Tuesday 29 July 2014

English: Alistair Carmichael MP addressing a L...
Alistair Carmichael MP (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There is actually nothing at all surprising about what Alistair Carmichael has admitted about the aim to reassert Westminster's authority over Scotland in the event of a No vote in September (Carmichael accused of hopes to strengthen Westminster ties). Other, perhaps, than the fact that he has admitted such a thing. It has always seemed to me to be a glaringly obvious fact of realpolitik that a No vote - by any margin - would trigger a veritable storm of British nationalist triumphalism in which the result would be hailed as an absolutely conclusive affirmation of the union while the views of the substantial minority of yes voters would be summarily dismissed.

Unionists genuinely seem to believe that a No vote will settle the constitutional issue once and for all. And there is nothing in the slightest bit surprising about the fact that they intend to take steps to ensure that the constitutional question is buried for all time. A No vote will be used to justify measures to effectively prohibit further referendums - probably through legislation to establish that any constitutional referendum in Scotland will require the approval of a majority of Westminster MPs.

We can also expect that the electoral system will be "reformed" in such a way as to ensure that Holyrood is brought back under the control of the British parties for all time. The Scottish Parliament will be undermined at every opportunity - mainly by way of tightening constraints on its budget combined with increased responsibilities in various areas. As confidence in the Scottish Parliament is eroded the Scotland Office will seek to enlarge its role, with the British parties in Scotland actively colluding in the process of shifting power away from Scotland's elected representatives and putting it in the hands of those who can be relied upon to put the interests of the British state first in all things.

All of this is no more than we would expect in a situation where a No vote has empowered those who regard the Scottish Parliament, Scottish political parties and the progressive/independence movement in Scotland as a threat to the structures of power and privilege which define the British state. If the referendum campaign has taught us anything it is that British nationalists will seek to defend the British state by any means and at any cost to the people of these islands and even democracy itself.

Why has Alistair Carmichael acknowledged all of this now? It could, of course, be because he is stupid. By which I mean that he is dumbly unaware of the implications of what he is saying. An unawareness that arises from that curious detachment from Scottish politics that seems common to all British politicians.

Carmichael is not addressing his remarks to Yes voters. Like most (all?) of his associates in the anti-independence camp, he is quite incapable of talking to people who aspire to the restoration of Scotland's rightful constitutional status because he is as unthinkingly convinced of the righteousness of the established order as anyone who has never spent so much as one second reflecting upon the possibility of alternatives.

Carmichael cannot even comprehend the desire for independence. So he is ill-equipped to talk to those who hold this principle dear. He can only really talk to fellow British nationalists. His comments were made, not in the hope of posing a threat to the independence campaign, but as an inspiration to those who see Scotland's subordinate status within an anachronistic political union as part of the natural order.

The anti-independence campaign long-since gave up trying to win converts to the cause of denying Scotland's nationhood and the sovereignty of Scotland's people. Their sole aim now is cling to the lead that they believe they have just long enough to survive the vote in September. Then, as Alistair Carmichael has made clear, they intend to ensure that they never face such a challenge again.

Be in no doubt about this. In the event of a No vote, the British nationalists fully intend to put Scotland back in what they consider to be its proper place.


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