I'm sorry, I'm over this now. I'm tired of all the pandering to Scotland; the appeals from celebrities, the begging from politicians, the dire warnings from big business, the polite nudge from her Majesty the Queen. "Pleeeeease stay with us" has been the hysterical refrain since this all began. Well no more begging, no more dire warnings. I'm sorry, we don't need to beg. It's Scotland's mistake. Let's be very clear about this: Scotland is having a moment of national madness that it will regret for the foreseeable future. Scotland is sleepwalking into a catastrophic and irreversible decision. And now, after the endless grovelling, I'm inclined to call Scotland's bluff and say "just go". Scotland is a country that I adore, but she is letting herself down. Scotland is having a tantrum and behaving like a petulant teenager. And like a petulant teenager, she is neither big nor strong enough to go it alone. Get over yourself Scotland. You are a small country, deal with it.
Don't get me wrong, by global comparison, England is small too. Wales and Northern Ireland are particularly small. But the key point is this: the United Kingdom is an acceptance of our relative smallness and a symbol of each nation's humility. It is by definition an admission that we all need each other; that what we have, with all its compromises, is better than any of us going it alone.
What's so special about Scotland anyway? Well, a lot actually. I think it's one of the greatest nations in human history. For a small country, it has and continues to contribute a disproportionately large amount to the world. Scotland's offerings in science, medicine, technology, music, engineering, entertainment and art are unparalleled. That's not to mention the landscape, the cities, the drinks and the epic women.
But that doesn't mean you have to break off and go it alone, causing discomfort for your neighbours and unadulterated pain for yourselves. The nationalists boast that Scotland's contribution to UK GDP is a handsome 9%. That means that 91% of the GDP that Scotland shares with the United Kingdom comes from outside Scotland. And they want to leave? Hmm. Good luck with that. If you were in a partnership with another business and they were bringing in 91% of the turnover and you were bringing in 9%, would you seriously be considering setting up on your own? Particularly if the profits were pooled equally, which in the United Kingdom they are. Every penny the Scots have generated in recent memory has been returned to the nation, via investment and public services.
I just don't get it. England is the strong partner in this relationship and ought to be clamouring for independence. But there isn't even a whisper of it. England is the one which could realistically go it alone. The English would benefit hugely from sharing their resources with fewer people and acting in their own national interest. But it's not on the agenda south of the border. And why? Because England isn't caught up in some egocentric, poor me, nationalistic fervour that the Scots are currently getting drunk on. The English, the Welsh and the Northern Irish people gloomily and bleakly accept we are better together. It's like a long marriage. Some of the sparkle may have gone, but you like each other, you have lots in common and you're in a rare thing - a marriage that works.
I know that's not very evangelical, but then the United Kingdom is not an evangelical idea. And therein lies its genius. It's never been ideological or rammed down anyone's throat. It's a sensible, practical arrangement, in itself a very British idea. And we can be honest - these islands aren't the force they once were. But that's ok. By working as a single entity, Britain has remained a stealth-like economic, military and cultural powerhouse in the world, reflected in its status as the sixth largest economy on the planet and a place the world often looks to for economic, diplomatic or creative inspiration.
The Scots need to look at the English for a moment. England has every right to be up itself. London alone is one hell of a boast; some claim it to be the greatest city in the world. It's also stable. There is an argument to be made that England is the best integrated multicultural, multiracial society on the planet. Plus there's Shakespeare, Tim Berners-Lee and The Beatles. But the English don't do chest-beating, and have never done so. It's positively frowned upon. I still don't know when St George's Day is. England has accepted itself as part of the United Kingdom; she's left her ego at the door, as have the Welsh, as have Northern Ireland. It's time for the Scots to do the same.
Calm down and grow up. You are a separate country, you are a proud and great nation, and one of the most fabulous I've ever known. I adore Scotland infinitely. I had the happiest four years of my life as an undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh, a prettier more culturally rich city you'll struggle to find. I owe Scotland my entire higher education and it pains me to see her make such an uneducated decision; Edinburgh itself is a seat of learning, not rampant, unguarded national emotion. Of course there are tensions and a careful redrawing of the economic and political boundaries for each nation are long overdue; devo-max, which sounds like a treatment for indigestion, looks to be an eminently sensible idea. We should definitely hand over new powers, so Scotland has a far greater say over how it is run. That would be good for England, Wales and NI too. But let's not throw the bairn out with the bath water. Let's not cut off our sporran to spite our kilt.
So Scotland, I implore you. Sober up, so we can drink together again. Four fine nations, pooling our collective resources and talent for the greater good. The good of Great Britain. Our country, that we all share. Come back to the party Scotland. And please, don't make me beg.Suggest a correction