kingdom except London, the south of England and the Midlands. Wales has never voted for a Conservative government. The North of England last did it in 1924. Scotland last did it in 1955, when over half the seats went Conservative. Northern Ireland last did it in 1970. As a Liberal Democrat, I have never had a government of my own party. That’s democracy. We vote, celebrate or live with the result and try again next time. If the United Kingdom is destroyed on 18 September, there will be no next time to try again.
We hear from the Yes campaign that no one can or should run Scotland but the Scots. I hope the Yes campaign is including incomers. Does the Yes campaign not know that since 1885, more and more decisions about Scotland have been made by Scots and for the shared decisions that affect all of the United Kingdom, the prime minister has more likely been a Scot, a Scots MP or of Scots descent? It’s the Northern Irish and the Welsh who lose out. Indeed, Scotland has more power than any other part of the United Kingdom. No part of England, nor England as a whole, has as much power as Scotland. Legislative devolution for England has never been tried. England is run by the Union government. In other parts of the world that would mean the territory was not ready to run itself.
We hear, usually from the first minister, that it is time for Scotland to take its place in the world. That shows either his ignorance or his contempt for the Scots people. Scotland has always occupied its place in the world. Scots have always held their heads up high. Scotland led much of the British Empire and was the imperial power as a founder of the United Kingdom that gave independence from the Empire. Scotland is not in the position of a colony, protectorate or dependency. With Scots as prime ministers, foreign secretaries, chancellors of the exchequer and in other senior positions in the United Kingdom, Scotland has often led the Union in taking its place in the world. Yet, the Yes campaign wants to destroy this United Kingdom.
We hear about the bedroom tax, English tuition fees, the English NHS and other policies considered objectionable by the nationalists that mostly don’t apply to Scotland. The general election next year is the chance to change policies. Why then destroy the United Kingdom?
I struggle to think of another state that has been destroyed by one of its larger members in such circumstances. It is impossible to think of one that has destroyed itself for no reason.
If there is a reason, tell us what it is, so that we can answer.
Whatever the reasons, Yes voters, be sure you know what your reason is and can live with destroying the United Kingdom, because if you win there will be no turning back.