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Friday, 13 January 2012

"Scots Wha Hae"

The West Lothian Question:


The question of Scottish MPs voting on purely English matters has a long history.  It was brought up and named anew in 1977 by MP for West Lothian Tam Dalyell.  Currently, the question is rather the opposite; should David Cameron, speaking as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom try to force the parliament and people of Scotland into compliance with his timescale in respect of a referendum for independence?

Firstly, the same Mr Cameron did not particularly like Frau Merkel and Monsieur Sarkozy telling the UK to bow to the whim of the EU, why then should he expect the First Minister of Scotland to bow to the voice of Westminster?  The parallel appears quite obvious to my thinking.  Secondly, as soon as the Scottish Nationalist Party gained an elected mandate as a majority government, this referendum was going to happen; win or lose, the SNP has always had a policy of striving for independence and a referendum has long been the tool of choice to be used when the time is right.

Can Scotland survive outwith the United Kingdom?  (Notice a little Scots colloquialism there...)  If Denmark can exist independently, then there is every expectation that Scotland can, however, it is almost certain that they would need to be part of the EU, that, in turn, raises the question of their currency; maintain Sterling, or join the Euro?  Can the United Kingdom survive without Scotland?  Well, I am certain that the Monk would wish to comment here, but my personal view is that the UK defence discussions would be, how shall I say, interesting.  The Scots have traditionally provided much of the military personnel, which would in all probability suggest that Scotland could maintain a reasonable defence force for itself, but what of the hardware?  How would (what is left of...) the Royal Navy fare without Faslane and Rosyth?  How would Coastal Command of the Royal Air Force manage without Pitreavie?  Lossiemouth is probably closing, so that is less of a loss.  Oh, yes!  I almost forgot, the Greenham Common protesters would have been much better picketing a certain ammunition dump just north of Carlisle, that is most probably where the cruise missiles are at this moment, and have been for most of their time.  The weather isn't as nice as Berkshire though.  Incidentally, when I said "north of Carlisle", did I omit to mention that Longtown is actually over the border in Scotland?  Food for thought.

Will the Scots vote for independence?  Well, there are just a shade over 5 million people in Scotland.  Not all are native Scots and apparently birthright may be the qualifying requirement.  Well, Glasgow has around 600,000 and Edinburgh 500,000, so there are about 4 million Scots who do not live in Glasgow or Edinburgh, although I will admit that the vast bulk of them are in the central belt between the two cities.  The Urban Scots will largely support the Nationalist agenda, we cannot say if that will translate into votes, but in general, they will support it.  It is estimated that the Gaeltach, for the most part, has hardly been part of the UK at any time, the ancient 'Highlands' still hold large populations that would regard remote rule from Edinburgh as worse than remote rule from Westminster.  The good citizens of Aberdeen would be equally sceptical of remote rule by either Edinburgh or Glasgow, whereas the citizens of each and both of those great cities would declare civil war before agreeing to the power lying with either, unless it is their city, despite the presence of the Scottish parliament in E'burg.  In short (tl;dr) I don't think it will happen, although I hope the vote takes place.

Now for the important question:  what will the UK flag look like if Scotland leaves?  The blue will, of course, disappear.  The Welsh will get back the half of St David's cross that is overlain with half of St Andrew's white cross at the moment.  But how will one either signal distress or moan at the ignorance of various people when the flag is flown inverted?  It would be impossible to tell!  there are additional Commonwealth issues; many of the flags of Commonwealth nations carry a quartered Union Flag, they will, or will they, be required to change.

The Braveheart tendency, "Scot's wha hae wi' Wallace bled" are probably not a majority, however, as a nation the Scots are justifiably proud of their land and heritage and it must be remembered that it was Cromwell's troops that finished off the job that centuries of conflict, Bishops, Kings and treaties had always managed to 'half do', and Cromwell had a habit of rather irritating people that he subdued, however, it was all a long time ago.  That is why 2014 is Alex Salmond's ideal date, the 700th anniversary of the battle referred to in "Flower of Scotland". (written in 1968 by "The Corries".)  It began in Lent, 1314 when The brother of the King, Edward Bruce, laid siege to Stirling Castle, held by an English garrison.  King Edward II rather resented this and sent "a few chaps" to sort this little pesky jumped up Robert de Bruce so-called King, nothing but a jumped up tribal chieftan...  However on 23rd and 24th of June, as the song says, the Scots army led by the Bruce "sent them homewards, tae think again."  A well ordered defensive force was able to rout a much larger, but poorly led army.  As Billy Connolly will always say if he recounts this great victory, "Aye, and they cam back and gi'ed us a right skelpin' later."  However, the memory is strong, it will be 1314 for all of the right reasons, the Scots will not be pushed into a rush job.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, as the flag supposedly flown inverted as a signal of distress is one or other of the "maritime" ensigns, the design of the Union Flag is immaterial - signs it is in the Upper Quadrant in normal use, it would be pretty obvious if the ensign were inverted! Other than that, of course, the removal of the Saltire would probably provide an opportunity for a completely new design ...

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