Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Scotland and Britain - before the pendulum swung ...

Nothing in politics lasts forever and a political hegemony which seems unbreakable can collapse faster than anyone expects

One of the arguments used in recent decades first by Scottish Labour and then by the Scottish National Party is to present the Conservatives as the "English party" and suggest that when the UK is run by the Conservatives then Scotland will be run from southern England.

This argument has had some superficial plausibility between Mrs Thatcher's election and, perhaps, last year when Ruth Davidson's Scottish Conservatives overtook Labour in the Scottish parliament - though it was to some extent a circular argument which held a bit of truth because and only because enough Scottish voters believed it to make it true.

Yet twas not ever thus

The cartoon below by Cummings first appeared in the Express in 1961, before I was born but well within living memory.

It shows the British Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and Conservative Party Chairman (later Chancellor), all of whom were Scottish Conservatives, and the joke is about the English demanding their independence.

This is why constitutional arguments based on the current balance of power - whether it is Scottish socialists wanting independence because they don't want Tory governments or English right-wingers who want the Scots to go because they do - are very weak. Things change and in any democracy voters will sooner or later demand an alternative.

We had Scottish MPs representing Scottish seats as PM and Chancellor of the UK from ten years ago to seven years ago. If Scotland remains part of the UK for the next twenty years I am quite certain that there will be Scots in the highest offices of state of the UK within that time, and despite Jeremy Corbyn's best efforts to keep the Conservatives in power for decades it is also likely that there will be changes in the make-up of the UK government within that time. I said at the beginning of this post that nothing in politics lasts for ever, and it is particularly true in modern democratic politics that no government lasts forever.

Similarly if Scotland does become independent those who voted for independence because they never want to see another Conservative government may find that things do not go as planned. I predict that if Scotland does become independent there is likely to be a Scottish Conservative government at Holyrood within ten years and almost certainly within twenty.

No comments: