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National self-amputation.

G BorwnTHE POSSIBILITY THAT the Scots will indeed soon vote for independence, triggering economic turmoil and constitutional chaos for years to come has finally woken the dozily complacent British establishment from its torpor. Now, like Frankensteinian corpses convulsed with enormous jolts of electricity into a semblance of life, they are blundering north to offer the swithering Scots goodybags of further devolution as long as they stay in the union. Even the sulking Brown has sprung from self-imposed exile from the House of Commons to plead with his compatriots to stay. Talk about raising the dead.

In addition to the economic and other costs we must think of others, less easy to define. The relationship between Scotland and the rest of Britain will remain soured for a long time because of this mess. The SNP will not be gracious either in defeat or victory. Their campaign has been characterised by self-flattery, aggression and evasiveness. Even with a no vote and the union preserved, the divisions between Scots themselves, cranked up over the last two years, will not disappear quickly. Should the vote go for independence, half the populace will be unhappy with the outcome.

There’s also the question of a resurgence of English nationalism irrespective of the outcome. Nothing frightens the bien pensants more than this. The rule is that just about every form of nationalism is fine except the English kind. There is, however, growing resentment among the indigenous Anglo-Saxonry that they are being dumped on from a great height by their political masters. They may just start demanding equal rights in the form of their own parliament. They may not take kindly to this brutal act of national self amputation being imposed upon them — especially since they don’t get a say in it.

I don’t trust the political class to negotiate the transition in our (ie Britain’s) best interest. I can see them agreeing to a currency union with Scotland, for instance, despite this having been ruled out because it’s bad for Britain and incompatible with Scottish sovereignty. I don’t trust them not to end up bankrolling an independent Scotland (at least in the short term) while Salmond and Co turn it into another badly-run, unstable, socialist dystopia. I don’t trust them, full stop, because they’ve proved themselves time and time again to be incompetents and prevaricators.

I’M NOT THE only one who dislikes the establishment. A number of commentators have explained that the growing move to the yes campaign is a result of widespread disillusion with the current political system; that Alex Salmond is Scotland’s Nigel Farage. There’s a certain amount of truth in that, but it’s not the whole truth. The system was partly broken by the introduction of devolution by Blair and Brown, partly to secure Labour votes, partly to continue the EU process of regionalisation. They presumably thought they’d bought off the nationalists. Instead they’d simply paid them a kind of Danegeld, ceding enough power for them to establish a power base from which to make greater demands.

Cameron doubled down on this madness by agreeing to a referendum in the first place.

Cameron doubled down on this madness by agreeing to a referendum in the first place – something there was absolutely no need to do. He even gave in to Salmond’s demand to lower the referendum voting age to 16, a ploy obviously intended to attract uninformed, idealistic and therefore more easily swayed voters to the nationalist side. The SNP’s cynicism was matched only by Cameron’s bad judgment.

And when people say independence will make Scotland a fairer, more democratic place they make the laughable assumption that their politicians a) will actually take any notice of what the electorate want and b) won’t just carry on with their own cosy elite. All they’ll be doing is swapping the larger UK establishment for a smaller, more nepotistic Scottish one. They also make the point they don’t want the possibility of any Conservatives in power – when socialists talk of democracy they mean a democracy consisting only of socialist parties.

Altogether the situation reveals a massive failure of the political establishment throughout the UK. It’s not that the system is broken. It’s that the people in it are third raters who are not up to the job. The unpalatable truth is that in Scotland at least the only politician who attracts any credibility is Alex Salmond. That’s a sorry state to be in.

It will be a terrible irony if Scotland votes for independence, as a result of the stupidity of two Scots and a man with a Scottish name. This was a completely avoidable mess. Truly we are governed by cretins.

Michael Blackburn.

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