Friday, 23 December 2011

Bye, Eck

Even John Humphrys had assumed that the Scottish devolved body already had the power to legislate for an independence referendum. Since it really does look as if the Government is going to take up the Conservative peers' proposal to give that body that power, Alex Salmond's bluff is about to be called.

Independence is the issue that Salmond wishes would just go away. The present arrangement demonstrably suits him down to the ground. But his party possibly could not survive a No vote, and certainly would never forgive him either for such a result or for his failure to pose the question at all.

It is no wonder that the bluff-calling has come from that particular quarter. Among the longstanding electoral coalitions in Scotland is the one made up of moderate Keynesians, mild social conservatives, those who cherish shortbread tin Scottishness, posh people and those who aspire to be so considered, visceral enemies of municipal Labour and the trade unions, and a fringe of white Protestant supremacists.

That coalition's newer vehicle won the last Holyrood Election outright, giving Scotland the Tory majority government that England does not have. But that coalition's older vehicle has spotted the potential there: people like that are manifestly numerous enough to deliver such a victory, and their old party wants them back to that end. All that it has to do is force the newcomers out of the way.

Their failure to hold the referendum for which their party exists should do it. Their failure to win that referendum should do it. Quite plausibly, their failure to lose that referendum should do it, since after independence, how could the officially Tory party still be presented as English?

And what, exactly, would be the remaining point of the SNP, its many Hard Left activists having no sympathy whatever with the common or garden domestic policies that both its leaders and its voters would seek to pursue once the constitutional question was out of the way?

Alex Salmond is a remarkably skillful politician. He is going to need to be.

1 comment:

  1. You have failed to appreciate what 'English' means in Scotland. Let us begin with the premise that Scottish national identity is a working class, urban Central Belt identity, to which Scots either belong, hark back in their family or aspire. That is the dominant view in the land and those who do not share it are viewed somewhat suspiciously. Scotland is, after all, a deeply conformist society. Everything else is not Scottish. Roman Catholicism/Celtic are Irish, Highlanders are backward. The middle class are Scots only in so far as their families were working class at some point. The upper middle class, therefore, aren't. They are either English or Anglicised to the point that they might as well be English. Upper middle class Scottish accents are routinely refered to as 'English accents'. Consequently, the upper middle class party will be the English party forever.