The Emotional Case for the Union

15 January 2014

15 January 2014

For a long time now, the case for the United Kingdom has been made in a tiresomely negative sense. That is, Unionists have spent more time pointing out the practical and procedural difficulties that are an unavoidable consequence of Scottish independence. This is fine as far as it goes. The problem is that, however justified these concerns may be, it does not go very far.

After all, practical difficulties are the things politicians are elected to solve. Or at least ameliorate. The case for the Union needs to be about something bigger and better than that. Unionists don’t simply need a plan, they need a story.

So it was braw to read Chris Deerin making what he termed the moral case for the Union in the pages of the Scottish Daily Mail last week. The Guardian were sufficiently interested by his argument to publish an edited version of it themselves.

The essence of Mr Deerin’s argument (I suppose I should say that he’s a pal of auld acquaintance) is simple: Britain is a great country and we should remember and pay attention to that more often than we do. Why would anyone wish to leave a great and successful country?

This was less a moral argument for the Union than an emotional case for maintaining the ties that bind. And it was none the worse for that. There is something thin-blooded about an argument for independence that rests, at least in part, on the cartoon-villainy of George Osborne and the hated so-called bedroom tax. As unpalatable as these things may be (you mileage may vary) they are temporary inconveniences. These things too shall pass.

Independence is forever, not just for this parliament. Hence too the audacious attempt to convince Scots that there is no difference between the Labour and Conservative parties. Ed Miliband? A Tory in all but name, don’t you know?

That’s not the only piece of nationalist sophistry we must endure hearing repeated time and time again. There is the notion that Scotland will remain British even after independence because, gosh, British is simply a geographical description. Alex Salmond, who should know better, and plenty of nationalist bloggers (who don’t) endlessly repeat this as though it were something other than a primary school level debating point.

But by that rational the citizens of the Irish Republic are also British since they inhabit part of the British isles. In my experience this label is one the Irish reject even though, for sure, they are plainly a part of a shared historical, cultural and political entity that reaches east-west as well as north-south.

Deerin’s article was, as you would expect, sneered at and mocked by many of the usual suspects. Lacking any sense of Britishness themselves, there is a breed of Scottish nationalist who finds it impossible to imagine why anyone else might think differently. That’s their prerogative. It’s a prerogative that makes it harder for them to persuade their countrymen to endorse an independent future, however.

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Be that as it may, one of the curious features of this referendum campaign is the manner in which those campaigning for independence insist they reject so-called identity politics while those keenest on preserving the Union are equally reticent to wrap themselves in a flag.

Nicola Sturgeon, for example, argues:

 “I don’t think the independence referendum is really about identity. This is a decision about where power best lies. I don’t think we should or require to attack the British identity – it is absolutely compatible for someone to feel a sense of British identity but still support Scottish independence.”

This is all very post-modern. Or post-something anyway. A nation state isn’t a matter of identity or shared experience, merely a technocratic demarcation of power. (In which case: independence for the Borderlands please. Berwick irridenta and all that.)

This is hooey. Or, actually, Tartan Cute Hoorism. It is the idea that independence answers all problems at no cost whatsoever. You can be British and still think the British state as we know it should be consigned to the scrapheap and this won’t change the way you think about yourself or your country at all.

It’s a good line but it’s not one, I think, many nationalists really believe. Not in the deepest recesses of their hearts, not really. But it also reveals, perhaps unwittingly, the power of, yes, Britishness.

If Britishness – and indeed the British state – were so hopelessly sclerotic or stale or otherwise useless there’d be no need to pay it this kind of oblique tribute. When Alex Salmond talks about the social union that would survive intact long after independence he acknowledges that Britain and Britishness are ideas or concepts or facts or layers of identity with which many Scots are not only comfortable but actually, if quietly, proud. They are not ashamed to be Britons.

In other words, Britishness is worth something and, even according to the nationalists, some form of Britishness is something worth preserving. You never, I think, heard Eamon de Valera talk like this.

Granted, Scotland and Ireland are, though alike, also different. But that’s the point too. There is no Caledonian grievance to which the only acceptable solution is independence. Even the SNP don’t – at least not in the leadership’s public pronouncements – reject Britain. On the contrary, they insist it will survive and not just as a geographical entity.

On the one hand this reduces the “risk” of independence (we’ll all still be chums and we’ll never be truly foreign to one another); on the other it also reveals a certain emptiness at the heart of the SNP’s technocratic vision of independence. Is this what it is all for or really about? Is that it?

You don’t have to choose – unless you want to – between being Scottish and British. Not at the moment anyway. The SNP leadership would have you believe you won’t need to choose between being Scottish and British after independence either. Because, they insist, this isn’t an argument about identity at all.

But if a nation state is not about an identity or an idea or a shared sense of belonging then what is it? Perhaps an independent Scotland would be a new kind of state. A virtual state of some kind, shorn of identity or shared values?

Of course that’s not what the SNP really think at all. If it was they would spend less time banging on about Scottish values and complaining that said values are being assaulted by the Westminster government. So we are different after all. Except when we are not. Because we will still be British and you need never feel that your attachment to Britishness is threatened by leaving the Union because the Union, in its essentials, will remain. Everything will change but nothing will change.

Somewhere this must make sense but it doesn’t make sense here. If you leave a state you don’t remain a part of that state. There may be ample reason to set sail on HMS Independence but you can’t set sail and remain in port.

Of course the referendum is about identity. If it weren’t we wouldn’t be having the damn thing.



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Show comments
  • Western Approaches

    I was under the impression that many Scots want independence because they have been badly governed by London, and therefore want to govern themselves.

    I see no reference to this argument in this article.

  • Dusty01

    Chris Deerin says in HIS article….
    “The yes campaign is struggling to convert the greater mass of Scots into kilted bum-barers who bellow “freedom” whenever an English person hoves into view.”

    I suppose that means that the ‘NO’ camp must be filling their ranks with, QC drinking, skin headed, football hooligan British Nationals that hate anyone with brown skin?

    To assume all ‘YES’ voters are nationalist is nothing less than arrogant nonsense but, Arrogance is the British way, isn’t it?

  • HJ777

    Alex, what you fail to realise is that in the world that the SNP and the ScotsNats fanatics who infest this blog (despite never otherwise contributing) like to present to the voters, separating from the UK will be all upside and absolutely no downside.

    If you point out any downsides, you are simply “scaremongering” and therefore any points you make will not be worthy of being acknowledged as issues.

    Everything anyone may not like at present obviously all derives from the union and therefore everything will be better outside it. Everyone in Scotland will get precisely what they want out of the union. Taxes will be cut but public spending increased on whatever your preference is (and in general, of course, so that everyone will be happy). It will be Shangri-la. Even the weather will improve.

    • FrankieThompson

      I suggest you calm yourself down. Have you ever tried whisky/ I would suggest a nice Johnnie Walker Black Label.

      • HJ777

        I see the truth hit home.

        • FrankieThompson

          Are you suggesting that the Scots are not fit and able to govern themselves properly?

  • FrankieThompson

    Very interesting stuff Alex, but this examination of “Britishness” is about 70 years too late. There are things which are clearly British. The British Army for instance. But is the Royal Navy seen quite as “British”. Brittania may have ruled the waves but the “British Navy” ? Doesn’t sit so easily. For years and years, “England” was used to mean “Britain”. No-one talks about the Queen of Britain but Queen of England rolls out easily enough. Scotland was always an adjunct, connected , sure, but not integrated. The law, the Church, the education system, the football, the literature, the comedy, the music,the political culture, all different, all conspicuously Scottish.
    This in and out reality, created a distance from the concept of “Britain”, other than when a certain institution,, which was never called anything but British, was in its pomp. The Empire.

    But, Alex, the Empire is gone, no more. And the need for “Britain”,as a concept, has been diminished , practically, to wishful thinking bathed in nostalgia. But as they say, just like “Britain” , nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

  • NM

    Totally agree with this. The key point is a certain strand of nationalist’s inability to conceive of someone being quite comfortable in the union. They dress up their hatred and try and hide it, but every so often the mask slips – like a comment I read the other day calling someone who was comfortably British a “quisling”. They really have no idea how off-putting that sort of vile language is to the average person.

    • allymax bruce

      Like Deerin, you ‘comfort’ the ‘moral’ aspect of ‘Britishness’; I’m waiting for you to explain how moral it is to lie to go to war? How moral it is to give all our tax-payers money to their super-rich banksters pals? How moral it is to crash the economy, putting every man woman & child into public debt for the next 25 years, but give themselves an 11% pay rise? We could go back into the history of ‘Britishness’ if you want? Pick any particular time in the history of the ‘British Empire’, and I’ll prove to you ‘Britian’ was absolutely immoral!
      ‘off-putting’; how ‘British’!

  • allymax bruce

    What another load of crap; from another Westminster lackie journo. All those mini-paragraghs, blabbing-on about ‘Britishness’; I would weep if I didn’t laugh. Seriously, Alex, this is more of the same innane rubbish, that does absolutely nothing for the debate on Scottish Independence. I mean, if Scots liked ‘being British’ so much, then we wouldn’t be having the Independence Referendum. How, why, wtf, if anything, has ‘Britishness’ got anything to do with AScots wanting to become our Independent nation again? This article reminds of the rubbish Magnus Linklater wrote some
    years ago in the Scotch Review; saying (paraphrased), ‘if independent, Scotland would be ruled by Labour forevermore’. Absolute rubbish! Is the imbecile Linklater where yoos old-cringe journos get yer ideas from, Alex? Anybody that has voted SNP, will continue to vote SNP.

  • Alasdair Stirling

    Chris Deerin’s view of Scotland, Scottish Nationalism and Scottish/British identity is not one widely shared in Scotland. Granted, there are a small constituency for whom it will resonate (specifically the well-to-do over 60 and those active in Unionist related religion and politics) but beyond that small community there is little enthusiasm for Britain as a nation state.

  • mightymark

    Good article Alex, and the attitude you characterise as:

    “we’ll all still be chums and we’ll never be truly foreign to one another”

    is obvious nonsense in the week the UK Government had to agree to accept Scottish debt against the risk of default following independence.

  • disqus_9I6C4azbIA

    Why are the English so frantic about Scotland leaving the union. Is it possible the English need us more than we need you. If this is so, you must be exploiting us, but why?

  • Daniel Maris

    Massie displaying some serious politicogeographical deficiencies there.

    British relates to Britain.

    To refer to the islands of Great Britain and Ireland as “the British Isles” does not make an inhabitant of Ireland “British”. Besides, I think most of us know that the Republic of Ireland completely rejects the nomenclature of the “British” Isles. Some have tried to introduce alternatives (Western Islands or Atlantic Islands) without much success.

    But constitutionally it is pretty clear that Britain = Wales and England, Great Britain = Wales, England and Scotland and British Isles – Great Britain and Ireland.

    • allymax bruce

      The whole article from Alex is ‘imbecilic’; he asks if there’s an ’emotional’ aspect to argue ‘for’ the union, but he uses Deerin’s article as a premise, of which, Deerin poses his premise on how ‘British’ it is to be un-objurate, non-irascible when Westminster politicians, (Cameron Bliar), ‘large-up’ ‘Britain’. However, Alex, inconveniently takes Deerin’s premise to argue Scots & Scotland must also not be objurate & irascible, but accept the union as ‘British’ in all its failings! If Alex has not noticed, I certainly have; Westminster, and all its ‘Britishness’, has no time, respect, thought, nor credence for Scots & Scotland. All we, Scots & scotland, are to ‘Britian’ is a convenient ‘resource’; and an inconsiderate by-product. Alex Massie really screwed up this article; he does it all the time though; trying to manufacture affection between, and in, the journo industry. He tries to sweet-talk other journos across the Westminster ‘provide’. But we all know where he ‘learnt’ this sooky trick! God knows Scotland needs a new tranche of jreal journalists, tv news stations, and newspaper/E-Print media; I’m sick to death of all this anti-Scottish, anti-SNP, pro-Labour propaganda! If magnus really thinks our indpendent scotland will be ‘forevermore ruled by Scotch Labour’, then he’s woefully deluding himself. Already, a ‘corporate industry’ has attached itself to Scotch Labour, in the vested interest of Scotch Labour slicing up Scottish business, resources, and power, and selling it off to their ‘corporate pals’! Not on yer nelly Scotch Labour, Magnus!

  • Chris Jones

    If by some miracle ‘British identity’ was ever an inclusive truly equal
    alliance, then the indigenous language of Britain being promoted in
    England, Scotland and Wales should be Welsh/Brythonic or at the very
    least it should have equal status to English and be taught as a second language in
    all these countries together with Scots, Gaelic, Manx and Cornish.

    But it was never an equal inclusive alliance – it was and is the city of
    London and its idiotic puppet politicians doing the bidding as long as
    their interests are served above all else, promoting diversity and
    justice whilst destroying it at the same time. Nothing has changed.
    Trying to be nice and understanding now looks utterly insincere and
    hollow. None of the people of these countries can be blamed but rather the fruitcake elite

  • Raw England

    Referring to the SNP as nationalists seems really odd.

    Their policies, ideologies and entire demeanour are the polar OPPOSITE of all other actual nationalists.

    The gormless SNP WANT BLACK/MUSLIM IMMIGRATION, they WANT to join the EU and, most tellingly of all, they attacked the Liberal Nigel Farage on the street because they see him and UKIP as racist/nazi.

    For the record: I, like most English, would prefer Scotland to have full Independence. We English no longer share any similarities with the Scottish, and we both want VERY different things.

    • Bonkim

      Rubbish and bigoted.

  • scotcanadien

    “So it was braw to read Chris Deerin making what he termed the moral case for the Union in the pages of the Scottish Daily Mail last week.”

    It might have been braw for a forelock toucher like you Mr Massie, but it was a whole lot of drooling rubbish for the rest of us. It was an abominable article full of bullshit about how much ‘we’ in the UK should and do love each other. Aye right. Without having looked at the comments I am sure I will find when I do our usual illiterate knuckle draggers from England making nasty anti-Scottish remarks from the outset.

    • terregles2

      It has always struck me as odd that the people who heap the most abuse on Scottish people sneering at us and calling us Jocks etc are the ones most vehemently opposed to Scottish independence.

      • scotcanadien

        Very odd right enough? You would think that as they hate Scots so much they would want to be rid of them. Do you think there some hidden reason which they are not revealing? like another McCrone type Report perhaps.

        • terregles2

          Mmmm….very puzzling. It’s hard to know what to make of it especially as Mr Cameron refuses to discuss the issue with Mr Salmond. Mr Cameron seems to feel that discussions on Scottish independence are best discussed with Mr Putin.
          Perhaps Mr Cameron was looking for tips on how to thwart democracy.

          • HJ777

            You were the one shouting that English people shouldn’t comment on a Scottish decision and then here you are complaining that Cameron won’t debate with Salmond.

            Are you simply a hypocrite or just very confused and suffering from memory loss?

          • scotcanadien

            Not only with Mr Putin but with a certain Senor Rajoy from Spain who is most definitely against democracy and the will of the people, and with every other anti-democratic Tomas, Ricardo and Henri he can find. Could he be afraid of Mr Salmond?

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            Hypocrite. You are forever berating English people for daring to have a contrary opinion of Scottish independence and brand all mention of the disadvantages of independence such as rising debt costs, confusion in respect of monetary policy etc etc as scaremongering. You see advantage to your cause in Salmond debating Scottosh independence with an Englishman and brand him a coward for not doing so. You are a sanctimonious hypocrite whose comments soil this debate. Oh I forgot, I am not entitled to an opinion.

      • HJ777

        They’re sneering at you, not at Scots.

    • HJ777

      “for the rest of us…”

      Who elected you to speak for anyone else?

  • justejudexultionis

    It was not Scotland that led us into that disgraceful imperialist adventure in Iraq but BRITISH NATIONALIST IMPERIALISM. An independent Scotland would no longer have to send its citizens to fight (and die) in these vile incursions.

  • HJ777

    Alex Massie is completely correct, but unfortunately this board is infested by fanatical and unrepresentative ScotsNats who otherwise never contribute to Spectator blogs.

    • justejudexultionis

      Do you dismiss anybody with whom you disagree as ‘fanatical’? Do you have any rational arguments to offer, or just pointless ad hominem invective?

      • HJ777

        No I don’t, but clearly you do.

        And yes, I have presented plenty of perfectly rational arguments, unlike your ad hominem attack on me.


      • terregles2

        He not only disdmisses anbody with a different opinion he sometimes resorts to calling them quite nasty names.
        Best ignored.

        • HJ777

          You are a total hypocrite considering the invective you have indulged in in the past.

          You don’t do rational arguments, just false assertions and ad hominem attacks.

        • Kennybhoy

          Breathtaking hypocrisy.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          Go to a dictionary now and look up hypocrisy. You will see a large photograph of yourself.

      • Jambo25

        Yes, he does and no, he doesn’t.

        • HJ777

          I cut you to pieces over the currency issue. I admit it was easy because you were contradicting yourself in a spectacular display of doublethink.

          Clearly you have a selectively short memory.

        • Kennybhoy

          For shame Jambo.

          • Jambo25

            Sorry Kennybhoy but justjudexultionis doe have a point. HJ777 slips into name calling at the least opportunity and, at times, is only too ready to adopt ad hominems rather than rational argument. Truth may hurt.

      • Kennybhoy

        Where do you hail from Maister J?

  • gorgonblast

    If voters in May choose a path most likely to remove Britain from control of the EU I am sure it will focus minds in Scotland more sharply on the independence question. As Britain, with some inevitability, breaks with the EU in the next few years it will once again be (in a limited way) master of its own destiny. Does Scotland want to be part of that? Or does it want to become part of the (UK cash depleted) EU? Certainly there is a problem for Scots as the UK stands today, even with their own Parliament. How is the England/Tory Scotland/Labor divide (to put is crudely) ever going to be resolved? Arguably the political landscape may evolve into a more dynamic phase once we are out of the EU and the clueless Cons/Lab/Ldems either evolve or die. Certainly once the EU political dimension is removed the parties might actually focus on what matters to Britain, and start thinking strategy for the whole country. “Britain First” so to speak. But minus Scotland it rings hollow. There is more than just Scotland’s independence at stake. The issue is far greater than the EU in/out one.
    In truth the question should be: “Should Britain be abolished?”

    • scotcanadien

      If England (hopefully the rUK) is out of the EU it will not be heading for banana status, but will actually be there.

      • HJ777

        It’s not a surprise to see that anti-English attitudes motivate your behaviour.

  • MichtyMe

    Remember that the peoples of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand were also once British. Perhaps there should be a Bigger Better Together campaign now that they are feeling foolish and disillusioned after being mislead by separatists.

    • John Dimon

      Don’t forget that Britain was once Roman. Maybe the Brits should rejoin with Italy?

      • John Dimon

        IN all honesty I can understand why Scotland would want to leave a failed state. Just as I would understand Britain not rejoining the even bigger failed state of Italy.

        The whole point of independence is the ability to make decisions for yourself instead of hoping your minder has your best interest at heart.

        • terregles2

          The idea that the Cameron government cares about the welfare of Scottish people is beyond laughable.

          • Nicholas chuzzlewit

            And yet you want this person who doesn’t care about Scotland to join a debate with Salmond on the subject of…Scotland. Very odd, or is it because you are a monumental hypocrite?

      • MichtyMe

        The servile italian province of Britannia was south of the wall John, north were the free Caledonians.

        • Kennybhoy

          Which wall?

          • John Dimon

            I believe that would Hadrian’s wall.

      • scotcanadien

        You’ve got that wrong. The Brits should never have allowed the Anglo Saxon immigrants in.

        • HJ777

          The mask has slipped – your racism is showing.

  • terregles2

    I cannot speak for any other Scottish person but for myself the reasons I want an independent Scotland has got nothing to do with my being, or feeling Scottish. If every Scottish person were removed from Scotland tomorrow and the country was filled with English people I would still vote for independence. I don’t think nationality matters at all and I have friends and family in England and beyond.
    It is because my nationality does not matter to me that I hate all the British flag waving nonsense.
    I want Scotland to be independent because I think the Westminster government is quite dreadful and has been for many decades. I don’t like having the House of Lords or Trident or HS2 or having troops in Afghanistan etc. I don’t like the way Westminster did not set up an oil fund in the 1980’s as Norway did. i don’t like the way the national debt is continuing to rise. I don’t like what is happening to the NHS in England. I don’t like the idea that Scotland might be taken out of the EU if England votes to leave.The only way I can change any of that is by having government from Holyrood.
    It is good to feel proud of the country you live in and hope to make it a better place but British jingoism. No thanks.

    • HJ777

      An oil fund in an independent Scotland would require huge cuts in public expenditure – but the SNP is against ‘austerity”. It can’t have it both ways.

      As usual, the SNP promises all upsides at no cost whatsoever, as do you.

      As you well know, during the last Labour government, we had a Scottish chancellor and a Scottish prime minister. The Labour party also attracted more votes and had more MPs in Scotland than any other party – you would have had the same people in charge in an independent Scotland. Claiming that a Scottish government would inevitably be so much better and that it would give you all you want is simply childish.

      If your nationality does not matter to you then I’m sure that no-one will miss you if you go somewhere else and gain some other nationality. You pretend to be all nice and cuddly and to like the English but every now and again the very unpleasant anti-English nature of your character comes to the fore. If anyone doubts this they should look back at your previous posts.

    • justejudexultionis

      So true. British Nationalists are precisely that – nationalists, pure and simple. To pretend otherwise is sophistry.

      • terregles2

        The latest excuse to wave the union flag pretending it is to commemorate the fallen in WW1 is particulary distasteful. The Lord Kitchener coin beggars belief.
        if they had any regard for the victims of WW1 they would commemorate the end of this dreadful war not the beginning.

        • HJ777

          Both are being commemorated and there is no difference between England and Scotland in this respect, despite you trying to create divisions where none exist.

          You might not like the fact, but Scots fought in defence of the United Kingdom they believed in. They would have looked at you with the contempt you so richly deserve.

          But then, they were people of substance and principal – something you will never understand.

          • terregles2

            I never reply to your personal attacks but when you speak of my ancestors and what my attitude to them is you really cross the boundaries of decency.
            My great grandparents lost rwo sons who were serving in the 10th Battalion Cameronians ( Scottish Rifles). My husband’s family also suffered losses in that hellish war.
            Please do not ever tell me what my attitude is to those who died in WW1.
            If I find a commemoration of the beginning of that war and not the end of it distasteful then I have every right to express that opinion. I believe that my ancestors gave their lives to earn me that right.

            • HJ777

              No – you just indulge in personal attacks.

              I never said anything about your attitude to those who died in WW1. I told you that they were fighting for what you oppose.

              It was you who were trying to make cheap a political point out of the commemoration – have you no shame? Clearly not.

              So you can put your faux outrage where the sun doesn’t shine.


              • terregles2

                You stated quite clearly that Scots who fought in defence of the UK would have looked at me with the contempt that I so richly deserve,
                You also stated that they were people of substance and principal -something that I will never understand.
                it is incredible that you know that my ancestors would have looked at me with the contempt I so richly deserve and that I would never understand people of sunstance and principal.
                I don’t know how many ancestors that you lost in that war but I would never be arrogant enough to tell you what they would think of you today.
                if it was not you who posted that bizarre statement you should try and be careful who gets access to your computer.

        • Kennybhoy

          Ye god but you are a wretched wee man…

    • sfin

      As a natural unionist (I have Welsh, Irish, Scottish and English grandparents). That was the most compelling argument for Scottish independence I have yet heard. Well done.

      • HJ777

        It is also utterly fraudulent, as you will see if you read the history of her comments.

        I mam Anglo-Welsh-Scots and I abhor her and her attempts to create division where none exist.

        • sfin

          I didn’t say I agreed with her – I just thought she argued her case particularly well in this post (the failure of Westminster government struck a particular chord). It made a refreshing change from a lot of the hubristic english bashing you normally read in this debate.

          • terregles2

            Don’t feel that you have agreed with anyone who has ever expressed any anti English people opinion. I have constantly criticised Westminster government and will continue to do so. I never have and never would denigrate English people I have too many English friends and family to ever do so.
            There are a few people who constantly abuse me and accuse me of being anti English hypocritical etc irrespective of what I post. I just laugh at their wild accusations and ignore it.

            • sfin

              We are on opposite sides of most political debates – but I do applaud contributions which differ from the publication consensus – and bravo to the Spectator for allowing them! (the Guardian are very selective on which ‘enemy’ posts it publishes on line).
              Just a tip from an adversary, if I may…
              The best riposte to ‘heated comments’ (abuse?) is reasoned argument. Argue your case, like you did in this post, your credibility will rise – and you may even change some minds!
              Good luck.

              • terregles2

                Quite agree every exchange of different opinions and ideas can only be a good thing. I agree it is to the credit of the Spectator that they do not censor. I do welcome debating and a heated debate does not bother me at all. Unfortunately if people refuse to debate but abuse instead the debate can never go anywhere.
                One small example. I expressed the opinion that I thought Westminster should have have set up an oil fund in the 1980s when oil production was booming. Norway did so and the country is benefitting now.
                The reponse I got from that comment was a tirade of abuse against the SNP and calling me anti English and a hypocrite. Accusing me of hating English people.
                I got another tirade telling me why SNP could not now have an oil fund.
                I was commenting on what I think Westminster should have done in the 1980’s for the good of all the UK. There was no reasoned response to that only abuse.
                Don’t get me wrong these people do not bother me I simply ignore all personal abuse.
                I will continue to enjoy debate and reasoned argument but personal abuse I will always ignore.
                I know that I have never abused any nation never mind the English so that is all that matters to me.
                Criticise Westminster yes English people never.

                • Nicholas chuzzlewit

                  Yes but you regard a contrary opinion to your own to be personal abuse.

      • terregles2

        I am Scots Irish Swedish and my husband is Scots English Irish. I have English cousins and friends and have only goodwill towards everyone in the UK. We are all Jock Tamson’s bairns. I hope that Scotland will have independence but that will not affect good relations between each nation.

        • Nicholas chuzzlewit

          Unbelievable. Just wait until the bond market decides on the relative creditworthiness of the separate entities. One will enjoy a higher credit rating than the other making debt more expensive for one and cheaper for the other. Just watch the resentment that builds up following that little horror story. But then you don’t do practical detail because it is so distasteful.

    • William Haworth

      That’s a good argument for your personal emigration (perhaps to Norway?), rather than one for destroying a great country whose peoples are inextricably bound together by 300 years of intermarriage and history.

      • terregles2

        Well you may view Scottish independence as a negative destructive move but many people who are voting YES view it as a positive chance to build a better future for Scotland.
        Of course we are all intermarried just as we are with the Irish Welsh etc.. Ireland is independent and I feel just as much at home in Dublin as i do in London. Having different governments does not affect close friendhips and family ties between separate countries..
        You suggest that I move to Norway simply because you do not agree with my political aspirations. That is hardly much of an argument for staying with Westminster governent.
        I will vote YES in September because I think it is in the best interests of Scotland that is my democratic right. If you are unhappy with democracy in the UK then you like me have the choice to go and live in another country.

  • john

    This article is gibberish and virtually unreadable.
    Good luck to the Scots off on their own. It is high time that some major rethink occurs in regard to British Constitutional practices and the Scots leaving will be a massive shake up for the Tory/Speccie elites down in London and at Buck House. The UK needs to be broken up (as does the phony Commonwealth) and a real Constitution put in place.

    • terregles2

      I quite agree John. I think and hope that Scottish independence will be good for England and my English friends as well. Westminster government really just will not do. It is no longer fit for purpose.

      • HJ777

        You are no longer fit for purpose, if you ever were, with your unfounded assertions and accusations.

        • disqus_9I6C4azbIA

          Why are you English so frantic about us Scots staying in the union that you stoop to a personal attack for as far as I can see no good reason. Your claim to superiority on this matter reinforces the need for us Scots to opt out.

          • terregles2

            The attacks are becoming more hysterical every day. I have never posted anything against any English person only against Westminster government and yet still I have been called a liar hypocrite and worse. I just laugh at them now and don’t respond to the abuse. I think they hope to bully other opinions into silence.
            I am just happy to vote YES in September along with my English friends who live here in Scotland.

            • HJ777

              More lying and hypocrisy, I see.

              You deliberately attack the institutions (not just the government) which reside in England as ‘discredited.’ You attack English things rather than individuals.

              You attack English people for commenting on Scottish issues even though they affect the unions of which Scotland and England are part. You then tell England what will be good for it and criticise Cameron for not debating with Salmond. Pure hypocrisy.

              As for personal abuse – you are experienced at dishing that out? Is your memory really so selective?

            • disqus_9I6C4azbIA

              Thank you for your response. I get abusive responses when all I have asked, why are the English so frantic for us to stay in the union. The abusers some who claim to be Scots never give an answer to my question.

              • terregles2

                The abuse is so muddled and confused. I am now accused of attacking English ” things ” that reside in England. Don’t really know or care what point is being made there. It is a bit confusing as I thought we were all equal partners in the same British state sharing Westminster government and the British ” things “. Seems now that these things are not British but English and no Scot who pays taxes to support them must dare offer an opinion on how they perform.

          • HJ777

            What do you mean by ‘you English’? I am as Scottish as I am English.

            You do not speak for Scots.

            • disqus_9I6C4azbIA

              Your arrogant response that someone was not fit for purpose whilst you claim you are, suggests that you do not easily relate to anyone whether English or Welsh.

              • HJ777

                Well, you’d be wrong, wouldn’t you?

                This Terregles2 woman goes around claiming that she is not anti-English whilst continually denouncing any institution based in England as various “not fit for purpose”, “discredited” etc..

                It is abusive and covertly racist.

  • MichtyMe

    “Britain is a great country” Well, at this place, not many think that, especially our friends in the south, ferociously vocal in the gone to the dogs thing. Imagine, if Scotland, was today independent, would there be a movement campaigning for union.

  • Theuniondivvie

    ‘The essence of Mr Deerin’s argument (I suppose I should say that he’s a pal of auld acquaintance) is simple’

    Well, knock me down with a capercaillie feather. Even I’m slightly surprised by the predictability of which of Scotland’s commentariat would fall in line to praise Deerin’s drivel.

    I wonder why Massie still occasionally dons the ‘undecided’ fig leaf? When the glorious announcement finally appears it’ll have all the revelatory power of a communique on bears’ defecatory environments.

  • WalterSEllis

    Time you got up there and went on the stump. Blogs in the Speccie aren’t going to cut it with Scottish voters. And get your dad on the case while you’re at it. Time is short.

  • ChuckieStane

    Alex, the problem is very few in the UK seem to any longer cherish Britishness. The schizophrenic nature of national identity within the UK’s borders has become much more pronounced as the Empire passes into distant memory and European relationships become more important. The symbols and terminology are all mixed up preventing them being unifying in any way. Team GB was celebrated yet did not officially include Northern Ireland. Many in England talk of reclaiming their flag and identity and why not?
    Yet, I have become convinced of Indy for political reasons. I want each and every decision made in Scotland for the benefit of Scotland and her citizens. I want Scotland to have her own voice among the nations of the world. It is not about Salmond or the SNP – I have no connection to any political party. I lived in London for many years and lived in Belfast for many years. I love both places and the people within. I have also worked in over twenty countries and liked many of them. Independence is natural. The things that held the UK together no longer have the same pull, it is time to move on.
    Of course it is about identity but the Better Together’s Fear campaign has been a relentless demand for answers to mundane question which have resulted in a series of mundane answers. I welcome your call for identity to be brought into the debate. For me the political arguement for independence is powerful but when emotion and identity is brought in to the mix, a fusty memory of a faded union is bound to lose over the hope of a new beginning.

  • dougthedug

    “Of course the referendum is about identity. If it weren’t we wouldn’t be having the damn thing.”

    I entirely agree with that line Alex as although Wales has an independence movement no part of England has ever thought of striking off on their own. A Scottish identity not a British one is the one thing that has enabled the move towards an independent Scotland.

    However part of the problem with the lack of identity politics in the referendum campaign has been caused by the Unionist side who accuse the nationalist side of anti-English racism at every available opportunity. It’s a lot safer to leave Scottish identity as the unstated 9/10ths of the independence iceberg below the surface than to allow the press to manufacture a racist straw man for their unionist campaign.

    • Alexsandr

      racist? last time I looked indigenous Scottish people were the same northern European race as the indigenous English.
      I think you confuse xenophobia with racism….

    • Tom M

      “….anti-English racism” : tautology.

      • dougthedug


        Please tell me which words of that three word phrase are redundant.

        • flaxdoctor

          Since when were we different ‘races’?

          • dougthedug

            I’ve no idea. Take it up with Better Together, their supporters and the press who keep banging on about anti-english racism in Scotland.

            • HJ777

              What about the ScotNats who definitely aren’t going to do anything that could conceivably put off the anti-English vote from voting ‘yes’?

              Of course, there will be no overtly anti-English public utterances from them, but they will be covertly rude about anything derived from or based in England. For example ‘terregles2’ on here who regularly describes the Westminster parliament that Nelson Mandela described as the greatest and most democratic in the world and which will still preside over most of the inhabitants of the UK even were she to get her separatist way, as “discredited” (she never says why) while she still maintains that she is pro-English and admires England (but not its most respected institution, obviously).

              The game that is being played is transparently dishonest.

          • terregles2

            Of course you are right we cannot be racist towards each other we are both the same race but different nations. The racism card is constantly used by the better together campaign in Scotland. Of course YES voters are in no way anti English many YES campaigners in Scotland are English people who now live in Scotland.
            There is no logical argument against Scottish independence so unionists try to say it is anti English people as they have no other answer.
            I have family in London Norfolk and Cumbria. I just laugh at the people who accuse me of being anti English.

            • HJ777

              “There is no logical argument against Scottish independence…”

              The way you airily wave away any view you disagree with as simply not existing is laughable.

              And to deny that the ‘yes’ campaign wants and relies on anti-English sentiment is laughable. Are you seriously claiming that there is none whatsoever in Scotland and that the ‘yes’ campaign wouldn’t be very glad of their votes?

              And if you are not anti-English, why do you regularly attack cherished English institutions, describing them as “discredited”? Do you not think that might be offensive to English people? And why do you say that English should keep out of the debate on Scotland (when it is part of the same United Kingdom) and then attack Cameron for not debating with Salmond? Could it be because you want to see him portrayed as an “English toff” (as Salmond already has)?

              You really are the biggest hypocrite.

    • HJ777

      Salmond is very happy to have the support of the anti-English element – in fact, he needs their votes as he has no chance without them.

      He knows that, I know that and you know that.

      • scotcanadien

        Anti-English element? Define please. Are they similar to the anti-Scottish element in England?

        • HJ777

          Irrelevant since nobody in England is voting on this issue.

          I have worked in the electronics industry for over 20 years. Scots are very prominent in this industry and I have never heard of one complaint about, or seen any examples of, anti-Scottish sentiment towards them. My neighbours of are very Scottish and have lived in England for over 20 years – they have never experienced any whatsoever.

          The ScotsNats want to foster antagonism. They want to provoke the English into expressing anti-Scottish sentiment because they can only profit from this.

          • errea

            What has the demographic of a street in England got to do with Scottish independence?

            The current political union is well past it’s sell by date.

            • Nicholas chuzzlewit

              Because you say so.

            • flippit

              the article is about Britain, and a street in England is just that

              • errea

                Ultimately, the residents of any English street are totally irrelevant as they don’t get a vote…

      • dougthedug

        Thanks for confirming my first post.

        • HJ777

          I’m sure that you treat anything as confirmation of your own views. That’s how people with closed minds think.

    • Colin56

      “no part of England has ever thought of striking off on their own.” – what about Cornwall? It has long regarded itself as separate to some degree from the rest of England and the Tamar as a national border.

    • Saint Steve

      I really dislike people who play the race card, however in the case of Scottish independence I think it is anti-English bigotry that drives the majority of SNP supporters.

      It certainly isn’t independence, as that’s not what’s being proposed. You don’t want your own currency, you don’t want freedom from the EU, you don’t want your own head of state etc. If the SNP were advocating real independence i.e. Norway then I would respect them, and maybe even support them.

      And we’ve all encountered the cybernats and their anti-English abuse. No doubt i’ll be accused of being a scaremongering, fascist Britnat from project fear for writing this post.

  • Spammo Twatbury

    Shame you gloss over the more unpalatable aspects of the article, like the moronic line about “kilted arse-baring Bravehearts” or whatever it was, and the eye-wipingly hilarious assertion that the Tories’ prime motivation was improving the lot of the wretched poor.

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