Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Empty Rhetoric of The Unionist

According to the Daily Telegraph, “David Cameron promises more powers for Scotland”. How very thoughtful of him, you may well think. After all, what is power if not to be shared? Yet, read underneath the banner headline and it clarifies this slightly (and dilutes the message somewhat) by stating that “Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to consider more powers for Scotland if voters reject independence in a referendum”.

Let’s reiterate that. He promises to “consider” more powers “if voters reject independence”. Now, leaving aside the fairly obvious fact that this is little more than bribery, when we look at what he is offering here, it is actually no more than empty rhetoric.

According to the Scotsman, his actual words where: “When the referendum on independence is over, I am open to looking at how the devolved settlement can be improved further”. “And, yes, that does mean considering what further powers could be devolved”.

Perhaps he is, but “considering” to do something is one of the vaguest commitments anyone could actually make. You might be considering washing the car this weekend, but actually going ahead and doing it can be a very different matter. A cynic might suggest that the reason Mr Cameron is so against a second referendum question offering more powers to the Scottish Parliament (albeit falling short of full independence) is that it might actually deliver more powers, rather than leaving them as an option to be merely considered.

Mr Cameron also stated: “It's never been part of my argument that Scotland couldn't make it on her own - there are countries in Europe, small countries that make it on their own, but my argument is, we are better off, we are stronger together, we're fairer together, we're richer together.

So there you have it: stronger, richer and fairer. Yet looking at this a little more closely, what is he actually saying here? Firstly, he implies we are stronger by being part of the United Kingdom. Yet, considering our non-existent membership of the United Nations, our lack of statehood and our inability to be counted as a nation in the Olympic Games, this seems a highly dubious claim. By ceding our right to represent ourselves independently on the world stage, be it in politics or at the world’s premier sporting event, it is difficult, to the say the least, to see how we are in any way stronger as part of the United Kingdom.

As far the part about us being fairer, is he implying that an independent Scottish state would be less fair than the United Kingdom? Finally, there is the claim that we are richer as a part of the United Kingdom. This is certainly an intriguing claim to be making, especially without any clarification as to exactly how much we are richer, and for exactly which fiscal period(s) in the future we will be richer if we choose to remain within the United Kingdom.

Yet to be fair to Mr Cameron, he is not the only one offering empty rhetoric as a counter argument to the independence movement. Former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, David Miliband, a Labour MP stated on the 30th January this year that independence would “undermine the drive to bring social justice to the UK”. Firstly what exactly does he mean by “social justice”. Secondly, if “social justice” is actually so important, why has it taken over 300 years since the Treaty of Union, before anyone considered bringing it about. Finally, in what way would an independent Scotland not be able to bring about “social justice” on its own?

It all smacks of desperation, like when you visit someone and it starts to get late. You want to get back home and on with the rest of your life, yet they try to coax you to stay a little bit longer with the promise of treats if you do.

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