Joe Biden causes problems for nationalism of all kinds - Alex Cole-Hamilton

On a crisp October morning 12 years ago, I knocked a door in Williamsburg, Virginia. The door, attached to a well appointed, suburban house was opened by a white, middle-aged man in his pyjamas. When I asked him if he was planning to vote for Barack Obama, he immediately asked where I was from. Realising I was unlikely to make much progress like that, I affected a Texan accent for the rest of the campaign and was not challenged again.

By Alex Cole-Hamilton
Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 2:21 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th October 2020, 11:21 am
Joe Biden is leading in the polls ahead of next week's election
Joe Biden is leading in the polls ahead of next week's election

American politics has always fascinated me because as far removed from our shores as America is both geographically and culturally - what happens there can change the course of British politics. As the old saying goes - “When America sneezes, the world catches a cold”.

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That statement feels eerily prescient in the context of the pandemic, but the result of this election could change the weather in the other two big issues dominating the scene in UK politics right now - Brexit and Scottish Independence.

Here’s how.In recent days there has been a noticeable shift in the negotiating stance of the UK government as they work towards a Brexit deal. The devil-may-care strategy adopted by the Conservative party, of threatening to tear up international law and with it the Good Friday Agreement, appears to have been set aside for now. The reason for that is that barring monstrous calamity, Joe Biden looks set to be declared the 46th President of the United States at some point next Wednesday Morning. That changes everything.Biden (of Irish stock himself) has already stated that should the UK government undermine peace in Northern Ireland, as their assault on the Withdrawal Agreement would surely do, then there will be no US trade deal for the UK. At a stroke, that removes the only ace left up the sleeve of those driving towards a hard Brexit.

I’d say it’s more likely than not, now that a Brexit Deal will materialise towards the end of November, and whilst the negative impact of Brexit will linger for years, it will be masked by Covid, slink off into the wings and disappear from our airwaves and from our consciousness (halleluiah). That in turn is bad news for those agitating for independence.The SNP have been banking on a hard Brexit and not an inconsiderable amount of that flush of new support for independence has been built around the expectation that there will be one. There is no question in my mind that if Brexit falls away from people’s thinking and it isn’t the apocalypse that no-deal will be, then so too will the urgent pull and attraction of separatism.If Trump loses, and that looks likely, then his brand of US nationalism will begin to diminish- that has an immediate and deflating impact on the British Nationalism that has characterised Boris Johnson’s tenure as PM. In turn that causes problems for Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish Nationalism as well.All of these brands of nationalism rely on each other, If one collapses the others begin to follow. So you’ll understand why I wish I was knocking doors in a marginal state once again right now.