I saw a poll last week that gave the ‘Yes’ campaign for an independent
a 1% lead. The last time I looked, the ‘No’s’ had it by a country mile. Is this
phenomenal turnaround any kind of surprise? Not in the slightest. Scotland
In an era of such abject political mediocrity, Alex Salmond stands out like a Giant Redwood among a field of saplings. It is hard to imagine how far behind he would have to be for the ‘No’ campaign to feel any kind of confidence of success. A few weeks before the last Scottish Elections he was 20 points adrift, but when the ballots were counted he won by a country mile.
I am no kind of betting man, but if I was, it would be a no brainer as to where punt my cash. Not only is Salmond the stand out politician of his generation in terms of getting ballots into boxes, the line up who are going try and take him down are not even close to being in the same league.
All of which makes it seem more than likely that
be on its own in a year’s time. It occurred to me the other day that I have now
spent a third of my life up here as a White Settler. I am now a well and truly established immigrant. My
English roots do not deny me the chance to have a vote on Scotland ’s
future and, unless something changes in a big way, that vote is almost
certainly going to be ‘yes’. Scotland
I guess when you have lived most of your life down in England it makes it easy to appreciate all the stuff that is so much better up here. A few years ago my dad wound up in a
hospital having had a stroke. I couldn’t believe the state of the place when I
went to see him. When compared to hospitals up here, it was Third
World minus. Whenever I give presentations in English schools they
seem like peeling, dismal places when compared to schools up here. There is
less traffic, you can see the stars in the sky, you can park your car with worrying
about it getting nicked or set on fire. It seems like more and more people down
south are starting to notice all this stuff. They are picking up on the fact
that whenever the news carries a story about yet another NHS crisis or some horrendous
abuse in a Private Equity owned chain of childrens homes, it is always prefixed
by the statement ‘….in England and Wales’. Whenever we travel south, we get asked
questions like ‘how come you lot get free prescriptions and free university
tuition and free care for the elderly?’ Why indeed? I can’t pretend to have
many of the answers, but it is pretty damn crystal clear that the railroad is
much better run once you find yourself north of Gretna Green.
As a born and bred Lancastrian, I have an instinctive loathing of the South East of England and all who sail in her. My formative years were spent in the 70’s and 80’s when the North was sent to hell in a handcart and no-one in
seemed to give a damn. In fact, they seemed to find the whole thing amusing. I
spent many an afternoon penned into the away sections of London
or Stamford Bridge White Hart Lane
or Upton Park being spat on by hordes of leering Cockneys, every one of whom
had made a point of bringing a £20 note to the game to wave in our faces.
“…. Hey Rock n’ Roll…. Scousers on the dole…..”
For me this is the biggest difference. In many ways, Dumfries and Galloway is every much of a backwater up here as
is down there. The difference is that the Government in Edinburgh
can’t afford to ignore us the way that Northerners are ignored by . We are a
tiny independent charity based in a small, sleepy town and yet it has always
been possible to make our voice heard. Over the years we have been invited to
give the view from the frontline of things to Parliamentary Committees four
times. Many politicians have also come down to see us to get a pavement level
view of what’s going down. In our time we have played host to the First
Minister, two party leaders, the Education Minister and the Parliament’s
Presiding Officer. This would never happen in a million years in Westminster . It’s
the beauty of living in a country of 5 million. Things are more connected.
Easier to run properly. And it is more than possible to make your voice heard. England
So a life-long contempt for the leafy suburbs of Surrey and all those insufferable Etonians in the shining towers of the City and the bloated Billionaires of Belgravia is my main reason of sticking up two fingers in a southerly direction and putting my cross in the ‘yes’ box.
But there is no point in pretending that there isn’t a healthy amount of selfishness in my ‘yes’ vote. Salmond is smart enough and streetwise enough to make the place rock over the coming years. Even before I came up here to live, I would always say I was from
when travelling around the
world. Say ‘ Scotland England’ and
most people think ‘ ’
and they hate your guts. Say ‘ London ’
and a big grin appears on their faces. You only need to look at the different
experiences that English and Scottish fans have when they travel abroad. When
the English come to town, every door is locked, every bar is closed and lines
of riot police complete with snarling dogs represent the nearest thing there is
to a welcoming committee. When the Scots hit town everyone takes to the streets
for party time. Scotland
Just imagine how the French will be. They’ll be rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of an independent
imagine how much pleasure it will give to those in the corridors of power in Scotland Paris to help make Scotland
boom at the expense of .
And the French will not be alone in this. Ever since Maggie rubbed our European
neighbours up the wrong way back in the day, there are many in Europe who
will relish the chance at getting some revenge eaten cold on the arrogant public
school boys of London .
Ever noticed what they play when there is a huge police funeral in
Philadelphia or ?
Bagpipes. All over the world there is a fondness for Baltimore . Sometimes this down to
watching ‘Braveheart’ of ‘Whisky Galore’ or ‘Rob Roy’. Sometimes it’s down to
having a surname beginning with Mac. There are a tonne of reasons and you can
bet your bottom dollar that Alex Salmond will exploit every single last one of
I gather that he has all kinds of cunning tax plans up his sleeve ready and waiting for the day when the cord is cut.
Scotland will be the new Ireland with
Corporation Tax as low if not lower than any in Europe.
And here is where he will surely hit the ball out of the park. Over the next
fifty years, most of the money in the world will continue to flow out East.
Let’s imagine a Chinese mogul taking a look around Europe
to find the best place to site his new assembly plant complete with 500 jobs.
First up, he’ll compile a list of the places with the lowest tax regimes and will
be up there at the top. And then he’ll have a little smile to himself. The odds
are that like most East Asians, two of his most favourite things in life will
be whisky and golf. So he’ll create a mental picture of his regular visits to
his new assembly plant. A flight into Scotland .
An easy ride out to a big pile of a house in the hills where the air is a
trillion times less polluted that his home air in Edinburgh . He’ll picture sipping an old malt
in front of a stacked up log fire. He’ll picture himself striding down the 17th
at Shanghai St Andrews like Tiger Woods. He’ll picture
taking photos of his son graduating from .
And all the other names will soon be crossed off the list. Edinburgh University
Of course as a long term fifty a day man, I would just love it if Alex decided to seriously piss off
pricing strategy for fags. Imagine that! Every weekend thousands and thousands
of cars from Luxembourg Manchester and Liverpool and Leeds
would come piling over the border to stock up on tabs at £3.50 a pack.
Gazilions of extra tax for Newcastle Edinburgh and
seething rage in . Whitehall
It is ironic really. When it came to doing the very dirtiest of the Empire’s work, the Scots were always front and centre. A majority of estate managers in the slave plantations of the
Indies spoke with a Scottish twang. History’s two greatest ever
drug dealers who managed to get the nation of hopelessly hooked on opium
were Jardine and Mathieson, fine Scotsmen both. But for one reason or another,
this somewhat uncomfortable fact seems to have been quietly airbrushed from
history. The blame for all the bad stuff we Brits have done over the years now lies
squarely in China
whilst the Scots are seen as all nice and cuddly and blameless. Well, no-one is
complaining up here. London
So in my very humble opinion, a low tax
Alex Salmond at the helm will be a place that with boom and keep on booming.
Quiet roads, well educated people, low crime, clean air, whisky and golf
courses and all the sweeteners in the world for any business wanting to locate here. Scotland London
will hate it and no doubt there will be those who will dream of going back to the
good old days and sending the army up to Carlisle.
suffer? Not really. The City of London
will still launder cash for any crook with a suitcase full of it. Tourists will
still flock in to buy replica models of Big Ben made in London . Russian
Billionaires will still pay tens of millions for their mansions in Hampstead complete
with razor wire and underground cinemas and pools. China
This is the point at which my emotions become mixed.
London and the South East will not pay the price for a
Scotland and the
South east will become a permanent gated community where the immigrants work
for buttons and the poor are despised and the super rich are fawned over and
pampered. And the Express and the Daily Mail will have the same front page
every day where they report yet anther 10% increase in London property prices with breathless
Sadly the price will be paid yet again by the North of England with its worthless minority of Labour MPs who will become yesterdays men once an Independent Scotland deprives them of the votes they need to stand a chance of ever holding power again. What chance will Lancashire or
Yorkshire or Humberside or Tyneside have of attracting
that new Chinese assembly plant and all the jobs that go with it? No chance.
Competing with a booming, low tax will be completely
impossible. And all the kids of the north who do well in school and university
will start to get on the bus and head north instead of south to seek their
futures in the Scotland .
For all of us who live up here, the future looks pretty damn good. I only wish that the price won’t have to be paid by the North of England.
But it will be.