Cameron fails to appreciate independence is about people and good governance


By Mark McNaught
In his speech on February 7th at the Olympic velodrome in London, David Cameron made an emotional appeal to Scots to remain in the UK, and for the people of England, Northern Ireland, and Wales to phone and tweet Scots to exhort them to remain mired with them in the corrupt Westminster system. He presumably did not anticipate the opposite reaction.

His speech touted UK exceptionalism in a way that would make Ronald Reagan sound like a subversive peacenik. “Our great United Kingdom: brave, brilliant, buccaneering, generous, tolerant, proud – this is our country.” He was deeply concerned about how others perceive the UK, but unconcerned that citizens of the country he leads are so dreadfully governed.   

Cameron held that Scotland would have less ‘clout’ in the world if it became independent. The status of the UK on the UN security council, NATO, the EU, and the G8 would all be jeopardized if Scotland were to become independent. This begs the question: how much has Westminster used this clout to directly benefit Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, or anywhere else besides greater London?

Regardless of the amount of clout that Scotland would have after independence, how it is used is much more important. For example, Scotland would not use its influence within the EU to hector, berate, and threaten to leave; it would constructively engage. Most Scots would likely not be bothered joining increasingly irrelevant exclusive clubs like the G8. 

Mr. Cameron is also concerned that the British ‘brand’ would be diminished throughout the world, as if the UK is to be sold like soap. Apparently, it is only because he ‘bangs the drum’ about Scotch Whisky on foreign trade missions that £4.2 billion a year pours into the Westminster treasury. If this money were put into the Scottish treasury instead, it would amount to more than £850 for every man, woman and child in Scotland. And then there is petroleum revenue.

Concerning relations between individuals, Cameron holds that: “The United Kingdom is an intricate tapestry, millions of relationships woven tight over more than 3 centuries. That’s why, for millions of people, there is no contradiction in being proud of your Scottishness, Englishness, Britishness – sometimes all at once. (..) all these connections – whether business or personal – are eased and strengthened by the institutional framework of the UK.”

Obviously, Scottish independence would not affect family ties, nor peoples sense of identity. These irrelevant and offensive assertions demonstrate the degree to which Westminster has deluded itself by equating British identity and UK nationalism. Britain is not a nation or a political system, it is an identity. If Britain were a nation, Brittany in France would be under Westminster rule. Once Scotland votes for independence, Britain will not be any less British.

Perhaps the most shameless propaganda was his comments regarding social solidarity.

“In this country, we don’t walk on by when people are sick when people lose work when people get old. When you talk about an Englishman, a Welshman, a Scotsman, a Northern Irishman it might sound like the beginning of a bad joke but here it’s how we started our NHS, our welfare system, our state pension system. And these values aren’t trapped in the pages of a history book – they are alive.”

This, coming from the leader of the Tory party which has actively sought to destroy these programs and create an individualist free-market utopia, is ultimately why Scots will vote ‘yes’. Scotland would not be abandoning the UK. Westminster Tories and New Labourites abandoned long ago the institutions and programs which have ensured collective solidarity, and thereby a sense of national belonging. The Westminster government destroyed allegiance to the UK state, not Scotland.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a badly functioning political system, plagued with corporate corruption, infected with aristocratic entitlement, which no longer serves vast swaths of the population in its constituent nations. Scotland has the historic opportunity to bloodlessly break the feudal ties with Westminster, and create a political system that actually serves its people.

This would only enhance the reputation of Scotland, including among those in the r-UK who cannot believe how lucky Scots are to have a chance to chart a new course.