The growing English desire for a Parliament is entirely a reaction to the West Lothian Question. Englishmen have never before shown any desire for more layers of government. Were it not for devolution, we would be quite content to be governed from our historic parliament at Westminster.
Personally I love Scotland. It's a beautiful place and I have friends there. I really wish the Scots could get along with us in the UK, but then I love Ireland too. I see no reason why all of us in these islands can't live together as one nation.
Now there's a long-lost cause!
People who share the same language, teach their children the same nursery rhymes, love the same drama, music and literature and cherish common values should be in the same nation. That the tribal hatreds of prehistoric times have outlasted the long-miscegenated tribes is sad. That modern nations should define themselves by long-dead tribes of a lost race is pathetic. Sad, pathetic or not, the right to self-determination is inalienable and it's not for me to question the reasoning behind any given exercise of that right.
The Scots seem cautiously to be gearing up to go the way of the Irish, no doubt encouraged by their recent example. The SNP is cleverly making it "safe" for voters to elect them, by promising a referendum on full independence in 2010. It will have three years, and the resources of the well-funded Scottish government, to make its case. I think it will succeed. The sight of a nationalist government running the country (and under the leadership of the most impressive politician in these islands it can scarcely do less well than the current lot) will stoke the fires lit by Labour with the establishment of what Billy Connolly calls "the wee pretendy Parliament".
Though we will shed a tear, it is not all bad news. They have never, shall we say, fully embraced the United Kingdom. Only 163,000 of them currently make a net contribution to the UK Treasury. Most Scots are unreconstructed Socialists. An election-deciding proportion of them work for (or are kept in idleness by) the State. I do not say they are no loss, but I am a polite Englishman. Economically, it would not be far wrong. Of course, they will take their share of North Sea oil, but it's not as great as the SNP thinks and becomes less important with every day of delay.
We need to get our act together for the negotiations which may begin in 2010. Few people seem to have thought the consequences through - on either side of the border.
Since Scotland will be leaving the UK, which is the Member State of the EU, an independent Scotland will need to apply to join. It would be irrational for a new nation, with no recent track record of political and economic stability, to walk immediately into membership. The nations of New Europe, very sensibly, had to prove that they were stable democracies with viable economies before they could join. They were made to jump many hoops of the kind now being held up before Turkey. Scotland should jump them too.
At the time of the Acts of Union it was a bankrupt failed state. Until an independent Scotland generates a fresher, and we all hope better, track record the UK should veto any membership application.
There is much more to be negotiated, not least the status of the 800,000 self-defined Scots nationals living and working in the rest of the UK. The SNP has blithely (and wrongly) assumed an independent Scotland would be an EU member. I don't see that happening (barring treachery) for half a century at least. Scots in the continuing UK should be denied work permits unless they qualify under a sensible points system for non-EU immigrants. It goes without saying that every prisoner and every benefit claimant who proudly wrote "Scottish" on the last census form should be given the bum's rush north. Scotland would likely reciprocate and, naturally, it would only be cricket for the UK to accept English, Welsh and Northern Irish prisoners and claimants in return. Nor should we have any problem in welcoming back any of our 400,000 nationals denied a work permit.
We need to reposition the RN submarine bases and RAF bomber bases which will no longer be needed by the nuclear free Socialist Scotland. The loss of military bases may be the
worst of it, since largely wild and empty Scotland is ideal for
military training and the Scots themselves are bonnie fighters. However, her economy will be weak enough, at least
initially, for the UK to lease bases. SNP policy is clear on being
"nuclear-free" however, so we must respect that and relocate our nukes
(I suggest Tehran - just kidding).
We need to negotiate a fair allocation of the National Debt. At the
time of the Acts of Union the UK took over then-bankrupt Scotland's debts.
This was the main reason Scotland joined the UK. Over the centuries, the UK's borrowed funds have been
disproportionately allocated to poorer Scotland in a failed attempt to regenerate her. She must take away her fair share, allocated per capita with an adjustment for the Barnett Formula,
of the current debt . The SNP never seems to think of
that, assuming they will get away Scot-free, as it were.
I predict that the UK (minus Scotland) will retain her triple-A
credit rating for sovereign debt and her place in the world's top five
economies. Alex Salmond, however, should be discussing Scotland's sovereign debt rating with the
relevant international rating agencies now, as it will be of
critical importance in his economic policy. For comparison, Russia's
current (much improved) rating for sovereign debt is BB+ I cannot
imagine that Scotland will come anywhere near that, so its
debt will be expensive.
I do not write these things maliciously. I really do love Scotland and I believe she can and will succeed as a separate nation. In fact, I think independence would be Scotland's
salvation. In order for her to move forward proudly, a lot of "numpties"
and "neds" will need to put their shoulders to the wheel in an unaccustomed way. Otherwise, unless her new borders are sealed, I can't imagine those 163,000 net contributors staying very long. Frankly, I can't think of anything better; not least as an example to the UK of how to deal with her own chavs and state-subsidised criminals.
There is not long to go until May 3rd. Please, all you Scots voters, get out there and vote SNP.
I have just made the first political donation of my life. It is £200 - the maximum
I can give to the SNP without being registered as a voter in the UK. I
urge my fellow-members of the Witanagemot Club, the CEP and all others of goodwill to do the same. As in so many other matters at present, the Scots have a vote on this issue and we don't, so we must be pragmatic and ask them to vote wisely.
Many of we English agree with the SNP; "It's time." Go for it and all the best to you.