We’ve been in it for 305 years, it’s nice to be British – and we’re stronger together weaker apart. That appears to be about the sum total of the case for the Union so far – that, and a torrent of threats as to what rUK will do (the r in rUK stands for either rest or rump, dependent on how polite you are) if Scotland votes for independence. And if it’s not a threat as to what they will do, it’s a threat of what others will do, e.g. the EU, the UN, the rest of the world, etc.
As far as I’ve been able, I’ve captured this farrago of factoids in YouTube clips. It doesn’t just emanate from unionist politicians, it also keeps coming back like a very bad old song from the press and the media. Today, we have Michael Kelly at it again in the Scotsman. Where else, you may ask, since Michael’s glittering prose would be hard pushed to find a home anywhere else that values concise, elegant prose and coherent arguments.
His big insight today is in the title of his piece – Without the ability to change – Labour’s lost. Fancy that! Perhaps he’s been re-reading John McTernan’s back catalogue of What Labour Must Do articles, a theme with infinite tedious variations.
Michael is confident that the SNP will lose any “fairly conducted single question referendum”, but clearly entertains the fear that the referendum might not be fairly conducted and might contain more than one question. Michael also believed that devolution would kill the SNP stone dead, that the SNP would never form a government and that the SNP would never gain an overall majority in Holyrood. Bookies eagerly await Michael Kelly’s forecasts so they can shorten the odds on the other alternative – there are advantages in always being wrong ...
He thinks the arguments for ‘separation’ are either threadbare or wrong. I would love to be able to counter by saying that the arguments of the Union are likewise, except there aren’t any so far. He selects three aspects – the oil fund, the currency and Nicola Sturgeon’s statement that “the Union is a bad for the NHS”.
The oil fund and currency questions have been comprehensively answered by the First Minister, but Michael shares the inability to hear what he chooses not to, in common with most unionists. Nicola’s criticism was in fact much wider than the NHS – she said the Union was bad for the welfare state, which must be starkly evident to the unemployed, poor, sick and vulnerable in Britain – but Michael was particularly cack-handed in focusing on the NHS, since virtually every professional body in England and Wales agrees with Nicola, and looks with envy to Scotland, which thanks to this aspect of devolution, is not facing destruction.
He goes on to what has now become the favourite ploy of the unionist – to define what independence (he actually calls it independence for this purpose) ought to mean, i.e, the narrow, separatist, anti-English, economically unrealistic caricature that unionists present – one that ignores the realities of inter-dependence in the modern world for all independent countries, and is the exact reverse of the SNP vision.
I think Michael also doesn’t really understand what realpolitik means in accusing Nicola of a “shocking lack” of it in her plans.
realpolitik: politics based on realities and material needs, rather than morals and ideals.
The essence of the SNP’s appeal to the voters is that their policies are not based on realpolitik, but on realities, material needs and morals and ideals. The reason that Scottish Labour – and UK Labour – has so comprehensively lost the confidence of the people is the fact that for over half a century, they have lost their morals and ideals, and embraced realpolitik as their core philosophy. Perhaps the last Labour minister to recognise this was the late Robin Cook, who propounded an ethical foreign policy, and resigned over the ethical collapse of the Blair Government over Iraq.
The nuclear deterrence policy of Labour, together with all three major UK parties, is realpolitik incarnate. It is one of the prime aspects of the UK that Scotland wants to break away from. The policy of privatisation of the NHS is realpolitik: the attempt to make the poorest and most vulnerable in our society pay for the economic vandalism of the bankers and the last Labour Government is realpolitik. Remaining in Afghanistan rather than lose face, when it is patently obvious that the project has failed is realpolitik.
I am not shocked by the lack of realpolitik behind the Deputy First Minister’s plan, i.e. the existence of a plan informed by the very morals and ideals that civilised societies are supposed to espouse, I am delighted by it, applaud it, and would have been horrified if Scotland’s approach to its welfare state had been dictated by realpolitik. In fact, there would have been no welfare state at all if the Attlee Government had pursued a realpolitik policy in 1945. But their morals and ideals are now an embarrassment to the the thing now known as the Labour Party, and a standing reproach to their lack of vision.
Without the ability to change, Michael, Scottish Labour is indeed lost. What you fail to understand is that the change they must make is to embrace the independence of their country, Scotland.