In polite society, the correct opinion to hold about Scottish independence is that the Union must stay together. But I’ve been wondering: might not England thrive, freed from the yoke of those whining, kilted leeches? The more you think about it, the more persuasive the argument seems to be.
I’ve been invited to debate this question – whether or not we long-suffering Sassenachs would be better off without our sponging Caledonian neighbours – in early September, at a debate held by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.
How might I begin? Well, there are of course the immediate political consequences. A break-up of the Union would be indelible on David Cameron’s record, and absolutely devastating to his reputation and legacy. Never mind anything else the Tories have achieved in government: Cameron would go down in history as the PM who lost Scotland.
But, as joyful as the prospect of Dave’s humiliation will be to some Breitbart London readers, there are even more spectacular potential effects. Not only will the West Lothian Question be settled in the only satisfactory manner possible, but the structural bias in our constituency boundaries that favours the Labour Party will be blown apart.
Now, you might not think much of the Conservatives – and you would not be alone in the comment section, I suspect – but I think we can all agree that, given the choice, we’d rather the Tories had the electoral upper hand. Not only can we send Cameron off into retirement in disgrace, but we can safeguard our own country against Ed Miliband.
Let’s consider for a moment how Scotland herself might fare. In my view, she would be well served by some time alone to consider who she really is. Historically, Scotland was renowned across the world for entrepreneurial spirit and engineering genius. Both reputations have been lost after a century of Labour government and the overweening arrogance and control freakery of the trades unions.
These days, Scotland is more commonly associated with work-shy dole scroungers and skag-addled prostitutes than with the industriousness of Adam Smith or with its glorious pre-Reformation spirituality. Sorry, no offence, but it’s true.
Absent subsidies from the British taxpayer, supposedly “Scottish” institutions might be forced to rediscover their zeal for enterprise. They’re Scottish in name only, you understand, paid for by the English. So you see, independence might be a way for this once-great nation to shine again.
A country that loses no opportunity to paint itself as independent, despite being the recipient of largesse from elsewhere, and which drones on and on and on about its “rich heritage” and “distinct identity” – almost to the point of psychosis – should really be given the chance to prove how exceptional it is. Don’t you think?
It’s true that after independence Scotland would have to take some hard decisions. They won’t get the pound, and any new Scottish currency would be so quickly devalued the country would be forced to start exporting to the Congo. So it’s the euro. And I think we all know how that would end for a country whose net contribution to the Union would be wholly negative.
But, although the Scots have an unparalleled national genius for misery, they also have an innate national resourcefulness and cunning. Just look at Alex Salmond’s ducking and diving, and his crude, disingenuous populism. Give Scots something to be really miserable about – say, the need to slash government spending to within an inch of its life – and that entrepreneurial vigour we were just talking about might reappear.
A newly independent Scotland, with a revived sense of national pride, would be an attractive place for the current generation of Scottish broadcasters, every one of whom seems to be ensconced in London at the BBC. “Aural torture” is perhaps putting it too strongly, but can anyone deny the benefit to Radio 4 of the repatriation of James Naughtie? Jeremy Hunt, for one, is sure to be relieved.
Returning to England, then, let us imagine a Kingdom relieved of burdensome Scottish misanthropy. Surely it would experience an almost immediate burst of post-divorce gaiety. Think of our city centres, free of garrulous Glaswegian drunks slurping Buckfast tonic wine, or English literary festivals liberated from sour, spiky-haired Caledonian lesbians hawking grim thrillers about child abuse.
And here’s one last, even more delicious prospect: right-on Scottish stand-up comedians permanently banished to Edinburgh, where their ancient jokes about Thatcher or the Pope will make their equally ossified Stalinist audiences laugh so bitterly that Scotland’s famously dedicated healthcare workers will be left mopping up the leakage.
It makes you wonder whether we shouldn’t offer up Liverpool as well, to sweeten the deal. After all, the north of England is in a similarly bad state. What do you reckon of my modest proposal? Would a taste of the Calvinist lash persuade that feckless and conceited community to get off its behind and look for work? Why not let Holyrood underwrite their disability benefits bill for a while, and see what happens?