Saturday, 16 August 2014

Better together. For us, certainly. Perhaps even for you.

Driving northwards, towards Scotland, for a few minutes from that fine historic town, Berwick-upon-Tweed, will bring you to the sign welcoming you to Scotland. And thereby hangs a tale: for Berwick was a Scottish town for a long time. Every time I drive into Scotland from Berwick, as I just have, the town’s capture by England strikes me as emblematic of the history of the two nations: England has always grabbed more than it was entitled to, in its long history of battles, or negotiations, with Scotland.

Always a great welcome.
Though resentment would be understandable
So I can understand the sentiments of the campaigners for a Yes vote in next month’s referendum on Scottish independence. England’s never really treated Scotland fairly; why maintain a relationship in which the same injustice is likely to occur again?

An even stronger argument is voiced by many Yes campaigners: there is just one Conservative MP from Scotland, and yet Scotland groans under a Tory government like the rest of us.

It’s that “rest of us” which make me sympathetic to the argument, but also leaves me hoping that Scotland will vote No on 18 September. Because I didn’t vote for Cameron either, but got him anyway. A lot us in England are as keen as anyone in Scotland to see the back of him. And the departure of Scotland, with its 41 Labour MPs at Westminster, will make it all the harder.

Which puts me in this difficult position of feeling that, while Scottish independence is a perfectly comprehensible aspiration for the Scots, it will make life a lot tougher for us in England.

As it happens, I don’t really understand what kind of independence the Scots are looking for. They’re talking about keeping the pound as their currency. But by leaving the union, they would lose all say over how it’s managed. Why would they want to do that? And what kind of independence is it they’ll get, with their currency still managed by England?

So, while I couldn’t help feeling a surge of sympathy for the Scots as I drove past that sign 4 km on the Scottish side of Berwick, I take some relief at the apparently widening lead for the No vote in the polls.

“Better together” is the official name of the No campaign. I’m sure we in England would be far better off together. And, given the kind of independence on offer to the Scots, I’d like to say to them – you might be better off too.


Anonymous said...

£? £? £? £? £?

David Beeson said...

Pounds are what it's about: (1) who's bought what government; (2) who controls the national currency - an independence without control of currency sounds like no independence at all