In about a week’s time Scotland’s people will be making a momentous decision for the country’s future. The decision to cleave away from their historic neighbours and become an independent country, or to stay and be a part of Britain. There have been fiery debates between Tory minister Alaisdair Darling and First Minister Alex Salmond. I don’t envy the Scots their decision as it’s a challenging one. The Better Together campaign led by Darling is largely a rational and economic perspective. Some would argue that this is the only real perspective that matters: How an independent Scotland would run in a sustainable and profitable way to support and benefit its people. How businesses and the economy would be impacted by independence.
I would argue that these are the only issues that are of key importance. The Yes campaign is premised wholly on romantic idyllic visions of having Scotland as an independent nation. That finally, after a millennia of monarchist overlords and paternalistic interference from the crowd down south, finally Scotland can fulfill its ”destiny” as an independent nation. This is a purely dialectical argument based on emotion. It’s the election equivalent of Mel Gibson painting his face blue and running through a meadow in the highlands. In other words it’s silly and harks back to romantic mythological ideas of historical figure Robert the Bruce and stories by Rabbie Burns.
There is no English oppression anymore. The partnership between England and Scotland is a productive and functional one. Sure there are problems in all unions, but also there are plenty of benefits and kick backs. There is the shared Pound Sterling. The fact that businesses can set up shop there with minimal hassle, the shared healthcare and education system, a shared tax and financial system. All of these decentralised and essential parts of peoples lives are critical to their well-being. And with an independent Scotland all of these things will be impacted quite dramatically and irreversibly.
In this regard, the Yes party led by Salmond offers no real solid solutions about where the money will come from to run an independent Scotland. He has hedged his bets on the oil rigs in the North Sea, despite the fact that this is a finite resource, bad for the environment and is estimated to run out in 12 years time. In fact when pressed by Darling during a recent TV debate, Salmond insisted that there would be no alternative to the Pound Sterling. That Scotland would indeed keep the Pound, his vehement belief that the Pound will remain in Scotland forgets that it’s the Bank of England that sets the price of the Pound Sterling, so keeping this currency after independence will be about as fiscally wise as using monopoly money. When pressed in the first debate, Salmond couldn’t even offer a plan B if the Pound Sterling was not possible. He was completely annihilated in the debate by Darling. Now don’t get me wrong, if I were British I probably wouldn’t like the Tory party one bit, and I’m not at all fond of the pompous oscillations of the Royal family. But Darling’s vision for the future of Scotland seems like a happy-go-lucky trip down the garden path, unfortunately it wouldn’t surprise me if all of the thistles were dead though.
Here is the first Salmond Versus Darling debate in full
Why my interest in Scotland you may ask? I used to live there for a long time. I feel invested in it as though it’s my home country as I hope to one day return there to live. I love Scotland’s people and their nice melodic accents, fresh produce, nature including the mountains and animals. All in all it was a wonderful and comfortable place to live and work. I shudder to think what will happen if Scotland becomes independent. I will rethink the plan to move back there.
Through the ages, there have been immense struggles, wars, famines and upheavals of power. Here are some of they key dates in history of Edinburgh, my favourite city in the world. I’ve written about Edinburgh before, with a yarn about a book that convinced me to move there long ago. Here is part 2 of my homage. Along with some glorious pictures from the past of this very beautiful city, yet another of my homes – my beloved Edinburgh.
Edinburgh’s History In Timeline Form
c. AD80 – The Romans invade Scotland
c. AD600 – Warriors of Gododdin ride out from Castle Rock to a heroes’ death
c. AD960 – The Scots conquer Edinburgh from the English
1093 – Queen Margaret dies in Edinburgh Castle, having built the chapel there that still bears her name
1314 – The castle is liberated from the English by Thomas Randolph, nephew of Robert the Bruce
1329 – King Robert the Bruce issues the town with a charter of rights
1357 – After 60 years of war with the English, David II begins rebuilding the castle and city
1457 – Mons Meg arrives at the castle
1507 – Scotland’s first printing press is licensed in Edinburgh
1544 – The English burn the city
1570-73 – The Long Siege: supporters of Mary Queen of Scots hold the castle, while the regents of James VI try to defeat them
1583 – Edinburgh University is founded
1637 – Attempts to introduce a new Episcopalian prayer book cause Presbyterian riots
1688 – James VII is deposed. The castle is besieged again
1707 – The Scottish and English parliaments unite. Government moves to London
1726 – First lending library opens in a luckenbooth – a small shed – beside St Giles’
1744 – Bonnie Prince Charlie holds court at Holyrood
1766 – The New Town is designed
1822 – King George IV visits Edinburgh. Sir Walter Scott reinvents Scottishness
1828 – Burke and Hare are put on trial
1920 – Edinburgh and Leith become one city
1947 – The Edinburgh Festival begins
2004 – The new Scottish Parliament building is completed
2014 – Independence Referendum on the 18th September 2014.
Images courtesy of Lost Edinburgh