So said George Robertson, one time Secretary General of NATO.
Of course he is right.
But not in the way he intended.
Devolution has killed British nationalism stone dead.
It was always going to be the weaker nationalism that would die. And considering Scottish nationalism – and for that matter English and Welsh nationalism – has been around a lot longer than British nationalism, it was always going to be harder to artifically maintain the youngest and weakest.
British nationalism is now in its final swansong. Of course we won’t see many Saltires, English or Welsh flags at the Olympics – as they have been banned – and we’ll only see the Union Flags, but reading into flag waving to surmise that British nationalism is alive and well would be utterly ridiculous.
Nevertheless, I fully expect some commentators to reach that conclusion!!
The English FA fully expect to field a British football team in the 2012 Olympics, even though the Scottish FA, the Welsh FA and the Northern Irish FA have already indicated that they will not let their players be involved.
So the 2012 British team will be the England team.
That illustrates a common attitude in England. Britain = England. Its one of the reasons why British nationalism never really took on in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Which is ironic for Wales especially as the original Britons of these isles were forced back into Wales and southern and central belt Scotland by the Romans, before the Romans finally took all the lands south of Hadrian’s Wall. Apart from a brief upset by Boudicca, the land that is now England folded like a pack of cards.
If Scotland is not independent by 2012 I doubt many Scots – or Welsh or Northern Irish, for that matter – will be supporting an English team purporting to be from the whole of the UK.
Brian Wilson, former Labour Energy minister, yesterday admitted that devolution was constructed to keep out the SNP:-
“The masterplan was for there to be permanent Labour-LibDem coalition at Holyrood. This cosy strategy reflected the warm personal relationships between Labour and LibDem grandees of the time – Donald Dewar and Gordon Brown, Jim Wallace and Menzies Campbell. A Byzantine electoral system was created which would ensure that the Nationalists would remain in the minority.”
But his comments were strangely not – as a fervent anti-nationalist – related to trying to resussitate the dying Union, but of trying to resussitate the dying Labour Party.
No doubt he would argue that keeping Labour alive is vital to keeping the Union alive, as if Britain would die if there was no Labour Party; somehow both vitally joined together like empathic twins on life support.
Yet there’s no doubt which twin he wants to save with his donor card.
The Labour Party.
And isn’t that one of Labour’s biggest problems? The self interest of the party machine comes before country.
And it isn’t any better at Holyrood for Labour.
They will never stand up for Scotland like the SNP can.
They will always have to look down to Westminster first before making a decision.
Recently there were reports that Jack McConnell as First Minister had to phone up Downing St to ask if the agreed policy decisions of the Labour and Liberal Democrat Executive were OK by Westminster.
The SNP always put Scotland’s interests first. Every time.
Obviously that rankles Brian Wilson:
“Whether devolution was good for Scotland is a matter for debate. But it is indisputedly a disaster for the Labour Party.” and also concedes “that devolution is now irreversible”
Never mind, Brian.
You never know, Labour prospects might just improve after independence!
The union has no chance.