So what happens when Scotland votes yes? Cameron’s quit, the Queen is furious, the Shetlands have taken all the oil – and the Scottish economy is tanking: A brilliant ‘imagining’ of life after the Union
- Scottish historian Allan Massie analysis a potential yes to independence
- Mr Massie paints a compelling scenario of a Britain no longer unified
- As polls still remain on a knife edge, he imagines the immediate effects
- Mr Massie also looks at who would rule England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Do you people think this is a game?
This is all I can think when I come across things like this.
Any hopes that the more Anglophobic Scots might have had that their defection would harm the UK were dashed when it kept its name – in reference to the English, Welsh and Northern Ireland components – as well as its seats in the UN Security Council, Nato, EU, OECD and other international bodies.
Scotland on its own, however, swiftly found itself with a voice somewhere between that of Serbia and Cyprus in weight, representing only 4.6 million people (after half-a-million English and business people emigrated to avoid the anti-sassenach legislation and high corporation taxes).
Before independence it was argued by SNP constitutional lawyers that Scotland would somehow automatically ‘inherit’ its place in the EU because they’d been a member when part of the United Kingdom. But that was not accepted by the powers in Brussels, and the six Scottish MEPs were expelled from the Strasbourg parliament on the same day 72 Scottish MPs said farewell to Westminster.
As it turned out, Scotland’s representation in other counsels of the world also suffered.
She was not admitted into Nato, as her aggressive de-nuclearisation programme and inability to meet the necessary spending requirements on defence disqualified her.
No tartan, no whisky and no oil. What a strange independent Scotland President Sean Connery will oversee from his tax haven in 2024, predicts Harry Mount.
It gets tiring after a while. And they still keep coming:
NOT many bells are rung in Scotland when the Day of Independence finally arrives. Orkney and Shetland negotiate a UK status similar to the Isle of Man, booming on oil and the new offshore financial services.
The Ulster Troubles rumble on and nobody thinks about Wales. In Scotland, Mel Gibson’s Braveheart cry of ‘Freedom’ sounds painfully ironic as cuts that would make Lady Thatcher wince begin to bite.
Both countries appear sadly diminished. Even the natural ebullience of Prime Minister Johnson cannot prevent him from privately acknowledging that a state that had been unable to hold together had become Little Britain in the eyes of the world.
A view gathers strength on both sides of the border that those who had argued that England and Scotland were ‘better together’ had been right all along.
Frankly, it really does come across to little more than a game to them. A musing. A thought experiment. A romantic notion that could never actually come to fruition. The entire idea of Scottish independence ranks somewhere in the general vicinity of “where will I build my anti-zombie fort when the dead reclaim the earth?” and “how will alien invasions affect house prices?” – there’s an element of fantasy, unreality to them. Every one of them treats the referendum with the same sort of distracted amusement you’d expect if you asked someone if they thought Atlantis existed, and act mildly irritated at your insistence that this is a wee bit more serious than wondering which ten naturalists you’d select for your Wildlife League.
“What if the Confederacy won the American Civil War?”
“What if Arianism replaced Catholicism in the early church?”
“What if Scotland became an independent country?”
Guess what, friends? This is not a game. This is the culmination of centuries of struggle for self-determination – indeed, the modern movement started well over 80 years ago. But it’s hardly the first time the chattering types have refused to believe even the possibility of Scots desiring more control over their own affairs. Thirty years ago, it was “there will be no Scottish Constitutional Convention.” Twenty years ago, it was “there will never be a Scottish parliament.” Ten years ago, “there will never be an SNP government.” Five years ago, “The SNP will never get a majority.” Three years ago, “there will be no referendum on Scottish independence.”
It’s probably nothing new. The landed gentry of Richmond Upon Thames may have considered the Founding Fathers’ little “tea party” in Boston as a rambunctious scrum of no consequence to The Empire. The gentleman’s clubs of Hampshire likely viewed Michael Collins as a scruffy ne’er-do-well chasing a quixotic fantasy about a Free Ireland. The dainty ladies of Asquith probably looked on Gandhi as a funny little man who had some strange and silly ideas about Indian independence. The same, of course, could almost certainly be said for the more upmarket areas of Scotland, naturally. Every day, it seems another voice in England treats the very concept of Scottish independence as foolishness – and on the first of April of this year, the traditional day marked for foolishness was dominated by jokes regarding Scottish Independence. A sense of humour can only go so far.
They don’t deign to offer it – and us – the respect deserved. And they have no idea how offensive it is to belittle us like this. Stuff like this might be satire, but it sure as blazes isn’t good satire. Satire is only worthwhile when it cuts through to truth. What is the point of satire if it’s based on untruths and falsehoods? It doesn’t offer any insight or criticism, its inaccuracies distract from it rather than enhance it, it ends up alienating a substantial portion of its audience. And most of all, it just isn’t funny. It could almost be forgiven if it was at least outrageous enough to elicit a smile – but after enduring every Scottish cliche under the sun in the run-up to the referendum, the most it can muster from this Scot is a withering sigh. If that. Sometimes I can’t even be bothered breathing in for the exhalation of disappointment.
Scotland and her people have been treated as a joke for a long time now. Jokes about our currency, our history, our future. But it goes beyond a joke. The above, “Sawney in the Boghouse,” just the 18th Century version of your typical xenophobic cartoons as seen in The Guardian and others. William Camden, royal historian for Elizabeth and one of the most celebrated English historians, described the Scots in 1586′s Brittania (the first modern historical and topographical survey of the British Isles) as savages which drank the blood of the slain, and even each other, who believed that the more they killed, the greater honour was gained. This perception of the early modern Scots being wild, lawless barbarians in supposed historical accounts was perpetuated throughout the 18th to the 19th centuries. Even our brightest Scots were subject to discrimination and prejudice, not least because the “Scotchman on the Make” was seen as a threat to an Englishman’s natural dominion even into the beginning of the 20th Century.
Anti-Jacobite propaganda frequently descended into plainly Anti-Scottish propaganda (“An Address to All True Englishmen” being a popular pamphlet), due to Charles’ appropriation of the Gaelic populace for the Jacobite cause: the legend of Sawney Bean in particular continuing the tradition of Scottish cannibalism. Anti-Scottish medallions were minted, the Whigs initiated a campaign depicting the Scots as (you guessed it) backwards barbarians, and the new English (and current British) national anthem contained this verse during the late 18th Century:
Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,
May by thy mighty aid,
May he sedition hush,
And like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush,
God save the King.
Anti-Scottish sentiments like the thousands of Scots sold into slavery afterf the Battle of Dunbar in 1680, England’s complicity in Darien’s failure and the Alien Act of 1705 showed the foundation of the Union was built on perilous ground. In the early 1600s, the Penal Laws outlawing Gaelic custom in Ireland were introduced – only a few decades following the Union, the Dress Act of 1746 came into force in Scotland: all Highland dress, including the kilt, was outlawed, with punishment starting at six months imprisonment – an act deliberately imposed to suppress Gaelic culture. It lasted until 1782.This is the legacy of what plenty of people tend to call “a bit of banter,” just some “fun,” nothing malicious was intended by it. And I’m sure plenty of US citizens thought that of their “gentle humour” directed at the Native Americans after centuries of concerted suppression.
Come the 19th of September 2014, the joke’s over. And not a moment too soon.