The loser now, will be later to win. (Photo: Getty)
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Why the SNP tide won't go out any time soon: love of nation is more important than numbers

A mere change at the top of the Scottish Labour party, or a fall in oil prices, won't change hearts or minds. 

The Scottish independence movement has, in recent weeks, suffered what many Unionists might have expected to be body blows. The latest revenue figures show that an independent Scotland would have a significantly larger deficit were it to leave the United Kingdom, while the fall in the price of oil has further weakened the country's finances. Iain Martin, editor of CapX, described the non-impact of the fall in oil prices as "incredible".

That description seemed so wrong to me. It is not incredible that people have not given up on the independence of their country due to the price change of a commodity, no matter how vitally important this commodity is to the economy of Scotland. Identity and patriotism were subdued as far as possible by the besuited politicos in Yes Scotland and the SNP during the referendum. However patriotism is the march music which quietly plays in the background of the independence movement. It is the foundation stone to which the various other aspects of the case are built around, whether the ‘Yes Left’ is comfortable with that or not.

To many down south, and in Scotland also, this disregard for economics is hard to comprehend. How can they simply shrug their shoulders when the oil price is mentioned?

To try and convey this I ask those with a British identity, be they Scottish or English, to ponder a situation in which the United Kingdom did not exist.

You feel British yet you did not have a state that truly represents that. When you someone says the word ‘parliament’ your first thought is Westminster yet this parliament is not the highest legislature in the land. You look at the Prime Minister of this hypothetical state and you do not see your sense of self reflected. If given the chance to create Britain, a new Jerusalem in this pleasant land, you would take it with both hands. For better or for worse you would choose a state you feel at home in. No one could blame you for that.

For pro-independence Scots to not abandon their cause due to the economics not being in their favour is not incredible, it is the norm of national movements. It is a tale retold in the distant past and in the living memory of the 1990s.

When men and women poured into Dublin’s General Post Office with rifles in hand on Easter Monday, 1916 they did not care if being cut from one of the  world’s largest economies and the changing from pounds to punts would diminish their bank balance. Nor so did it matter in the January of 1991 in Lithuania when ordinary men and women stared down Soviet paratroopers.

Scotland unlike these nations is not under colonial rule, Scotland is an equal member of the United Kingdom. Yet, that stirring, quiet march of patriotism is repeated in Scotland as it has been many times over around the world.

You may have little in common politically with the 1.6 million people who voted to end the United Kingdom last  September. In many ways however you share their patriotism, just to a different nation. When you find their musings incredible or incomprehensibly remember the words of the great British patriot Sir Cecil Spring Rice:

I vow to thee, my country,

all earthly things above,Entire and whole and perfect,

the service of my love;

The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test”

They simply vow to a country too, just not one with a Union Flag.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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