The Scottish Referendum: A Win for England


The Scottish Referendum: A Win for England
by Sean Gabb

Last week, in Bodrum, I wrote my Thoughts on Scottish Independence. In this, I made three points:

  1. That the issue was a nuisance, and I regretted the need to discuss it;
  2. That a narrow vote against independence would allow Scottish politicians to continue demanding English money with menaces until they could find an excuse for another referendum;
  3. That a vote for independence would at least save England from the Labour Party.

Well, the votes are now counted, and the result was rather close. Yet, rather than gloomy, I feel increasingly pleased. The difference between then and now is that I could not be aware of two important facts.

The first of these facts was the promise, made last Monday, that, if the Scottish voted to stay in the United Kingdom, they could have nearly full domestic autonomy and an eternity of English subsidies. I saw this in the newspapers at Gatwick Airport, and it threw me into a rage. That swinish fool Cameron had sold us out, I told myself. He should have told the Scottish to vote for the Union or to get stuffed – preferably the latter.

The second fact, however, was only revealed this morning. David Cameron stood in Downing Street to confirm his promise of greater autonomy. He then added:

“It is absolutely right that a new and fair settlement for Scotland should be accompanied by a new and fair settlement that applies to all parts of our United Kingdom….

“We have heard the voice of Scotland – and now the millions of voices of England must also be heard.

“The question of English votes for English laws – the so-called West Lothian question -requires a decisive answer.

“So, just as Scotland will vote separately in the Scottish Parliament on their issues of tax, spending and welfare so too England, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland, should be able to vote on these issues and all this must take place in tandem with, and at the same pace as, the settlement for Scotland….

“We will set up a Cabinet Committee right away and proposals will also be ready to the same timetable”

So, there it is. Letting the northern half of our island fall under the sway of a pack of embittered Anglophobes would have been inconvenient. They might have started a civil war among themselves. They might have opened their borders in the reasonable knowledge that Scotland would only be a corridor into England. They might have done any number of things that required us to build an electric fence at the border, or to hand out endless bribes in Edinburgh. We now have all the benefits of Scottish independence without the costs. The only cost I can identify is the continuing subsidies. But these are petty cash, bearing in mind how much else of our money the Government wastes.

The Scottish seats return 59 members to Parliament. Only one of these is a Conservative. They others are leftists and Anglophobes. Many are in the Labour Party. Cut this number to six, and there will not be another Labour Government. Simply keep all 59, but exclude them from voting on English affairs, and a Labour Government, if conceivable, is not very practicable. It could win confidence votes, but would not be able to get its programme through the Commons.

And this will now be an election issue. The necessary legislation cannot be drafted and put through this Parliament. The Conservatives will go into the 2015 general election, promising English votes on English laws. If Labour and the Liberal Democrats agree, they stand to lose their Scottish strongholds in the election after that. If they disagree, they will lose dozens of their seats in England on account of English indignation. Even if they do agree, they can be credibly accused, on the basis of their most obvious self-interest, of planning to defraud the English.

I therefore predict – and will run off to the nearest betting shop first thing tomorrow morning to stake £50 on it – that the Conservatives will win the next election. On balance, this is a good thing. In the longer term, of course, a neutered Labour Party will allow us to sack the Conservatives, or their present leadership. So, it looks as if the referendum is a win for England.

Was this plotted by Mr Cameron from the beginning? It may have been. Ask them to do something about immigration, or political correctness, or even the law of land registration – certainly, allow them to take us into a war – and these people will make a mess of things. But, since it is all they ever think about, they can often be good at stuffing their opponents. That would explain why Mr Cameron was so willing to give Alex Salmond his referendum when he wanted it, and why he appeared to panic when there was little chance the Scottish would vote to leave. On the other hand, he might have come to his current position only by a process of unfolding revelation. Whatever the case, this may have been an excellent result for England.

20 thoughts on “The Scottish Referendum: A Win for England

  1. Well, at the moment- and taking into account how our cobbled “constitution” operates generally- the whole thing is looking like a complete dog’s breakfast. What is needed is a carefully and widely considered new constitutional dispensation. One might imagine a grand Constitutional Convention, with great debate across the nation in the streets and pubs, in drawing rooms and across garden fences.

    But that won’t happen. What is going to happen is another dysfunctional, Heath-Robinson mess cobbled together by a few politicians and “opinion formers” in a pursuit for party political advantage. For instance they are attempting to preserve the form of the Parliament, while hollowing it out and distorting it. Nobody in their right mind seeking a sensible means of governance would propose a “dual purpose” Commons with “regional” MPs dancing a gentlemen’s excuse me on particular bills. The utterly unjustifiable entanglement of Executive and Legislature will continue; which means we might have a Scots MP as a minister enacting legislation under which he does not himself live and cannot vote upon.

    I doubt we will get “better” out of this. We will just get more mess. Nobody in Parliament is incentivised to make changes that will benefit the electorate; a few seem to have good souls in this regard anyway (e.g. John Redwood) but most will be looking purely to the advantage of themselves and their parties. I do not feel at all positive at the moment.

    And Alex Salmond is an odious little gobshite. This is not particularly politically relevant, but I wanted to say it anyway.

  2. Scotland returns “59” members to the House of Commons – “cut this number to six”.

    Does Dr Gabb actually mean “cut this number by six” (not “to six”)– or has he gone raving mad?

    Scotland is over represented in the House of Commons (more seats than the population warrants), but “six” Members of the House of Commons?

    Also there is some wonderful rewriting-of-history in Dr Gabb’s post. Sean Gabb wanted a “yes” vote (i.e. Dr Gabb LOST on Thursday) – not because he thought he would be good for Scotland (indeed he wrote about how starving Scots should be kept out of England – or some such nonsense, in line with his pose of being an economic Protectionist), but because he claimed to care only for “England” (not the real historical England of the Queen and Winston Churchill and so on – but some sort of ethnic England).

    As for “preferably the latter” on “telling the Scots to get stuffed” – well that does not sound like a Unionist to me. I AGREE that there should not be subsides – but Dr Gabb’s hatred (or his POSE of such hatred) for the “non English” is clearly a lot more than opposition to subsidies.

    Sean Gabb is clearly about as loyal to the United Kingdom as he is to the Queen – i.e. not loyal at all.

    Dr Gabb is not loyal to the historic political union that is the United Kingdom – he wants some sort of fantasy Volkish (not folksy) Germanic England (in which the Welsh and all others would also be told to “get stuffed”)

    Dr Gabb’s own spouse is not “ethically English” (Slavs would have been reduced to slavery by Mr Hitler and his “English patriot” allies) – this is one of the reasons I DO NOT BELIEVE HIM. I think it is ALL A GAME (that he does not really believe a word of the Black Flag stuff he pushes).

    Back in the real world (away from the fantasy-game of reviving the Third Reich, accept it would be a Toytown version [more silly than scary], and making its capital London), it is sadly true that Mr “Ed” Miliband may well win the next general election (I assume that Dr Gabb is being sarcastic when he says he is going to rush off today to put 50 Pounds on the Conservative party winning the next election), but COUNTRY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN PARTY.

    Also Mr Miliband is already a bit of a joke figure – even if he wins the next general election he may well be…….

    The man who finally discredits socialism (“Social Justice” and so on) in all parts of the United Kingdom (including in Scotland).

    Years of “Prime Minister Miliband” (with his silly voice – and confused manner), blundering about would discredit “Social Justice” (and all the rest of it). A Hampstead leftist – escaped from the old “Peter Simple” column (ideal for the purpose of discrediting socialism).

    Lastly on “leading us into war”.

    In the real world (as opposed to the world of Dr Gabb’s fantasies), Mr Cameron is being attacked for NOT attacking ISIS (being all talk and no bombs) in spite of the murder (by ISIS) of British subjects.

    Actually I can understand why Mr Cameron has reservations…..

    The British armed forces are small and poorly supplied – sending them into battle in places such as northern Iraq or Syria might well be a mistake.

    But, Mr Cameron, is it just the fault of the Labour party that the British armed forces (including all those brave Scots, Welsh and Ulster soldiers) are small in numbers?

    Clearly IRAN must be prevented from taking over the Middle East (in the long run the Iranian regime is an even worse threat than ISIS – particularly if the Iranian regime gets nuclear weapons in those underground, and mountain side, bases), this means the West must deal with ISIS (it can not be left to the Iranian regime).

    However, the United Kingdom may simply not have the military resources to take a real part in this campaign – although even France is taking an active part.

    Better to not get involved in a military campaign – than to get involved and prove willing in spirit, but unfit in practice.

  3. Reblogged this on Libertarian Musings and commented:
    This article by Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance points out the same thoughts that I had; that the loss of the independence vote for Scotland may not be all as bad as it has opened discussions about further heavy devolution of power from Westminster to the regions and counties of England. I’ll wait and see how things turn out first before I start celebrating.

  4. Pingback: The Scottish Referendum: A Win for England « Libertarian Musings

  5. Pingback: The Scottish Referendum: A Win for England « Attack the System

  6. I’m certainly not celebrating yet.
    On the face of it, more local autonomy sounds like exactly the sort of thing I’d like. I’m in favour of moving power downwards as often as possible – ideally, down to individuals. However, I’m pretty sure this isn’t what the political class have in mind.
    I haven’t forgotten this, for example: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1898952/On-St-Georges-Day-EU-wipes-England-off-map.html
    Any talk of regional authority for England, or any talk of “the regions” for that matter makes me suspicious. Apart from anything else, and even if there is no plan to split England to make it EU-ready, I’m even less confident in the ability of local politicians to achieve something approaching competent government than I am the hopeless individuals in Westminster. Any random selection of articles from JuliaM’s blog should give some idea of the pool of people from which the new Regional Governments will be drawn.

    • Sean or David, can you find if there is a setting in wordpress that will switch off this automatic embedding of media when it sees that a link is a picture or video? I didn’t mean to spam the blog with a fucking great picture like that. Apologies to other readers.

  7. Ian – Don’t blame us if you insist on dumping first rate essays into the comments section. I have moved your comment to where it belongs on the front page. Please consider accepting our offer of posting rights.

  8. The problem with giving Scotland ever greater powers is that it prepares them for independence. Personally I am very angry about devolution full stop because the centrifugal forces it has released may well end up splitting the union. But there is no going back so the only way England can be protected is to go for full federation with an English Parliament and equal powers for all four Home Country houses plus a federal parliament consisting of the members of the four Home Country houses. .

    In addition, England should work to remove all the potential bargaining chips that Scotland has (Wales and NI need not be worried about as serious independence candidates because they are such economic basket cases and their politicians know it). England should go for this:

    1. The removal of Trident from Scotland.

    2. All military equipment to be made outside of Scotland.

    3. The removal of public service jobs in Scotland which deal with English administrative functions such as the administration of English social security near Glasgow.

    4. A written constitution which will make it a legal requirement to (a) make any decision to leave the union a matter for the entire UK electorate and (b) any referendum on independence to only be held after the terms of independence have been agreed.

    • Robert – I broadly agree with you. My main potential disagreement is over the English Parliament. We already have one at Westminster. All we need to take it back is to cut the non-English representation to six or a dozen.

      Also, I’m not sure about a written constitution. We are entering a constitutional crisis. To get through it with what we want, we need to do the following:

      1. Keep up pressure on the Tories to deliver on English devolution; 2. If they seem to be keeping their promises to us, help them to win the general election; 3. Encourage them to cut a deal with the Scottish Nationalists.

      This is our chance to take England and to stuff Labour good and proper. For once, we may be able to trust the Tories, as their own self-interest aligns them with us until after the settlement is made. I repeat my suggestion that, so long as they appear to be delivering, our duty is to back them to the hilt. Europe can wait. Everything else can wait. Written constitutions take too long to settle, and any written constitution we are likely to get at the moment will not be to our advantage.

      We must be flexible on the precise shape of English devolution. We’ve been given the prospect of English votes for English laws. That must be the objective. The details can wait until we have that.

      Of course, if they try to slime out of what they’ve promised, we must help to destroy them utterly.

        • Robert – The problem with a written constitution at the moment is that it will be stuffed with things like the “right” to an anti-racist education free of charge, and so on and so forth. Also, even without this threat, we don’t have time to sit down and work out a federal constitution. I suggest:

          1. That the Scotch MPs be cut from 59 to six; 2. That these six should represent the whole of Scotland and be elected by some clever franchise; 3. That these six should have all the same voting rights as English members, but be encouraged to withdraw themselves from all votes not affecting the Kingdom as a whole; 4. That a similar offer should be made, if desired, to Ulster and Wales.

          The benefit of this is that it is a single change that everyone can understand. Nothing horrid could be tacked onto it. And it could be up and running before the general election. It also gives the non-English Members some chance of getting into the Cabinet.

          A further benefit is that the whole Constitution is in flux. What you are suggesting is more suited to a final settlement. It may be that the system I suggest would solidify and keep everyone satisfied for the next 300 years. Or it might be another step to dissolution of the UK. What we need at the moment is a minimal but effective change to meet the aspirations of both main nations in the UK – and, I hope, to prevent another Labour Government.

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