Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Conservative government will inevitably mean a stronger Union

It's the day after the General Election in 2010 and Yellow Belly Brown, having been forced finally to go to the nation, has been seriously thumped by Cameron and the Conservatives.

The received wisdom, from six months ago is that for a number of reasons this would be Bad News for the Union.

I really don't think it will be:

a) Cameron and the Conservatives, unlike Brown (who has run to drape himself in the Union flag for purely party political reasons) are Unionists by conviction- much easier to fight your corner when you genuinely believe in the cause you're fighting for.

b) The Conservative Party (and their close allies), unlike Labour, will be contesting and I'm convinced winning seats in all 4 parts of the UK- when they become the government of all 4 parts of the UK, will this fact weaken or strengthen their moral right to govern all 4 parts of the UK?

c) The Conservatives did not only recognise the potential of the "stain of nationalism" much earlier than Labour, they also have a much more realistic grasp of the threat posed by the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Sinn Fein. It's a threat to their the integrity of their whole nation, not their partisan hegemony in only 2 parts of it.

d) The modern Conservative Party is one, by necessity, built on pragmatism and a fair bit of libertarianism. Brown's attempt to impose a "one-size-fits all" version of Britishness will not be repeated; the much more sustainable (and easier to sell) "umbrella" version will inevitably emerge.

e) The Conservative Party will be (as per point b) the government of all the UK. It will also be, unlike Labour presently, "governing England" with the mandate of the English electorate.

There are obviously other reasons why I believe the Union is currently moving into a stronger position but these are not connected directly with the strong probability of a Conservative government next year; Conservative and Unionist readers feel free to add your own reasons- I'll add them to my list above!

17 comments:

DG said...

Are you sure Gordon Brown's Britishness drive is without conviction? I think it has that, but it just inept.

The latest post over at Scottish Unionist makes this point, quoting the man who's currently presenting a programme on Britishness for Radio 4 and with whom he Brown is writing a book on British national identity, makes this point.

For one, I think Unionism (or at the very least, anti-nationalism) has been significant to the Labour movement for some time, at least in Great Britain if not across the whole of the UK. When I was at university, I heard a Scottish Labour councillor speak eloquently on Unionism on the basis of internationalism and solidarity, surmising that Britain was the most successful project in uniting diverse populations in modern history.

Its easy to dismiss Brown as Salmond does, but I do believe there is at least honest belief in the union behind him.

Carson's Cat said...

A stronger Union will come about, not through the hitching of mainland unionism to one political party, but through a broad will to tackle the threat of nationalism across all of the main political parties.

Of course that isn't the purpose of this post but its to say .... "oooohhh isn't Reggie great cos we're part of the Conservative party now".

What happens if Cameron needs 5 DUP seats to form a Government? Will you still be as pro-Conservative then when he's been pragmatic enough to ditch the UUP?

O'Neill said...

DG,

Its easy to dismiss Brown as Salmond does, but I do believe there is at least honest belief in the union behind him.

It's only since the rise of nationalism in Scotland and Wales (and the corresponding damage to Labour's powerbase in both countries) that we've seen that belief come to the fore. How much of it is a genuine conviction and how much of it is realpolitik, i suppose only Brown really knows for sure. Your point about certain elements (especially on the left) within the Labour party having an idealogical leaning towards unionism is a valid one.

O'Neill said...

Carson's Cat

A stronger Union will come about, not through the hitching of mainland unionism to one political party, but through a broad will to tackle the threat of nationalism across all of the main political parties.

Nothing would delight me more, but in the meantime there are elections to be had and governments to be formed and the point of the post was that I think a Conservative govt would strengthen the Union. Unionism doesn't need to be "hitched" to the Conservatives; in fact the more competition in the area of ideas and policies between pro-Union parties the better

What happens if Cameron needs 5 DUP seats to form a Government? Will you still be as pro-Conservative then when he's been pragmatic enough to ditch the UUP?

I'm a Unionist first and foremost, not a party apparachnik- I don't claim the Union will stand or fall on the basis of the success of my particular party choice. I also believe in much of current Conservative philosophy especially in the area of social policy and particularly the concept of *inclusiveness* which is being promoted.

So, if the unlikely alliance with the DUP took place, we'd need to look at how it affected the Union and secondly how it impacted in the area of social policy and inclusiveness that I mentioned.

Hen Ferchetan said...

"e) The Conservative Party will be (as per point b) the government of all the UK. It will also be, unlike Labour presently, "governing England" with the mandate of the English electorate."

But by the same reasoning it won't be governing Scotland and Wales with the mandate of the Scot/Welsh electorate

wildgoose said...

Good point Hen.

And there is no way I would describe Gordon Brown as a "Unionist", (and ditto the blogger "Scottish Unionist" for that matter as well).

Gordon Brown is a "Colonialist".

He believes that the Union is best for Scotland and so supports it but not for any other reason - he is only interested in what is best for Scotland, and what best engineers a superior situation for Scotland.

Keeping England subjugated suits the Devolution arrangement that he was the primary architect of, and entrenches Scotland's superior situation.

In his own way, he is every bit as nationalist as the SNP.

Anonymous said...

Wildgoose that is absolute nonsense, he geniunely believes that Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland are greater than the sum of their parts and that all benefit. He is also emotionally British, his wife is English. I don't think he is British because it's convienent for Scotland.

Stonemason. said...

Hen Ferchetan

DC will have this Welsh families mandate.

Nationalism in Wales is done, as DC said recently .....

There would be a relationship of "cooperation, not confrontation" between administrations in Westminster and Cardiff under the Conservatives.

Now how would Plaid fit that suit of clothes, not very well by past experience.

DG said...

Wildgoose,

What utter nonsense. There's absolutely no basis in fact for such a mad-cap conspiracy theory.

O'Neill,

I suppose one might suggest that Gordon Brown has only been PM - and indeed, has only been a significant figure in the Labour Party - during periods where Nationalism has been considered significant in Scotland.

Hen Ferchetan said...

Stonemason - sorry I didn't understahnd a word of that.

O'Neill said that tory government would trengthen the Union because it would have an english mandate that Labour hasn't got since it would be the majority party. By the same deduction it would weake the Union because it wouldn't have the mandate in Scotland and Wales that Labour currently has.

As for your cooperation/confrontation point I struggle to see how a Tory government would cooperate more with a Labour First Minister than a Labour government would.

wildgoose said...

Nonsense? "Mad-cap conspiracy theory?" Where's your evidence?

Because my evidence is everywhere you look.

Scotland has its own Parliament that deals with as much as 85% of Scottish legislation, including all the "bread and butter" issues such as Health, Education, and so on. It will brook no outside interference in these matters and is even having the Calman Report reviewing what additional powers should be granted it.

At the same time it insists on interfering with matters in England that no English MP can do anything about in Scotland.

If there is no reciprocity then the relationship is not that of a Union of Equals but rather that of Colonial Master and Colonial Servant.

It isn't even consistent! There was a Labour manifesto commitment that there would be no introduction of tuition fees. And there wasn't - in Scotland. England's MPs also voted against their introduction, but England's MPs were over-ruled by Scottish MPs who knew their own kids would be unaffected.

What about our Hospitals? Our colonial masters are selling off English Hospitals on dodgy lease-back schemes to raise short-term cash. This is happening to English Hospitals only. In effect, the English NHS is being pawned off and the monies raised are being syphoned off to pay things like the Barnett Formula, in effect a Colonial Levy.

You can bluster all you like. The facts on the ground fit my interpretation far better than your feeble protestations.

O'Neill said...

HF

But by the same reasoning it won't be governing Scotland and Wales with the mandate of the Scot/Welsh electorate

As a Unionist, I see a government elected by the majority of the UK electorate as acting on the mandate of the UK people, wherever they may come from.

As you know by now I'm an anti-devolutionist, I regret the fact that constitutional vandalism was inflicted upon the UK in the shape of the devolved *parliaments* in NI, Scotland and Wales...but as a realist, I've got to accept their existance as fact. England doesn't have that luxury of an individual *parliament* and as a result, the Westminster parliament is also the sole *English* parliament.

A Conservative UK government therefore voted in by the majority of the English electorate, but also containing sufficient MPS from NI, Scotland and Wales would have, in my opinion, a stronger moral mandate to govern the UK, as a whole, than the present labour administration.

And BTW, welcome back and no more difficult questions, please;)

O'Neill said...

I suppose one might suggest that Gordon Brown has only been PM - and indeed, has only been a significant figure in the Labour Party - during periods where Nationalism has been considered significant in Scotland.

That's arguing that the expression of his Unionism, more strongly stated now than at any other time prior to 97, is inversely proportional to the present strength of Scottish nationalism?

Almost 10 years previously to the setting up of devolution, Brown was one of the signatories to the Scottish Claim of Rights; peoples’ and especially politicians’ opinions do change, but a Unionist by conviction signing a document which attributed all sovereign rights in Scotland to the Scottish people, rather than to the Crown in Westminster seems a bit peculiar.

Hen Ferchetan said...

I accept the "english parliament" point but the original claim is just a bit undermined still :-P

Only back for a short time, but nice to look around again!

The Aberdonian said...

O'Neill

To be pedantic no UK government has ever received the majority of the votes cast in a UK general election since well Gladstone in 1880. It thanks to the skewed voting system that you have large overall majorities etc.

At the moment the best a government can hope for is around 43% of the vote. Even getting more votes than your rivals does not guarantee you will be the largest party - 1951 when UUP sitting as Tories swung it for Churchill despite the Tories getting 4% than Labour. And Heath getting more votes but less seats than Wilson in Feb 1974.

Anyway, a Conservative outfit could be destabilsing, particularly if the Tories do not get many seats in Scotland. I predict 5 out of 59 max.

You will probably get a buggins turn Scotland Secretary, holding office simply because he is one of the few been elected. At the mo it is a cert that Fluffy Mundell will get the job unless Peter Duncan gets back in. Then it is a choice of two.

An attempt to bring in a Scot with an English constituency will probably be not acceptable to the Scottish establishment. Ditto Scotland Questions with English Tories asking planted questions from the government benches facing the fuller opposition benches. Particularly if the aforementioned MPs use it as a forum to attack the Edinburgh legislature or administration.

And of course the Scottish select committee which will be stuffed with English Tory MPs with possibly little interest in Scotland. There are only so many ex-pats to go round.

And Salmond, with Labour in disarray, is going to sit back and love it. Putting him in pole position for 2011 and increasing his profile as the "Champion of Scotland" and all that jazz.

Westminster will resemble pre-1997.

Dave has said he will meet with Salmond and whoever is in Bute House. That is to be welcomed as it is a better attitude than Labour whose attitude is clouded by an arrogance that they have the divine right to rule Scotland. Being out of power both sides of the border might make Scottish Labour have a hard think as Brown's inevitable departure will end the McMafia hold on the Westminster frontbench with only Wee Dougie left if he is lucky. (Darling will go the City along with Brown).

The only consolation for Labour will be that will get more votes and seats than the SNP in Scotland in 2010. Salmond will get 12 seats in the Commons at the most and will look initially wounded by failing to get his vaunted 20 but is likely to recover if Labour plunges into civil war - which is very likely.

The best Dave can do is promise to keep off the lawn of Bute House and avoide giving Salmond reason to put his tank on Downing Street's lawn.

Seamus said...

Aberdonian, not strictly true.

The British Governments between 1931 and 1945 had a pluarity of votes. The 1931 Election was actually the only Election were one Party (the Tories) recieved more than 50% of the vote.

Also, I don't feel a Conservative Government will be good for the Union, not that I'm complaining. The Tories, even with a 7 or 8 point win at the election, will probably only have a 30 seat Majority and won't have the most stable of Government.s

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