Pincer movement: A dual approach to defeating anti-UK-nationalism – Stephen Bailey

By Stephen Bailey

A pragmatic approach is called for when dealing with constitutional matters, whilst, at the same time, adhering to the long-term goal of your principles.

The SNP have shown over the last seventeen years of power at Holyrood that they are monomaniacal and pathological in their pursuit of breaking up the UK and will never give up on it, so the mere existence of Holyrood means perpetual danger of them getting back into power at some point in the future and grabbing a fluke, undeserved win.

The Scottish National Party only has one real reason for existing-separation from the rest of the UK and especially the hated English, their bête noire. They are never going to give up on their obsession and have fixated upon a policy of one referendum after another until they get what they want-to break the Union.

Added to this, they just ignore any constitutional legal constraints on their behaviour (such as a reserved remit) and utilize Holyrood as a tool to pursue independence. This is clearly shown by the way they’ve virtually entirely ignored legislating on improving the living and working conditions of ordinary Scots and concentrated instead on pursuing an independence referendum, as well as striping powers from local councils and centralizing them under their control in Holyrood.

Therein lies the crux of the matter. Contrary to the ill-conceived notions of legislative devolution’s originators, devolved legislatures (Holyrood, for example) haven’t had the effect of ‘killing nationalism stone dead’ as Labour politician George Robertson put it in 1995, or even reduced support for it. The reality is, it’s VASTLY INCREASED the ability of the SNP to pursue their separatist agenda.

During the last twenty-six years of its existence, Holyrood has ENABLED the SNP to rise to political dominance, displacing the pro-Union Labour and Liberal Democrats, and provided them with a vastly improved platform and megaphone through which they can promote separation from the rest of the UK. With the SNP hell-bent on separation, any opportunity they get to achieve this will be taken. Therefore, the mere fact that Holyrood exists will ALWAYS present a clear and present danger to the Union, as there will always exist the possibility that they get back into power at some later date and continue with their separatist obsession once more. It’s perpetual neverendum.

Voting the SNP out of office is only a short-term solution as they can just get back into power later and begin the neverendum again, ad infinitum until they get the result they want. They only have to be lucky once, those that want to maintain the Union have to win every time. The anti-UK nationalists could just achieve a fluke win and the Union ends. They could even ware down Unionist resistance with their war of constant attrition, and an exhausted Unionist majority could just stop resisting, worn out by years of guerrilla tactics by nationalism.

Consequently, the ONLY viable solution to the SNP’s neverendum is to get rid of the mechanism that enables them to do all this -their devolved legislature, Holyrood.


The same applies to the other devolved legislatures where nationalism is using legislative devolution to push its unwanted anti-Union agenda, Stormont in NI and the Welsh ‘parliament’.

At the same time, the reality is that Holyrood does exist and the SNP are there pursuing their separatist obsession. Therefore, a short-term danger exists that has to be addressed of them forcing more referenda.

Consequently, it is both prudent and pragmatic to adopt a dual approach to defeating anti-UK nationalism. In the short term, the immediate threat of another referendum must be addressed by a robust tactical voting campaign to oust the SNP from power in Holyrood, thus removing any chance of one being held.

In tandem with this, the long-term objective should remain to permanently remove the possibility of the SNP returning to power and continuing their pursuit of separation at a later date. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to remove the mechanism that enables them to do it-legislative devolution, the devolved legislature, Holyrood (and the same is true of Stormont in NI and the Welsh ‘parliament’).

There are 650 seats in the chamber of the House of Commons and each member of the Union (Scotland, England, Wales, and NI) is allocated a proportion of those seats based on the size of their population. Decisions are taken collectively, with parliamentary bills being amended for different circumstances that may arise in the constituent parts of the UK. This can best be described as common representation in a single, sovereign national parliament. In such a set-up, if the devolved legislatures were abolished and all representatives from all parts of the UK sat in the Commons again, minority extremist parties, like the SNP, IRA/Sinn Fein and Plaid Cymru could, if they got elected, return an MP to sit in the House, but even if they swept the board and won all the seats in their part of the UK they would still only be in a minority, contained by the majority of the Unionist MPs who represent the majority of the electorate’s political will. In this way, minority extremists are prevented from forcing their agenda on an unwilling public.

This system is fair, democratic and proportionate. It ensures that the will of the moderate majority is represented and those on the political fringe are kept in check as they are unable to get a parliamentary majority to progress their unwanted anti-Union agenda.

Pragmatism demands a dual approach to defeating anti-UK nationalism, consisting of short and long-term elements, a pincer movement to permanently secure the Union.

NB: The article does not represent the views of Scotland Matters.

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