As we enter a new year, we must consider as well if it is time for a new national direction. While the last few years have witnessed some very crucial victories for those who, like us, are committed to a sovereign United Kingdom; they have also witnessed the accelerating erosion of the constitutional, economic, social and moral fabric of the nation.
We celebrated the victory of the No campaign in 2014 and the Leave campaign in 2016; not because we believed politicians had any intention of honouring the results, but because they showed that the ordinary people of this country still wish to maintain a sovereign United Kingdom.
Neither result has been honoured by the political class. Scotland continues to be separated by stealth through the devolution process, and right now the Conservative Party is in the process of arranging for up to 111 powers to be transferred to Holyrood. This follows on from the 2016 Scotland Act passed by the UK Conservative Government; the biggest transfer of powers to the Edinburgh assembly in its history. The Scottish ‘parliament’ is now responsible for a strong majority (roughly two-thirds) of public expenditure in Scotland and almost half of public revenue. It controls most chief areas of everyday governance including education and health, as it has done from its inception. They are being given independence by the back door.
While an orchestrated charade of party politics and personality clashes is fed through tabloids and Facebook news feeds, the constitutional reality of Union continues to be rapidly dissolved. Soon, there will be nothing left to dissolve unless the devolutionary policies of the Conservative and Labour parties are proactively challenged by a genuine unionist opposition. And of course, Sturgeon never accepted the referendum result at all and continues to threaten us with ‘IndyRef2’ in her capacity as ‘First Minister’; this despite the fact that the devolved assembly has no power over constitutional matters.
Any pretence of leaving the EU has been even more blatantly betrayed by the political class. We know now that whether or not we do leave in name only in 2019, we will continue to pay billions to Brussels for years to come, be subject to the rulings of its courts and have our borders held open to the continent. The 2016 referendum, launched by the pro-EU Cameron government and promised in their 2015 manifesto, succeeded in its aim of killing off UKIP and ensuring that the old pro-EU establishment could ride out what would otherwise have been a UKIP surge in the 2015 General Election.
While the ongoing circus of constitutional wrangling and personality clashes dominates political discourse, it continues to deflect from the myriad of ways in which our country is being torn apart, debased and changed beyond all recognition. Family breakdown, community fragmentation, mass poverty, mass debt, mass isolation amongst the elderly, mass abortion, mass (EU and non-EU) immigration, mass unemployment/underemployment, de-industrialisation, asset-stripping and privatisation of core national infrastructure (energy, transport, NHS etc), de-militarisation, the ‘big brother’ state … these things are now not only unchallenged but entirely unspoken of.
Combined with the ongoing dissolution of Union through the devolution process and our continued submission to the EU, all of these things demonstrate a concerted attack against the constitutional, economic, social and moral fabric of the nation; one that has been underway for decades and in recent years culminated in the rise of radical nationalist movements.
As unionists who wish to maintain the integrity of our country, we must now seek a change of direction. We much stop the concessionary approach to nationalism and reaffirm the values and constitutional mechanisms that the United Kingdom is founded upon: our parliamentary union, parliamentary democracy and parliamentary sovereignty. We must continue to advocate for our full exit from the EU and elect MPs with the will to do so. We must speak up on the difficult issues and challenge the cultural agenda at work in this country. We have been on the back foot for too long; we can no longer stay silent at what is happening or defer entirely to the mainstream ‘unionist’ parties.
As we enter a new year, it is time for a new national direction. The people of this country voted to maintain the Union; they voted to leave the EU; nationalist parties like the SNP are suffering at the polls for their poor record in government. As unionists, we must see that now is the time to stop the concessionary approach and press the advantage: we cannot allow things as they are to continue unchallenged.