by Henry Hill
Tuesday, 26
October 2021
Response
11:24

Don’t let the SNP exploit COP26

The Party is trying to undermine a UK-wide project
by Henry Hill
Credit: Getty

What to do about Nicola Sturgeon? The question looms large over the Government’s agenda as it gears up for COP26.

Alex Massie, writing in the Times, warns of the dangers of trying too hard to minimise the First Minister’s role:

“There is a fine line, however, between putting Sturgeon in her place and this being seen to snub Scotland as a whole, not simply its first minister. Scottish Nationalists are always, and irritatingly, happy to conflate party and country; it is a mistake for unionists to do likewise.”

Perhaps. It is certainly true that being too hostile to the First Minister risks offending Scots who either voted for her misfiring ministry or are heavily invested in the rights and dignity of the devolved administrations.

But the Government also has to face the reality that too many enthusiasts for devolution, federalism, and various permutations thereof seem loathe to confront: that Sturgeon is not a good-faith partner in the United Kingdom, and desperately wants it to fail

As far as COP26 is concerned, the broader nationalist movement has not been shy about their intention to try and use it as a platform for promoting independence, and the Scottish Government differs from them more in presentation than priorities. Indeed, planning for the event has been dogged by clashes between Holyrood and Westminster from the beginning.

Should we accept this as simply one of the “certain obvious consequences” Massie suggests attend organising an event in Scotland?

No, we should not. Because the more we allow the SNP to set the terms for the operation of the British state in Scotland, the more we erode the foundations upon which a properly functioning Union must rest.

The problem is obvious: if giving a platform to the separatists becomes a condition of hosting international events in Scotland, that creates a perfectly reasonable pressure to host fewer such events in Scotland. But that reduces the UK’s footprint north of the border, de-normalises Scotland’s place in the UK, and thus bolsters the long-term prospects of independence.

It’s another version of the dilemma over major investment which I’ve written about previously. Strategic spending obviously boosts the UK, but it is also supposed to produce a long-term dividend for the UK. Taking a ‘relaxed’ approach to a second referendum thus creates a powerful disincentive to siting new assets, such as the British nuclear fusion programme, in Scotland.

Two decades of devolution have created a state where the central government has in too many cases, and for too long, denied itself the power to operate effectively. It is wishful thinking — at best — to pretend that the gridlock, duplication, and dysfunction this creates is “a feature, not a bug”.

COP26 falls within the purview of the UK Government, which must be able to act as such on its own terms throughout the UK. If the SNP want to make a meaningful contribution to its success, they could start by cleaning up Glasgow.

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David Bell
David Bell
11 months ago

A pox on both Sturgeon and Cop26. Both are as fraudulent as each other and both deserve to fail.

Iris C
Iris C
11 months ago

The SNP government has got itself into a pickle by having a Covid policy different from England. The opportunity was there for Scotland’s economy to capitalise on the number of delegates and their administrators staying in Glasgow but they will need vaccination passports to visit night clubs and large gatherings as well as wear masks most of the time. I hope they won’t need to present passports to enter the debating hall because some may not have one for religious or other reasons.

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
11 months ago

The big mistake was putting the shebang in Scotland. The UK gov is damned if it does, damned if it doesn’t. Since the indie ref it’s been obvious that the SNP will use any opportunity to stir things up and create anti-UK resentment. So, you wonder, who signed off on putting COP in Glasgow?

D Glover
D Glover
11 months ago

I know that some American subscribers read this site, and it is to them that I’d like to pose a question.
Suppose that Texas had a secessionist party, and it had congressmen in the house of representatives. They did what they could to denigrate the union, criticise the federal government, and militate for the secession of their state.
How would Americans react? Would you still spend federal dollars in a state that was vocal in wanting to leave? Would you let them have a referendum?

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
11 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

This has been the case in Canada for about 40 years. Quebec wanted to secede and the other states said no. This is because there is a written constitution which says that 70% (not sure of actual figure) of delegates have to agree before secession can take place. There is nothing in the constitution about a referendum so there is no referendum.
Quebec is the richest state, it has port facilities all the year round. It is needed for the whole of Canada. But there is a lot of bad feeling between Quebec and the rest of Canada. I hired a car in Ontario and drove it to Quebec with its Ontario plates. I was told that I would be lucky to escape a ‘keying’. I was lucky.

James Joyce
James Joyce
11 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

Who is YOU? America a big place–too big. A split is coming, and I predict Civil War.
I’m a Yank. I would react with joy–don’t want to be a citizen of a country where half the “citizens” hate the other half (I am guilty of this), and do not share even the most basic common values and traditions. US has no choice but to spend federal dollars (until the coming Civil War). Again, who is YOU and them (presumably Texans)?
America is not a direct democracy but a republic. States retain much power. “And to the republic, for which it stands….” from the Pledge of Allegiance, though this is big news to many Americans…..
Texans have the right to self-governance, to a large degree. I am very pro-choice, BUT I understand that the way the American system works, states have great latitude to make their own laws.
I hope this answers your questions. Lock and load. Civil War soon!

David Bell
David Bell
10 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Sorry, but I don’t quite follow your “who is YOU/them” line of thought.

Last edited 10 months ago by David Bell
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
11 months ago

It is time to put all of this to bed. We need a referendum for the whole of the UK.
First question: is the UK an unbreakable state? If the answer is ‘yes’ seal it as a written constitution. End.
If ‘no’ allow a following referendum for Scotland and Wales. Question: do you want to live in a country which is in every way separate from the UK? This means hard borders and no pound. Therefore, imports to Scotland and Wales via Felixstowe would perhaps mean a charge or duty. Scotland has Aberdeen which is a port but not an efficient container port like Felixstowe; Wales has no port. Who would vote to leave? If the answer is ‘no’, next referendum 2075, post-Sturgeon.

D Glover
D Glover
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Good post, but think what a hard border between Scotland and England would mean.
If taxes are different, that sets up a gradient to encourage smuggling. If immigration policy is different; a people smuggling racket. How impermeable is this border meant to be?
If defence policy is different, the ramifications are huge; would English taxpayers fund an umbrella for Scotland? How do you defend one but not the other? Where do we put the nuclear submarines if Faslane and Rosyth are shut?
Brexit was simple compared to this.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
11 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

OK, one by one.
Smuggling is difficult to control but other countries in the world have lived with it for many years. Same for people smuggling.
If Scotland wants to leave, it is their problem. Perhaps we would have to give up our nukes.

D Glover
D Glover
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Perhaps we would have to give up our nukes, and accept that Edinburgh sets our de facto immigration policy.
That sounds like our problem.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Please take your nukes back. I am sure you could find a home for them on the Thames maybe? Or the Cam? Not everyone in Scotland supports “leave now”. Some of us would like to see independence in our lifetimes but not right after the Brexit fiasco and the Covid debt.
Few people in Scotland abd probably fewer in Glasgow realise that COP26 is coming to Glasgow. Those of us that do, don’t want it. Too much disruption, too great a Covid risk, too little return.
The only benefit is that in 3 weeks time it will all be over except to pay the bills.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The SNP doesn’t want a referendum; win or lose they would have problems because the vote would again be very close (if the polls are correct), but they want Westminster to refuse so they can go on railing aginst the centre. Remember the SNP have a ready scape-goat – if things go right it was Holyrood’s doing, if they go wrong Westminster’s to blame – they wouldn’t want to get rid of that any time soon.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Itwould be extremely sad if there were to be a hard border, and it would obviously also be damaging to the economies of both nations, but if Scotland is successful in joining the EU, then a hard border there will be (if the EU is to be believed).

Last edited 11 months ago by Colin Elliott
Matt B
Matt B
11 months ago

Exactly. Why on earth was Glasgow selected? Trouble was so predictable – village pump politics as “foreign policy” to wreck a UK effort. Another SNP-wrapped ‘From Russia with Love?’

Last edited 11 months ago by Matt B
Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt B

More to the point, why did we allow the UK to be selected? It’s all downside.

David Bell
David Bell
11 months ago

I can hardly blame Sturgeon for exploiting this (con)fab since it is all about extorting billions from the unwary taxpayer.