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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Give Us Your Votes, Even Though We Can't Stand You

Union - cheap at the price for just £20k in bribesIn this tercentenary year of the Act of Union, I was pleased to see Gordon Brown making the case against Scottish Nationalism on Saturday.

I'm not convinced that independence would be an economic disaster for either Scotland or England - after all there are plenty of flourishing small nations (not least the Baltic states Lithuania, Sark and The Isle of Man) - but I do think independence would be - and I struggle to find the right word - "diminishing" for my prospects of becoming a Government MP unless, of course, I join the Tories (only kidding!).

I don't challenge the concept of Scotland as a "nation" - you only have to go there to appreciate the cultural differences between us and the haggis-munchers. But when the best of them make the journey south - as with both Tony and Gordon - they soon adopt our sense of decency and "Englishness". (I specifically exclude the McDonald Brothers here, you understand). Mind you, you'd see cultural differences just as sharp if you paid a visit to some of my family in deepest Kent where the Romans have long since pulled out but the Victorian drainage engineers yet to arrive. And the differences between Stoke Newington and Stoke Mandeville are something to behold!

Bloody ingrates - after all we've done for them!It's so hard to see why the sporran-danglers are so ungrateful. We've given them devolved government, a whole bunch of senior UK ministerial positions and a PM born in Edinburgh who is about to be succeeded by one born in Kirkcaldy. And we plough millions in subsidies into the country through the Barnet formula.

Without us, the Scots would be left with nothing but their few pathetic inventions - the steam engine, anaesthetics, the bicycle, the fridge, adhesive postage stamps, tarmac, the telephone, TV, the transistor, motion pictures, economics, golf, whisky, the decimal point, paraffin, marmalade, the microwave oven, penicillin, electromagnetics, radar, logarithms, sociology, sulphuric acid, the fax machine, insulin, calculus and Dolly the Sheep - all of which we could live perfectly happily without.

And what if Scotland came under the politico-military control of a foreign enemy hostile to London? I explained here what England did last time this situation arose and I still can't see why so many Scots are ungrateful for our liberating military intervention.

The real issue, of course, is not the prospect of a grinning Alex Salmond declaring victory at Holyrood but that of a grinning David Macaroon waving from the steps of No. 10. A stand-alone England would be a bleak place politically - at least for those of us in the political centre - destined to be governed almost perpetually by the Tories.

So quite frankly I don't give a monkey's about Britain being a union based on the shared history, political values and institutions of different nations. What I really worry about is that my friends and I would be sunk if the gaelic and celtic heathens retreated back across the Roman walls and ditches and withheld their votes from Labour. It's not even as if they are all pure specimens of ethnic identity. Although my ancestry can be traced back to a family of Sussex Quakers who eventually settled the farming lands of Kent, I can also point to great-granddad McKenzie from Dumbarton and ancestors called Davies from the land of my fathers, via Stourbridge (presumably they came to England with the water). There's even been rumours of a Manx connection with the family, but this may just have been a family pet.

A truly engaging man of the peopleI must admit that when it comes to devolution and the political balance of power I do get a bit confused sometimes. I've been known to argue about the importance of the Scottish vote to New Labour, as everyone I ever met from the Labour Party in the West of Scotland has been a hardline Blairite.

On the other hand I've argued that what counts in picking a leader under FPTP is popularity amongst swing voters in the marginal seats. And of course there are as many Westminster marginal seats in the counties of Kent, Sussex and Essex as in the whole of Scotland and Wales, so my choice of Gordon as Tony's replacement is because he's someone who resonates in Dartford, Basildon and Harlow, as well as with the areas that always return Labour MPs.

Scottish independence is not a simple argument and I'd be the last to take the moral highground (although if the Scots get any more uppity we might just send in the TA to take the physical high ground). It's a complex issue and we need to study the impact on the Labour vote very carefully before coming to any principled decisions. Independence for Cornwall, on the other hand, is an altogether simpler question and I might even consider joining Mebyon Kernow under a false name to campaign for it. If Cornwall seceded from the union we'd get rid of five LibDem MPs overnight. Now there's a mouth-watering prospect!

1 comment:

Elroy Partington-Whistler said...

How did you do that? You are bloody brilliant! Just 24 hours after you suggest getting rid of the Cornish LibDems and the first one of them quits.

Luke Akehurst for God, I say!