Sunday, 1 January 2012

An Independent Hogmanay

An old university friend pointed me to a web site campaigning for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom a little while ago.  Reading One Dynamic Nation  I find myself wondering what is in this for the English.

I find that it is disproportionately aimed at convincing the Scots to remain part of the Union because they get such a good deal out of the arrangement, and I think that is only half the story. 

I wonder, can anyone can put a positive spin on it from the point of view of the English?  We never get a chance to vote in these referenda, but if we did I suspect that the cause of Scottish independence would get quite a big boost. 

The main point is that rural England gets the worst of both worlds - we get trampled underfoot by the London government, just like Scotland, and we get the blame from the Scots for the way that government treats everyone else.  (I am writing from the constituency next to David Cameron's - one where my vote counts for nothing as the Conservative majority is insurmountable.)  Many of us who live outside the metropolis feel just as powerless as the Scots to influence the country towards a successful future.  Somehow we feel that this is not appreciated by those in the other parts of the Union, when solidarity would be better for all of us.

Remember that England warms to London about as much as Scotland warms to Glasgow - and yes I know that Glasgow is not the capital.  Somehow most of the English lump all the Scots together in their uncomplimentary thoughts, and the Scots lump all the English together in the same way.  But ask a Devonian what she thinks she has in common with a Geordie, or a resident of Barra what she has in common with someone from the Gorbles, or indeed Holyrood.  None of them understand each other, in either country.

In my travels around the world I have found people to be nicer than I expected in every country, and my inbuilt bias against the people has never survived intact.  Those who don't travel outside their own home area find their bias unchallenged.  I know a chap who seems to think (humorously of course) he needs a passport to go North of Woodstock (just a few miles North of his home in Oxford).  I expect most of us know people like that. 

It is not surprising that many Scots want independence when they have been taught to hate the English since they were toddlers.  But why fight it?  Why not just let them have independence and see how much they like their own government after they have got over the euphoria.  Its not use claiming the wealth from North Sea oil or gas.  That is a drop in the ocean - or should I say 'a potential slick in the ocean'.

English Independence!

I think many of the English would be happy to go for independence from Scotland too.  The subject came up over dinner on Boxing Day, and without actually taking a vote, it was clear that the majority of the adults would be quite happy to see this happen.

Or Independence from London?

As an alternative, should we all vote for independence from London?  That would make just as much sense as independence from the Union for Scotland.

Sadly we all have to put up with a London-focused government, or suffer the consequences of prime ministers and governments of the type we have today - namely those who were barely elected and who are laying waste to Britain by all their actions.


Hilary said...

I think what you perceive as disproportionate is merely an attempt to counter those who wish to see an independent Scotland and think it will lead to the solving of many problems. Our mutual friend Tony Pfaff and his collieagues are simply keen to redress the balance by providing an informative site as to the benefits for the Scots in remaining within the UK.

I confess a level of ignorance in the politics of all of this and so I am not really sure which would be the better option for any and all of us. What I read on the One dynamic Nation website does seem to me to make sense, though I appreciate there is always another side of the argument.

I do agree though that there is a London skewedness in the UK. How could this be changed do you think? What would be a good alternate decentralised way of governing, and would or could it work I wonder?

Living of course as I do in North Wales, there is a strong plea for an independent Wales as well, and I wonder, I think there are around 3 million people living in Wales, 5 million in Scotland, and I suppose in the end government is always skewed towards where most people live - London! How many in London - around 8 million isn't it? that is about the cobined population of Wales and Scotland!

Numbers are not everything but I suppose in a capital whose population is the combined size of two countries a certain sense of importance and power is sadly, to be expected.

Still, I don't suppose London has as many sheep! So we could always use sanctions and withhold our wool! Bound to work! :)

RosaRubicondior said...

Couldn't agree more.

You may or may not be aware that one of the major divisions in UK politics, apart from the division between capital and labour was that between union and home rule, not just for Ireland but for Scotland.

For many years the Tory Party's official name was the Conservative and Unionist Party. This came to be more associated with the Northern Ireland Unionists, who always took the Conservative Whip in parliament, but it originally referred to the Act of Union between England and Scotland. The Unionist part of the name was quietly dropped during the NI Troubles because of it's association with anti-Catholicism, gerrymandering of elections and blatant racism.

Historically, Labour has been opposed to Union and centralised government, and pro-Home Rule. Remember, it was Labour who introduced the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies - one of the largely forgotten but hugely significant changes made by the Blair Government. The Liberals were split on the issue and shattered after the 1910 Home Rule Bill, never to recover. The Tory party inherited the Unionist faction. By the early 1960's the rump of the Liberal Party was reduced to the 'Celtic Fringe' of a handful of seats in northern Scotland and west Wales where they represented the vestiges of national identity as expressed though the ballot box, though independence had ceased to be an issue by then.

Another interesting point your blog raises is the huge range of different cultures across the UK, not only between England and Scotland but also within each of those two countries.

In what was is it possible to talk of a British culture, or of 'Britishness' when, as you point out, a Devonian has little in common with a Londoner, a Glaswegian, a Hebridean from Barra or a Geordie?

For this reason, not only would I support independence for Scotland and Wales if the majority want it there, but I would also support regional English parliaments, maybe even based on the old Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. There is no reason why a British Federation couldn't work along the same lines as the Swiss Federation.

Anonymous said...

/we get trampled underfoot by the London government, just like Scotland./

The difference is that, unlike rural England, Scotland is a country.

Plasma Engineer said...

So - Scotland is 'a' country is it? Does that mean that the highlanders and lowlanders regard each other as equals?

Of course they don't. Many of them despise each other almost as much as they despise the English.

Incidentally you might have missed the point of the post. The English will not get a chance to vote on independence and if they did have that opportunity you can be certain that the cause of independence for Scotland would get a huge boost.

If you want independence then I think your best chance is to campaign for a Union-wide vote. Then you will get it, I'm sure.

Derby Sceptic said...

I worry that regardless of which party is in government, and whether or not an individual voted for them, the government still do what they want to and not what they promised the electorate. As such the insurmountable Conservative majority has little relevance as the Conservative MPs are unlikely to be acting as the voters would wish them to. The same applies whichever party is in power.

Plasma Engineer said...

The current 'insurmountable Conservative majority' is in fact an easily surmountable minority.

The problems is that the power-hungry Liberals who joined them in the coalition government have forgotten who elected them and why. I think the term 'compliant quislings' applies to them. At least - it is the politest way that I can find to describe them.

Hilary said...

I wonder as well whether the characters involved in the party leadership seems these days to be more about whether they have charisma and appeal to the public than about their policies (though their policies do as you say, seem to go out the window once in power) but I remember reading a news clip when Gordon Brown became PM that he was taking a course of lessons in 'how to smile' I somehow doubt that Harold Wilson would have taken such lessons :) but I wonder whether the whole media image which now seems to be the main focus of potential future leaders, says as much about what those leaders and potential leaders think of the 'great British public' than even the way they run the country.

I think regional English Parliaments (as Rosarubicondior suggests) is worth a go actually - though I do vaguely remember a 'Yes Prime Minisiter' episode on this very suggestion. I just can't remember the outcome!

Derby Sceptic said...

I for one would vote for an independent England.

Interesting though that it seems the main driving force for an independent Scotland is the SNP. Polls seem to suggest that the people of Scotland do not want it and this is perhaps backed up by the One Dynamic Nation organisation which appears to have started in Scotland.

Perhaps the Scots can see through the waffle spouted by the politicians and realise that such benefits as free prescriptions and higher education will either have to be paid for at point of use or alternatively in higher taxation to make up for the lost subsidies from England.