I recently met with Norwegian and Icelandic politicians and civil servants and was impressed with their calmness and confidence in dealing with matters pertaining to both domestic and international affairs. I am so used to witnessing, hyperbole, aggression, indignation and outrage at Westminster that occasionally I get caught up in it myself.
The language these Nordic countries use during negotiations between their nations and the alliances they seek to build and maintain is very different to the language we hear used in political circles in the United Kingdom. Rather than seek to undermine each other, the default is mutual respect and consideration. And the ultimate respect is to recognise each other’s differences and accept them. By recognising each other’s autonomy while seeking to improve their countries and maintain broader security, organisations such as the Nordic Council and Arctic Council, while not void of tensions, manage to function in a constructive manner. They actively seek positive outcomes.
Compare and contrast that with the comments from the devolved powers in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland when asked about intergovernmental relationships. They all independently said they were not respected, not listened to, not involved in developing treaties or trade deals and in general treated as subordinates. Is it any wonder that we are witnessing increasing political will for an independent Wales and Scotland and reunification of Ireland. The British Empire has been in permanent decline for over a century and the last glowing embers shall soon be extinguished. Those that need it to exist will go to great lengths to keep it alive, either through misuse of power and wealth or by being obsequious on a level as yet unseen but hinted at. Those of us that desire autonomy, equality, democracy and self- governance shall be content to see the empire go gently into the night while Scotland emerges sovereign, independent and ready to treat other as equals and importantly demanding that we are treated as equals too.