Gi’ me a break.
This little country’s miserable mealy-mouthed politicians begin to unravel at the thought of all that responsibility. Having to run things ourselves? Having no one to blame? No way hen. Am no goan there.
But ever since the Condems embraced Austerity-for-the-great-unwashed and Osborne’s punchable fizzug started popping up on Newsnight, making me boak over my dinner, the doubts about the benefits of unionism have been building.
A family wedding encounter with Little Englander You sure you can afford it? You got a job? Or are you here to steal our jobs? Eh? You Scots are a theivin’ lot of subsidy junkies. Whinging and spending our money. Go back where you come from, why don’t you. You lot need to piss off back home. Nobody wants you here. (Charming man. This genuinely was his response to my eldest innocently asking him, as father of the bride, if he wanted a drink.). And I was well on my way to manning the Border and instituting passport control and shoot to kill.
But what the hell is ‘a country’? And supposing there’s a satisfactory answer (this is personal – the answer might satisfy you but I’m not convinced turf wars are me) – is Scotland really a country?
Alex Salmond (Leader of the governing Scottish National Party) has been cleverer than his opponents. One step ahead. But, like all politicians who’ve been at the top of their party – and leader of their country – for too many years, the lustre’s beginning to lose its sheen. Taking power for granted is dangerous. Complacency leads inexorably to mistakes. And he’s beginning to be found out. For an empty vessel. A charlatan medicine man peddling dodgy claims. He has been living on hypotheticals and appealing to emotive nationalism and patriotic Scottish jingoism for years. And when attacked and asked to explain his rationale or the basis for policies adopted he has done a fine line in deflective defence and logical fallacy: I say to the honourable lady, she may ask where the money is going to come from but I say I have faith in the ability of this proud country to….blah blah blah’. Aka ‘you are unpatriotic anti-Scottish and pro-Condems’. With a strong whiff of: ‘you are a stupid fud’.
‘Country’ comes from the late Latin ‘contra’. Meaning ‘against’.
Country: A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with sets of previously independent or differently associated peoples with distinct political characteristics. (Wiki – which will do me for now).
So, Scotland can be said to be a formerly (1707) sovereign state. ‘Against’ England. Politically distinct (enough) from England to have to sign a Treaty to bring the United Kingdom of Great Britain into existence.
The truth is muddier than that. I’m no royalist – but the Royal Houses of Scotland and England had been inter-marrying (and fighting each other) for centuries. The DNA of this mean little island has a glorious mongrel pedigree. Romans. Celts. Picts/Britons. Angles. Saxons. Normans. Jutes. Flemings. Vikings.
We are a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns as my sexist old Granpa always said. All progeny of the original man. I prefer original woman. But it comes down to the same thing. He never could think in terms of ‘it’s ma baw’ – and neither can I.
It’s true though that the further North you go from London or the Home Counties the more ‘left-leaning’ local politics become.
Scotland has a well-developed preference for re-distributive economics, with a heavy emphasis on social justice, community, looking after your vulnerable, striving for equality of opportunity. Even our old Conservatism (before the 1950s the natural party of power here) was community-minded, soft. more paternalistic MacMillan than free market Friedman.
Scotland provides a useful boost to Westminster coffers of course. Oil revenues. Whisky revenues. Corporation tax. Income Tax. Stamp Duty. Car tax duties. And the rest (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/06/21144516/10 )
Of course Scotland’s been ripped off by its neighbour for centuries. That good man Blair re-drew the marine boundaries in 1999 ensuring that ‘English waters’ stretched up to Carnoustie. That’s deep into Pictish Scotland for you non-Scots readers. http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2012/01/scotlandengland-maritime-boundaries/
and the government’s own confirmation of this: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1999/99112601.gif
A cynical Westminster move to ensure that devolved powers did not disadvantage England too much. And to make pro-Independence financial arguments even more difficult to make.
We currently contribute more than we take (you have to count the Oil and Gas and Whisky revenues here – not do the usual Telegraph/Daily Mail wheeze of happily ignoring them). But we take more back per head of population than our union partners because of the Barnett Formula. England (or the South of England at any rate) could survive without us. No doubt. And Little England-er from the wedding demonstrates a real desire to be shot of us. But they still want our cash. And a diminished UK of GB is bad for the global reputation. So the Unionist parties defend the status quo.
Cameron, in fact, continues to defend ‘the union’ despite paralleling Scottish Independence arguments in his Euro-Referendum ‘In or Out’ speech. Reform the terms of our Union he shouted. (And then the wheels came off because it wasn’t clear whether he’d push for a ‘No to Europe’ vote if he didn’t get what he’s yet to explain he wants from illusory negotiations that aren’t going to start unless DC wins a majority for his party).
Phew. What a grand wheeze. Defended by that very odd man with the strange voice – William Hague. A desperate attempt to unite his own Conservatives; scupper the electoral chances of UKIP; deflect attention from their dire economic policies and distance them from their Coalition partners. The electioneering starts here. There will be a General Election by next May.
|A Belltoon. David Cameron to the Left and Alex Salmond to the Right.|
Where are our Scottish politicians when we need them though?
In the middle of all of this Westminster disarray they could be making hay. No?
No. Alex and his cohort of incompetents are running to the aid of their unionist opponents. They’re revealing – with their every response – their lack of answers to the thousands of questions Scots have. Worse – the answer to many of the hard questions appears to be: Westminster will continue to exercise that power.
UK to continue to control Green Energy subsidies? Adoption of Sterling? Control of interest rates by the Bank of England? The list is growing by the day. What’s the point of Independence, Alex?
I wish politicians – wherever – would grow up. Would grow a set.
Be honest. Stop treating us all like idiots.
Scotland would have no easy road if it chose Independence. It is not a rich country. Though it’s richer than the unionists pretend. There would be hard political choices to make.
Free prescriptions? Or free transport for pensioners? Or free personal care? Or maximum class sizes and teaching time? What service do you Change? Reform? Get rid of?
But that’s the mark of a grown up state.