Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Scottish independence – the way forward

As we're nearly at Burns Night, some thoughts on Scottish independence. Having read a good deal of argument on either side, part of the interest for me has been seeing the panic among some Scots at the notion of not being part of the UK, and another part has been the amount of enthusiasm for the idea among the English. Cynics might say that the latter is partly out of jealousy – sod off with your better healthcare, your free university places, and so on – and partly due to the perception that money is currently flowing from England to Scotland, and it would help England to stop this transfer.

I don't think Alex Salmond is thinking big enough.

Here's what he – and Scotland – should be arguing for: not just independence for Scotland as it currently stands, but an independent and enlarged Scotland. Here's the map as I would suggest it.

Note that the new border runs roughly from the Mersey to the Wash, such that the new most southerly Scottish cities would be Stoke, Derby and Nottingham. To the existing Scottish economy would be added a good number of people and the great cities mentioned above along with Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle... and of course Carlisle and Berwick-upon-Tweed would return once more to the motherland.

The character and temperament of these parts of England would fit much better with Scotland than with the Shires and the Home Counties. All of the areas going to Scotland under my modest proposal are marked by their citizens being stroppy, argumentative, up for a drink and a ruck (or either), and distrustful of politicians, especially Oxbridge toffs who've never been north of Watford Gap. The blood flowing in the veins of the 'English' above the new border is a heady mix of the ancient British, the Anglo-Saxons and the Scandinavian invaders; by contrast the Southron Londoners (and they're all Londoners up as far as Leicester, let's face it) are mostly French types and therefore only fit for sitting around in poncey winebars talking bolleaux.

Clearly there would be some adjustments to make for we 'New Scottish', but I already like whisky, so I'm not too concerned. I haven't been in the habit of drinking it much before lunch, I must admit, but this would be a small price to pay for the benefits of belonging to a new, forward-looking and dynamic Greater Scotland.

So, Mr Salmond, there you have it. Think big. Be bold. Dream of a new Hadrian's Wall along the Trent. You know it makes sense.