My objective for 2021 was to be less grumpy, but I made the mistake of reading the article in Politico by Nicola Sturgeon, so that strategy is moot. The article contains the thoughts of the First Minister on the EU and (what a surprise!) freedom, and its lack of clarity and logic is maddening. It also poses some questions that Ms. Sturgeon really needs to address in 2021, especially if she wants to draw more skeptical voters to her cause.
Question one: Madam Secretary, can you clarify that Scotland is “unique” in your comment?
The First Minister and many other nationalists have a particularly irritating tendency: the belief that Scotland is uniquely different from other nations. In her post, Ms. Sturgeon says that “Scotland, like all nations, is unique,” but what does that literal fact prove? We would need a unique political structure if Scotland were unique in any profound political context, but Scotland is fundamentally the same as its neighbors: facing the same problems, the same concerns, the same threats, and thus surrendering some of our sovereignty. This is acknowledged by Ms. Sturgeon when she speaks about the EU, so why doesn’t she accept it when she speaks about the UK?
Question 2: Why are you suggesting that freedom is accepted by the majority of Scots?
The SNP’s (and other parties’) tactic is to assert something that is not confirmed and to regularly, loudly and consistently claim it. “Devolution is under threat.” “A referendum will be held next year.” “Independence is inevitable.” And now, “The majority of Scots support independence.”
In her post, Ms. Sturgeon does it again. “A consistent majority of people in Scotland,” she says, “now say they are in favor of becoming an independent country,” The polls show that freedom is now endorsed by the majority of those who express an opinion, but that is not the same as the majority of Scots. Around 10 percent of respondents claim they don’t know, and to see that 10 percent might affect the outcome doesn’t require great statistical skills.
So the question is, why is Nicola Sturgeon always saying that freedom is accepted by the majority of Scots? And the response is, in the hope of bringing about a three-stage process, she says this. Step one: we trust it. Step two: we’re embracing that. Step three: it is sponsored by us. This has occurred before, and parties can get over the fence.
Question 3: How are the principles of England distinct from ours?
The V-word is cherished by Nicola Sturgeon: principles. Dignity, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights are the fundamental principles of the EU, she says, and those are values of Scotland, too, she says. She also writes that “unfortunately for those of us in Scotland, we are … at the sharp end of a very different project, driven by very different values: Brexit.”
But what is she saying here exactly? Is she saying that ideals such as integrity and equality are not supported by the other nations of the United Kingdom – England in particular? If so, that’s a pretty outrageous assertion and a pretty unjustified instance of moral supremacy in Scotland. My question will be: in what way exactly do the principles of England vary from those of Scotland? And in what way are “Scotland’s values” not common values?
Question 4: Why wouldn’t you be happy with the British federal government?
This is the most critical issue in several respects, since it is at the center of the intellectual inconsistency of a faction that advocates leaving the United Kingdom and joining the EU. Ms. Sturgeon says that more and more people in Scotland claim that by contributing to the collective efforts and cohesion of the EU, our goals can better be met.
But what is the distinction between a common aspiration across the Channel between Scotland and its neighbors and a common aspiration on the same island between Scotland and its neighbors? The other obvious question is how, if the United Kingdom were more federal, the First Minister would justify continuing to support independence (which she would definitely do). In no substantial way will Scotland’s membership in a fully federalized UK vary from Scotland’s membership in the EU. Decision making on certain topics is clustered in both cases, and we don’t always get our way.
As she highlights in her article