Unite, or Learn Russian!

The United Kingdom is in a welter of political conflict that spells a threat to democracy. It is important to remember that it is not alone in Europe or, indeed, North America.

Politicians everywhere are being shown to be incompetent and out of touch. Why is the situation a threat to democracy? In the U.K. particularly right now it appears the country is impossible to govern through an elected leadership.

Further North the media message is more positive about the leadership of Nicola Sturgeon whose Scottish Independence Party is on a crest and will know by the end of the week if the High Court will uphold their right to hold a referendum on independence next year.

One of the party’s senior officials has had to apologise for likening the campaign to the situation in Ukraine. This is surprising because, in my view, there is a close similarity. If a state wants to be independent they should in a democratic society have that right. This should apply to the Catalans and other regions of the EU that want independence.

Scottish Independence Rally 2018 Largs

In the case of the U.K. Brexit is the argument that the SNP use and a personal source close to the Scottish Government administration tells me that preparations and costings for making an application to join the EU have been completed.

Now, thereby lies the rub. The SNP supporters want to be ‘independent’ but their leadership is planning to join a federation more intrusive than that of the central U.K. administration if not more so. Pledges to make Scotland a renewable energy giant should perhaps reflect that the EU would have the right to consider that to be a European asset.

It would be inappropriate to go into great detail but Brexit was driven by - mainly English - revolt about legal interference and control from Brussels. Other European countries have defied EU regulations and been penalised for doing so. Central control is never popular but especially so since one of the failures of the EU is the lack of true democratic process.

In simple terms the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers - made up of Member State governments - make decisions dominated by a small number of powerful governments. The European Commission is also dominated by a small group of powerful member states.

It is also important to note that as the U.K. appears more and more likely to fragment that prior to Brexit independence within the EU was a growing trend in Scotland and Wales and even in regions of England. Prior to Brexit the broad picture might have been independence for Cornwall and even London and neighbouring counties in the South East and also the North of England.

There would be nothing wrong with that if the EU had properly evolved as a democratic federation within which people felt properly represented and able to influence central government. The United States, reportedly, has problems of a similar nature and they, technically, all speak one language. Is the EU heading to a single language state? Certainly French is currently dominant in the administration with German a close runner-up. Spanish is a close third but English remains the most commonly used. No doubt Scots who favour independence are multilingual. If not they could be heading for a shock.

Having said that it should be remembered that the U.K. has become multi-lingual in an administrative sense but not so much in social terms unlike the USA which is rapidly adopting Spanish.

Some reports suggest that the U.K. is heading towards a new relationship with the EU. That would be a good thing. Rejoining the EU might be better but would cost the country dear and it would be left with having to adopt EU laws and direction no matter what. It is hard to see that happening without major changes to the Lisbon Treaty or, more importantly, the EU uniting as a true democracy.

The EU should be paying close attention. Scottish independence would seriously affect the UK’s defence role. The U.S. should also be paying attention for much the same reasons. The U.K. is coming to terms with the fact that their ‘special relationship’ with America is largely mythology. Immigration has created an America with a population whose ancestry is more closely linked to European countries than the U.K.

The world is a mess and it is high time that the EU and Britain get their act together. Putin has shown that unity on the defence front is essential and that requires unity on the economic front. If later this week the SNP get the right to hold a legal referendum all parties have less than a year to make things work. If they don’t my advice is: learn Russian.


Image: By Azerifactory - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/...


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Chris White

Chris White

Chris White is a former UK national newspaper journalist and was the founder and editor of a magazine focussed on EU affairs.

Now writing for EUToday, Chris has his own column, 'Chris's Corner'.

Chris is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, a professional association for journalists, the senior such body in the UK and the oldest in the world, having been founded in October 1884

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