Cllr. Ben Harris-Quinney is Chairman of the Bow Group and a journalist and author. He has been involved in politics and international relations for a decade, having worked on foreign policy issues for the Conservative Party in both the UK and European Parliaments. He has also advised the US, Spanish and Chilean governments on security and foreign policy issues as well as opposition parties in Bahrain, Albania, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Bolivia.
Referendum currently dominates the political lexicon in the United Kingdom, but as we look towards the continent and see the European debate fill our political spectrum, it is easily forgotten that our own nation and the strength of our Union is under more immediate threat.
The process toward Scottish devolution that began in 1997, with Wales and Northern Ireland closely following, heralded the emergence of the modern phenomenon of regional nationalism, now the greatest threat to the future of a United Kingdom.
It is no coincidence that at the zenith of economic crisis regional nationalism has grown yet further in strength, and calls for separatism and division have grown louder. For populist separatist politicians their ability to appear to present an alternative to the status quo, and their ability to play brinkmanship with the central state, weakened politically and economically by the crisis, has never been greater.
Alex Salmond’s acumen and cunning in exploiting circumstance to afford political gain has marked him as one of Britain’s most skilled politicians. His campaign for Scottish independence is therefore one that must be met by Unionists with a seriousness and gravity equal to the challenge and threat we face. It is a campaign we on the Unionist side have not yet addressed with the requisite force.
The Bow Group will celebrate Burns Night this year by showing our collective strong support for the Union, as Conservatives and as Britons alike. It will be the first event of its kind in Westminster, as we run up to the Scottish Referendum next year.
The Bow Group is run by just ten people, among them three were educated in Scotland and two have Scottish family.
A group which has long been the bedrock for British Conservatism, and the perfect culprit for the SNP to categorise as anti-Scottish “Westminster Imperialists”, is itself as inseparable from Scotland and the collective Union as any family, business or community across the nation.
Such is the strength and binding of the United Kingdom, the campaign for Scottish independence does not threaten to simply draw a geographical border between the United Kingdom and Scotland, but to divide all citizens of the Union from their rightful claim to a shared British heritage.
The loss of Scotland from the United Kingdom would be a mark of change to our nation far greater than the decision to leave the European Union, and in the harsh eyes of history would surely be viewed as a landmark on the road to the decline of a once peerless global power.
Wrong then are those who make the argument inside and out of the Conservative Party, that to extricate Scotland from the Union is a desirable outcome for Conservatives, as it would serve to ensure the future of the Party as the presumptive heirs to government of the remaining United Kingdom.
The objective of the Conservative Party has always been to govern Britain toward an ever greater, ever more powerful and prosperous future. A Britain without Scotland is a Britain in the final throws of terminal decline, and the acceptance of decline in return for government, would mark the terminal decline of the Conservative Party also.
The Bow Group will be holding its “Unionist Burns Night Reception” with a keynote address by The Rt Hon Lord Lamont of Lerwickon the 28th January at the Caledonian Club. Tickets are available here.Share on Facebook