Thursday, April 3, 2008

How to take the wind out of Salmond's sails...

David Cairns (the hate-figure of the McChattering Classes) was on rattling good form at Westminster yesterday.
Commenting on the fact the SNP are running chicken from holding a vote on its National Conversation proposals to lead Scotland to independence:
"Isn't it ironic that the party that purports to give more powers to the Scottish Parliament doesn't trust the Scottish Parliament?"

And he’s not overly impressed with the standard of debate on that National Conversation website:
"swivel-eyed, bigoted, anti-English" sentiment and said the only good thing about the SNP's slogans was their ability to rhyme.

"We had 'Scotland free by 93', then 'Scotland free by 2003'. Now we have 'Scotland free by STV',"

"STV" being the "single transferable vote system".

All true...but then why not take them on where it really matters, agree to their referendum on full independence and then whop them out of sight at the ballot box- the present state of phoney war is helping Salmond and the SNP, not Unionism


The Aberdonian said...

A very good reason - to concede a referendum would be to concede a referendum also on the Lisbon Treaty. That what Brown fears anyway.

Whilst a referendum would probably be defeated, there is possibly a fear in some quarters that it will not be badly defeated (i.e. if the pro-independence vote was over 33%) and therefore give the medja eejits in London (who do not know much of what goes on outside the M25 and the Home Counties - even the ones who originally come outwith that charmed circle) would start talking up the long term chances of independence, naval gazing, commentry etc.

As for Mr Cairns, his job is largely nothing except being deputy viceroy. He might think he is doing a good job for his position now but what happens when the Tories come back - with at most 4 seats in Scotland - and try the same line with the Scottish government. We might be fortunate if the Scotland Office is politically controlled by Scots who have seats in Scotland. That will definately be seen as imperialist bullying and grist to Salmond's mill. He has May 2010 already ringed-----

Whilst Labour is the largest party in Scotland at UK level and therefore can claim to represent Scottish interests in the UK government, that claim will look dubious from politicians which belong to a party which vie for being third or fourth place in terms of votes in Scottish elections at all levels.

As for the usefulness of the Sec of State, not really. To be honest there should be direct inter- government forums like they have in Canada and Australia to iron problems out. In these countries there is usually a minister for integovernment affairs at both federal and state level. Not this quasi-imperial system.

In Croatia they really do miss their Minister for Croatia - not! In Austria-Hungary Croatia was an autonomous part of the Hungarian part of the Empire. It had its own Parliament - the Sabor - which legislated on internal Croat affairs such as education and local taxes. However the government was appointed by Budapest and headed by a tame Croat styled the Ban (governor). However the Ban did what he was told by the Hungarian government via the Minister for Croatia of the Hungarian government in Budapest whose signature was needed for any Sabor laws to be enacted.

O'Neill said...

You really won't leave that Austrian-Hungary analogy alone will you!!

Off the top of my head, the differerences between present day Uk and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire;

1. Universal suffrage
2. A universal language (and perhaps for the vast majority ethnicity)
3. No officially sanctioned discrimination in education and culture on grounds of ethnicity.
4. A reasonally compact borders (yes I know about NI, Isle of man, Channel Isles etc but in comparison to an empire which stretched from the Black Sea to the Adriatic to the Med....)

And I'm sure there are more!

Re the referendum, would not anything below the SNP's vote at the last elction would be regarded as crushing

wildgoose said...

I'm all for the Referendum albeit with one proviso.

That we English get an Independence Referendum as well.

We still haven't been given a referendum on devolution, and we are routinely either ignored or denigrated by the British State.

A Referendum might bring it home to them just how unhappy large numbers of us are - and whether the other Home Nations like it or not, without England there is no Union.

Alternatively, they can carry on as they are - in which case the eventual English backlash will be so great that the Union will be finished.

I accept that my position is (currently) still a minority one. But the growing numbers of people like me are the canaries in the coal mine. I don't know when you last visited England, but I can tell you that there are now plenty of voices down the pub saying "Ditch the Scots". And with the economy turning bad, and Salmond's careful trumpetting of just how much better off Scots are than the English, all alongside NuLabour's unelected and unaccountable (in England) Scottish Raj screwing us English ever further...

The Aberdonian said...

Concerning Austria-Hungary:-


There was universal suffrage on the Austrian side of the Empire in the country's last few years. Admittedly not so in Hungary which did discriminate against its non-Hungarian speaking minorities.


There was a universal language of sorts - German. All the main universities taught in German on the Austrian side, the military language of command (there was conscription in A-H) was German etc. Most of the cities including Buda, Prague, Ljubijania to name a few were predominately German-speaking until the national revivals in the 19th century - whatever the actual ethnic background of the speaker. People were expected to speak "proper" or Kaiserdeautsch to give it the parlance. Just as in the UK vis a vis Gaelic, Welsh, Scots, Norn, Cornish or indeed various regional dialects.

In the Czech Lands children caught speaking Czech in a German language school had a donkey put on their desk to demonstrate their stupidity. In Wales well into the 20th century for speaking Welsh in class you were thrashed with a "Welsh Not" stick. Who is the more civilised?

3 -

On the Hungarian side that was true as Budapest tried to Madgerise those it was running.

However in the Austrian side Slovene, Czech etc were theoretically given equal parity with German. In practice of course German speakers did not have to learn the "local" language but those who spoke the local language primarily needed to learn German to get ahead.

Just as it was/is for primary Welsh and Gaelic speaker vis a vis English today.

4 -

True the UK is more compact geographically excluding of course the islands.

O'Neill said...

That we English get an Independence Referendum as well.

Absolutely, the UK either stands or falls as one entity and everyone in the Uk should have the right to decide on that.

I accept that my position is (currently) still a minority one.

I've lived and worked in both Cumbria and London, still have friends in both places that I vist regularly and with my present occupation I do get to meet quite a lot of English folk. The Cumbrians have always had an antagonism towards Scotland which predates Salmond by about 5oo years. But yeah, I think the resentment is stronger now, they are on the frontline as it were, in terms of seeing the differences in health provision, student fees. Londoners and the other English? In my experience there isn't so much of rawness- people complain, as they always do about the govt, but the inequities arising from devolution/ the English parliament rarely if ever appears at all in conversation. But that's just my own personal observations obviously.

O'Neill said...

If you'd compared the Austrian-Hungarian empire with the British empire, then I think you'd be a lot closer to the truth-

The Aberdonian said...

Not particularly as:-

1 -

A-H was a union of provinces mostly united by the unions of 1526-1528 after the battle of Mohacs when the Crowns of Bohemia and Hungary elected the Habsburgs as their rulers.

Others later were taken by military force (so was Ireland and Wales) such as in Bucovina and Southern Poland/Western Ukraine.

2 -

The provinces were not colonies. They were united under a single government and a single sort-of-Parliament until the compromise of 1867 when the lands were split into two administrations and legislatures united by the royal council to deal with currency, trade, defence, foriegn affairs etc.

The UK has never allowed overseas representation in its Parliament. There has never been members of Gibralter or Malta or India in the UK Parliament.


No racial restrictions of inter-marraige of the peoples. In the British Empire it was frowned upon to take a "native" spouse. Particularly from the late 18th century although obviously people had affairs. Pace the Anglo-Indian community.

People from the various groups openly married and raised children. They moved about.

Some interesting illustrations of this are the Hungarian nationalist Lajos Kossuth who had a Slovak mother and the father of "Yugoslavism", the Germanic-Croat Josip Strossmeyer.

More notoriously was plain old Czech Arthur Zajtich, born in what is now the Czech Republic of a Germanic mother and Czech father. The family moved to Vienna when he was 15 and changed their name to the Germanic Seyess-Inquart. He went onto become an arch German ultra-nationalist, eventually ending up Nazi governor of the Netherlands and ultimately responsible for the death of Anne Frank.

O'Neill said...

But in both empires the ability of those electors in the colonies/provinces to influence(or even vote) the direction of the central government was limited to non-existant. In the UK since the Representation of Act 1918, the electorate of Wales and Scotland have and still do influence greatly the direction of the Westminster government- indeed I suspect that is one of the reasons Brown has *discovered* his Unionism so late his career

The Aberdonian said...

People elected representatives - in the Austrian side anyway - who could block legislation. Blocking legislation or making a noise about it led to governments falling. Pace the fall of Bedini due to passing (in German deputies eyes) of the Bedeni decrees.

The Czech deputies were famous for filibustering in Parliament over the issue of Czech autonomy. Indeed for period the conservative Czech nationalists were part of the coalition built by Minister-President Taaffe.

Government was not Parliamentary. However laws could not be passed unless there was a parliamentary majority for them. There was also a network of provincial parliaments (such as Bohemia, Moravia, Lower Austria etc) beneath it which the government could appeal to for money and where they faced similar problems.

Concerning influence of the nations within the UK Parliament - why did Parnell and his crowd have to do what they did if they could influence the government. When the Tories were in they were ignored or bought off with "killing home rule with kindness".

Similar tactics took place in Austria. For example setting up separate universities for Czech and German speakers in Prague so neither side could complain. Another tactic was to buy Czech nationalists off by creating a bloated civil service to give them jobs in. There were more civil servants on the pay roll in the province of Bohemia than in employed in London during the height of the British Empire.

How much influence that can be bought is a numbers game. Pace the situation in Scotland and Wales between 1987-1997 when the government largely ignored both countries and their wishes. The Tories even famously tried to gerrymander local government boundaries in Scotland during the reforms in the early 90's.