Jeremy Hardy thinks… about the union

'It’s always an intellectual fudge for the left, whereby folksy, blood-and-soil nonsense is inspiring up until the moment of independence but no further'

August 10, 2014 · 2 min read

If Scotland leaves the UK, it will be the Tories’ fault. Not that they’ll grieve uncontrollably; hardly any of them live there. A Scottish Tory with political ambition generally heads south. Gove represents Surrey Heath, and Liam Fox found sanctuary in a Somerset hamlet called Little-Bigot-on-the-Necks-of-the-Poor. So some Scots ask, ‘Why should we live under bastards we don’t vote for?’ Labour’s mistake has been to join forces with said bastards, instead of urging Scots to stay in the fight against them.

It is tempting to ask Scottish socialists voting Yes how they feel about a party with National in the title, but they retort that this is not about nationalism but self-determination. It’s always an intellectual fudge for the left, whereby folksy, blood-and-soil nonsense is inspiring up until the moment of independence but no further. We haven’t heard too much of that stuff from the Yes camp, but the ‘we are better governing ourselves’ line is rather tainted by UKIP. Who are ‘ourselves’ and when do we stop drawing lines on maps? And the principle of self-governance offers the moral argument for unregulated markets, private schools, gun ownership and brutal immigration policies.

But the SNP’s appeal is more about its leftish policies than its depiction of other Britons as alien. Salmond may see the English as effete reactionaries, but for most Scots, that idea is no more serious than the English thinking Scots all choke to death on battered sausages aged 30. And left‑wing support for independence goes way beyond the Nats. It’s about the Tories – and New Labour.

But if Scotland goes, the rest of us will have to cope, combating the maudlin, introspection that will follow. Our place in the world will diminish, but that will be good for us.

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