“The moving finger writes and having writ moves on, nor all thy piety nor wit, shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it”
This quotation from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam sprang to mind as I was considering how quickly political events are moving, or even not moving!
The main driver of politics this year has been Brexit. We seem to have gone from the heady hysteria of “£350 million a week for the National Health Service” to the Tory Government attempting to evade the consequences and haggling about the exit price.
In all the brouhaha voters forget or did not know in the first place that the problem was stoked up by a disagreement in the wealthy representatives of the Tory Party and yes I did know that Jeremy Corbyn also confused Labour voters with shilly shallying, but the Tories rule the roost.
I cannot remember who said “Britain has lost an empire but never found a role” but the more we see the more evident this is. Consider : the UK still presents OBEs and MBEs willy nilly, when the E in Empire no longer exists. However the empire was only created after 1707, when Scotland’s “Noble Families” sold out. In the words of the late , great Oliver Brown “In 1707 we entered the Pax Britannica and the Scots no longer fought the English; we then fought the Germans, the French, the Italians, the Spanish, the Dutch, the Africans, the Egyptians, the Indians, the Chinese, the Japanese…” He had to stop as the Scots Independent was only a 4 page weekly paper at that time.
Note that all these wars were not fought in England but furth of it.
At present the most complicated issue of Brexit is the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland; this was after Partition in 1926 when the Six Counties were established, thereby solving the Irish problem – well that worked out fine did it not?
My wife and I first visited Ireland in 1982 by caravan; the Police were searching vehicles in Stranraer and when I asked one if I should open the boot he said “No, you’ve got an honest face”. I was slightly concerned as my car and caravan were liberally festooned with SNP stickers and we naturally had British number plates, so I felt we could cause offence in two communities.
We came off the ship in Belfast and headed straight for the Irish Border; the Customs Rules were fairly strict – no bacon, no butter or margarine – among others I forget, but we were fairly relaxed about that. I drew up at the Border Post and went into the office; nobody was at the desk but I could hear voices, so I called out. When the officer came out I said I was bringing a caravan in and he asked the number and said I would find it on the nose wheel. I duly did this and went back in and he found the relevant form and asked “Have you got a pen?” and that was that! There were no hassles or problems in Ireland at all and when we were returning, although there were problems in the North, as we approached the Border Post a hand came out of the window waving us through.
We visited Ireland again some years later; we were at the wedding of the son of one of our friends and felt we should take the opportunity of revisiting the country. The wedding was in Armagh and the Reception in Ballycastle, a mere 60 miles away! I followed one of the other guest as closely as I could. It was a great wedding and we left on the Sunday morning and travelled via the Giant’s Causeway and through Coleraine and Londonderry into Ireland. We did not see any Border and only knew we had crossed it when we saw the prices on the filling stations. The same happened on the way back.
Now the difference between the two journeys is the Good Friday Agreement which came into force on 10th April 1998; in my first trip in 1982 I passed through Border Posts, but no let or hindrance – in the second trip there was no let or hindrance but no Border Posts. This situation is now at great risk because of Brexit and the UK is responsible. Neither Ireland nor Northern Ireland wish to change the current situation, but the crass insensitivity of the UK is beyond belief; they cannot believe that any tampering with the Border is dynamite. We even had a Labour MP, Kate Hoey saying there should be a wall, paid for by Ireland – shades of Mexican Trump! Ireland is not a subsidiary of the UK and is quite happy with the Good Friday Agreement but the UK insistence on a hard Border between the UK and the EU seems as if they still regard Ireland as a vassal state. A lot of work is required to make a satisfactory solution and preaching and prancing need to be ignored, and no I cannot offer any solution apart from the re-unification of Ireland, still a long way off.
Westminster is ignorant of this situation and sees no problem – mind you they see no problem with Brexit either, what does it matter if a piddling little country doesn’t like it – who cares?
With regard to the moving finger – as I write there is talk of a special deal for Northern Ireland resulting in Nicola Sturgeon claiming “Scotland too” and the leader of the DUP saying “No”. See these tears!
I am an avid reader of The National and find out things I did not know or had forgotten. This past week I read a Long Letter from a reader in Ayr about oil prices. I knew that the price per barrel had plummeted, but I did not know that the production costs had halved and that whereas the price per barrel had dropped from around $90 in 2014 to $60 in 2017 , the production cost had dropped from $30 to $15 which together with currency adjustments leaving the net cost of a barrel at £36.00 as opposed to £36.60 in 2014. There is still more oil and gas in the North Sea than has come out and we now have vast new reserves west of Shetland. Oil producers are starting to get busier and we even have INEOS investing – a company who knows how many beans make five!
In Monday’s National I found Carolyn Leckie’s piece very informative. Her comments on the attacks on the SNP over the Queensferry were scathing, and her Soubriquet of Petty Rennie very apt. This followed the hoohah at First Minister’s Questions on the Queensferry Crossing. Ruth Davidson did her forensic question pantomime act and Mr Rennie his “earnest concerned” face; somewhere I spotted a comment that the Queensferry Crossing was in his constituency, a bit of a stretch as his constituency is North East Fife – must be the longest approach road in the world.
Caroline Leckie also commented on various Unionist fiascos, the Channel Tunnel – 80% over budget , John Major’s responsibility, the Sottish Parliament ten times more than estimated, Donald Dewar’s baby, the Edinburgh Trams – shudder – my grand children will be paying for that – joint effort by Labour Tory and Liberal to poke the SNP in the eye and delay the dualling of the A9 and assorted schools, hospitals and the Skye Bridge all paid for under the PFI system by Unionists – rather commissioned by them and paid by tomorrow’s children!
This week we see the latest Survation Poll: Holyrood Constituency figures SNP 39%, Scottish Labour 25%, Scottish Conservatives 24%, Scottish Liberals 8%
Nae wonder Petty Rennie is earnestly concerned – but not for Scotland😊