Here we go again. It’s always groundhog day with British nationalism in Scotland. I blogged some months ago about the important distinction between the unitary market of the British state, and the single market of the EU. British nationalists in Scotland are however determined to conflate those two very different political and economic beasts under the rubric “single market”, and they’re doing so for nakedly political reasons.
I’m not going to repeat all the arguments I made back in November last year, you can read the piece for yourself here – https://weegingerdug.wordpress.com/2017/11/21/marketing-a-lie/ But it seems that opponents of independence are hell bent on demonising anyone who dares to assert what ought to be a self-evident truth – that the so-called UK single market is not a single market in the same sense that the term is understood in relation to the EU single market. That’s precisely what this attempt to hijack the term single market is all about. It’s about trying to draw a false equivalence between the countries making up the unitary state of a UK where sovereignty rests entirely with Westminster, and the sovereign states comprising the EU.
No one in the anti-independence camp ever brought up this all-important UK single market during the referendum campaign of 2014, and yet now it’s all that they bang on about. You’d think that if it was indeed so vital to the well being of Scotland that someone in the Better Together campaign might have thought to mention it. You can do a Google search on trends which provides a handy wee graph of when certain terms are used, and surprise surprise what you discover that with the exception of a couple of isolated instances, the phrase “UK single market” only starts to be used in the immediate run up to the EU referendum in June 2016 and afterwards.
Isn’t that odd? Something that’s allegedly so existentially vital to the security and future of the Scottish economy, at least according to opponents of independence, and yet all the way through the independence referendum of 2014 none of them thought to mention it. You can have a look for yourself here – https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=today%205-y&q=%22UK%20Single%20Market%22
The phrase is used most commonly in the context of Scottish independence, or more exactly in the context of opposition to Scottish independence. Nowadays British nationalists in Scotland scarcely shut up about the so called UK single market, and are desperate to ridicule and dismiss anyone who takes them to task for it. Oooh, they go, like Les Dawson’s drag act in one of his less funny sketches, get him/her saying there’s no such thing as a single market. Of course there’s a single market. It’s the UK. It’s only got the one market. That’s a single market innit. And in doing so they deliberately conflate two very different phenomena, and do so for the purposes of misleading people in Scotland about what Scotland’s rights and powers are within the UK.
The hijacking of the term single market by British nationalism is all about the creation of a false narrative, the implication that Scotland within the UK has the same degree of economic and political freedom as an independent Scotland would have within the EU. That is arrant nonsense.
The question for British nationalists in Scotland who are determined to use the phrase “UK single market” is, if they are so insistent that the UK is the proud possessor of a single market as opposed to the unitary market of a unitary state, then what precisely do they call the very different economic and political creature that is the EU single market? If you’re going to insist that the unitary market of the UK is the “UK single market”, then what terminology do you propose using for the mutual collaboration and cooperation of the unitary markets of the different EU member states which together form the EU single market? You can’t call both “single markets” by the same term because the two “single markets” are not the same thing. They are fundamentally different in their conception and construction.
So what’s the EU “single market” to be called if the UK has a “single market” all by itself? I’ve yet to find any answer to that, because British nationalists have no answer. The reason for that is because there isn’t supposed to be an answer. The use of the phrase UK single market is a deliberate attempt to mislead. There are 27 voices which have the right to speak and make rules for the EU single market. There’s only one voice which has the right to speak and make rules for the “UK single market”, that would be the British government. It sure as hell isn’t Scotland.
Neither have I seen in the British nationalist media any explanation of how this so-called UK single market differs from the EU single market in its basic construction and in the all-important political and economic rights possessed by its constituent parts. Since we’re currently in the middle of a discussion about the lack of trust that many in Scotland feel towards the media, it’s important to highlight the kind of thing that is causing people to lose trust.
The papers are happy to publish statements from Tory politicians decrying the likes of Mike Russell for stating the obvious, but nowhere do they explain to their readers what the differences are between the two markets which they insist must both be described as “single markets”. We already know that the two things are not the same political and economic creatures, so surely you’d think that given the supposed importance of the “UK single market” to the well-being of Scotland, that our press would be keen to explain the organisational and political differences between the “UK single market” and the “EU single market”. Instead they just repeat the claims of Tory politicians and finger point.
The truth is that the entire purpose of the phrase “UK single market” is to co-opt the language of European collaboration and mutual benefit for the aggrandisement of British nationalism. It’s an attempt to mislead the people of Scotland that we get the same deal from the UK as we would get from the EU as an independent state. It’s an attempt to imply that the partial, limited, and negotiated pooling of sovereignty involved in becoming an EU member is the same as the total loss of sovereignty experienced by Scotland within the UK. Conflating the two markets under the same term “single market” is deliberately misleading. It’s a singular dishonesty. Mike Russell is quite right to call them out for it.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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