Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Tiber and the Thames
"I can foresee the Thames foaming with much blood...(...intending none of the racist malice Enoch Powell so famously lent [that phrase])"
(Allan Massie, Mail on Sunday, 8 March 2015)

Of course not.

The SNP is not calling for a re-run of the referendum. The perfectly and logically sensible position they take on that is that there won't be another one until the Scottish people want it. But further: the SNP is not even suggesting that as a possibility, for now. It is not calling for it. No-one is standing in May's election on a platform of a re-run of the referendum or immediate Scottish independence. That is not a possibility that's on the table, for now.

So, what DO the SNP want? They have five "red-lines" (at most: James Cook observes there may be a softening of position):

Now you may agree or disagree with any or all of these policies. But so what? Unless we aspire to the unanimity of a cult, healthy debate and disagreement is what democracy is all about. And yet what a furious, uncomprehending response. Of all the parties in the land, what precisely is it that makes the SNP uniquely disreputable? What makes a sensible journalist feel able to say that if Scotland has the temerity to elect SNP MPs, on that platform of reform, and if the English don't like it, then the Thames will run with metaphorical blood? Leaving aside as ridiculous hyperbole the violence of the imagery (though just imagine if an SNP politician used it) there's a very genuine question about this.

Is this not precisely the Union we were promised?

"Scottish AND British". Not just British. Are we in fact not to be allowed to express ourselves, to any extent at all? None of the SNP's red-lines are disreputable or unheard of. On the contrary. They are part of the political mainstream. Many people in the rest of Britain agree with them.

It seems, rather, that what is simply unimaginably preposterous is that in a finely balanced Westminster parliament, policy outcome might be determined by Scottish votes. And the inescapable logic of that is that we are allowed to express our views only when that will be of no consequence.

And if that is the reality of the Union, it is surely dead.