I decided to clear out some tat as I don't think I've published anything of any real worth in the five years (nearly) that I've been ranting and drumbling here. However, one post was worth saving. Unfortunately, in my haste to be rid of the rubbish, I deleted it. It isn't good but it is the only half-way decent thing I've written here. Fortunately I was able to find it in Google Cache, so here it is again:
SUNDAY, 17 SEPTEMBER 2006
Keep Right On to The End of The Road, Dave
What a splendid fellow David Cameron is and how proud his parents must be, having spent so much money educating their wee laddie, to see him assiduously kissing kilted arse and thereby kissing goodbye to any chance he might have had of calling No 10 'home'. Somewhat risibly, given the highly offensive remarks about us that he made to an audience in Glasgow on Friday, Cameron claims to be proud to be English, despite making sure that Andrew Marr and the rest of the London based Jockerati know that he has Scotch blood (his father was born in Aberdeenshire), but the 'suspension of disbelief' required in Grooovey Dave's Popularity Poll Politics 'Tory-Lite' Theatre is beyond the abilities of WG.
It's not at all difficult to understand that the quintessentially British Cameron, as leader of the Conservative and Unionist party, is anxious to increase its abysmally low electoral standing in the little nations of the 'union', and indulging the Celtic tendency to self-pity, covetous envy and rabid Anglophobia is certainly one possible way of doing so. However, to accuse the other 85% of the 'U'K population of 'ignorance' because, presumably, we complain that we are denied life saving drugs, purely on the grounds of cost, that are freely available to the heavily over-subsidised peoples of Scotland and Wales; that, thanks to the distortion of democracy in England by the participation of unaccountable Scotch and Welsh MPs in English affairs, our students must pay top-up fees; that our elderly must sell their homes if they require residential health care while English taxes pay for free care for Scotland's elderly and free prescriptions for the people of Wales; that the now non-national NHS must close half the A&E departments in England while the Scotch NHS can purchase two fixed wing air ambulances, thanks entirely to the English tax payer, is simply insulting and demonstrates nothing so clearly as a profound contempt for the English electorate and breathtaking political ineptitude of suicidal magnitude.
Doubtless, Cameron's remarks will be claimed to have been taken 'out of context' but they were made to much the same audience and in much the same setting as the speech in which the former leader of the Liberal Democrats, the bibulous Charles Kennedy, made his observations on Scotch schadenfreude. Can it be doubted, therefore, that they were intended to appeal to precisely the same insular sentiments? Why otherwise make them? Politicians of Scotch origin invariably demonstrate that they are incapable of viewing the world other than through tartan tinted spectacles and the speeches of Brown, Cameron and Kennedy suggest an outlook that is laughably parochial, and that thinks of Scotland not as an equal partner in a union based on respect but as a distinct political and cultural entity within which Anglophobic sentiments may be expressed with impunity, safe perhaps in the delusion that the Scotch dominated, London based British media will 'sanitise' its reports for English consumption.
The Scotch have never been big enough to abandon themselves to the embrace of 'Britishness' in the way that the English once happily did. As a small, insecure and self-regarding people overshadowed by, and bitterly envious of, a much larger and more successful (because more outward looking) neighbour they need the security blanket that is their 'Scottishness'. Too often, and increasingly of late, this has been expressed as little more than an, often violent (and ultimately self-defeating), antipathy to Englishness that is increasingly apparent to us. Consequently, and understandably, our affection for the Scotch is rapidly diminishing and they have only themselves to blame.
It is, therefore, Scotch ignorance of the English, and not vice versa, that has doomed the 'union', for it can only be in profound ignorance of the English that anyone can expect us blithely to continue stoically to endure mockery, crude abuse and physical assault from Scots (and others within the 'United' Kingdom) whilst at the same time unthinkingly accepting what are, to all but the most obtuse, cynical or deceitful, the self-evidently absurd and mutually contradictory arguments used to justify the current constitutional arrangements following devolution. It is only in profound ignorance of the English that a Scot could argue that although the people of Scotland have aims, ambitions, aspirations and interests so markedly different from those of the rest of the 'U'K they require a government solely of their own choosing, in which the people of England cannot participate, the latter do not, and that such essential differences do not, in any way, destroy the sense of common purpose and shared aims, ambitions and interests that constitute a healthy and secure union. Those who advance such arguments indulge in the most transparent doublespeak and it is more than a little disingenuous to beat us with the stick of 'ignorance' simply because we refuse to accept them.
It isn't difficult to see Cameron's remarks for what they are; no more than a pathetic attempt to advance the fortunes of a party that has long been frustrated by its continuing political impotence, especially in Scotland, where it is irrelevant, and it isn't difficult to understand that the situation must be no small source of embarrassment for a party styling itself 'unionist'. The possibility exists that the Conservatives have no future in Scotland and that, of itself, calls into question the party's 'reason for being'. Even Lord Rees-Mogg has lifted his chin from his chest and raised his voice above the chorus of snores from the Lords' benches. In 'This Disunited Kingdom', the noble lord recognises both that 'the Conservative Party is becoming more and more the English party' and that 'if they are to win an overall majority ... they will plainly have to do it in England.' Apart from two minor but very obvious points (the Conservative party became (point i) an, not 'the', (point ii) English party nine years ago) this is a promising start but Rees-Mogg subsequently fails to demonstrate that he has any understanding of the issues. Indeed if he really believes the simplistic arguments he advances against the creation of an English Parliament he demonstrates nothing other than his complete inability, or perhaps wilful refusal, to accept the reality of devolution. His stance is the traditional unionist one of 'if we address the undeniable democratic deficit, and consequent position of political disadvantage that has been created for the people of England by devolution, we shall upset the Scotch, and then whither the union?' He does not seem to have grasped that the 'union' is withering anyway.
He makes some weak points that are nevertheless illustrative of his thinking and are thus of interest to English nationalists. Firstly, and most importantly, he offers as the princpal obstacle to the establishment of an English Parliament the overwhelming preponderance of the the people of England within the 'union'. An English parliament would, he says, 'swamp the Scottish Parliament or Welsh Assembly.' He continues that it 'might become the dominant Parliament of the United Kingdom'. This argument is so absurd, and so easily refuted that it is not unreasonable to question the fitness of anyone who advances it to occupy a seat in either house at Westminster. Rees-Mogg seems not to understand that, like its Scotch counterpart, an English Parliament would have authority only in matters devolved to it, that is purely English affairs. It would have no authority in matters reserved to the 'U'K Parliament, in which England MPs would continue to enjoy the overwhelming preponderance, a situation that has not been addressed by devolution and which the Scotch electorate seems happy to accept. Within the context of the 'U'K an English parliament could never swamp those of Scotland or Wales and it is wholly unacceptable to suggest that 85% of the population should continue to suffer from the distortion of democracy and subsequent position of political disadvantage that is created for them by the participation of MPs who are not accountable to them, purely for the benefit of the remaining 15%
Secondly he alludes to Scotch sensitivities to the 'balance of power', but as remarked above, except for those demanding independence, Scots do not seem to be unduly concerned that MPs representing English constituencies in the 'U'K Parliament are overwhelmingly in the majority.
His third point concerns attempts at regionalisation in England and is significant for its explicit recognition that England is a single nation. 'Great Britain' he says 'is three nations joined in one, not a collection of regions.'
Point four is as absurd as the first, and is worth quoting in full:
'The English may continue to accept the advantages that devolution has given Scotland as the price England has to pay for the United Kingdom or as a counterbalance for the power England enjoys as the largest nation within it. Scotland may end up by preferring to deal with London - the devil they know - rather than substitute Brussels for London.'
For the first premise to hold good would require the people of England to believe that the 'union' is such a wonderful state in which to exist that a higher retirement age and taxes than Scotland, lower standards of health than Scotland and an early death from diseases that are curable in Scotland, using drugs paid for with English money, are acceptable. Lord Rees-Mogg must hold the people of England in some contempt if he believes that we will tolerate a relationship that not only brings us no benefits but actually places us in a position of severe disadvantage. The second premise merely confirms that for unionists, the wishes of the Scotch are paramount. Notwithstanding, the arguments in favour of Scotch independence revolve around swapping one set of subsidies (English) for another (European).
Rees-Mogg concludes the piece by recognising that there are 'inequities in our present constitutional arrangement' but asserts that they may never be resolved, which suggests that he is little, if at all, concerned about the situation. The Conservative and Unionist Party has never been a hotbed of intellectual radicalism and it's unrealistic to expect any really dynamic efforts from it to offer the people of England the only practical solution to the present disadvantageous constitutional position created by the ill thought out constitutional meddling of Tony Blair's Labour government.
David Cameron's speech in Glasgow demonstrates that the Conservatives have nothing to offer the people of Scotland and Lord Rees-Mogg's confused and illogical ramblings confirm that they will offer nothing to England, until they must. The largest mainstream political party in England has insulted and turned it's back on the people of England in the pursuit of a relative handful of votes from an electorate that has unequivocally rejected them.
English nationalists must ensure that when the time comes the people of England are reminded of that and other things.
Posted by William Gruff at 01:12:00 PM on 17/9/2006. 3 comments linked to this post.
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