|PROMOTING SCOTTISH and ENGLISH SOLIDARITY
Carl Thomson debunks some pernicious myths which the anti-Union brigade on both sides of the border are keen to promote. This is a slightly edited version of the article which was published in the August 2006 issue of Sovereignty.
The editorial in the June 2006 issue of Sovereignty highlighted the tensions between Scotland and England, which were exacerbated during the summer by First Minister Jack McNumpty's shameful statement that he would be supporting "anyone but England" in the World Cup.
Since then, a number of other commentators have interjected into the debate, with former Shadow Chancellor Michael Portillo calling for the break up of the United Kingdom on BBC's This Week.
Others, including Simon Heffer and Ken Livingstone, have highlighted the grievance felt by many English people against the Scots in the aftermath of Labour's botched devolution settlement, although neither has gone so far as to call specifically for the dissolution of the Union.
As Sovereignty has highlighted in the past, it is true New Labour has shown little concern for English national sentiment.
As the largest and most successful component of the United Kingdom, with a proud and glorious history, it is a natural target for the motley collection of former Communists and militant trade unionists, municipal socialists and polytechnic lecturers that occupy Whitehall.
It will also be of no surprise to our readers that many in the media harbour anti-British pretensions and are keen to stir things up, although Sun columnist Kelvin Mackenzie's labelling of Scots as "tartan tosspots", and his rapture at statistics showing Scots have a life expectancy six years lower than those south of the border, were more likely motivated by the thought of notoriety and the desire for increased circulation figures than any serious political conviction.
It was actually pretty tame stuff from the man who once wrote that the Scousers urinated on the dead at Hillsborough. Ironically, it was the Scottish Sun which sponsored the production of a pop song in support of Trinidad and Tobago's football endeavours!
England has been dealt a hard deal by Labour. However, the idea that it is being deliberately done down by the Scottish people per se is a fallacy.
Here, we debunk some more of the anti-British myths being propagated by those looking to engineer the break-up of the United Kingdom.
There are too many Scots in the Government.
However, we need to remember that Labour's natural heartlands are in Scotland and the North of England. Consequently, by the time the party came to power after eighteen years in opposition, the longest-serving and most experienced Labour MPs were from Scotland or the North of England. There is a similar situation with the Conservative Party. Almost three quarters of the Conservative Shadow Cabinet represent seats in the South East of England, where the party remains strongest.
The Scots imposed devolution on England but refuse to let the English have their own Parliament.
In any case, it is not the Scottish people who refuse to allow England to have its own Parliament, but the politicians in Westminster who have the power to effect such a change.
It would also be impossible to stop the establishment of a devolved English Parliament if the people of England were to vote in enough MPs to the House of Commons who wished to see such a reform take place. Thus far, they have shown little inclination to do so.
England voted for the Conservative Party at the last election. Labour only won re-election thanks to Scottish votes. What's wrong with the English wanting to govern themselves?
We also need to bear in mind that, at the 2005 General Election, the Labour Party took 9,566,618 votes across the entire United Kingdom to the Conservatives 8,785,941 and the Liberal Democrats' 5,985,414. This translated into 356 seats for Labour and 198 for the Conservatives.
In England the Conservatives were slightly ahead in terms of vote share, with 8,116,005 votes to the Labour Party's 8,043,461 votes.
The Conservative vote, however, was concentrated in the South East and across London. They built up large majorities in their safe seats but failed to capture key marginals across the Midlands and in the North. As a result Labour still won 92 seats more than the Conservatives in England.
Even if we were to discount the 41 Labour MPs and single Conservative elected in Scotland, (and 3 in Wales), Labour would still hold 286 seats to the Conservative's 194.
The election result is therefore more an illustration of the flaws in our current first-past-the-post electoral system than it is of Scottish dominance of England.
Public spending in Scotland is much higher than in England. England subsidises the Scots and we want our money back.
There is also a large disparity in the amount of money awarded to local authorities which favours Labour heartlands in the North West, the North East and the Midlands, including Scotland and Wales, at the expense of the South of England.
We need to be cautious when trying to derive information from the "public spending per head" figures which are often used to prove that Scotland is subsidised by England. In areas of sparse population density, such as the Highlands and Islands, the cost of providing services and infrastructure will inevitably be higher than in urban areas, like London and the crowded South East, as we are dividing costs by hugely different numbers of people.
There is also an issue about defining each area of spending territorially. The spending on the Trident nuclear submarines is classified as Scottish, for instance, because that is where the submarines are based.Furthermore, there is the revenue side of the fiscal equation to consider. No reliable statistics have ever been published which allocate tax revenues geographically. The estimates which have been produced vary considerably from year to year. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, for example, they estimate that Scotland received more spending than it contributed in tax. At other times, however, the position is reversed and Scottish tax revenues in recent years may be significantly higher because of higher oil prices.
Perhaps, rather than squabbling over the allocation of British public spending, we need to concern ourselves more with the £6 billion a year Tony Blair has agreed to send to the European Union after 2007.
That's a staggering £115 million every week, and any money that does find its way home can only be spent on projects dictated to us by the unelected European Commission.
The Scots are viscerally racist against the English. English people living in Scotland are persecuted. Just look at the violence inflicted on those living in Scotland who wear England football strips.
Undoubtedly some English people living in Scotland do face harassment or bullying. We should challenge and condemn this behaviour whenever we encounter it. Let us not forget, though, that the UK has some of the most stringent anti-discrimination legislation in Europe.
A short walk down Glasgow's Sauchiehall Street on a Saturday afternoon will reveal large numbers of football fans wearing Manchester United or Chelsea tops as those wearing Rangers or Celtic ones. Disgraceful incidents of innocent people being attacked for wearing the "wrong" football shirt are, sadly, acts which occur in every city in the UK and in every country in Europe.
The Scots hate their own country. They all want to live in England.
Scots who uproot to London do not "hate" their own place of birth, but simply choose to exercise their democratic right as citizens of a free state to travel anywhere within their own borders. This works both ways. One in ten people living in Scotland are English, and we are so much the better for it.
Are you seriously proposing we introduce immigration controls on our own people, in our own country? The only state in the world to control their population in such a fashion is Communist North Korea.
English and British patriots should work hard to highlight the injustice to England that is being done by the Labour Government.
We should also seek to secure a lasting settlement to the West Lothian Question, whether it be English Votes for English Laws, an English Parliament with the same powers as the Scottish Parliament, or a complete revision of the devolution settlement altogether.
However, English patriots should not be provoked into pushing for the dissolution of the United Kingdom, regardless of whether it seems a quick fix to present injustices. Nor should they heed the siren songs of those who would claim the Scots are responsible for all their ills.
We should look at the records of those who are encouraging such a split and ask ourselves just what agenda they are really pushing. Is it realistic, for example, that Ken Livingstone, who has feted IRA terrorists, reached out to Islamic extremists, pushed for unlimited immigration, and for Britain to join the Euro, has suddenly undergone a road to Damascus conversion to the cause of English nationalism?
The sovereignty of Westminster and the Union of the Crowns form the historical foundation of modern Britain. Splitting up Britain will not halt attempts to divide England into Euro-regions, the surrender of power to Brussels, or the continuing politically correct abolition of English history.
In all probability, it will accelerate them.
Carl Thomson was the Conservative Party's candidate for Glasgow East at the 2005 General Election.