Wednesday 19th February
Firstly it is completely up to the Scots, in many ways it is none of our business, but then again it does and will affect us, so it is our business too. The whole way the debate is being formed and even the term Scottish Independence says almost everything about the Scottish position. They see the Union of England and Scotland as a one-sided affair, all the power, all the decisions, the majority of the MPs, the institutions, the Bank of England itself are all English, and London is a long way from Edinburgh. But actually London is also a long way from Cardiff, and even further from Belfast or Newcastle or Exeter. How do solve the problem? London is where all the money is, where Parliament is, where the Queen lives, where the Bank of England is and of course where about a sixth of the population lives. Actually if you count the whole of the South-East about a third of the UK lives here. But the other two thirds obviously feel a bit left out. The Scots are pretty thin on the ground, when you compare them to London where more people live than in the whole of Scotland.
However, as I see it however the population or wealth splits the United Kingdom, created by the Act of Union of 1701 I believe, is a Union between two kingdoms; England and Scotland. Legally Wales is simply a Principality of England, and Northern Ireland, well – it has always been a contentious issue. In many ways the United Kingdom is the last remnant of the British (read that as English) Empire. But in my understanding although the wording of the referendum will be about Scottish Independence, it is actually about the dissolution of the Union. And if the Scots vote ‘Yes’, where will that leave the rump? It can hardly be called the United Kingdom anymore, and even Great Britain will have a hollow ring to it. So all this talk about Scotland not being allowed the pound or maybe not entitled to be in the EU is nonsense; if the vote is ‘Yes’, it will be a constitutional crisis for England and Wales and Northern Ireland too. Will we be allowed to change all the treaties to allow this rump Britain to be a member of the EU anyway? Who owns the pound? If it was the currency of a Union of two Kingdoms does England have any more right to the currency than Scotland does?
Anyway, we will see. I suspect that the polls will narrow but that there will be a ‘No’ vote in the end. That of course will not be the end of the affair but simply the beginning and a much looser federation may evolve. Devo-max is still a real probability. And I think the Scots will be happiern with that than a complete break.