It may actually be in Ukip’s interest to lose the EU referendum

It may actually be in Ukip’s interest to lose the EU referendum

From Spectator blogs

Will the country be torn apart by the EU referendum? That’s the argument made by Chris Deerin on the capitalist running dog website CapX. Deerin, a Scottish Unionist, says it’s now Great Britain’s turn to go through the same painful and divisive process that Scotland endured last year.

Personally I doubt that will happen, although it’s possible that a slender vote in favour of remaining in the EU may in the long term be divisive.

The main problem with the analogy is that there is just no Ukip equivalent of the aggressive Scottish nationalists who shouted at Jim Murphy. There is a Kipper version of the Cybernats, but even online they are proportionally smaller, and less demented. Sure the party has plenty of oddballs, but it’s not comparable to the SNP’s real-world aggression; for one thing they have nothing like the critical mass.

Many Scottish unionists spoke of a feeling of intimidation last year, which scared them off putting up No placards, but such an atmosphere would be extremely unlikely in England in 2017, even in the most eurosceptic parts of the East Midlands and East Anglia. Most of the violence and intimidation at this year’s election was directed at Ukip, not the other way around.

Scottish nationalism is visceral, it’s about the mystic chords of memory and the longing for a nation to be reborn; there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s what makes us human and a nation-state that does not inspire this feeling will not survive, but it inevitably has its nastier side and a quasi-religious feel.

The EU debate is slightly different because federalists still insist that Britain is independent; this is a slight deception, but the argument is a rather dull one about the degrees to which nations are independent or interdependent in the modern world. I imagine that by the time of the actual vote, hundreds of people will be in boredom-induced comas.

Some Scottish nationalists, from what I gather, seem to dislike the English – although nothing as much as they seem to dislike Scots unionists – but among Kippers there is no corresponding hostility to the Germans or French. There is some towards eastern Europeans, but that’s as immigrants and economic competitors, while the fruitier English nationalists are mainly concerned with Islam.

Some Kippers might hate the EU, but probably not that many; around the world people burn the Stars and Stripes, the Union Jack or Star of David because those symbols mean something to people, but who feels that way about the EU flag? To me it just conjures up feelings of ennui; it’s like a health and safety notice or a bus replacement sign on a rainy Sunday.

I don’t doubt there will be some head bangers who show up, for any cause that articulates the nation-state will attract them, just like the only bar in town will end up with all the alcoholics. But most aren’t; some outers are little Englanders (I don’t mean that as a pejorative word), some are Atlanticists or globalists. Personally I’m more of a Europeanist and want closer cultural, economic and military ties with the continent, the mandatory learning of two European languages, the teaching of Greek and Roman history at school and a proper fast train service in core Europe. (I’m also happy for us to adopt the metric system and drive on the right if it saves lives and money; those things don’t matter.)

But historically Europe’s strength comes from its political diversity. An impartial alien watching the planet a thousand years ago would have bet his bottom qu’aarrrrggg on China taking over the world; that it was Europe that triumphed certainly had something to do with the fact that while the Middle Kingdom was united, Christendom was divided. Once one state went down the path to tyranny and economic sclerosis, another– Netherlands, then Britain – offered an alternative political model and a home for free thinkers. The stronger the power at the centre of Europe, the weaker Europe is.

Sure, competition got a bit fierce between 1914 and 1945, but there are a number of reasons why such a conflict will never happen again, none of which have anything to do with Brussels. The EU is a symptom of a pacified Europe, not a cause.

So we’re unlikely to end up like Scotland.

Having said that, there is already a divide between Tories and Ukip over who should run the campaign; personally I’d say that although Nigel Farage has done an amazing job taking his party where it is, it would be an error for it to lead the EU referendum. That would certainly mean defeat.

But then it may be in Ukip’s interests to lose the vote. Perhaps the best outcome for the party would be for the outers to be narrowly defeated, by 55-45 per cent, with the main three parties, the BBC and the ‘establishment’ all seen to have been behind a pro-EU metropolitan stitch-up, leaving Ukip as the ‘party of Britain’. It’s also possible that the federalists win only because of the votes of Scots, Welsh and migrants, leaving Ukip to argue that a majority of English people wanted independence; like the SNP after last year’s referendum, this could leave them stronger than before.

But it’s impossible to say for sure, and we’ve got HUNDREDS of days left to discuss this fascinating topic. Zzzzzzzzzz.

What do you think?