Kettle’s Rationalism

This article on the September independence referendum by Martin Kettle is really quite extraordinary.

Kettle, who describes himself “as a rationalist not a nationalist” claims that
“the UK government would have every possible incentive to drive a hard bargain with Scotland … and it would be backed by public opinion.” He asserts this without evidence, in a daring departure from the norms of rational debate.

He goes on to warn that “Nationalist opinion could become more militant if the talks become bogged down. Even acts of violence are not inconceivable in certain circumstances or places, as anyone with a smattering of knowledge of the Irish treaty of 1921 will grasp.” And it isn’t only the Scots who haunt his imagination: “the psychological impact in England, Wales and Northern Ireland of Scotland’s rejection of the union, meanwhile, could be very unpredictable, and possibly nastily so.”

Kettle assures us that he does “want any of these things to happen”, which is good of him. But why does he claim that “the possibility that some of them may happen has moved a bit closer with the shift in the Scottish polls this spring”? Why on earth is independence such a threat?

This is rationalism of a very peculiar kind.


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