On Saturday 1st May 2021, A Force For Good held its "1st May, Great British Union Day" celebration in George Square, Glasgow. We were celebrating the 314th Birthday of the United Kingdom. On the other side of the Square, a Scottish nationalist group were agitating to destroy it! AFFG Founder, Alistair McConnachie gave two Speeches. The first one summarised why the Union of 1707 came about. The second one, based on the following text, described some benefits of Union today and looked with enthusiasm to the opportunity that our shared future will bring.
Folks, I'm going to say it again: we're Scottish and we're British. We love the UK, and we will Stay Together!
In the next 15 minutes, I'm going to give you a positive message about the United Kingdom, about our Nation of Unions through time, which has created today our Nation of Families.
You know, some of the people on the other side of the Square will ask "What is the point of the Union?"
Well, I'll tell them.
The purpose of the Union – the purpose of any Union – is to make it possible to enjoy the benefits which come from working together.
What are some of those benefits today which the Union enables us to enjoy?
Well, they are economic, social, cultural, political.
Economically, the point of the Union is to pool and share our resources to help our closest neighbours and family members when they are in need; and to be helped by them, when we are in need!
We don't mind sharing. We are all about giving, not getting.
Sometimes we give more than we get back. Sometimes we get back more than we give. That's the nature of living in a Union.
But we know this: We know that Scotland is big enough, and rich enough, and clever enough to share its resources and its wealth with its family members throughout these Islands. Indeed, it is a source of great pride to us that we do so!
It is obvious that Scotland is better protected economically as part of a larger monetary Union. It was true in 1707 and it is true today.
We only need look at the billions of pounds which have come to Scotland from the British Treasury to help with the Covid crisis. Almost 10 billion pounds have come to Scotland for Covid reasons during the year 2020-21.
Almost 10 billion pounds!
Any call for separation can only be made by completely ignoring this economic reality; an economic reality which proves that, in times of crisis, we are stronger together.
In times of crisis, the Union is truly the best insurance policy ever devised.
You know, it is important to emphasise the clear economic benefits, and the absolute danger of mega-levels of austerity which would occur under a separated Scotland.
But of course, the Union is much more than economic!
OUR DUAL IDENTITY – Scottish and British
I spoke earlier about how the Union created a new Nation in addition to Scotland and England – a new Nation called Great Britain – which allowed us to claim all parts of this Island as our own.
And as such, the Union enables us to enjoy the benefits of a dual identity; being both Scottish and British without having to choose between one or the other!
And that freedom – to be both Scottish and British – is another positive benefit of the Union of the United Kingdom.
It's a very valuable social and cultural element that enables us to be part of the wider community of these Islands, to fit in, and to enjoy the benefits which come from that shared identity.
It means that, for example, we can look upon Northern Ireland, Wales and England, as our countries too.
And people from Northern Ireland, Wales and England can look upon Scotland as part of their country too – all of us united by our British identity, in one Kingdom, which belongs to us all.
You know, Scottish nationalists want to narrow our sense of identity to "Scottish only". They want us to choose between being one or the other. And they would if they could!
But the Union – 314 years old today – has ensured that we don't have to choose. We can be both Scottish and British.
What a wonderful fact.
As pro-UK people, we are about encouraging everyone to enjoy that shared sense of identity.
To encourage people in Scotland to enjoy and appreciate as their own the culture and the achievements of all the people, in all the other parts of the United Kingdom. And to encourage people in the rest of the UK to look upon that which we have to offer here in Scotland, as their own possession, as their own birthright too.
If you understand yourself as British, then it all belongs to you.
Immense benefits flow from that shared identity.
And we say to the Scottish nationalists on the other side of the Square today – if you want it, it is there for you too.
So the Union offers us that very useful dual identity. It offers the best of both worlds.
A separate Scotland would, inevitably, make it harder to be British and would ultimately remove the choice.
POLITICAL BENEFITS OF UNION
Politically, a good way to demonstrate what we have here in the United Kingdom, is to contrast the UK with the EU.
You know, many Scottish Nationalists love the EU more than they love the rest of the UK. It seems perverse!
They want to chuck away our 314 year old Union – and turn their backs on not only the rest of the UK, which is Scotland's biggest trading area, but on the very people who are often their closest family – for what? In favour of a trading block from the 1970s which doesn't even work properly?
It is especially ridiculous because the United Kingdom represents the very thing that the European Union is trying to be. The UK already represents what the EU aspires to be!
For example, I'm going to quote an excerpt from an article which appeared in the magazine Money Week on 25-7-19, by Alex Carew. He describes it so well: The political benefits we have here in the United Kingdom – and which have been built up over the centuries – is what the EU would love to have itself, if it only could!
He sets out the "essential ingredients for a successful, sovereign multinational union". They are all the things which the UK already has, and that the EU wished it had!
Consider what we enjoy politically here in the United Kingdom! He says:
Here are some essential ingredients for a successful, sovereign multinational union: an effective single currency covering a highly integrated economic area, along with fiscal risk-sharing and wealth redistribution across that area (such as the Barnett formula governing public spending in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). A comprehensive single market in goods and services is also a key requirement. Then you need a single, risk-free sovereign debt market; a banking union; a united foreign, security and defence policy; deep cultural and family ties; shared values; unlimited, uncontentious free movement of people; representative institutions with real power and (usually) popular legitimacy; a shared head of state; and similar legal traditions. A shared mother tongue is useful, too.
All of these things we have in the UK. All of these things we already enjoy politically!
The United Kingdom provides all of these things for Scotland – ready made for Scotland. But still the SNP and the Greens want to break away from those things, and join a failing trading block from the 1970s which doesn't have any of those things done properly!
You know, if Scotland were already separate, we would want to re-join the UK for all the political benefits of association which come from being in Union.
And you know, all of that doesn't mean that we won't criticise the British Parliament, and our MPs, when that is necessary! Of course we will, and we should. And there is often much to criticise. But that's the case with any political system.
THE BOTTOM LINE – We have more in Common than what Divides us!
What does it come down to?
Ultimately, the Union is a recognition that the people of the United Kingdom have more in common than what divides us, and so our political institutions should reflect that fact.
That's how we see things.
But the people on the other side of the Square today believe that we have more that divides us, than what we have in common.
LOOKING FORWARD to a NEW AGE of GRAND ACHIEVEMENT
So as we go forward, let us understand our United Kingdom as one Big Country, not just 4 separate and squabbling ones.
One Big Country in which we are privileged to enjoy a shared identity, enabling us to be both Scottish and British, and to enjoy as our own all the political, economic, social and cultural benefits and more which come from that intimate connection.
Let us understand the United Kingdom as having come together through time, to the point where, today, we are literally a Nation of Families much more than a "family of separate nations".
Above all, the United Kingdom is our Home – all of it – and we do not want to see our Home destroyed!
We know that since this day, 314 years ago, in 1707, the Scots have been at the centre of Britain's achievements on the world stage. And that is where we should be. That is where we must remain.
Our place is at the centre, leading or – if you prefer – disproportionately contributing, to the success of the United Kingdom.
That's the positive place to be – helping Britain to a new level of accomplishment on the world stage, a new age of Grand Achievement.
For the Union presents to us – as it has always done – the Great Opportunity.
The Union is an idea and like all ideas it is constantly being tested. It is for those of us who believe in it, to keep it alive in our mind, in our hearts, and in our physical reality.
That's what we at A Force For Good try to do. That's what today is all about. And believe me, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Men and Women of A Force For Good will stay the course for the Union we so love!
Thank you to everyone who has come out today.
It just remains for me to say, have a safe journey home.
God Bless the United Kingdom and God Save the Queen!
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Pic below: We had the flags of all parts of the United Kingdom on display on our 1st May celebration.