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Is it too late to save the Union?

Many have suggested innovative ways in which the union of nations which binds our country together might possibly be saved. The threat posed by Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP, who look set to win a decent majority at the Holyrood elections next spring, suddenly appears to be very tangible and potent. Some now see Scottish independence as inevitable — I do not. Just very highly likely.

There have been suggestions, including in this very publication, that the terms of separation should be agreed before any referendum. Such a plan of action would put a deal firmly before the electorate, who would then have an indisputable set of parameters from which to cast their vote. 

The benefits of such a route are that you might avoid the sort of deadlocks which defined the early Brexit negotiations, and no politician would be able to make claims on what the electorate voted for, on either side, because what they would have voted for would have been a deal. In the case that the ‘Yes’ campaign won, the deal would subsequently be put into effect.

Others have made a song and dance about the new Scottish Tory leader, Douglas Ross, perhaps due to his distinctly Scottish name. He seems to have found it easy to catch the attention of the Westminster bubble, many of whom hail him as the last chance we have to put forward a credible Scottish voice in favour of the Union. 

Indeed, this is where the Left have so catastrophically betrayed us. Neither the Liberal Democrats, nor Labour, have managed to put up a single figure whose raison d’etre is to defend the union (apart from, perhaps, Gordon Brown. But haven’t we had enough of him?). They need to get their act together and start making the case for a union if there is to be any chance of survival. The Tories should recognise this too: that there’s a large chunk of the Scottish electorate who simply won’t be won over by a Conservative. Labour need to win back the hearts of those who went SNP in 2015. It won’t be easy, and at the moment, I’m not hopeful.

But it’s when we zoom out of day-to-day political wrangling that I find I am most pessimistic. At this 30,000 foot level, with the passage of history held sharply in focus, it is possible to detect that the fight to save the union was fought many years ago — and lost.

It was lost when all those other things we had for centuries held in reverence and awe were shoved on the 1960s bonfire. The bonfire lit by John Lennon, fanned into flame by the sexual and social revolution, and fed since then by any and every mainstream politician, left or right.

It was in that period, when promiscuity was at an all time high, when honour for parents was at an all time low, that the institutions and foundations which had for years supported the edifice of our nation were all but brought down in a series of seismic coincidences. 

What went wrong? We lost all sense that there is anything good in the old and the true. We abandoned tradition, which at its best represents a relationship which transcends temporal bounds. We exchanged our great inheritance, for which thousands of young men had then very recently given their lives to defend, for a shabby alternative, of insubstantial glitter, ready meals, crappy music, and liberal sex.

There’s a danger that such a view paints the break up of the United Kingdom as inevitable. Indeed, there are few inevitabilities in life, and it would be bad practice to make the leap from the 1960s cultural revolution to a 2021 election.

However, there is undoubtedly a connection and it is sure that the revolution our society underwent has now produced a generation of people who see nothing to be admired in a 300 year old union of nations. The electorate is ripe for the taking. And it is not just the generation of voters who find it difficult to argue for 1706 Act of Union. It is the politicians as well. 

When asked about the union, our MPs (and I’m talking about so-called Conservative and Unionists) find themselves awash in a sea of vague assertions. They find it difficult to argue for the union. Why? Because even they themselves struggle to know why they believe in it.

The DUP are a breath of fresh air on this front. Their eight MPs are perhaps the last elected representatives who are able to articulate a sincere argument in favour of the United Kingdom. They understand that it is, not only good, but beautiful. Beneficial, even, to all parties concerned, because it turns the four nations from individual parties into one nation with shared national interests.

They have seen first-hand the strength of the Union in dealing with domestic issues. The Union is more than an abstract reality. The DUP recognises it as a physical lock on law, justice, and democracy.

The trouble is, because of the sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll revolution, there are few institutions left against which we can compare the Union. The Bishops of the Church of England have made themselves irrelevant by reverting to tweeting like Social Justice Warriors rather than preaching the gospel. Marriage has been reduced to something which is unattractive to enter, and extremely easy to exit. Education is all but decimated, and has become an instrument of state-sponsored indoctrination. I could go on.

The Union is one of the few things which is yet to be abolished in the wake of the 60s revolution. That is why I suspect that it soon will be. Can anything save it? I am increasingly doubtful. And once the Union is abolished, what else will there be for conservatives to defend?

The ideas represented in this article are not reflective of the values held by UCL Conservatives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely representative of the author.

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