The only thing I am prepared to learn from this Scottish Referendum lark is that, if you give people an overdose of democracy, their brains come flying out of their ears.
By the time some of you read this, the whole farce may well be over – decided one way or the other: the only statistical certainty in the entire, tiresome process. Friday’s papers will either be starting the countdown to secession, or painfully analyzing why the polls were so wrong (I predict a 60:40 No vote, and assuming I am right, am prepared to explain why the polls were so wrong, using a valuable analytical tool called ‘common sense’. If I am wrong, I will be analyzing why the polls got it so illogically right).
The big problem, it appears, is that, while the No campaigners have explained convincingly why, economically, independence is the stuff of fairy tales, the Yes campaign has hijacked half the ‘nation’ on a psychedelic ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ trip.
If, as has now been promised by Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister and fellow Jock, the Jocks are given devolved powers of taxation and control over certain spending in the event of a No vote, any remaining hard-hatted economic arguments of that Fish without an Aye (pronounced ‘I’) Alex Salmond, will evaporate as fast as an open bottle of whisky in a salmon smoker.
Of course, given half a chance, the average Scotsman in the Glen is bound to take the opportunity to be seen on TV by his mum, declaiming on the future of his nation free of King Edward Longshanks. Scotsman’s mum, meanwhile, sits huddled next to a wood fire in her cottage in the Outer Hebrides which, thanks to successive Conservative and Labour governments, is attached to the National Electric Grid despite the doubtful value to anybody other than her. The lady is only watching the news because she is eagerly waiting for the fresh episode of Downton Abbey – a series about a bunch of English toffs.
What I really fail to understand is, why the Scots (whoever they are, and however they are described for the purposes of this vote) get to decide alone on the future of the United Kingdom. It is not just about them. Scotland is not a British Colony or Mandate suing for self-determination. It is an integral part of the Three (Two-and-a-half?) Kingdoms and has to take responsibility for the effect on the others. While Ireland really was buggered by the democracy that was two wolves (England and Scotland) and a sheep (Ireland) discussing what to eat for lunch, Scotland has produced a disproportionate number of Prime Ministers, some of whom – notably James Ramsay Macdonald – have made a perfectly good job of buggering up the United Kingdom without resorting to independence.
This vote should have included the entire UK electorate. David Cameron must have been having a bad day when he agreed to the current format – one presumes he assumed the No vote would be a formality.
And, even if it was right to restrict the vote to the Scots (which it was patently not), what about the Scottish diaspora? On a decision of this magnitude that will affect all future generations of Scots, why was the vote not offered to Scots and their descendants? As the son of a Scot, I should have a say in the long-term future of the country I have visited once in my lifetime. In fact, I feel passionately about Scotland. If I were interviewed by the BBC, why would I go for the boring ‘No, I like it like it is’ (that I actually believe in), when I could give an emotional speech about the glory-days of Braveheart that might get me onto the evening News? It wouldn’t have to affect how I actually voted in the secret ballot. But let’s wait and see if the polls were right.