Saturday, 13 September 2014

The Lion and the Unicorn: Scotland and England Tussle

The Union Jack
 Scotland votes on the 18th.
          By next Saturday we shall know whether our flag is the Union or Disunion Jack. 

The Disunion Jack

          It 's one of the most exciting political stooshies for many a long year. If I had a vote, I'm still not sure how I'd use it.

          Of the people I know, the one most vehemently opposed to Scottish Independence is a Scot, my partner. He doesn't have a vote either, because he's lived in England - and other parts of the world - for at least half his life. In his opinion, voting 'yes' is the worst, most stupid thing Scotland could do. It will be a disaster. Business will leave, money will leave, talent will leave. The economy will crash. Instead of being proudly independent, the Scots will be begging England to save them. Again.
         He's as proud as the next Scot of Scotland's many achievements but, he says, there has to be some realism - 'they should stop dreaming of Bonnie Prince bloody Charlie.' The union only came about in the first place, he says, because of the Darien Scheme, a hare-brained venture which almost wrecked Scotland's economy. England saved Scotland's bacon then, and has done so since (though hardly from simple kindness, it has to be said.) England built Scotland's modern road system, invested in Scotland's economy, is paying for their free universities and prescriptions.
          'England has been amazingly patient,' says Davy. If the Scots flounce off, maybe England won't be so patient when - at some time in the future - they want to creep back again. Presumably the English will then get a vote on whether or not to rejoin with the Jocks (though, personally, I wouldn't bet on our leaders allowing us a say) - and the English will blow a long, loud raspberry.
          So says Davy.

They're fighting for that crown again...

          Davy's brother Jim, when I was talking with him on Barra earlier this year, had quite a different take. 'We are not fools or children,' Jim said. 'We have oil, and gas, we have IT industries and a thriving export trade in whisky, and we can manage our economy perfectly well, thank you very much! - And we're sick and tired of being governed by public-school educated Tory Little-Englanders we never voted for. At every election for the past 30 years, Scotland has voted solidly to the left, and ended up with Tories or Tories-Lite in government. Do you call that representation? Do you call that a democracy?'
          And, oh lord, I can identify with that!

          Furthermore, Jim said, politics in the UK have become stale, moribund. Election turnouts are low, and results massively unrepresentative, because most people know their votes won't make any difference. So they've stopped caring.
          This is very true. I can no longer bring myself to vote for Labour, and would have to have a gun to my head before I would vote Lib-Dem (Tories in sheep's clothing) or (spit) Tory.
          I would vote Green, since their manifesto is broadly what I want - but in my consitituency, if I vote Green, I'm simply wasting my vote. So I've been effectively disenfranchised. But is there any likelihood of proportional representation being introduced any time soon? - No, because it doesn't suit either Labour or Tories, and never mind what the voters want.

          According to Jim, this disenfranchisement is what Scottish Independence is about. By leaving England, they would be doing England a huge favour - by delivering to Westminster's arse the biggest boot it's felt in many long, self-satisfied, cosy, careerist years spent cuddled up to multi-national Big Business.
          Scottish Independence, says Jim, would force a big shake-up in British politics.

          I can see it. Wales would want independence. Cornwall, Yorkshire, Northumbria - if Scotland can manage its own affairs, why would the rest of Britain continue to suffer being ruled by Tories they never voted for?
          Britain might become a federation of small states, each governing itself, but sending representatives to a larger, federal council. My cousin, living in Switzerland, admires the system, and says it works very well, with fewer extremes than in Britain, and far more checks and balances.
          I like the sound of all this - but have to admit that there is a part of me that always wants to see the apple-cart kicked over and the apples rolling about everywhere

          Davy hoots in derision at all Jim's arguments. The vote will be, 'No,' he insists. The Scots have too much good sense to be carried away by all that skirling in the heather stuff - and they have too much to lose.
          Jim says Independence for Scotland is the best thing that could happen for our future.
          Davy says it will bring sorrow to generations yet unborn.

          It all makes me think of the words of Dorothy Rowe, the psychologist. (I paraphrase):
         'Every action has consequences. Some of the consequences are foreseen and some are unforeseen.
          'Of the foreseen consequences, some will be predicted to be good, and some will be predicted to be bad.
          'Some of the predicted good consequences will, in the event, turn out to be bad.
          'Some of the predicted bad consequences will, in the event, turn out to be good.

          'Of the unforeseen consequences, some will be immediately experienced as good, and some as bad
                        'Some of those immediately experienced as bad will turn out to be good in the end.
         'Some immediately experienced as good will, in time, turn out to be bad.'

          So it goes.
          This time next week, we'll know whether the lion has had its bum kicked, or the unicorn has had its horn bent.
          Either way, I don't think anyone will be handing round brown bread or plum cake.

The Union Jack Photo: LA(Phot) Simmo Simpson/MOD [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons
The lion and unicorn from the James' Bible, and the nursery rhyme illustration, are public domain, from Project Gutenburg, through wiki commons.



JO said...

I completely understand why the Scots want to give Westminster politicians a kicking. They are arrogant and self-righteous, and their lack of understanding of Scottish disenchantment is telling.

On the other hand, it would be economically ridiculous for both countries.

So I hope we stay together. And I'd like to think Westminster takes the opportunity to reflect - but that's the pie-in-sky bit.

Susan Price said...

Yeh, I suppose the least we could expect out of this is that Westminster gets a shake-up. But as you say, I'm not holding my breath... If the vote is no, Westminster will, most likely, feel they've got away with it, and fall back into complacency.

Freyalyn Close-Hainsworth said...

Exactly how they did over the expenses scandal.

Susan Price said...

Yes, Freyalyn, exactly like that! Lord, they didn't even pretend to have learned anything, did they?

AliB said...

Nice to see a balanced post on this, Susan. I'm also a Scot without a vote and am pretty much in the Davy camp. But I've been depressed by both sides of the campaign and there are very few I feel inclined to trust to be telling it as it is. I have got to the stage of 'A Plague on both their houses!' I think people would do better to follow whatever their gut instinct was before this all began.

madwippitt said...

I'm with Davy.
But I'm also fed up of being governed by a bunch of prats I didn't vote for - and that includes all the parties. The people I would like to vote for, unfortunately would never get a chance.
So I may have to follow the Passport to Pimlico idea and set up the Republic of Wippitts on my little patch ...

Susan Price said...

Passport to Pimlico, yes! - Let's all start searching our attics, cellars, local archives, for an unrepealed charter that gives us the right to absolute rule in our little - oh, say ten square miles. We'll defy both England and Scotland.