Scottish unionists, and indeed unionists across the UK, have had to endure a lot in recent years. The rise of the mass nationalist movement in Scotland has changed our political landscape beyond recognition, subjecting us to endless constitutional uncertainty while the things that politics used to be about, such as the NHS, the education system and the economy fall into neglect and decline.
The introduction of the referendum device as a means of breaking up the UK did more than anything else to create the political gulf that has scarred Scotland: a world of Yes or No, of two opposite camps, of two Facebook newsfeeds that run in parallel and never meet. As unionists, we hoist our flag proudly on one of those masts, yet we must ask how it is that in such a short space of time we were plunged into this unpleasant new reality; one where we must ceaselessly advocate for the very existence of the United Kingdom and be held hostage to endless constitutional politics.
There was something different before this became the norm
We must see beyond the day’s headlines when we open our newspaper: the momentary outrage when we read of another SNP failure in government; the one-upmanship of Sturgeon’s latest setback. Step for one moment outside the confines of the present and it is very obvious that what has happened happened in this country is so much more fundamental than these things. There was a world before Yes and No, before the 55% and the 45% and the endless polling thereafter.
There was a time before the rise of the mass nationalist movement not all that long ago, and a time when the UK, much more than the Barnett consequentials and spending formulas that it has now been reduced to in unionist discourse, was a real, almost living thing: a political realisation of the shared values, shared experience and shared past of a people whose nationhood was held so deeply and almost unquestioningly that it rarely had to be articulated or defended. So what happened, and how did the new order so totally replace what went before it?
A VERY DIFFERENT COUNTRY
It is impossible to describe how this country used to be without sounding hopelessly quaint, old fashioned and almost unwittingly sentimental; this need not be testament to the fact that we are all those things, but rather to how thorough and total the transformation of our country has been in such a short space of time; one that renders the recent past as though it were a very foreign country, and any recollection of it as unavoidably mawkish and embarrassing to modern readers.
To speak generally of ‘a few decades ago’, all UK citizens were governed by a single parliament, which legislated in common for the whole country; the democratic process and the resulting government were shared across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland with almost no distinction between them. Democracy itself was conducted through the national parliament at Westminster, and the idea of the referendum device was deemed the preserve of the populist far-left and far-right; a continental device and thoroughly un-British.
Britain was a sovereign nation, managing its own affairs, trading with whom it pleased while protecting its industry from third world price competition through effective tariffs and trade barriers. A serious national economy, rooted in the manufacturing sector, was evident across the nation as cities like Liverpool, Glasgow and Belfast vied for the title of Britain’s Second City. Core national infrastructure such as energy production, the national grid, the railways and the postal service were maintained under state control as part of a mixed economy. We were a fiscally responsible nation: private debt was rare and frowned upon, while banks were heavily regulated and expected to have hard cash or other liquid assets to back up any loans they handed out.
British Rail, National Grid, British Coal, Royal Mail, British Shipbuilding:
Once part of a serious national infrastructure
This order and cohesion was present on a social as well as a national level, and it provided genuine opportunity and social mobility across the social spectrum. With the right qualifications, the young could expect to attend university almost entirely funded by government tuition and maintenance grants and graduate debt free, while others could find a life-long trade through vocational training and take their place in a strong manufacturing economy. Jobs were generally long-term if not for life, and graduates in almost all fields could expect to see the value of their degree.
Home ownership was a very achievable aspiration for even those at the low end of the pay scale, and it was typical for less than ten percent of income to be spent on housing costs. With stable jobs and affordable housing, it was easy for families to establish themselves, especially when even working-class households could typically be supported by a single-income: a healthy birth rate fuelled population growth and maintained a proportionate working-age population to support the old and retired as well as the young.
The family unit was the bedrock of this society; one which naturally engendered financial independence, individual responsibility and solid values. Children overwhelmingly grew up in married, two-parent households; their worldviews would often be shaped by experiences of Sunday School or the Boys Bridge, while at school their minds would be filled with the great tales of Bunyan and the prose of Milton, transmitting from generation to generation the deep and unchallenged, if by then rather loosely held views of an almost unconsciously Christian society.
Such was the way we were. Union was not just a dry constitutional arrangement, but a true realisation of the common experience and common purpose shared by the people of the UK. Britain was in every sense a nation, in a period marked by social mobility and growing prosperity pioneered by fundamentally strong, independent and responsible citizenry. To parallel the above paragraphs, how might a similar description of the UK today read?
THE WORLD WE LIVE IN
UK citizens now find themselves governed by multiple parliaments and assemblies, with core areas of everyday governance such as health and education now being conducted by semi-independent statelets in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland’s assembly is run by a party whose core raison d’etre is to break up the UK, while in Northern Ireland the political wing of the IRA are coalition partners, and the province itself is partially governed by the Irish Republic. Three-hundred years of parliamentary democracy, instituted at the Union of 1707, has been effectively cast off, and Britain is now ruled by referendum, with scarcely a few months passing between any given parliamentary, devolved, local, European or referendum vote.
British-level democracy has been stifled amidst a haze of European and devolved institutions
Sovereignty has long been surrendered to the European superstate: parliament abides by Brussel’s laws, while local shops and businesses have largely disappeared in the Single Market’s world of corporatism and multinationals. Though the people voted to reject this against all the odds, the referendum device has ensured that the political class remains untouched. An MP who was elected on manifesto commitments to remain in the EU and Single Market, and who was an active participant in the Remain campaign, now leads the country and the Brexit process: few people seem to consider this odd.
The mines, the shipyards, the factories, and all the industry and manufacturing are now largely gone, replaced in part by calls centres and coffee shops but more often by nothing at all. Outside of city centres, most of the country is an economic wasteland: London accounts for an astonishing one-third of all UK tax revenue. Essential national infrastructure is largely under foreign control, run for foreign profit: the French, Spanish and German governments dominate the ‘big six’ energy providers; a Sino-Australian conglomerate runs the National Grid; German state-backed companies run much of England’s railways, the Dutch Scotland’s. As the sad farce of Hinkley Point demonstrates, the UK now cannot build a basic power station without French technological expertise and Chinese funding.
As in the past, social conditions mirror the national. Those who attend higher education can expect to take on an average of over £30,000 debt to do so. Half the nation’s youth will enter adult life with this burden, though less than half of those will actually enter graduate jobs. Jobs are now typically short-term, not uncommonly on notorious ‘zero hour’ contracts, although more often on the less spoken-of week-to-week contracts. In the new ‘service economy’, the young can expect to live their lives working as baristas, call centre operators or in various other McJobs.
This is not mere drama and melancholy: the wealth of under-30s has halved in under a decade precisely because of these economic phenomena. The student debt they struggle to repay is part of a much wider problem; private debt is at record levels and amongst the highest in the world, and the entire economy has been debt-based since the ‘funny money’ and asset wealth revolution of the 80s. This new culture of debt is most visible on our high streets: a pay-day lender in place of a butcher; a betting shop in place of a grocer; an appliance rental store in place of a baker.
Home ownership is now an unattainable dream for most and especially for those on lower incomes: those paying rent or mortgages today fork out three times as much of their income on housing as their parents did, while house prices have risen at five times the rate of wages over the last five years alone. The days of single-income households are long gone for all but the wealthiest, though half of mothers in full-time work wish they weren’t.
In a world of low-pay, unstable employment and almost impossible housing costs which force both parents into work, it is little wonder that the traditional family is collapsing. Only half of children have married parents by the time they finish primary school, while one-third will witness their parents divorce. One in three women have an abortion at some point in their lifetime, while married couples are now a minority. The birth rate is below the replenishment rate identified as ‘crisis point’ by the UN, although the population grows due to mass immigration, with 700,000 immigrants coming into the UK each year. Children grow up in very different looking households and communities from past generations, and from primary school are educated in the language and the norms of the new secular, liberal orthodoxy.
Corbynism and the Yes movement: two products of the society we have become
Such is the way we are. Is it any wonder that this brave new world should give rise to the radicalism of the Yes movement or of Corbynism? Or that forty-five percent of Scots should be sufficiently indifferent or outright hostile to the idea of Britain, rooted as it is in concepts of tradition, restraint and things that otherwise militate against the new revolutionary order, that they would vote for its abolition? It would have been unthinkable a few decades ago in the very different country that this used to be, when as in 1979 Scottish voters proved they weren’t even interested in a devolved parliament, and rejected it through apathy and low turnout.
How then did the country become so radically different? The answer to that is that there has been a total revolution in the constitutional, economic and social order of the UK, ushered in from the top-down by the revolutionary policies of successive Labour and Conservative governments, and then taken to new levels by the radical nationalist movements that they spawned. It is only in understanding the nature of this revolution, a fundamentally anti-British and anti-Union revolution, that we can truly understand what has happened to our country.
THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION
If it was suggested that in the late 60s, a man with a little red book was leading a dramatic cultural revolution against the old customs, old culture, old habits and old ideas of his country, one’s mind might first turn to China’s Chairman Mao Tse-tung. And yet this description could apply just as equally to Labour MP Roy Jenkins, who without Mao’s violence and bloodshed achieved a revolution no less thorough for it. Jenkin’s own ‘little red book’ was an absolutely extraordinary document titled ‘The Labour Case’, in which he laid out a radical platform aimed at the destruction of traditional ideas of family, parenthood, justice and the whole order of society. Just as Mao waged his revolution against China’s ‘Four Olds’ (customs, culture, habits and ideas) so did Jenkins in the UK.
Two cultural revolutionaries of the late 60s
Respectably dressed, well-connected, well-spoken and the speaking language of middle-ground and compromise, Roy Jenkins would seem a very unusual revolutionary. As an MP, he served as a Labour Home Secretary and would later co-found the Social Democratic Party, ending his parliamentary career as a Liberal Democrat peer in the House of Lords. He may have avoided the controversy of Foot or Thatcher, yet Jenkins led the vanguard of a cultural revolution that, in just a few short years of the late 60s, overturned the morality and the social order that had for centuries been the foundations of British society.
Jenkin’s ideas could never gain sanction as Labour Party policy, as the Labour Party at that time still to some degree reflected its socially conservative working-class support base. And so it was that in the late 60s, while serving as Home Secretary, Jenkins and a number of fellow Oxbridge-educated MPs formed a cross-party alliance of Labour and Tory radicals to push through their agenda through a series of private member’s bills.
Old notions of justice were the first to go, with the 1967 Criminal Justice Act introducing for the first time the use of suspended sentences and a new system of early release for long-term prisoners; this was itself an extension of the sentiments behind the suspension of the death penalty for murder in 1965. Amidst talk of ‘civility’, justice itself was somehow squeezed out of the picture, and the message for criminals was clear: your crimes are unlikely to be punished, and not very seriously if they are. It also indicated to the average person that this was, in some small way, a society where law, order and the morality that underpins them were in retreat.
The very same year that murderers began to walk out on early release, the Abortion Act of 1967 introduced what was effectively abortion on demand for pregnancies of up to twenty-eight weeks. Although the legal ruling Rex v Bourne (1938) had already made abortions available to women who were victims of rape, or in cases of incest or danger to life, this was not enough for the revolutionaries who were intent on pursuing freely available social abortions on ideological grounds. Hundreds of thousands of abortions would come to be carried out yearly; to date over eight million abortions have been carried out in the UK since the introduction of this act, drastically altering our demographic landscape. Equivalent to over ten percent of the current UK population, or over one-and-a-half times the entire population of Scotland have been aborted through this legislation.
Two years after the Abortion Act, no-fault divorce was introduced through the Divorce Reform Act 1969, rendering marriage vows meaningless and ending any legal basis for marriage as a source of social stability. Marriage and divorce rates have respectively plummeted and shot up ever since, drastically altering the landscape of both adult life and childhood. Meanwhile, a series of education acts brought the new anti-morality into the school system, doing away with ‘outdated’ ides of individualism and attainment, and replacing them with the new mantra of equality, even between teacher and pupil. The curriculum began to change very rapidly: a learning system based on hard facts and figures gave way to vague and largely unmeasurable ‘skills-based’ learning; sex education was introduced while Christianity was squeezed out of the classroom; the once-substantial teaching of British history, focused on the nation’s great characters and events, was abandoned in favour of a smattering of topics covering various social developments, world affairs and international cultures.
This was itself a sort of preparation for the new society which the revolutionaries envisaged, central to which was the creation of a new multicultural order in which no single value system would have any sort of privilege or status above another, neither would any bind all citizens together. While Home Secretary, Jenkins began to open Britain’s borders to large-scale immigration from the mid-60s. Outside of war or humanitarian disaster there had never previously been anything like it in history; such mass migration of economic migrants was an entirely new phenomena. It was amidst a climate of fevered debate that Enoch Power gave his infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in 1968, and many, rightly or wrongly, shared his belief that the introduction of 50,000 immigrants to the country each year was both shocking and unsustainable. In our own time, this figure would rise under Theresa May’s tenure as Home Secretary to 700,000 annually.
Unlike today, immigration in the 60s was at least largely from Commonwealth
nations with a strong affinity for Britain and the monarchy
At the same time, as new forms of mass media began to emerge, the revolutionaries did away entirely with centuries of restraint and old-fashioned ideas of decency, and ensured new mediums such as television would be used to disseminate a new mass culture to the people, to be beamed at them constantly from their living rooms. Roy Jenkins was as usual at the forefront. In 1959 he introduced the Obscene Publications Act; effectively a total abolition of all existing obscenity laws (as usual this was a private member’s bill, as the electorate had no issue with the existing legislation). This law was at the heart of the notorious trial surrounding the novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover, in which Roy Jenkins himself starred as a witness in defence of the novel’s widespread use of the words f*** and c***, which was deemed shocking by many at the time.
The notion that this should even be controversial will seem bizarre and bewildering to readers in the revolutionary age. These words would in time come to pepper almost every sentence in the speech of large parts of the population: let the reader judge if we are richer for it. George Orwell knew the significance of language in framing thought, illustrated in the ‘Newspeak’ dictionary of 1984; revolutionaries such as Jenkins knew this too. They may also have noted how that in the cruel world of 1984, vices such as gambling, alcohol and pornography were used to control the ‘proles’. Thereafter, the small number of intellectuals who dominated British television and film were increasingly free to push all the gratuitous violence, cursing and sex that they liked into living rooms across the country, and through the sheer unchallenged dominance of their output were able to gradually convert to their view of the world (or the baseness of their thought) what was until even a generation ago a socially conservative and patriotic silent majority.
It had been decided by a small number of Oxbridge intellectuals that Britain would no longer be a quietly Christian country founded upon the family unit, maintained by justice and the rule of law. They decided that a new order would take their place, to be brought about through this revolution in manners, in customs, in social order and in the very nature of who we are. The sink estates that run the length of the country; the crime, the isolation, the cutting off of all the social and family bonds that once existed, the ageing population and demographic crisis, the crudeness and the poverty of modern language and thought, are this revolution’s legacy.
And so it was, that with the foundations of society sufficiently undermined, the Labour and Conservative Parties, increasingly dominated by Oxbridge-educated radicals of Jenkin’s ilk, were able to extend their revolutionary agenda into a full programme of total national dissolution in which Britain’s sovereignty, parliamentary democracy and even Union itself would be the ultimate casualties.
THE REVOLUTIONARY ROAD
Following on from the cultural revolution initiated in the late 60s, Britain’s sovereignty was the next target for the revolutionaries. Britain was hauled into the emerging European superstate in 1973 through the rather bizarre single-mindedness of Conservative Prime Minister Ted Heath, who decided that it was time for hundreds of years of sovereignty to come to an end. Ever since that date, Britain’s democratic, economic and legal institutions have been subordinate to the undemocratic, unaccountable European machine.
On 5th June 1975 the first UK-wide referendum in the nation’s history was held, launched by a Labour government to decide whether to remain in the EEC. The use of a referendum was a get-out clause for the Labour Party which abandoned its previous manifesto commitments to keep Britain out of the European project. Not for the last time, Britain’s parliamentary democracy was sacrificed for party interests, and the revolutionary referendum device was used in its stead to keep MPs in their seats. The Conservative Party led and ultimately won the campaign to remain a member of the EEC, ensuring Britain’s subordination to Europe to this day.
One of the original Remain campaigners, 1975
One prominent supporter of the Remain campaign was a certain Margaret Thatcher, who appeared on TV screens with her colourful ‘nine flags’ jumper; a display of solidarity with the other nations of the EEC. Four years later she would be Prime Minister, during which time Britain would become ever more radically integrated into the European project. Although critical of aspects of political integration (reservations which her successors did not share), Thatcher was a huge proponent of the Single Market: the free movement of goods, capital and people was after all very much in-fitting with her economic outlook. In 1986 she signed the Single European Act, bringing Britain into the newly-created Single Market.
This was all part of a wider revolution to bring about a particularly global, finance and service-based brand of capitalism (aka ‘globalisation’); one that would do away not just with national industry but with the more local and intimate forms of capitalism and private enterprise that had previously been the bedrock of British prosperity and individual liberty. The capitalism of the local shopkeeper or the independent tradesman had little place in this new order. The new order belonged to bankers, corporate CEOs and multinationals, operating across national borders with impunity.
Traditional notions of fiscal responsibility were entirely cast off. From 1981, banks were no longer required to hold any liquid assets to back up new loans or mortgages. The old system (which most people think still exists) where a bank would be expected to have hard cash from one costumer in its vaults to back up the loan granted to another, was abolished entirely. Banks, rather like a ‘magic money tree’, could now give out loans freely. If a bank handed out £10,000 to a customer as a loan, that £10,000 did not already exist as bank assets, but was entirely new money created by typing a few digits on a keyboard: money created as a debt owed by the customer to the bank. Eventually, ninety-seven percent of all money in the UK economy would come to be created as private debt in this way.
Of course, this ‘funny money’ went chiefly into mortgages which banks could now hand out free of financial responsibility, and house prices rocketed, ending hopes of home ownership for younger generations that weren’t fortunate enough to be on the ladder when the bubble took off. This madly irresponsible system finally came to a head in the 2008 crash, although it has yet to be reformed in any way.
2008: Britain reaps the fruit of the magic money tree
As this new economy based on financial services, asset wealth and ‘funny money’ took off in the cities, national industry was gradually abandoned with industries being asset stripped and sold mostly to foreign competitors. There is no doubt that British industry had been in need of serious reform. A much greater focus on research and development over raw output was direly needed, and this change took place in continental countries such as Germany which remain strong manufacturing nations. But in Britain, the sheer hostility between unions and the government (for which fault lies with both sides) prevented any such resolution, and instead of being reformed, our industries were abandoned, to be flogged off with our national infrastructure to the highest bidder. Eventually, this infrastructure would largely be under foreign control and run for foreign profit, including such core infrastructure as energy generation, the national grid and the railways. Steel and coal would henceforth be imported in enormous quantities from Communist China, the chief beneficiary of Britain’s de-industrialisation.
The country started to look very different: huge corporate glass skyscrapers began to dominate city skylines once furnished by steeples, historical landmarks and grand civic structures; local grocers, bakeries, butchers and fishmongers largely disappeared, to be replaced by ugly chain supermarkets on the edge of town. As the new commuter culture developed, small, lovingly-maintained and picket-fenced gardens were cemented over for driveways; quiet, gentle, winding roads gave way to choked motorways; towns and cities meanwhile began to merge in an endless urban sprawl. The world that people lived in began to look a lot less green and a lot greyer.
These commuters were working men who had been relegated to office cubicles, soon to find themselves alongside women who had little choice but to join in them in these unpleasant new work environments, unable to be provided for by their husbands in the era of ‘funny money’ and asset wealth. Though consumer goods became hugely cheaper, affordable housing or stable careers became less and less attainable; the aspirational lifestyle became one of flash, excess and instant gratification while traditional ideals of settling down, and of financial and social responsibility became both less feasible and desirable.
As employment retreated into urban financial centres, families migrated away from traditional towns and communities to live in the new sprawling suburbs. People would no longer live in the old, intimate and often quite self-contained communities which had rooted generations in a sense of time, place and continuity; instead they would live in the new commuter towns, in a world where everything was new and rootless, and where base consumerism would fill the void left by the loss of community life and public space. Huge swathes of South-East England became essentially a commuter belt for the City of London.
In the endless suburban sprawl, all roads lead to the distant metropolis
Coherent working-class communities within cities themselves were lost to gentrification and immigration. Generations began to live apart as older generations were left stranded in the de-populated old towns, stripped of young life. It was a world flipped on its head: core national infrastructure was run for private foreign profit, while childcare and care for the elderly were nationalised as mothers were forced out of homes and into the workplace. The cultural and economic revolutions were blending together, and no aspect of the Labour-led cultural revolution of the late 60s was ever in any way challenged or reversed by later Conservative administrations: mass immigration, social breakdown, EU integration and the march of globalisation continued unabated.
The ugly consequences of the cultural and economic revolutions manifested themselves most strongly in the working-class communities of the old industrial heartlands. Apparently to the great surprise of Lord Tebbit, entire communities of men who had spent their lives in mines and factories did not suddenly don business suits, begin flogging asset portfolios and business solutions and become bold entrepreneurs of the new market economy. Instead, in the absence of the old, serious jobs, once proud working-class communities slipped into a culture of welfare and dependency, ghettoization, crime, generational poverty, alcohol and drug abuse and general family and social breakdown, all things actively endorsed by government legislation. The old industrial Left declined with them, and the left-wing was taken over entirely by the largely middle-class, university educated, trendy intellectuals who now dominate all major parties. The British working-class were abandoned, left to their condition and have never been represented since.
A generation of Britons who had grown up in the new revolutionary order, whose minds were shaped by its norms and its values, who knew nothing other than its social and national decay, would prove to be a sufficiently pliant, dispirited and even willing generation for the most radical and extreme project yet of the revolutionaries: the destruction of the very British nation state itself.
In Scotland, the seeds of a new, radically anti-British brand of separatism were being sown. A small group of radicals who had grown up in the cultural revolution, whose minds were shaped by its climate of radicalism, chaos and the collapse of authority, formed a fringe group within the SNP known as the ’79 Group’. Opposed to the old conservative leadership of the SNP at the time, they agitated within the party for their own socialist, republican vision of independence. They were briefly expelled from the party shortly after discussing an invitation from Sinn Fein to speak at their annual conference (this at the height of the IRA bombing campaign), although were later to be readmitted. One leading figure of this radical fringe group was a young Alex Salmond; other key figures included Roseanna Cunningham, Winnie Ewing and Kenny McAskill. By the late 80s they had seized the reigns of control in their party, and would in time come to be leading figures of a ‘Scottish government’.
Note the subtitle: “For a Scottish Socialist Republic”
It was in Northern Ireland however that radical nationalism would manifest itself in its more violent and horrific form. While IRA thugs carried out their campaign of terror, Margaret Thatcher shocked unionists by signing the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1985, granting the Irish Republic a role in the governance of Northern Ireland (it should be noted that she later expressed regret about this, and was also the last Prime Minister to take an otherwise hard line against terrorism and violence, whether from Irish Republicans or an Argentinian Junta). In the heady climate of the time Enoch Powell, then an Ulster Unionist MP, stood up in parliament and warned Thatcher that “the penalty for treachery is to fall into public contempt”.
For unionists it was a betrayal and they staged mass protests across the province to oppose it. Their efforts however proved to be in vain, and civil servants duly travelled north from Dublin to their new offices in Belfast to assume the Irish Republic’s role in the administration of Northern Ireland. While (the Anglo-Irish Treaty aside) Thatcher had taken a tough stance against the IRA and did so out of genuine conviction, by 1990 Conservative Secretary of State Peter Brooke felt able to declare that “the British Government has no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland”. Though it affected only a small part of UK territory, the treaty had etched into the national consciousness the reality that Britain had lost the will, or the nerve, to maintain its basic territorial integrity or the rule of law throughout its lands.
Meanwhile, the European project was accelerating. Thatcher’s successor John Major cast aside her reservations about the EU, and signed the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, which granted the title ‘European Union’ to what had formerly been the EEC. It would plunge Britain deeper than ever into Europe’s mechanisms, giving the EU significant control over UK government finances. As always, the Conservative Party lead the way in Britain’s EU integration. Bit by bit, the basic integrity of the British state was disintegrating: sovereignty over core UK territory had been ceded, our borders had been surrendered to the EU, and radical nationalist movements were developing across the UK’s regions.
1997: New Labour begin their revolutionary programme
In 1997, the most notorious constitutional vandal and revolutionary of them all came to power: Tony Blair’s New Labour government launched an unprecedented campaign of reform that effectively ended what was then almost three centuries of UK parliamentary union and democracy. By 1999, he had through the unconstitutional referendum device balkanized and carved up the UK into a number of petty statelets, each with their own ‘parliament’ or assembly and national leader. The worst injustice was in Northern Ireland, where as with the Anglo-Irish Treaty the previous decade republican terrorists were rewarded for their murder campaign, this time being placed in a permanent coalition government at Stormont by the Blair administration. UK citizens would no longer share a common parliament, be governed by common legislation or work towards a common purpose: the ‘four nations’, as the UK was increasingly spoken of, began to part ways.
Almost immediately, the devolved assemblies began to petition for more and more power, even though they already had control over the most essential areas of everyday governance such as education and health. Numerous acts were passed throughout the New Labour years that handed over increasing powers to the devolved institutions. In 2005 the Scottish parliament was granted power over railways; in 2007 the Scottish Executive took on a new role as the ‘Scottish Government’, while a radical set of devolutionary measures were planned through the Calman Commission from 2007, manifested later in the 2012 Scotland Act. Similar developments took place in Wales and Northern Ireland. It was a one-way transfer of power from the British centre to the devolved parliaments, supported enthusiastically by the mainstream ‘unionist’ parties.
The social and cultural fabric of Britain would also change more radically in the Blair era than any other. The ‘permissive society’ reached new heights (or, perhaps most appropriately, depths): drug laws went increasingly unenforced and casual use of ‘soft’ drugs became socially acceptable and widespread, crime went increasingly unpunished, families increasingly disintegrated and all traditional sources of order and morality from the national churches to grandparents were either by design or by accident marginalised and scorned. PC culture and the mantra of equality tightened their grip in the school system, the universities and the civil service. Britain became very clearly a multicultural country as immigration hit record levels year on year. As an ardent Europhile, Blair integrated the UK further and further into the EU through the Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon treaties.
These trends would continue under Cameron’s Conservative government, which also adopted Blair’s use of the referendum device and extended its use almost to the point of total rule through referendum. In 2011, Cameron launched a referendum proposing the abolition of our centuries-old electoral system and its replacement with a continental model of proportional representation that would have left us with perpetual Labour-Tory coalition government; thankfully the electorate rejected it.
Then in 2012, the Conservative government announced a referendum to be held in Scotland proposing the break-up of the United Kingdom, despite them having absolutely no mandate from the electorate to do so, having made no mention of it in their manifesto (naturally, Holyrood elections cannot deliver such a mandate as the constitution is not a devolved matter, and just six SNP MPs had been elected at the 2010 General Election). The incredibly radical, revolutionary and plainly unconstitutional idea that the United Kingdom could be broken up this manner was accepted almost without challenge by a population that had now come to accept this sort of arbitrary, make-it-up-as-you-go-along style of government, and the general collapse of authority and the rule of law. The Conservative government’s launch of this referendum heralded the era of the mass nationalist movement in Scotland, created the Yes campaign where none existed previously, and in a moment created the Scottish politics we all know and must endure today.
On 8th January 2012, Cameron announced on the Andrew Marr show that the Conservative government would launch a referendum proposing the break-up of the UK
In a desperate move to prevent huge losses to UKIP at the 2015 General Election, the pro-EU Cameron government then announced plans for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. Despite the amusing sight of Labour, the Conservatives, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Sinn Fein all throwing themselves behind a vote to Remain (including the use of public funds by the Conservative government), the public rejected this against all the odds. Their reward is a ‘Brexit’ led by a Remain campaigner who just two years ago was elected on manifesto commitments to remain in the EU and Single Market.
The chance for the people to gain a real voice in support of leaving the EU: for a UKIP breakthrough in the 2015 General Election and the election of a block of committed pro-Brexit MPs to parliament was entirely and very cynically diverted by the referendum device, a trap which UKIP fell into, and which divorced the question of Europe from a parliamentary election where it should have taken central stage. As always, the political class ensured they remained unscathed. The people, meanwhile, are left with a ‘transition deal’ that keeps us in all the mechanisms of the Single Market until 2021, which rather conveniently coincides closely with the next General Election.
While serious, intellectual debate is marginalised and sinks into a quagmire of cheap sloganeering, Americanised personality politics and base tribalism, the nation continues to crumble. Scotland in particular is a deeply divided country after a decade under an SNP ‘government’ obsessed with breaking up the UK at all costs. The 2016 Scotland Act, passed by the Conservative government, has effectively heralded the move to a federal UK through the biggest transfer of powers to the SNP-run assembly in its history; it also enshrined the permanency of the Scottish parliament in law. Meanwhile, national borders are effectively abandoned as 700,000 immigrants enter the UK each year under May’s tenure. Horrific terror attacks cause carnage our streets, carried out with bombs, guns, knives and even vehicles. Military leaders must beg for funding as the army falls to its lowest numbers since we lost the Thirteen Colonies. Our soldiers are prosecuted for defending their country decades ago while the terrorists they fought roam free and are even put in government. The social, moral and constitutional foundations of Britain were lost long before 2017, and without them the façade is now crumbling.
THE END GAME
And so it is, that after a half-century of constitutional, economic and social revolution, we arrive at the present situation; a country that is scarcely recognisable from the one that it was before this revolution took place, and one whose very constitutional existence is under constant threat, institutionalised by the devolution process.
The once fringe nationalist parties across the UK’s regions, catapulted into relevance and power by this revolution, have now become its most radical proponents, going beyond even what Labour or the Conservatives have implemented while in government. The nationalist parties have very clearly shown that they are incapable of good governance, and are only interested in their ultimate goal of separation.
The Scottish parliament has proved to be little more than a vehicle for breaking-up the UK
Though the UK has been balkanised for decades through devolution, the SNP demand its total dissolution. Though we have had our civil liberties infringed for decades, the SNP would insert a government ‘Named Person’ into every family. Though we have been gradually integrated into the EU for decades, the SNP would throw away all our concessions and have their ‘independent’ Scotland incorporated entirely. Though we have suffered for decades through de-industrialisation and abuse by unaccountable multinationals, the SNP waffle on about the merits of Scotland’s ‘modern economy’ and the importance of ‘foreign investment’; a code word for exposing domestic industry to unmatchable competition and increasingly unchallenged globalisation. The SNP represent the absolute worst and most extreme manifestation of the entire revolutionary project that has been foisted upon this country by the political class for decades; they are its children and this is true also of their fellow nationalists in Sinn Fein and Plaid Cymru.
On the one side the SNP, Labour and Conservatives offer their shared revolutionary agenda: piecemeal dissolution of Union through legislative devolution, rule through referenda, continued EU integration (including ‘transition deals’), untamed globalisation, de-industrialisation, asset stripping and privatisation of core national infrastructure, an economy based on ‘funny money’ and asset bubbles, corporatism, multinationals, mass immigration, mass abortion, mass divorce, mass debt, mass drug abuse, aggressive secularisation, multiculturalism, the ‘big brother’ state and the ‘permissive society’; in sum the total dissolution of family, community and national life, and the reduction of the individual to a rootless, isolated, amoral entity who has no existence beyond that of a worker and consumer.
Against this revolution must stand a party that is prepared to stand on a traditional unionist platform: a restoration of parliamentary union through the repeal of legislative devolution, a restoration of parliamentary democracy, domestically-controlled national infrastructure, national industry, manufacturing, fiscal responsibility, controlled borders, measured tariffs and protectionism, private enterprise at the individual and local level, state support and promotion of the family unit and respect for traditional values and civil liberties; in sum the restoration of family, community and national life and the total reversal of the revolution that has been waged against everything this country used to be.
This unionist counter-revolution is the last throw of the dice while the last vestiges; the last remembrance of pre-revolutionary Britain still remain in some small way. Unionists can no longer just sit and quibble with nationalists about Barnett consequentials, the merits of baby boxes or fluctuations in the price of North Sea oil. The SNP were not put in government over such matters, nor was Scotland taken to the brink in 2014 over such fine details.
These things happened because of incredibly rapid, drastic and fundamental changes in the constitutional make-up of the UK, the functions of British state, the whole of order of society and the very nature of who we are. Until this revolution is challenged, the Union will remain under constant threat and whatever short-term variations in opinion polls may show, nationalists and other self-conscious revolutionaries such as Corbyn will know that the long game is playing in their favour.
It is time that unionists and all Britons who care about the constitutional and social fabric of their country start playing the long game too. It is for this reason that nothing short of a unionist counter-revolution is necessary to meet the nationalist threat and to actively reverse the decades of national disintegration that took the UK to the brink in 2014: we cannot as Unionists allow the disintegration of our country to continue unchallenged.