A number of readers, mostly overseas, have
written to ask why I haven’t yet been sufficiently motivated to comment on Scotland’s
desire for independence.
I thought I had. Perhaps not.
But whether I’ve simply forgotten writing
about it, or wilfully neglected to, the reason comes out the same. I don’t particularly care one way or the
If the Scots wish to divest themselves of the
burdens of membership of the Union, whether the supposedly high-handed and
misguided interference of the British Parliament, or the Tories, or Stephen Fry,
or whatever else it is they feel they’d be better off without, then good luck
to them. There will be a referendum on
independence in September and they will do as they see fit.
My own view – worth very little because it rarely
occupies my thoughts and only then as an abstract question of academic interest
– is that they are mad. Mad to wish to
embark on a venture beset by such uncertainties as what currency they will use,
and what international federations they might be admitted to – including the
European Union – not to mention whether the Scots Guards will still be allowed
to participate in Trooping the Colour and stand duty outside Buckingham Palace.
Personally, I’d feel relieved to be relieved
of having to listen to Alex Salmond explain how all this is going to work when plainly
he hasn’t the faintest idea himself and makes it up as he goes along. Yes, I
know the Scottish National Party produced a manifesto but even the most ardent Scottish
patriots must have fallen asleep reading it, probably before they’d got though
the introduction. What’s true of Salmond
is even truer of his ghastly deputy, one Angela Sturgeon, a coiffed pink bag of
discordant pipes, whose desperate ambition is writ large on her pudgy face, and
manifested by the pedant’s uncanny ability to answer any question even before
it’s been asked.
In recent days, the campaign has been
enlivened by the three main British political parties telling Salmond he won’t
be able to keep the pound (supported, not incidentally, by the governor of the
Bank of England), and the head of the EU Commission warning that Scotland may
not be invited to join the EU because some of its members don’t want to
encourage breakaway states (he cites as an example Spain, which has similar problems
with its pesky Catalonians).
I’ve no idea whether these pronouncements help
or hinder the Yes vote. Salmond of
course will play the bullying card – poor little Scotland being pushed about by its
bigger neighbours in blatant scare tactics.
“They only go to show that we’ve got them on the run,” he’ll undoubtedly
say in a major speech he’s apparently due to make later today. His opponents will grasp them as proof
positive that independence is a minefield through which only people with a
secret death would consider walking.
Then there are the other outlying Celtic
Wales, the English are
warned, may well seek to follow Scotland
into the sunlit uplands of Freedom, or so I’m told by people who know as little
about the matter as I do. Well, let the
Welsh go, too. What has Wales ever
contributed to the world other than coal, Dylan Thomas and Richard Burton? Coal is no longer needed, and at the risk of
attracting a Celtic fatwah, I venture to say the respective professions of the
two gentlemen in question would scarcely have been much the poorer without
As for Northern
Ireland, the Irish
Republic can have it,
just as soon as the necessary papers can be drawn up. It’s a social and economic mess, a land of
deprivation brought about by medieval religious bigotry. Now that the good folk south of the border
have finally renounced the governance of the Vatican in favour of that of the
Dail – not to mention allowing people to read Playboy and use condoms – there’s no longer much for the Proddies
to worry about, is there. The trouble is,
the Republic doesn’t really want it now.
It would still be worth asking for a price.
In summary, England, shorn of its whingeing chip-laden
neighbours will continue to be the economically viable, culturally vibrant –
and, yes, maddeningly imperfect – nation it has always been.
There, you asked, and now you know how I