Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The West Lothian Question and The Case for English Independence

It was Bob Southey who first noted that while the roll call of Scots who were architects, statesmen, economists, engineers and explorers accounted for nearly half of all the Great Britons of note, the list of those gifted with a sense of humour ran to one; and he had been dead for nearly 800 years.

The rise of Scots nationalism over the last quarter of a century has often felt as tiresome as it is unnecessary. While the English have consistently celebrated our Scottish kin across the Great Wall of Hadrian and welcomed their various "contributions" to British cultural life (however opaque they might be), it has invariably felt that the love and affection, like the traffic in so many of our lovely rural towns, has been increasingly 'one way'. Indeed, if it were not for Mr Southey's acute observation, one might almost be forgiven for thinking that the whole "SNP independence brouhaha" was nothing more than an elaborate "practical Jock".

In November 1977 Tam Dalyell posed his famous West Lothian question.

"How long will English constituencies tolerate members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland exercising an important, and probably often decisive, effect on British politics while they themselves have no say in the same matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland."

It was pertinent then, but in recent weeks with the SNP looking increasingly as if they might be able to tip the balance of power at Westminster, the question has become more so than ever. It does frankly seem quite ridiculous that vocally anti-Union chumps in skirts, who fought tooth and claw for an independent nation, should have the right to swan about the great halls of English power, putting their muddy feet up on things and telling the rest of us what to do. 

It is indeed, quite clear that in the event of a minority Labour government, The West Lothian Question would cease to be a parlour game altogether and become a matter of fact - and eventually, no doubt, a film starring some ghastly Americans. 

Given that Mr Miliband seems to have all the backbone of a lumbago riddled jelly fish, one can quite easily envisage a situation in which Mr Salmond, Ms Sturgeon and the rest of their pelagic friends get him cornered in the Commons latrines and flush his head down a bowl until all their demands are met. Tax rises will ensue and before you can say "Walter Scott once knitted me a sporran" we will all be turning out our pockets to pay for nail technicians from "Moffat" to go to finishing schools in Aberdeen.

I very much doubt that the good people of England will put up with that. I know for a fact that the good people of North East Somerset most certainly will not. Which is why I have come up with a rather good "Plan B". You might even call it a "modest proposal".

Should the unthinkable happen, let us the English declare UDI from everybody else (apart of course from the DUP). The economic case speaks for itself. The transport links are rather good and without Scotland and Wales the weather might even improve. It has long been one's opinion that a nation that does not have the need for a national costume and an instrument that sounds like a cat being drowned is really rather at ease with itself. Indeed an Independent England would no doubt rank in the very top tier of nations and we could all get on with our lives. 

My quill is sharpened, my ink pot is ready; is yours? 

1 comment:

  1. While I agree that English independence is an overdue necessity I am invariably irked by the equation of Hadrian's Wall with the Anglo-Scottish border. Wallsend-on Tyne (the clue's in the name) is 63 miles from the Scottish border; about the same as Oxford is from the south coast. The casually ignorant phrase 'north of Hadrian's Wall' excludes a substantial chunk of England and over 600,000 of it's people. The wall is totally unrelated to the border.