With everything happening in Ukraine at this time, it may seem a little strange to devote myself to an analysis of where British constitutional politics stands on the cusp of spring 2022. However, the crisis in Ukraine is partially rooted in the secessionist desire of the country’s eastern minority to undermine and, eventually, dismember the Ukraine as established in 1991. Following its withdrawal from the erstwhile Soviet Union in the summer of that year, the Ukrainian people were asked in a confirmatory referendum whether or not they approved the declaration of independence. All regions of Ukraine – including the now annexed region of Crimea – voted in favour of the move. In fact Crimea voted by a larger majority to give consent to the independence of Ukraine than Scotland did to continue its integral status as part of the UK in 2014.
Ukraine is undoubtedly in danger from secessionist forces encouraged by a Russian leader who has clearly lost any sense of perspective. But from a British point of view, one has to ask whether the situation there is much different in principle from what we have had to endure as a United Kingdom since the rise of the SNP. Our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has joined the veritable cacophony of world leaders demanding Russia respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity. I suggested on national radio the other day that he might want to be as vocal in defending our own. For we have what amounts to a regional administration with its core aim of splitting Great Britain in two. Should it ever succeed, a country which has been an anchor of stability, innovation and cultural influence throughout much of the world would cease to exist. There is no ‘Scottish independence’ any more than there is the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’. All there is in terms of constitutional development is the respective dismemberment of both the British and Ukrainian states. You cannot defend the essential integrity of one legitimate polity and not the other. English nationalists tempted to tell a surly, ungrateful and begrudging Scottish government to go ahead with their pet project should think again. For the United Kingdom would not only be diminished in size, it would also lose much of its strategic military and defence capabilities to a Russian state keen to use the North Atlantic as vast surveillance station.
We were all made aware of the issues surrounding the viability of Trident in the Scottish independence referendum of 2014. The SNP made it clear there would be no nuclear defence installations on independent Scottish soil. Moreover, RAF Lossiemouth in Moray is one of only two Quick Reaction Alert stations in the UK (the other being Coningsby in Lincolnshire). Thus, in a scenario of an ‘independent’ Scotland, what remained of Great Britain (still a large country with a reasonable global clout) would be entirely exposed on its northern flank by a newly-created state determined to pursue a much more conciliatory and pacifistic diplomatic stance than it played in its former life. Imagine a Russian reaction to the constitutional dissolution of a fellow UN Permanent Security Council member. The implications go far beyond the mere and simplistic memes of sections of the London liberal media as they fawn over what they perceive as ‘a sexy and progressive coming of Scottish nationhood’. To pander to Scottish separatism (or indeed its Northern Irish equivalent) is, in my opinion, an insult to the thousands who have perished on battlefields in uniform under the flag of the United Kingdom, as well as giving a tacit nod of approval to respective separatist assaults on otherwise stable and democratic countries the world over. Ukraine is but an extreme example of what occurs when secessionism gains momentum.
Much was made in January about the supposed ‘law-breaking’ antics of Boris Johnson’s government in respect of COVID regulations. At its height, it generated the unseemly spectacle of a media-driven campaign to unsettle backbenchers and topple a PM who secured a personal endorsement at the ballot box in 2019 in areas of the country hitherto out-of-bounds to the Conservative message! As of yet, there is no confirmation any wrongdoing took place pending the outcome of an official inquiry. Contrastingly, a Scottish National Party beloved of the Guardian-reading commentariat can do little wrong, even as it plans to flagrantly break the terms of the Scotland Act 1998 by attempting to hold an unauthorised plebiscite designed to create the same constitutional situation in the UK as currently exists in Ukraine – namely a blunt territorial fissure: notwithstanding its solemn pledge in 2014 that the referendum would be a ‘once in a generation’ or ‘once in a lifetime’ vote.
Appeasing fanatics never works. It would never work with Putin, and it certainly won’t work with any political movement in the UK dedicated to its termination as a functioning influential state. For the SNP are fanatics. They specialise in whipping up faux grievances directly aimed at the same UK Government that allows them a massive degree of internal self-governance supported by an extremely generous financial settlement provided in large part by taxpayers elsewhere in the Kingdom. Eccentric characters, once on the political fringe in more sensible times, have been platformed and facilitated by the huge shift in Scotland’s culture and social behaviour. If we speak out against such developments in Ukraine, why on earth should we accommodate this within our own sovereign borders? Especially when Russian manoeuvres would quickly exploit a new constitutional situation in the British Isles.
Scottish nationalist street agitators probably come across as something as joke spectacle – both to many in Scotland itself and to those in the wider UK, with the latter increasingly fed up of seeing social benefits provided north of the border they cannot access themselves. But there is nothing funny about a large and vocal band of secessionists who wish to wreak the same political instability on this island that we’ve been witnessing 1,500 miles away. Ukraine deserves to have its territorial integrity fully restored and respected. The United Kingdom would deserve no less. It’s obscene Nicola Sturgeon should be pretending to act like the leader of a sovereign state in her responses to the Ukrainian situation at present. Her rancid ideology is Donbas and Donetsk without the spectre of a neighbouring power sponsor.
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