The loser now, will be later to win. (Photo: Getty)
Show Hide image

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.

Show Hide image

Michael Gove definitely didn't betray anyone, says Michael Gove

What's a disagreement among friends?

Michael Gove is certainly not a traitor and he thinks Theresa May is absolutely the best leader of the Conservative party.

That's according to the cast out Brexiteer, who told the BBC's World At One life on the back benches has given him the opportunity to reflect on his mistakes. 

He described Boris Johnson, his one-time Leave ally before he decided to run against him for leader, as "phenomenally talented". 

Asked whether he had betrayed Johnson with his surprise leadership bid, Gove protested: "I wouldn't say I stabbed him in the back."

Instead, "while I intially thought Boris was the right person to be Prime Minister", he later came to the conclusion "he wasn't the right person to be Prime Minister at that point".

As for campaigning against the then-PM David Cameron, he declared: "I absolutely reject the idea of betrayal." Instead, it was a "disagreement" among friends: "Disagreement among friends is always painful."

Gove, who up to July had been a government minister since 2010, also found time to praise the person in charge of hiring government ministers, Theresa May. 

He said: "With the benefit of hindsight and the opportunity to spend some time on the backbenches reflecting on some of the mistakes I've made and some of the judgements I've made, I actually think that Theresa is the right leader at the right time. 

"I think that someone who took the position she did during the referendum is very well placed both to unite the party and lead these negotiations effectively."

Gove, who told The Times he was shocked when Cameron resigned after the Brexit vote, had backed Johnson for leader.

However, at the last minute he announced his candidacy, and caused an infuriated Johnson to pull his own campaign. Gove received just 14 per cent of the vote in the final contest, compared to 60.5 per cent for May. 


Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.