EDINBURGH, United Kingdom (for now) – Anyone claiming to know how the Scottish independence bid ends is telling you a big, fat lie. Sir Jeremy Heywood, who is the most senior bureaucrat in the British government, admitted there are no plans for separation in the event that Scotland votes ‘Yes’ next Thursday.
Truly, as can be said of the past few decades with regards to Scotland, the Westminster political establishment is to blame for the failure of the ‘Better Together’ or ‘No Thanks’ campaign.
Firstly, who leaves such an important campaign down to the Labour Party? I mean, perhaps the Labour Party of Peter Mandelson and Alistair Campbell. But Alistair Darling and Douglas Alexander? With Gordon Brown (the Prime Minister who never won an election) as the cavalry? I have begun to wonder if they pulled this straight from The Onion or the Daily Mash satire sites.
On the ground here in Edinburgh, the streets are brimming with clearly unemployed, ‘Yes’ activists, most of whom have told us that the reason they want an independent Scotland is because they want to live in a different way to the rest of the UK (read: hardcore socialism safe in the knowledge that the English or the Europeans will bail them out of their self-inflicted debt and bankruptcy in a decade).
As Westminster reels from the fact that we could lose the union, many people ask how we go to this point. The answer is quite simple. More simple than what we do after the vote, anyway.
Devolution was both a brilliant and a terrible idea. Giving Scotland its own Parliament, and localised powers, seems like quite a good, small-c conservative idea. Localism and all that, right?
The problem is that it was only – and always – ever going to be led by socialists in the form of the Labour Party, or national socialists in the form of Alex Salmond’s Scottish National Party.
And I know what American readers are thinking. “States’ rights” and all that, right? Well no, not really. As Lincoln noted the unity of the country must come before the demands of the bullies over the border. And either way, our union doesn’t have the breadth and diversity afford to the United States by geography and population size to absorb the vagaries and caprice of state by state governance.
As we know, lefties are wont to promising the world in exchange for your vote – and they continue to do it today. Which is why Labour’s Better Together campaign isn’t resonating as much as Salmond’s campaign once he turned up the volume.
People are sceptical of Labour. They’re big promisers and poor deliverers. At least with Salmond, they reckon, he’s not been given a chance. Yes voters with this mindset don’t know how difficult it might be to reunite the countries after a separation, if it all goes tits up. No one does. That’s why this is all so dangerous.
The fact that Britain’s civil service hasn’t made plans for our nuclear facilities in Faslane, Scotland’s debt, North Sea Oil, securing the border, and importantly, the General Election next year proves that we have feckless leaders who simply don’t think things through.
David Cameron, the Prime Minister, is also supposed to be the leader of the Conservative (and Unionist) Party. Throughout his tenure as PM we have learned that not only is he not a conservative, but he, having handed this referendum to Salmond, has also undermined the unionist cause. Whether Scotland votes Yes or No, Cameron should be turfed out by his party.
And despite the optimism of the few No campaigners we meet on the streets in Scotland’s capital, even if the country votes No it is unlikely to be by a solid enough margin so as not to prompt yet another bid in five years’ time. If Scotland votes No, there will be further devolution of powers, further alienation from Westminster, further entrenchment of the Scottish Nationalists, and further growth of Salmond’s cause.
However the vote goes, I suspect that within a decade there will be mass outcry to reverse it. If Yes, Scotland will almost certainly bankrupt herself. If No, they’ll be at it again in no time. So what’s the solution? I haven’t a clue. I’m not the one paid to figure it out. And as I’ve already said: those who are have simply not bothered.