Steyn on Britain and Europe
Further to my note on last week's UK election, Mark Wilson writes from beautiful County Down:
Well, I wouldn't call the disintegration of the Mother of Parliaments a "trifle". (I wouldn't call Michael E Mann a climatologist, either, but that's another matter.) You allude to Sinn FÃ©in members who won't go to Westminster because they refuse to take their oath of allegiance to the Queen. But you don't need to steer clear of Westminster to decline allegiance in a broader sense. When the Kingdom of Scotland votes as overwhelmingly for the SNP as the (southern and western parts of the) Kingdom of Ireland did for Sinn FÃ©in in 1918, they too are refusing allegiance to the existing political arrangements.
Britain's national parties have the worst case of shrinkage since that Sudanese vanishing-penis epidemic. In 1868 every single constituency in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales elected either a Conservative or a Liberal. Six years later, 30 seats went to the Home Rule League, which evolved into Parnell and Redmond's Irish Parliamentary Party. Don't be fooled by the name: there's still a few Liverpudlians with distant memories of a chap called T P O'Connor, who held a seat in the city for the IPP from 1885 to 1929, by which time the Irish Parliamentary Party had ceased to exist in Ireland, if not on Merseyside.
For the next half-century, Britons had a two-and-a-half party system, with the exception of a handful of eccentrics. Not until 1974 did Westminster see the emergence, as a permanent feature of electoral life, of Scots, Ulster and Welsh parties consciously holding themselves aloof from the possibility of participation in government (the above-mentioned IPP, although a nationalist party, sat on the government benches at Westminster from time to time.) A lot of people thought the Unionists would return to the Tory bosom during the Thatcher era, but they never did and the short-lived re-emergence of a Unionist/Tory alliance a few years ago prompted the UUP's only sitting member, Lady Hermon, to quit the party.
So the question is this: Until last week, the Scots have never elected more than half-a-dozen Scots Nats members. Is last week's SNP one-party state a spasm, after which Labour and the Liberals, if not the Tories, will re-emerge as viable northern parties? Or will the spasm prove permanent?
So in 1868 the Conservative and Liberal parties accounted for every MP in the British Isles. A century and a half later, even as more and more Celtic nationalists of one variety or another shrug off British identity, the central establishment has devoted most of its energies to suppressing any expression of English nationalism. Why should England be the only ones obliged to carry on being British? As I note in After America (personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available, etc, etc):
Maybe Southern England should secede from the United Kingdom. Or maybe Nigel should rename UKIP the Home Rule League.
Meanwhile, apropos the tense new tightrope strung across British politics between Scottish secession and English Europhobia, Richard Wilson writes:
from Steyn on Britain, May 14, 2015
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