Consistency, however, isn’t one of the strongest attributes of UK politicians, and the Foreign Secretary was resolute in demanding international support for the continued independence of the Ukraine. Unity and size are only important ‘domestically’, it would appear.
Boundaries between states in Europe have changed continually over the centuries. States – not always contiguous with nations, of course – have emerged and disappeared, and been carved out and carved up as empires have been founded and destroyed. Usually, the process has been a sad and bloody one, although in recent decades, we have at last started to see some peaceful changes reflecting popular will.
Two things stand out for me as being consistent. The first is that change is always happening. Boundaries and states are human constructions, and there is nothing permanent or inviolable about any of them.
The second is that, at any given point in history, those in power act and talk as though permanence of ‘their’ world is the natural order of things, and history can be frozen at a moment in time. In that context, the position adopted by Hague and the rest of the UK Government isn’t as inconsistent as it might otherwise appear. The Ukraine exists as an independent country and must continue to do so; Scotland doesn’t and shouldn’t. All arguments about size and strength – like much else which is said by “Better Together” - are really just about rationalising and defending the status quo.
I don’t know whether Scotland will vote ‘yes’ or not at this stage. At the outset, I rather expected that the first independence referendum would fail, to be followed by a second in a decade or two; but it now looks increasingly possible that it might just happen this year after all. European history is on the side of change, not permanence. Whether in Scotland or the Ukraine, merely arguing that what is must continue to be will never be enough.