Friday, May 16, 2014

See if you can reconcile these two recommendations from the House of Lords

Recommendation A :

"Senior Tories urged Prime Minister David Cameron in March to block Scots from voting in the 2015 general election.

The peers' conclusion is in line with the Scottish government's White Paper on independence, which argues people must be represented politically at UK level until the day of independence."

Recommendation B :

"The proposed date of Scottish independence should be delayed if it is not in the best interests of the rest of the UK, a House of Lords report has said...

Labour peer Baroness Jay of Paddington, who chairs the constitution committee, urged the UK government to "put the rest of the UK's interest first" in the event of independence negotiations.

She said: "The prime minister should feel under no obligation to conclude negotiations by March 2016.""

So it seems that Scotland will be "represented" in the UK parliament and government until the day of independence, but that the government and parliament we are "represented" in will be required to act only in the interests of the rest of the UK, to such an extent that Scotland may be held hostage on a colonial basis for an indefinite period of time, against the freely expressed democratic wishes of its people.

Yup, that all makes perfect sense. If there's a No vote, can we have a law saying that London MPs must act solely in the interests of Scotland? Fair's fair.

* * *

Alex Massie returns to a familiar theme, but unfortunately it's no more convincing than the last time he gave it a spin -

"It [the anti-independence campaign] could go further still and argue not only that Scotland is British (a point in large part conceded by the SNP leadership, what with their talk of the Social Union) but that Scotland actually is Britain. For without Scotland, what is Britain? Only England and a handful of dependencies (sorry about that, Wales) and since England cannot leave Britain* the fate of Britain – and Britishness – will be determined by Scotland.

*Yes, yes, yes, Britain as a geographical entity will still exist after independence but that’s not what we mean by Britain in this case is it? No it is not and it is tendentious piffle to pretend otherwise. That includes you, Mr Salmond."

Well, yes it is what we mean, actually. If what we mean by "Britain" is instead simply a political state (which is actually called the United Kingdom of Great Britain AND Northern Ireland), then it must logically be possible for either Scotland or England to leave it. Or else it must be impossible for either Scotland or England to leave it, because whatever would be left couldn't be considered Britain. But what has no logical basis is the claim that Scotland can leave Britain, but England can't. That implies Britain is the name we give to whatever state London happens to be the capital city of at any given moment, which is precisely the kind of proprietorial nonsense we're puncturing by pointing out that Britain is a geographical and cultural entity that Scotland will have just as big a stake in after independence. Norway didn't "leave Scandinavia" when it became independent of Sweden.

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