The Respect Agenda

Remember the respect agenda? You know, way back, when the UK Conservative Prime Minister did what his advisers told him, bit his tongue, visited Edinburgh, accepted the inevitability of a referendum on independence, shook hands with all and sundry and made a big play about the "respect agenda". Scotland as a political entity could look forward to a bright new future, we were assured, a brand new era of being treated as equals by the rest of the UK. Come what may. Ringing any bells?

Almost everybody who worked for a Yes vote, or observed the referendum impartially, would say that the reality of the No campaign was somewhat different, somewhat less edifying and respectful. Few dictionaries include fallacious slurs and constant bombardments of unfounded fears in their definition of respect.

Yes campaigners were "respectfully" called "separatists", "blood and soil nationalists" and even "Nazis". The people of Scotland were going to "respectfully" lose our currency, jobs, health service, pensions, education system, prosperity, etc. In reality though, most of that was made up and spouted by home-grown Scottish Unionists rather than the UK government.

Down Westminster way, the depth of the respect for Scotland, not to mention the other parts of the UK, was trumpeted from the pavement of Downing St. the morning after the referendum, when the Prime Minister addressed the pressing issue of day. No, not how The Vow to the people of Scotland would be fulfilled as soon as possible but English Votes for English Laws.

Some might claim that this lack of respect for Scotland led more or less directly to a record number of SNP MPs in Westminster after the last UK election, but Mr. Cameron – emboldened by his new absolute majority – has pressed on with his somewhat unconventional definition of the term.

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