Monday, January 09, 2012

Appeasement just makes the beast hungry

You'd think this message would have been burnt into the minds of our politicians.

Its one of the earliest lessons of English history. Paying the Danegeld just gets you more Danes with menaces back in a few years.

Sacrificing Czechoslovakia doesn't buy peace, it guarantees war.

For a while the democracies learnt this lesson and Lady Thatcher and President Regan faced down the evil empire of socialism and freed half of Europe.

But with Scottish separatism the lesson was forgotten.

The SNP aren't to blame here - though the swamp of Scottish nationalism has some unpleasant undercurrents, creatures, pools of Anglophobia and views in it.

It was Labour and the Lib Dems who thought playing with the Union would let them get back at Thatcher. So for narrow partisan advantage they played up to the separatism and broke the Union with the rabidly anti-English devolution betrayal of the Union. ( Yes it was Labour that brought this to pass - but the Lib Dems where key partners in crime here ). They thought they could rule Scotland for ever and that appeasing the nationalist beast would stop it in its tracks.

How misguided they were. ( Though lets face it since Labour has been wrong about almost every major decision in politics its not a surprise ).

Now a SNP Scottish Executive ( which the government lacks the guts to call it its legal name ) plays up on grievances, and plans an emotional referendum and Westminster has suddenly realised perhaps they could lose it. ( Though of course no one is offering Scotland independence, but really Greek style rule from Brussels ).

Appeasement has been a disaster - again.

But also the mold of the UK has been broken. As I have said on other forums before only a federal UK can be stable and that requires an English Parliament that contains an English Executive.

Nothing else can prevent the inevitable break up of the UK under the unjust partisan botched job that Labour created when they started the break up of the Union with devolution.

Though perhaps the break up of the UK and its hated citizens with their conservative values was Labour and Lib Dems idea all along, to deliver the home nations in bite sized chunks to the EU.


pa_broon74 said...


Take a look at some of the online commentary, on the BBC where comment is allowed on stories with Scottish elements or on the daily mail website, in fact any online story about Scottish Independence and you'll see the truth of the matter.

I'm Scottish and I want independence from Westminster NOT the English people. The British State sits like a big fat spider over all the countries that make up the UK. When a Scottish Nationalist says he doesn't agree with Westminster, that is what he means; Westminster.

Because lets face it, Westminster represents nothing except itself, not Scotland England, NI or Wales.

With Scottish Independence, you'll also get English Independence and hopefully an opportunity to remold Westminster into something approaching a fair representative parliament.

Nationalists are for Scotland, not against England. Of course you'll get the occassional nob end but I'd like to refer you back to those BBC and Newspaper online comments.

We all want the same thing; self-determination. Please don't interpret pro-Scot's commentary as being anti-English just because it's pro-Scotland; it absolutely isn't.

Or try and see it from our point of view. We have a tory-led coalition in Westminster and only one tory MP (out of 60-odd) sitting in Scotland. Surely that can't be representative.

Man in a Shed said...

@pa_broon74 - if you have to accept devolution, which I'm not sure the Unionist parties should then you have to take the logical step of creating the same political structure in England that you have in the other home nations ( a term that feel out of use 15 years ago ).

As you say this would neuter the UK government, but it would also create English politics ( which really hardly exists at the moment ).

On the one Conservative MP I'd say that's what devolution was designed to fix - but as I've argued it was always a botched fix motivated by short term tactical emotions and calculations of advantage.

In fact given that both Scotland and England have vote for governments other than they recieved in Westminster in the last 20 years, I'd say it was part of the democratic process.

However there is definitely a very unhealthy edge to Scottish politics where you have three left wing parties ( and various nutty fringe groups on the left ) and one weak wet centre right party. That is not the political mix of a group that has come to terms with economic or financial reality.

pa_broon74 said...

Tony Blair's Labour administration had no choice but to grant devolution, it came from the EU. It was only a side effect that they thought it would kill Scottish Nationalism.

Over the course of the Scottish Parliaments life, two things have happened; the SNP got a much better platform from which to act and the unionist parties (its just easier to call them that) basically sent their a-team members to Westminster and Holyrood got the b-team.

Meanwhile, the SNP brought back their big hitter (such as they were at the time) back to holyrood from Westminster (Salmond, Swinney etc.)

When Labour created the terms of the original Scotland act, they put in place a voting system that they felt would guarantee labour supremacy, libdems 2nd and the SNP and tories 3rd and 4th. What they didn't bank on was just how badly labour would muck things up, wars, the economy; all of it.

The tories are not a power in Scotland and won't be unless they split from the UK party, the libdems committed suicide north of the border when they sat down with the tories. (I feel bad for them because I think they thought they were doing the right thing, the economy needed strong government and thats what they thought they were providing.)

With the greatest respect, I think your view of the Scottish political scene isn't quite right. The biggest problem we have is that we have no credible opposition to the SNP, I don't agree with all their policies although I do agree with independence.

ANother great misunderstanding is about the Scottish Economy. Going by GERS (Government Expenditure Report Scotland) this is a westminster publication, Scotland has been in budget surplus for 4 out of the last 5 years. An actual surplus, as worked out not by what we get from westminster but by what taxes are raised in Scotland against what is spent in/for/by Scotland.

We do have an eye on the economy, an independent Scotland will make mistakes, but at least they will be our own.

In terms of parties, the Scottish Tories with Ruth Davidson are even more to the right of the UK party but fortunately have no teeth. Scottish Labour have no poplicies to speak of and chop and change with newspaper headlines. The libdems are headless (Wullie Rennie is a political munchkin) and the greens have only two MSP's who are, well, Greens.

There are alot of misapprehensions south of the border about what's going on in Scotland, aided and abetted by the tripe the MSM dish up.

James Higham said...

Britain has quite a history with Czechoslovakia.

Man in a Shed said...

I was in the Shetland isles on the day the end of Czechoslovakia was announced ( for the second time I suppose ) and in the room with a group of Czech school students. They were stunned.

I think the end of the UK might catch many non-politcos the same way.

Unknown said...

I think you completely misunderstand what when on under devolution in Scotland.
You seem to believe that deconvolution was a tactical decision by Labour. It was much deeper seated that than and was part of a long march towards devolution amongst the Labour party and Scottish civic society. Not going to go into it here but the Labour party has always been committed to devolution for Scotland and you can trace it bad through Keir Hardie all the way through the failed '79 settlement (supported by all parties).
But devolution became the settled will of the Scottish people by the time of the constitutional convention and the Claim of right (circa 1988) this was far from a nationalist pandering but a broad undertaking from political and civic Scotland to establish the will of the Scottish people towards home rule. This was formally confirmed by the referendum establishing the Parliament which is quite difficult to refute as anything other than a ringing endorsement for the proposals.
The problem was - as you elude - the Labour party did not take devolution any further across the rest of the UK. The development of English regional assemblies was the grand plan to tackle the West Lothian Question but of course that imploded on the point that no one in England wanted one. The radical solution of home rule all round and an English Parliament was therefore ignored and it remains the only solution, but it’s important to understand that under a federal structure the English Parliament could not simply Westminster minus the Celts, you would still need a Westminster government, a British Prime Minister etc. But you would also need an English Parliament and a English First Minister. There is no reason why these politicians couldn’t coalesce and work together even when they work for different parties as long as they respect their devolution settlements. This sort of structure works elsewhere in the world, so why can’t it work in the UK?

Man in a Shed said...

Anon - Benedict Brogan has a similar take to the one I've given, which can be read here.

The move in Scottish civil society is the one that Labour and the Lib Dems allowed. It was always going to lead to separation, and many of us warned at the time.

I'm for saving the Union, but on just terms. I also think if political leaders in the UK are deemed to have no right to discuss the Union in its territory that Union is inevitably doomed. ( Its a bit like your wife saying she'll only talk about your marriage to her divroce lawyer and your not allowed to say anything ).

I remeber telling the minister at the Church of Scotland church in London ( nwho was officiating at a friends wedding in Glasgow and then Loch Lomond ) that devolution would destroy the Union. He seemed as mystified by the inevitability and those less capable Labour and Lib Dem politicians were. But here we are.

Those of us who warned where devolution would lead ( just like those who warned on the Euro ) were right 100% and those who for selfish reasons thought they could fool around with separatism have been shown to be fools.

My argument is with those low calibre and selfish Scottish politicians of supposed Unionist parties who allowed devolution to take hold - mostly for narrow personal and partisan gain.

Unknown said...

Part 1
OK I think you are very wrong to say that the move within Scottish civil society was "allowed" by Labour and the Lib Dems at the time. Pause for a moment and read it back. In what way can a political party allow a grass roots movement to grow. They didn't allow it, infact there is a considerable amount of evidence that Labour at least were well behind the curve on this and the effect of the 1988 Govan by election is often noted as the wake up call to Labour in Scotland that it was running way behind the tide of public opinion - in fact the wake up call happened a few months before the Govan by-election but historians like to run the two together as it helps their narrative.

There is no question that UK (or more to the point English) MPs and government ministers have a right to discuss the Union but the question is are they helping! A good analogy is consider a couple that have been married for several years, they have kids and their lives are intermingled.

Say the wife is Scotland and the husband England (the roles could be easily reversed in this analogy so let's not take it too far or read anything into this).

Mrs Scotland UK has started the conversation about divorce and Mr England UK is not exactly happy about the prospect of them splitting up. One of the big problems between the UK's is the father in law (I resisted saying mother in law least someone thought I was referencing Margaret Thatcher) who really get's up Mrs Scotland UK's back.


Unknown said...

Part 2
There is no question about the father-in-laws right to have his say about the potential of the UK's getting divorced, after all his son and his grandchildren will be badly affected by the divorce. However the question is for Mr England UK and the better angels in Mrs Scotland UK's head know that every time he opens his mouth he actually brings the concept of divorce that bit closer. Therefore the question is not that they cannot get involved but one that tactically is it in everyone's best interests.

Just for the record the devils on Mrs Scotland UK's shoulder do believe that it doesn't have anything to do with the father in law but they are in a minority for now, but just remember every time the father in law opens his mouth those devils can grow a little louder.

The analogy also helps for those that believe that England has a right to decide on whether Scotland can leave the Union. Imagine the same situation but the father in law was arguing very vocally with Mrs Scotland UK that she couldn't get a divorce from his son unless his son agreed! Obviously Mr England UK will be consulted but ultimately the decision to leave the Union is for each one to make on their own. Of course for anyone who says that England should have an equal right to vote to leave the UK marriage then I'm all for that as well, indeed I think that would help everyone all round if there was a UK wide referendum as I suspect that when push came to shove both parties would agree overwhelmingly to stay together and that reaffirmation of our wedding vows would be so much better for us all.

Unknown said...

Part 3
As I said before the devolution project was imperfect and the solution was to regionalise England in a similar mould passing similar powers to them. If you read the early Blair project works you'll see that Brown (for obvious reasons) was extremely positive to drive the regional project onwards. Of course that idea collapsed because it was potty and there was no demand for it from civil society - other than in London. But had it been accepted then the west lothian question would have been nullified.

With the failure of regionalisation the next step then would have been to resolve the issue with an English Parliament and Executive (government) in the same mould. I'm still passionately in favour of that rather than trying to fudge the rules in westminster which would effectively create a dual role of a Prime Minister of the UK potentially trying also to be a First Minister of England where the were a minority. But I agree that the issue needs to be resolved one way or the other.

However I would underline again that the concept that this was driven by parties leading an unwilling Scottish public towards devolution is wrong, completely wrong and the reality is if anything the other way around.