|As Cameron urged I'm flying the Scottish flag|
The possibility that Scotland might actually vote for independence hit Britain’s political elite like a mortar shell at a garden party. The Scottish Nationalists were only given the vote because all the polls had shown that Scotland was vanishingly unlikely to opt for divorce.
Now disaster looms. The United Kingdom could really break up starting this Thursday. And more importantly David Cameron’s job is on the line. After all how could the leader of Britain’s unionist party long survive the breakup of the union? And not only the Conservative PM. Labour’s own special needs leader Ed Miliband is desperate not to give his party the slightest excuse to dump him. And losing Red Scotland and with it the chance of electoral victory anytime in the next few decades certainly qualifies as that.
So England’s foremost political talent cleared their diaries, mobilised their buddies in business and the media and headed north to make the case for the union.
The plan seems to be to hit the Scots with a variation on the old good cop, bad cop routine. On the one hand the “Better Together” team and their allies hammer home the most blood-curdling threats. Scotland has not been presented with such an apocalyptic vision of the future since “Butcher” Cumberland put down the Jacobite rebellion back in 1746.
They will suffer economic calamity; they’ll lose the equivalent of 36, 000 nurses (Miliband!); their pensions are at risk; the banks and many other companies will leave; prices will go up; the English will fortify the border; and Black Death will stalk the land. OK. That last one hasn’t been announced yet.
Then with the Scots theoretically gaping in horror they switch over to good cop mode and start grovelling. This takes two forms. First there is a tug on the heart strings as the Scots are reassured that we “desperately want them to stay” and that Cameron along with many millions will be “utterly heartbroken” if we split up.
Then they move on to more substantial matters. The Scots don’t need to vote for independence because they will be given “Devo Max”. In short this will allow their pretend parliament to vote the Scottish even more freebies in addition to free tuition at universities (worth £9500 a year), free prescriptions and state-funded care for the elderly that other British citizens don’t get. It’s a pretend parliament because real ones have to raise funds to pay for their largesse.
The No case should be a slam dunk. Scotland benefits hugely from the union. Not least in that even though it consistently votes for ruinous socialism it usually gets what passes for conservatism in contemporary Britain thanks to the weight of the marginally less degenerate English electorate. The reason the Yes campaign have drawn neck and neck is that the No camp’s ingenious psychological pincer movement has a fatal flaw.
In all the furore of threats and grovelling something vital is missing. For starters the very symbol of the union, the Union Jack, is almost totally absent from the “Better Together” team’s events. When it does appear it’s generally clutched in the hands of ordinary usually aging Scots who value their British identity. Weirdly enough Cameron and Miliband are more keen on flying the Scottish flag and urging others to do the same.
Cameron and co steer clear of the Union Jack like vampires from crosses. The British flag is faintly seedy and embarrassing to them. As good liberals they’ve been fighting against all it represents as long as they can remember. And their battle in the schools and universities; on TV and in the arts; on the ethnic mix of Britain; against faith; against the family; against pride in a glorious history has been successful beyond their wildest dreams. British patriotism is just about finished.
That’s why the No case depends on threats and bribes. Without the binding glue of patriotic feeling there is nothing else.
So the choice on Thursday will be between bribes and threats on the one hand and Scottish patriotism and ridiculous dreams of a prosperous socialist paradise.
Personally, I hope the Scots opt for independence. If they vote No it will only mean resentment and disruption till they get another vote. I love the union but it’s dead and it’s best to bury it before it starts to stink.