Scotland’s new slippery fish Nicola Sturgeon had a pleasant meeting with David Cameron yesterday. They’re both in a very odd position.
And by the way, before we go any further, I’d ask you to hold this thought: only 1 in 12 people in the UK are Scottish. The population still north of Hadrian’s wall is just 5.3 million. The population of London is 8.6 million.
So fine, the SNP has an overwhelming Scottish mandate. But its UK mandate is, shall we say, iffy…and its high number of seats at Westminster is disgracefully unfair.
Anyway, back to the odd positions, as Lord Mandelson once said to a rocking horse.
If Cameron was prepared to accept a new ‘UK’ thing with 92% of its population intact, he could destroy the Labour Party for a generation. If he said, “OK, grab yer kilt and get on yer bike Nicola”, she’d then have to negotiate with the EU, get saddled with the euro (if it still exists) and have the self-determination the SNP wants.
But the Prime Minister doesn’t want to do that. He talks with apparent sincerity about keeping the UK together, even if he doesn’t mean it. Why, after all, would he want to risk a Labour rebirth north of the Border for the sake of 1 in 12 voters?
Nicola Sturgeon herself is in turn to some extent the victim of her own success. She has all but wiped Labour out in Scotland….but in doing so has (like Ukip) given the Conservatives an overall majority. Although her Party is miles to the Left of Camerlot, it is power over the Tories in England she needs to leverage now – not Labour in Scotland.
There’s a very good reason why the PM is making nice noises at the moment: neither he nor any of his hard-Right Cabinet want a social democrat-leaning State on their border. They want Scotland in the EU alright, but not as a separate member. Cameron sees our future in the EU because that’s where his paymasters want him to be: at the centre of a huge trading bloc ‘reformed’ by neoliberals to produce low cost workers. Mario Draghi made it abundantly clear at a private EU FinMins session 18 months ago that all crypto-socialist, welfare-orientated and trade-union affiliated opposition in Europe must be crushed in order to reduce Sovereign costs – and shrink the power of labour. Only by doing so would the EU be able to compete on the global trade stage, he insisted.
Dave’s plan is to hold the in/out EU referendum and win. That would lock the UK as one entity into the European Union. He can keep the Scots sweet with more and more devolution and investment to the North: but after the referendum, Scotland would be equally locked into the EU as a sort of British ‘county’ called Scotland….not an independent nation. This too would suit Juncker, Merkel and Draghi: if there’s one thing they hate, it’s independent minds.
After getting the pro-EU vote, the Prime Minister could pass a new UK Union Law….and there’d be nothing Ms Sturgeon could do about it. I understand too that in return for massively increased Scottish Parliament powers, Mr Cameron would insist on Scottish MPs no longer being at Westminster…..thus increasing his ‘majority’ power further still. I really do not think that, in the medium term, Labour would attract much of a vote in a Scotland where most people pro or anti independence had wound up with such an allegedly high level of independence.
I would also be reasonably sure that, if the EU survives, power will gravitate away from member State parliaments. For all his patriotic humbug, Cameron knows this perfectly well. It is precisely the scenario that Hungary’s Viktor Orban foresees and is determined to stop.
In historical terms, the power of the new All-Tory Government is far greater than many people realise: it will be much more effective simply because the Opposition is split both within and between Parties…and because Labour played right into his hands.
Last night, Douglas Carswell effectively told Farage he thought he should quit. Nige’s natural autocracy is now on display for all to see, and it is not a pretty sight. If Ukip were a joke to many people (or a Demon for the Left) before the election, they look like Fred Karno’s Circus this morning.
In wanting Britain out of the EU, the Kippers sit with the largest single proportion of the electorate on the issue, but have both the big Parties bizarrely against the idea. I mean ‘bizarrely’ in relation to the Labour Party: quite why they appear to be so ignorant of the neolib/banker/Berlin hijacking of the EU escapes me. It is, I suspect, merely part of the Party’s non-existent commercial insight.
The Liberal Democrats remain, of course, the most pro-EU of the lot. But Labour won’t engage with them anyway, and they’ve been decimated by using a short spoon while supping with the Devil. (That might change if the new Leader does the sensible thing, and points at rampant Tory neoliberalism in order to say, “look how dangerous they are without us applying the brakes”. But earthquakes are made of more than that).
It all looks like plain sailing for Camerlot the Corporacratic Kingdom of Mammon. However, it probably won’t be.
First of all, hubris will get the better of them – it always does. Second, I can’t believe that journalists from the ‘progressive’ tendency will simply leave Shapps, Hunt, Osborne and all the other villains alone: a scandal will break before too long. Either that, or some dastardly, anti-social plot will be leaked.
In reality, I suspect that Cameron’s quiet Scottish Anschluss plan will come to grief. Nicola Sturgeon is a shrewd operator and hard as nails: and Dave is making a number of flakey assumptions.
The first is that he can win a referendum. That’s far from clear: there are eurosceptics in both the Labour and Tory ranks….and in the new Cabinet. In private, a sizeable proportion of Conservatives think the EU in general and the eurozone in particular stand little chance of survival.
Second, he’s banking on the eurozone returning to growth, but it can’t and won’t – because ClubMed is still a mess, and external EU customers are thin on the export ground: denial is denial, but the world is heading for a slump.
Third, he’s going to have to get something substantive in the way of reform from Brussels. I don’t believe he will. The mood from Brussels via Berlin to Hamburg is implacably opposed to the idea of it, period.
Fourth, in their dealings with Cameron, the Eunatics will hand the Noers millions of votes.
Fifth, Italy will fall apart very soon, and then the writing really will be on the wall. If he wants to stay in at that point, the PM’s Foreign Secretary may well resign. Osborne too has been quick to hedge bets by piling in with the new AIIBank. Many in the City (a power-base for Boris Johnson) still suspect dirty tricks to emerge from Paris and Hamburg in an attempt to chop London’s balls off.
Sixth, while the Chancellor just got away with it with only weeks to spare in relation to the UK economy, as I’ve been predicting since 2011 Britain faces some terrible problems. With the cost of debt servicing adding to the trade deficit, the overall National Debt is now completely out of control – a point about which wilderness-dweller John Redwood has been proved ineluctably right. The rise in Sovereign bond yields we’re currently seeing could mean a myriad of things, but it will cause rate contagion in the end….and if Janet Yellen sticks to her guns, the first US move away from Zirp is going to cause all kinds of problems in the EU and South America.
For some years now, Britain has been a virtual economy that manufactures very little, grows even less, and depends on the upside-down financial world we inhabit remaining in that posture. When that hope is dashed, nobody in the developed world is going to be hit harder than us. The weekend before the General Election, a Sunday Times analyst wrote “this is the election to lose”. I do buy into that.
So finally – in the light of even some of the above – Sturgeon’s SNP will cry foul and say the Scots have a better chance in Europe than on an isolated, bankrupt Island.
As they met yesterday, Mr Toff and Mrs Jock will have been reading between each other’s polite lines…or perhaps one should say plotlines. I think Sturgeon will be the one who ‘wins’ in the end – or loses the lesser amount of face – but once her country is finally independent, a radical realignment of the political Opposition in what’s left of the UK will be a must. Otherwise we will become Walgland plc, living off the dubious derivative values of children sold into slavery.