Friday 24 February 2012

A unionist leader?

Iain MacWhirter
Writing in The Herald, Iain MacWhirter asks whether a single, commonly acknowledged and generally accepted leader might emerge for the unionist cause.[1] It has to be very doubtful indeed. Such a leader presupposes a single clear idea on which to campaign. And the only such idea that seems to have any currency among British nationalists is a near-fanatical obsession with preserving the union at any cost.

That so many in the anti-independence camp now seem prepared to compromise on that "line in the sand" of which Ruth Davidson spoke seems to suggest a growing realisation that an intransigent insistence on the status quo is a loser and that compromise is required if Scotland's secession from the union is to be prevented.

But compromise is anathema to the hard-core of British nationalism. The differences between the unionists and even the most reluctant and restrictive devolutionists are every bit as great as the divide between unionists and nationalists. Forsyth and Cameron cannot make common cause, far less Forsyth and Darling. The unionist campaign cannot gel. It cannot coalesce. It cannot have one leader.

Alex Salmond and his team have cleverly contrived to aggravate the factionalism within the unionist camp. Had Salmond not dropped "devo-max" into the mix then it is likely that the forces of unionism might have been able to focus on a concerted anti-independence campaign. The wounds having been opened up there seems little possibility that they will ever heal sufficiently for a unified effort to be possible.

 1 - Can the Unionist campaign coalesce round one leader? | Herald Scotland

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