David Cameron dropped in to see Alex Salmond in Edinburgh earlier today and took the opportunity to give a speech setting out the case for Scotland remaining part of the UK.
As well as setting out the rational economic case for the Union, Cameron was at pains to emphasise that he believed in the Union “head, heart and soul.” If the Unionists are to win the upcoming referendum on independence they’ll need to make the emotive case for Britain just as forcefully as the rational one.
To quote the greatest Scot, David Hume, “reason is and ought only to be the slave of the passions”.
People will vote for an option that will make them poorer if the case is made to them in sufficiently exciting terms. The misty-eyed sentimentalism of the SNP has a genuine pull for a great many Scots and Salmond is a witty, effective communicator.
The great thing about Britain is that it is not a nation at all. It was the world’s first non-national state. By forming the Union, the Scots and English alike were able to liberate themselves from their medieval nationalist baggage and push outward into a larger world.
People of David Hume’s generation preferred to call themselves North British rather than Scottish. I don’t think there’s any coincidence Hume’s generation was the single most creative in Scotland’s history.
The future for humanity lies with states like Britain. States that seek to liberate their citizens rather than define them as this or that nationality. When the Union was formed a blueprint for the future was created. We should be seeking to promote this blueprint through the EU and every other supranational institution available to us.
Surely that’s more attractive than following the SNP, throwing away the best of what our forebears achieved and retreating to being one more nation state in a world of nation states?