“If Scotland votes yes, the UK will split, and we will go our separate ways forever. We must be very clear there’s no going back from this. No re-run. This is a once-and-for-all decision.”
Comments like this, reputedly from the Prime Minister, aren’t helpful. This is because they just aren’t true. If Scotland votes for independence next week, and a few years down the line decides this was a mistake, and as long as the rest of the UK is in agreement, the Union will be re-established. Simple.
We know why people on the ‘No!’ side of the campaign say such things. They do it to put the wind up the undecided. Vote to split the Union and that’s it, over, the end, no going back to the cosy embrace of the Union. It is a political ploy to shore up the vote for the Union.
But this is part of the problem, isn’t it? The sense that Westminster politics ignores the people, takes the electorate for granted, and that politicians play these sorts of games. The thing about parliamentary democracy is that one parliament cannot hold a future parliament to its decisions. If the future government of Scotland, headed by Fraser Nelson, and the future government of rUK, headed by Charles Moore, decided, having been prompted by electoral support, to restore the Union, it will happen.
Of course it will. So why do politicians say what is plainly untrue? Wouldn’t it be better to say that restoration of the Union would, of course, be possible; but that it would be a very difficult process? That way, you get the message across that, a) breaking the Union is not like suspending you membership of the municipal golf club, to be taken up again if you decide you miss golf terribly; and, b) the Union could, though with a great deal of difficulty and wasted effort, be restored.