Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Arguments of the Heart

“Scotland, we love you”

It won’t wash.

Part of the interview with the Prime Minister on Radio 4’s Today programme (4 September 2014) touched on the ineffectiveness of the “No” campaign. It was suggested that there should be “arguments of the heart” rather than just a negative campaign.

“Arguments of the heart” seemed to be interpreted as saying “Scotland, we love you”. Indeed there have been a number of independent campaigns (in England) saying just that. I can’t see this washing – in fact if I was in Scotland, I would find such entreaties as rather patronising and smelling of desperation.

Saying “we love you” is not enough. It’s like any divorce; when the spouse is about to walk out the door, entreaties that “we love you” are only made by a desperate (or abusive) spouse who does not understand that the relationship is broken. At this stage the only way to repair the relationship is a credible promise by the neglectful or abusive spouse to take action to mend their ways before trying to rebuild the relationship. They are then reliant on the leaving spouse to “give them another chance” – and if they have already mentally “made the break”, that is unlikely.

The abuse and neglect in the case of Scotland, is of course not by “England”, it is by Westminster – and as far as I can make out, the Scots want to be independent of Westminster and have no major beef with “England”. England is incapable of acting as an entity because it has no political identity. Following the divorce analogy, England is the close relative caught up in the crossfire between the warring spouses – it is not one of the spouses (unless we start thinking about polygamy – when the analogy may start to break down!).

Westminster has shown absolutely no intention of mending its ways – all it has offered is a form of “Open marriage” called Devo-Max (“keep wearing the ring of our Union, but do what you like”).

I doubt that Westminster has a heart that could deploy an “Argument of the heart”. And that is part of the problem faced by the “No” campaign. The “Yes” campaign has traction – because it can deploy its forces via a majority at Holyrood. The (Scottish) “No” campaign has no means of gaining traction and its protestations sound like nothing more than mere protestations.

Cameron may yet find that he has so miss-played this issue that he loses the Union. Whatever happens, England is doomed to remain Westminster’s vassal.

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