The Scotland Question

A little over 300 years ago, Scotland and England were bonded together, to have and to hold, from that day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do they part. Or until legislative change allowed for lawful separation. The legislation has been passed, and today is the day that the Scots will get to decide the answer to the Scotland Question.

The likely answer is that they will vote No, and the UK will continue business as usual on Friday. It is a close vote, and anything could happen. But looking at the polls, the bookmakers odds and the last Scottish Parliament Election….the Yes guys struggle to get much above 45% of the ballot. Whoever wins, roughly half the country will be disappointed.

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Borders do change though. Often and dramatically. Sometimes through the ballot box or civil discussion. But more often through bloody enforcement of new borders designed for the benefit of the better armed party. I’d have liked to have been able to post a video of global border changes, but could not find one. Europe will have to do. I personally hope the Scots do not vote for independence. We are, generally speaking, better together. We’ll see…

Scottish Expulsion

Scotland, that rugged mountainous land just to the north of England. The home of the haggis. An English speaking country, supposedly, whaur nae a single body kin actually speak sassenach. A land of homphobic gaelics with no sense of irony. They gave us the likes of Rod Effing Stewart and refuse to take him back. The mystery isn’t why the Scots are voting for independence, but why the English aren’t voting to expel them. And whilst they can’t keep the pound, they definitely can keep Rod Stewart.

But voting for independence, or against it, they are and the day of reckoning is coming up fast. The bookmakers have the No camp as very strong favourites. I personally have the Meh camp way out if front. Either way, it doesn’t look good for the Yes camp at the moment. But things can change, and sometimes they can change quickly.

I am pretty firmly in the Meh camp. It’s a decision for the Scots to make. But at the same time, I can’t help feel that as the inhabitants of the same smallish island, with roughly the same language and such an intertwined history, present and (whether any one likes it or not) future, the status quo is the way to go. The Scots have a good degree of autonomy with their own parliament. A union is usually stronger and more resilient that fragmentation. And there’s an awful lot more in the list of similarities than there is in the list of differences when discussing the English and the Scots. And Scotland does have it plus sides, if you can overlook boiled offal and deep fried Mars bars.

I do have a couple of strong-ish opinions though. Firstly, that for a vote of independence to be successful, a simple majority is not enough. The 40% rule was controversial in the 1979 vote. But I feel it didn’t go far enough. I feel that a minimum of 50% of the electorate should be the qualifying limit. Independence through apathy isn’t acceptable. If not enough people actually care, then the justification for a break up of the UK isn’t there.

Secondly, of course they can’t keep the bloody pound! The question they will be voting on is ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?‘. Not, ‘Should Scotland be sort of independent, but keep the bits of union it likes?‘ If they want monetary union, and are so confident that automatic membership of the EU is a given, then let them join the Euro. I pass you over to one of the highlights of the British political world, the excellent Question Time.

Save the Flag

You may accuse me of bias if you wish, and you may have a point, but I happen to think that the Union Flag is the best looking flag in the world. All flags are unique, true, but the Union Flag is more unique than most. For a start, it’s not simply three stripes. Far too many countries employ the three stripe rule. Bland. Secondly, it has three colours. Flag should have three colours. Two colours is too plain. Four becomes messy. Lastly, it has no tacky symbols tacked on, be they stars, sickles, suns, crescents or flora and fauna.

The Union Flag (it’s only the Union Jack at sea) is unique, classy and instantly recognizable. I also love the fact that people make so many abstract and imaginative variations upon it. You can mess around with the colours and add lacy edges if you wish to create something even more unique. Mexico could learn a lesson or two from the Union Flag. It is possible to go over the top when ‘protecting‘ your flag…

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But alas, the Union Flag is an endangered species. In little over a year Scotland will hold a referendum to determine whether or not to break away from the United Kingdom and form their own country. I am personally against such a breakaway but I will not have a say in this referendum. That, quite rightly, is an issue for the Scots themselves. I don’t believe that the nationalists will succeed. I don’t believe it would be good for Scotland. It probably wouldn’t have much impact for England. We’d be a little better off, but not so much so that anyone notices. The Scottish Nationalist Party have a real wishy washy view on independence, where they seem to be wanting to cherry pick the bits of the Union they like, and ditch the bad bits. If it’s an independence vote, then it should be a case of in or out.

I am trying to find out what sort of turnout they need for the vote to be enforceable. I thought it scandalous that the Scots and Welsh were awarded self governments during Tony Blair’s tenure based on a handful of people turning up to vote. The previous referendum to that, in the 70s, required a turnout of at least 40%. Personally, I would insert a requirement for 50% of the registered electorate, regardless of how many turn up, to vote ‘Yes’ for the referendum to be valid. The default vote should always be for the status quo.

The consequences of Scottish independence are massive. For a start, the United Kingdom will cease to exist. After all, we will be left with England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Northern Ireland is a province and Wales a quasi form of principality. Only England and Scotland are/were kingdoms, and if one of them does the off….well there’s no ‘united’ to that, is there. Great Britain will also cease to have any political meaning to it and will once again solely become a geographical term. Northern Ireland, of course, has never actually been part of Great Britain.

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Back to the point at hand though. The flag. The Union Flag is a combination of the flags of Ireland, Scotland and England. It’s actually been around since before the union of England and Scotland. If there’s no Scotland what happens to the flag. This is an as yet unanswered question. It doesn’t just affect the UK. There’s a whole bunch of countries using the Union Flag in their flag, including Australia and New Zealand. Some Canadian states also use it, and one state of the USA has a Union Flag in the corner. That state being Hawaii. Ironic really, seeing as Hawaiian born Obama was accused of being ‘too British’ to be president.

Perhaps these countries will see this as the right time to ditch the Union Flag. Maybe those who are still technically ‘attached’ to the UK will see this as the right time to declare themselves full republics too. I’m thinking of Australia, Canada and New Zealand in particular. They could join other former colonies who have in the last couple of decades ditched the Union Flag – South Africa and Hong Kong. The repercussions of Scottish independence could be quite far reaching.

The Union Flag looks a bit bare in the image above, with the Scottish blue removed. Perhaps this would be the right moment to include a bit of Welsh in the flag. See the image below. I think adding the Welsh Dragon would be a bit tacky (see my comments from the first paragraph!) but why not add a bit of their green. We could market it as a promotion to the Welsh! Of course, another option, is to simply ignore the fact Scotland has gone it’s own way and just carry on with the Union Flag as it is.

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