One of the side effects of the lunacy which is Brexit, is that it has highlighted just how differently Scotland and England view Europe and everything about it.
We’ve always had the idea, perhaps because of the Auld Alliance etc, that we take a much more positive approach and are more amenable to Europe and Europeans than our Southern cousins. Perhaps because England has tended to view Europe as a source of threat rather than support. Allied to the fact that, especially after the last war, England tended to think that it had no need of foreigners far less to accommodate their needs and develop them as partners. Thus, when the Treaty of Rome and the European Coal and Steel treaties were being drafted in the 50s and the new organisation was growing into the Common Market, there were precious few in Westminster who could look beyond that narrow parochialism. Even fewer still who understood that this was in fact the precise moment when real leadership would have yielded huge dividends, economically, politically and socially. Instead England retreated into an almost reclusive stance and believed that it and its Empire had no need of anyone else or their help.
This act of self-harm would have its sequence of humiliations as PM after PM were forced to go cap in hand to the new organisation seeking admission. The United Kingdom made its first application to join the European Union in 1961. It was soon apparent that refusing to join meant a real danger of political isolation and loss of influence within Western Europe. The Commonwealth countries, on whom the empirical myth depended were rushing to do deals with the new bloc, and it had American support. The first application was vetoed by the French Government in 1963 with a second application vetoed by the French again in 1967. It was only in 1969 that the green light was given to negotiations for British membership. The sell-out of fishing communities was just one part of the bitter harvest we reaped because of the stiff upper lip stupidity a decade earlier.
Now we see the same narrow parochialism driving the Brexit bus and threatening to take us all over the cliff with them. It is blindingly obvious that although England has lost an Empire it has yet to try and find a new role in the world. England is without doubt a great country. With a long and proud history leadership in military, economic and cultural achievements but right now it’s floundering, lacking anyone who is capable of even starting that conversation far less signposting the road ahead and leading people along it.
Just for one moment spare a thought for our families and friends in England as they face up to the prospect that on December 12, they must entrust their future to one of the three charlatans. Talk about Tweedledee, Tweedledum and Tweedledummer!
For Scotland’s part we are a European Nation! One of the most potent arguments of 2014 was that voting NO was the only way to guarantee that Scotland would remain part of the EU. Note that word GUARANTEE. Had Cameron, Brown, Clegg, Davidson, Rennie and Swinson etc been Used Car Salesmen they would have been in front of the local Trading Standards Dept.
History, we are told, repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. That sounds to me like a good description of England’s long and troubled relationship with her neighbours.
It’s our misfortune to be tied to those errors and the only way out for Scotland is the door marked “INDEPENDENCE”. It’s our good fortune that more and more of our friends, families and colleagues are being persuaded of that case. The UK is broken beyond redemption and it’s time to “Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on” as Winnie said 52 years ago this month.