Break-Up of the Union

Last Friday I got involved with a discussion with respect to the Scottish Referendum.  It is something that us folks in the South West haven’t really paid much heed to as, to be honest, it hasn’t really affected us to date. However on careful consideration, if the ‘YES’ camp get their way, the ramifications for the future could be immense.  I mentioned to a Scottish friend of mine, that I will probably blog elements of the discussion, as it is fairly topical. Her response was ‘Do you really want to make political statements on your blog, it may affect your business’. I think that is actually quite telling, as me commenting on whether the residents of Scotland aged 16 and over want to go their own way or not, has no real bearing on what I am trying to achieve in sunny Somerset. In Scotland however, the situation has appeared to have got quite vicious, with what should be a reasoned debate turning into a giant mud fight.

Personally I am not bothered either way as to what is decided. What currently annoys me is the promises coming from both sides as to the benefits that will be received if a NO / YES vote is given. Scotland has only 5 million people compared to the whole of the UK which has 64 million. We are only talking 8% of the population as a whole, yet both sides are bending over backwards and making intangible promises. There are other areas of the UK worthy of just as much of the piece of what little pie there is, but it does appear to be those who shout the most, get the most attention. I lived in Scotland for six years and work out of Stornoway and Inverness for two years prior to leaving Direct Flight, so unlike a lot of English people have a good idea of life ‘over the border’. There is a cultural difference, the same way as there is a cultural difference between Essex lads and Scousers, however as a nation the English are projected as the aggressors repressing the Scottish People. When I lived in Scotland, I was told I wasn’t typically English… well, as far I am concerned; there is no such thing as typically English.

The Scots do have a very defined National Identity and a long memory with regards to history. Bannockburn was 700 years ago, but is still a rallying cry today.  In the same way there is ill feeling about the battle of Culloden and the ‘English’ victory over the Jacobite rebellion (The fact there was a significant contingent of lowland Scots fighting on behalf of the ‘Crown’ always seems to be washed over). Why bring it up? And what relevance does it have in today’s modern society? We had our own uprising in the South West where, the Duke of Monmouth staked a claim to the throne. His rural army was soundly beaten at the Battle of Sedgemoor resulting in the Bloody Assizes led by Judge Jeffreys with many condemned to death or transportation. My mum used to live at Stonegallows, reputedly where many of the executions took place. Do we dwell on it?  Do we complain how history has treated us unfairly, are you even aware it happened? If you are not from Somerset the answer is probably no.

What is actually laughable is the Scottish Nationalist cry of foul regarding  the media black-out, BBC bias and the fact that Westminster is hiding ‘Scottish Oil’. Reference has been made to the Clair oilfield to the West of Shetland.  Conspiracy theories?  Really? It is common knowledge there are reserves of oil in the Shetlands basin, however until it is economically viable to retrieve it – ie until the price of a barrel of oil reaches a certain level; it is going to stay there. The same way that the vast coal reserves under the North Sea (English side) will remain there until there is no other alternative. The choice will always be to import cheaper alternatives before using our own resources which are more expensive to extract. This is not China or Russia. There is no media black out. All the research you need is on the Internet and the fact I was ‘debating’ said ‘black-out’ last Friday debunks the accusation.  The Scottish electorate have been given the opportunity to make a decision on their futures. I am sure they have enough information to make an informed choice.

Interestingly, there are an awful lot of Scottish people who hold UK passports working overseas and in the EU who do not have a vote. What happens to them with a ‘YES’ vote. Personally I think, as a UK citizen, you should be given the choice to retain your UK passport or renounce and have a Scottish one. England, Wales, N. Ireland and Scotland are so entwined that to say if you were born in Scotland you are now Scottish as opposed to British would cause no end of problems.

As far as I’m concerned, if the vote is YES – fine…. like any relationship you split the CD collection you both decide who gets the dog and you move on. What you can’t do, is keep a house key and pop back in as and when you want. You either work together for the greater good or break up the marriage.

I don’t know if any thought has been given to the thought, if Scotland goes for Independence, why not go a stage further. From my experience, the Shetland Islands are more ‘Viking’ than Scottish. So… should Scotland go it alone, the same argument that the SNP uses for independence could actually, in fact, be used by the Shetland Islands for self determination. In which case the oil is in fact Shetland oil and not Scottish oil benefiting the community it is nearest to. Looks like in the future the Shetland’s will be the place to live!

The SNP has been projected as a party for the people. I would say though, the SNP’s socialist agenda pretty much mirrors what has happened in the UK as a whole since the end of WW2. Regardless whether it is a Tory Government or a Labour Government we are very privileged to have the UK’s welfare state. What is being offered by the SNP is nothing new but appears excessive, smacks of greed and amounts to bribery of the Scottish electorate. To compensate the ‘NO’ camp are now appearing desperate, saying, stick with us and we’ll give you more. All of which is now alienating a population South of the border who actually in fact have a fondness for Scotland, but are fast becoming unenamoured with what appears to be an opportunistic ditching of debt and ugly wealth grab.

The UK is all encompassing offering opportunities not only for it’s naturalised residents, but to swathes of other communities too. It is all very well cherry picking the best bits, but a team is the sum of all it’s members, and you work to the strengths of your weakest team member and support them. That way everyone pulls through. That is what the UK does. I’ll be glad when this is settled and we have a result. Either way, cut Scotland loose and get rid of all the bitching and moaning, keep Scotland, and draw a line under what would have been a complete waste of time and money. The UK should move forward and work together as a team, each area providing their own strengths.

I was proud to serve in the UK Armed Forces and personally I’m proud to be a ‘Brit’ with all our cultural differences…. England / Scotland , North / South. It is often said the English have no national identity and I must admit, the only time I’m English is when I’m watching sport, otherwise I’m British and my flag is the Union Flag.

Is what I have written today political? No, not really. I am just roving an observing eye on unfolding events and passing comment. I have no real opinion on people’s choice – it’s up to the individual to decide what they want. What they have to be aware of is the consequences of their action. Even the smallest stone causes ripples….