The Blog

St George and the Scots Rugby Shirt

Picture the scene: Portsmouth's Spinnaker and the Keppel's Head Hotel across the harbour from Gosport and its ferry. Five fine and happy Englishmen with the red of St George on their white T-shirts, and one sole and single Scotsman in a rugby shirt of Saltire blue, cheerfully taking their picture on the ferry's observation deck, finding out only there and then that this was England on St George's Day.

And it will be a fine and happy cluster-f*** if, come the General Election, all this is fractured or thrown away.

It was bad enough suffering through two years of rancorous referendum with wilfully delusional YES voters ($113 per barrel of oil - who were you kidding, Alex?), but it just might have been bearable if at the end the losing side had been big enough, grown-up enough and just plain adult enough to say:

"Okay, we gave it our best shot. We had two years, the 16-17 year-old vote, a world-class campaign machine, and we still got gubbed.

"Right then, it's over. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event. We did our best and we lost.

That's that."

Fat chance.

They've vilified the NO voters for voting out of fear, they've blamed the BBC, claimed the vote was rigged, called their countrymen traitors and Quislings. They've done virtually everything except face unflinchingly up to the facts and for that, for me, things will never be the same again.

Evelyn Beatrice Hall's quote, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," sums up the most sacred tenet of democracy. Yet it has been torn and shredded and torn again. They don't want to face up to the facts that all will not be rosy in their brave new world, that (as the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies said in The Times of 22nd April 2015) "the sense there is free money out there just waiting to flow into the Treasury's coffers ... would be laughable if it weren't playing into a wider narrative that there is a magic money tree that we can pluck at will. There isn't." And from previous experience I know a spendaholic Labour party backed up by an "independence by the back door" SNP will not only fail to fix a broken system but also make it worse.

If the lessons of history teach us anything, it is that division and intolerance do indeed only make things worse. It lessens us all.

The English are my friends. To hell with those who don't hold with that.

And back in Gosport (I was there for a Chaplin author's day), I gave the guys in England shirts a friendly wave and went on my way.

James Christie is the author of Dear Miss Landau. He was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a mild form of autism, at the age of 37 in 2002. He lives in the Scottish Borders.