In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Take Britain out of Europe and you can take Scotland out of the UK

Posted by seumasach on December 14, 2011

Who are the separatists now? Take Britain out of Europe and you can take Scotland out of the UK

Iain MacWhirter

13th December, 2011

David Cameron’s decision to take the UK out of Europe will take Scotland out of the UK.  The Prime Minister’s use of the veto against the EU treaty on budgetary reform looks like the game-changer that the SNP leader Alex Salmond has been waiting for.   Attachment to the Union in Scotland is likely to evaporate as Scots realise that they have become an appendage to an essentially isolationist England with a sceptic media saturated with an ugly chauvinism. The hostility shown towards European nations is like a bad version of the hostility that old school Scottish nationalists used to show towards England. Only they grew out of it.

David Cameron’s narrow nationalism, putting the interests of the City of London above those of resolving the EU budget crisis, has fatally undermined the moral case for sticking with Britain.  If the UK is now a Banker’s Union, dedicated to protecting the privileges a delinquent financial elite, what price internationalism, democracy, social welfare or any of the values that were supposed to define the common British project?

The SNP has suffered greatly in the past from accusations that it is a “separatist” party, seeking selfishly to divide the UK, and pit nation against nation.  But who are the separatists now?

The argument for sticking with Britain was always that this gave Scotland representation at the highest levels of decision-making in Europe.  This is clearly no longer the case.  The UK is marginalised in Europe, whatever the Prime Minister may say – a “union” of one against 26.  This isolation is the culmination of decades of revanchist anti-Europeanism,  which has coincided with the decline in popular attachment to the symbols of Britishness on both sides of the border.

As England turns in on itself, lapsing into a financial parochialism, Scotland turns out – seeking to rediscover in Europe the communitarian values that it believed underpinned the UK.  The SNP used to be criticised for demanding “Scotland’s Oil”, for seeking to grasp the nation’s natural resources for itself.  Well, Scotland gave the oil away, and now finds that it was used, not for the common good, but to build an evil empire of greed.  It surely won’t get fooled again.

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