You may recall our old friend Chekov, the self-styled Northern Ireland 'liberal unionist' blogger who curiously chooses to channel his liberalism by being an enthusiastic cheerleader for the Conservative party. Anyway, it suddenly occurred to me that on past form he probably would have had some stern words to say about recent developments on this side of the North Channel, and after a quick search it turned out that I was at least half-right. Referring to David Mitchell's Observer article on a perceived threat to British identity following the SNP's win, he writes -
"It's not an unprecedented state of mind to which Mitchell refers. Many citizens of the former Yugoslavia, for instance, mourn their multi-national state and their multinational identity. Let's hope that there is no opportunity for a similar sense of loss in the United Kingdom. The Scots, Welsh, English and Irish nations can be accommodated within the UK in a way that is simply not possible the other way about."
Well now. It seems the election result has had an impact already - as I've highlighted many times, Chekov has been notably reluctant in the past to concede that Scotland is actually a 'nation' at all. The Scottish Tories got over that particular hang-up years ago, but to Chekov we stubbornly remained a mere 'region', with a 'regional parliament'. If we're now getting the honeyed words treatment even from a liberal unionist, the situation must be grave indeed.
I first read David Mitchell's piece a few days ago, and it was an impressive one - unlike the offerings from so many other scribes in the "UK press", it was clearly written from the heart. But I'm equally convinced he's fretting over nothing in fearing the loss of his British identity. If Chekov is so sure that a multi-national identity can only exist within the straightjacket of a single state, he'll have to explain how, for instance, the shared Nordic identity has proved so resilient following the independence of Norway from Sweden, and of Iceland from Denmark. Indeed, doesn't the close political relationship between all of those countries within the Nordic Council bear a striking resemblance to the post-independence confederal relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK that is now being strongly hinted at by SNP sources?