A coincidence or some form of collusion with the Scottish Rugby Union?
I refer to the announcement by Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of England’s northern neighbour, on the very weekend that England walloped Scotland on the rugby field at Twickenham, that she will call for a second referendum on Scottish independence.
Of course it was a coincidence. I’m just being silly, as usual.
She had myriad other reasons to seek a new referendum, even if none of them are any more sensible as excuses for doing so than Scotland’s humiliation at Twickenham – or, for that matter, at Bannockburn, or any of those other remote locations – most of them hard to locate even with the aid of ‘satnav’ – where the perfidious English handed out a hiding to the poor benighted Scots.
Come to think of it, in passing, who did win at Bannockburn? Like most Englishmen, I have a hard time remembering. It was, after all, a very long time ago. Several centuries, in fact, though I dare say if I asked your average Scot, he would remind me tout suite, while probably providing with intimate details about the dispositions of the troops on the battlefield. In the event of a Scottish victory, he would also no doubt describe how bravery and superior tactics had won the day, and in the case of an English victory, how the oppressors had used underhand tactics to win and committed heinous war crimes to boot.
Nicola Sturgeon is keen to have a referendum sooner rather than later because amid all the confusion that will ensue from Britain’s forthcoming negotiations to quit Europe, she can sew discord, distrust and dismay among those of her country-folk who are easily led into such states.
It matters not a jot that the numbers don’t add up for an independent Scotland; that the price of North Sea oil receipts have dropped by a third, or that the Scottish budget is running at one of the worst deficits in Europe. Nor does it matter that the EU is unlikely to invite an independent Scotland to replace the UK in the European family of nations all the while that Spain, fearful of provoking similar mischievous acts by Catalonia, holds the trump card that will automatically be played to defeat such a move. Nor that joining the EU would, in the unlikely event that Spain could be persuaded to assent, take more than the natural term of Sturgeon’s government, not to mention that of those Scottish citizens of my age, representing a substantial minority of them.
Even so, I’m afraid we are all, English and sensible Scots alike, going to have to put up with such outbursts from Sturgeon for months, and perhaps years, to come.
It has been centuries since English armies encroached into Scotland wielding swords and axes, intent on causing bloody mayhem. Since those far-off days, it has been the Scots marching on England, armed with begging bowls; and, of course, the English, in the spirit of generosity and good will towards former enemies for which they have long been renowned, have charitably disposed to fill them.
The Scots must be smoking the peat which they normally exploit for making whisky if they think a gang of warring continental proxies in Brussels will do so with the same benign forbearance as England’s neighbourly proxies in Westminster.
Sturgeon now says (this having been disclosed since I started writing this piece) that Scotland will now not seek to join the EU, but will instead hook up with the European Free Trade Association, which currently comprises Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Now there’s an economic powerhouse to reckon with. At least Scotland could argue for the adoption of the Swiss franc as its currency.
Sturgeon is confused and increasingly desperate. But it is her overarching ambition, seen through the rose-tinted spectacles that match those peach-toned little dress ensembles she wears, to become the first leader of a Free Scotland, thereby lauded as a glorious fighter for the freedom of a nation, and recorded as one of the most influential women in the history of the world.
She has, I suspect, miscalculated the mood not only of the Scots, but of the English; not to mention the Europeans, who right now have far more pressing problems to deal with.
Nobody likes a self-aggrandising opportunist. But for Nicola Sturgeon, opportunism is always knocking, and will keep knocking until she gets her way or retires to one of her bargain-purchase council houses.