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Have the DUP helped ensure Scottish independence

Updated on December 13, 2017

A little while ago the Irish problem seemed unsolvable. Ireland did not want a border with Northern Ireland, the DUP rejected the solution of a border between the whole island and the rest of the UK with Northern Ireland remaining in the single market. The Scottish Tories under Ruth Davidson said that any concessions offered to Northern Ireland must be offered to Scotland and Wales which could let Scotland stay in the Single Market the only problem being the need for a border between Scotland and England.

Smoke And Mirrors

Now with one overnight bound Theresa the weak and wobbly is free. There will be no border between the two Irelands and no border between the two Irelands and the larger Island comprising England, Wales and Scotland. Free movement will last at least till 2020 which is about a year before the next Scottish election. From outside it looks like the UK has surrendered to all the EU demands with a few cosmetic concessions from the EU. IN other words it looks like Brexit will cost a lot and change nothing.

So far though the agreement is a verbal contract worth less than the paper on which it is written. Even if Ireland does not veto the deal: and it would be to their interest to do so and ensure a hard Brexit since they could then lobby to attract the banks and industry fleeing the UK, we must remember the dialogue between Alice and Professor Humpty Dumpty.

Words Are All We Have

When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
’The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland.

The agreement could just be smoke and mirrors designed to mask a Brexit softer than candyfloss and equally sweetly sugared.

Independence Without Borders

More important to the independence case the agreement shows that any country in the UK can stay in the Single Market without a border between them and the rest of the UK. This weakens, if not destroys, one of the main non-economic arguments against Scottish Independence: an Independent Scotland need not entail a new Hadrian’s Wall at Berwick with airplane free aircraft carriers patrolling the sea at either end in order to prevent disabled and unemployed English seeking asylum in Scotland by fitting their wheelchairs with paddles or using their correspondence with the DWP to create impromptu papier-mache coracles caulked with Boris Johnson’s cast off hair cream.

Independence campaigners should not celebrate just yet, even though any border with an Independent Scotland would have to be financed by the Tories evergreen magic money tree.

Why Unionists Like The Union

Bertrand Russell said

Two percent of the people think; three percent of the people think they think; and ninety-five percent of the people would rather die than think.”

This, unfortunately, applies to independence supporters as much as to Unionists but it is Unionists we need to convince. The 95% need to be swayed by emotion, which always trumps reason. Talking sense to the general population is an excellent way to lose support while a few populist noises that don’t make logical sense are an excellent way to gain support.

In her book Acts of Union and Disunion Linda Colley comments on the large numbers of Scottish, Welsh and Irish who fought for Britain in various English inspired wars and notes how the Union not only provided a path for ambitious Scots towards a larger stage but that some regarded British Union as a vehicle for and expression of Scottishness, even a form of Nationalism letting Scots spread their culture and traditions across the world by taking over many top roles in the Empire. Other arguments for Union is that, like the EU, it obviates war, abolishes national antipathy, except at football matches, and, if it is Union, not domination, brings people together for mutual benefit.

Today the Union feels more and more like English domination of the rest of the United Kingdom, apart from Northern Ireland who, regrettably, won their autonomy via The Troubles while the DUP won their current influence over Theresa May’s government by being the only party to rival the Tories in bigotry, racism and intolerance.

The best emotional arguments for the Union like those mentioned above, are also arguments for remaining in the EU but many Scots want to remain in the UK and leave the EU. The recent flaccid EU response to unnecessary and avoidable Spanish violence in Catalonia has increased the number of Scots who, whether they want Independence or not, want nothing to do with the EU ignoring the argument that they are more likely to be able to influence the EU from within than from outside and that the first priority must be Independence if only not to be dragged down if Brexit proves a disaster.

It is unclear whether the economic damage already done by Brexit can be reversed even if Brexit is cancelled. Banks and manufacturing companies that already have plans to leave will not come back or abandon their plans fearing yet another Brexit referendum and those staff who found they have a better quality of life in Europe may well be unwilling to return, especially once they have children at school. In such a climate Scotland is well placed to survive and thrive.

If Colley is right the Independence movement must create an emotional case for Independence stronger than the idealistic case for the Union and convince Proud-Scot-Buts that Britishness is no longer a useful vehicle for Scottishness and that Independence could lead to a new mutually beneficial relationship with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It will also help if they can be convinced that any economic pain will be short lived and that like the more idealistic Brexiteers they eventually say “We know Independence will hurt economically but Freedom is priceless”

Unfortunately it is likely to be easier and more effective to stress the negative case against the Union than to promote a positive case for independence. Nevertheless both approaches must be pursued.

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