On Thursday we were joined by representatives from all four Nations in our United Kingdom to launch Conservative Progress’ Love our Union campaign which will run throughout the next few months.
Over the course of a fascinating hour a number of themes became apparent to me and here is my hot take after an engaging and rewarding event.
Unity is critical
It might seem rather obvious but our Union is forged on our ability to come together as, not just a group of individuals on a transactional basis, but as a collection of people who have a shared purpose and endeavour in the world. That is what elevates a community to a Nation. We are unique in the UK in that we are a Nation composed of Nations. But what does this mean in practice? It means, as one of our guests said, the strengths of all our four Nations came together in our industrial past and through to our enterprising and entrepreneurial future to make us greater than the sum of our parts. It also means that being a Union of four Nations we should be as passionate to speak about how we are English, Northern Irish, Scottish or Welsh but always British.
Passion is evident
This brings me on to my second point of a strong, burning passion within us for our Union which must be harnessed for positive reasons to bring us forward and upward into the future. An overarching theme of the event was that each Nation sees its own value to our Union. The discussion centered on how each nation adds something to the whole, be that the whisky industry in Scotland working with English barley producers, Welsh industrial might providing huge amounts of heavy materials to the UK economy or the opportunities of Northern Ireland as the only country in the UK to have an international border. The overarching point being that each Nation passionately believes in its own value but even more so believes in its own value to the whole. The dedication to this principle of our leadership on the call was self-evident and truly powerful.
Be proud and show it
My final point is that we need to be proud of our Union and its value. Everyone at the launch event was proud to be a citizen of the United Kingdom and rightly so but we should express that pride and engage in debate and discussion about what has made our Union great in the past and what will keep it great in the future. As a Nation of people we must come together and figure out what unites us – family, tradition, history and values – and then we ought to go out and shout about it from the rooftops. Too often those who may not think about politics every day, because they are rightly focussed on other things that mean more to them in the immediate term, may not fully understand what is great about Great Britain and Northern Ireland. We can have those discussions, as those who think about it more often, and speak to both the head and the heart so we can maintain strong bonds of unity, respect and closeness across our islands.
This is just the beginning of our campaign to highlight the value of the Union and peoples’ love for it across our British Isles and we welcome you all to be part of it.
Ed McGuinness, Head of Events at Conservative Progress