Tuesday, 28 June 2016

I agree with Nicola

As a resident of Scotland there is the scant consolation that my fellow electors resisted the braggarts, patent-medicine salesmen and the out-and-out self-seeking snakes whose blandishments have brought the once United Kingdom into a morass.  Collective suicide is rare, and it is impossible to consider of a greater self-inflicted wound that now needs triage and repair than the world we have now moved into.

Today has seen two set-pieces.  The first was in the European Parliament, where the behaviour of Nigel Farage was the disgraceful nadir that we might all have expected.  Compare and contrast with Alyn Smith, who represents Scotland under an SNP affiliation, who received the applause of the vast majority of MEPs, compared with the approbation of Marine Le Pen.  Farage, a Poundshop Oswald Mosley, epitomises what is wrong with contemporary politics, and why most Europeans will be heartily glad to see the back of the UK.

On the other hand, Smith's plea to Strasbourg reinforcing Scotland's place in Europe set the scene for generally intelligent debate in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon.  Compared to the leaders of both the Conservative and Labour parties, Nicola Sturgeon has distinguished herself since the referendum.  She has articulated the issues that face Scotland, the inconsistencies and unanswered questions within the Leave campaign's proto-fascist idiocy, and set out a carefully-measured approach that goes beyond party.  That is leadership, whether or not you like or agree with the leader.

Fragmentation of the UK has been the reality for decades, but is now at the point where whatever happens the pre-existing consensus can never return.  Scotland voted against independence in 2014, partly because the plausible argument was put forward that the implications of secession would include exclusion from the EU - this trope was the watchword of most of the unionist campaigning, and it was convincing so long as the whole of the UK remained within the European sphere.

That Scotland voted in favour of remaining part of a modern, trans-national project was unsurprising. Had the English Remain vote been stronger, it might even have tipped the balance.  As it was, Scotland finds itself cast adrift both politically and culturally from an England and Wales where fear and lies stalk the land, and racism and fascism emerge from their foul dens to further upset and destabilise the nation.  Hardly surprising that the immediate discussion is around fresh moves towards independence.

It is too early to become an uncritical advocate of a further move to secession from the UK, and Sturgeon has been sufficiently wise to recognise this.  In the wake of the referendum result, the Greens and Liberal Democrats have been clear in their desire to maintain European links, and Scottish Labour has moved towards calling for federal solutions, and she has focused on this rather than pushing towards a narrow party-based agenda.  This is good tactically, as well as the right thing to do.  The churls have failed to recognise that it is possible to do the right thing, even if political considerations come into play.

The UK needs a rapid resolution of its crises.  Scotland and Northern Ireland (as well as London) have demonstrated that there is no common polity or institutional alignment.  Whatever the legal niceties there is not a clear case for maintaining a failed state.  If the settlements cannot accommodate a European alignment for Scotland then I for one will have to consider hard whether British subject-hood is preferable to European and Scottish citizenship.  There are no risk-free or pleasant futures, but Nicola Sturgeon has my full support in her efforts to define a future direction for Scotland into which there is room for European engagement and, hopefully, a sensible relationship with other parts of the British Isles.

The consensus from Willie Rennie, Patrick Harvie and Kezia Dugdale has been impressive.  With the exception of the Tories, whose churlish Empire Loyalism may well come back to bite them, the unionist forces in Holyrood are working to achieve the right outcome for Scotland.  I am cautious, pessimistic for the future, but delighted to be on the right side of the border at the moment.

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