Friday, January 27, 2012

Kilclooney's baloney

I've just caught up with the extraordinary letter to the Scotsman a couple of weeks ago from Lord Kilclooney (former Deputy Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party), suggesting that Scotland should be subject to an Irish-style "partition" if the majority of the country votes Yes to independence, but a specific area votes No.

"Northern Ireland remained within the UK as was the desire of most people in that part of Ireland. Should there ever be a majority in Scotland for independence it should not be binding on all the people of Scotland.

If, say, Strathclyde or the Lowlands prefer to remain in the UK then that decision should be honoured by a partition of Scotland."

Hmmm. Well, what leaps out at me straight away is that there were two counties of Northern Ireland itself, Fermanagh and Tyrone, that had nationalist majorities at the time of partition in the early 1920s. The desire of "most people in that part of Ireland" to leave the United Kingdom was flagrantly ignored, in the interests of keeping the minority unionist population of those two counties snugly inside their beloved bunker statelet.

So in line with the intriguing new 'Kilclooney Doctrine', it must surely be long past time to right that historic wrong? Given the beliefs he set out in his letter, the noble lord can surely have no objection to the counties of Fermanagh, Tyrone, Armagh and Derry (the latter two now having nationalist majorities as well) exercising the right to decide their own constitutional future individually, without the requirement for any 'permission' from the unionist majority in Northern Ireland as a whole?

Oh wait - I think I'm hearing objections. How mysterious.

In truth, of course, Kilclooney is guilty of a very obvious logical fallacy. If, for example, South Ayrshire was to vote No to independence in the referendum, that is not the same thing as saying that they would prefer to leave Scotland in the event of independence. There is simply no Scottish equivalent of the regionally-based "if Ireland isn't in the UK, we're not Irish at all" phenomenon. If such a thing existed, it would have to be taken seriously by all of us who believe in self-determination - but it doesn't. We'd have noticed by now.

All the same, it would still be highly entertaining to hear Lord Kilclooney's convoluted explanation for why individual counties of Scotland have the right to choose their own constitutional future, but individual counties of Northern Ireland do not. No less entertaining has been the general hysteria and intemperate language from the NI unionist ranks in response to the events of the last few weeks. My message to them would be this - Northern Ireland has the right to self-determination every bit as much as Scotland does. But that is not the same thing as a right to demand that others stick around to provide you with an identity.


  1. I'm convinced that, in the event of a 'No' vote across Scotland, he would be campaigning hard for those areas which voted 'Yes' to be allowed to secede.
    I can hear him now:

    "It may be that the electorate of Scotland has voted to remain in the union, but it should be noted that peoples of the Northern Isles have decided that their future lies in a different constitutional context.
    I therefore urge the Government to come to a quick settlement and, with a cheery wave, wish them and their natural resources a 'bon voyage'.

  2. I am hopeful on the same logic that Scotland can first win a plebiscite and regain Berwick -on Tweed, followed by a series of referendums evetually creating a "Greater Scotland" as far South as Watford :-)