Back in May I wrote this:
I have no doubt at all that most nationalists are motivated by questions of identity, not finance. Of course it helps their case if the economics look good but what they are working towards is for Scotland to be a normal country.
It really is rather unusual for somewhere to have its own national legal system, its own national Church, its own national sporting teams and representation, and almost all of the other attributes of nationality and yet not be independent. That's what motivates the SNP, not whether an independent Scotland would be richer or poorer.
It's a question of identity, and nothing else. Forget all about oil, not to mention Barnett and GERS.
Five years ago I had this to say:
Everything would be much clearer if the SNP were known as the Scottish Normalcy Party instead of the Scottish National Party. Almost all Scots, nationalist or otherwise, get extremely upset about what I call The Presumption of the English Norm. For example, there are apparently several countries in which one can look up "British Embassy" in the local phone book (and in the local language) and find no entry. It's under "English Embassy", even when the language in question has a word for "British". And given that the Bank of "England" hasn't been renamed makes me think that Gordon Brown could be an SNP agent. I don't believe that our southern friends have any idea how annoying this kind of thing is, but imagine how they would feel if the rest of the world used the word "French" to mean "English".All of that remains true and answers the perennial question about why Scotland might wish to leave the British union only to join a European one.
If you visit the country where the locals speak Japanese, the government is known as the Japanese government, and the country is called - wait for it - "Japan". The country where folk speak French is ruled by the French government and it's called "France". It's the same almost everywhere. So it follows that the country where people speak English is ruled by the English government and is called "England", does it not? Well, no, it doesn't. But most of the world, including most English people, talks as if that were so. Well then, why does this happen?
I think that it's all to do with the language of Britain - the UK actually - being called "English" rather than "British". This would be less of an issue if it weren't for the fact that English is also the language of the world's most powerful nation, of science, of business, of finance and also of the Internet. That linguistic domination continuously reminds the rest of the world of the concept "England", while millions of Scots keep shouting: "You mean Britain."
Some of us like myself put up with this while still being annoyed and just accept that the UK is a very unusual country - one that is a multinational state. (Confusingly, the US is a multi-state nation.) But for many Scots this issue is all consuming, and more than anything else in politics they want to live in a "normal" country. So what's normal?
Back when the SNP was founded "normal" meant independent, like Norway or Switzerland today. But most countries in Europe are now members of the EU - that's the new norm, however much we may dislike it. And that's why the SNP wants Scotland to join the EU. It doesn't matter to them if it all leads to a federal superstate - or worse, a non-federal superstate - as long as Scotland has the same status as everywhere else. While Scotland remains an invisible part of a country known to most of the world as "England", membership of the EU is seen as a better option by members of the SNP - the Scottish Normalcy Party.
So, if the British establishment wishes to save the Union, and it does for they are far better informed than the English blogosphere, what needs to be done is clear. And nothing else will do the job.
There must be a joint announcement by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg.
With immediate effect any public servant or MP who uses the term "England" when they mean "Britain" or the "United Kingdom" will be dismissed on the spot, without compensation, and with loss of all pension rights. This will obviously also apply to those employed by quangos, especially by the BBC. The Bank of England will be renamed the Bank of the United Kingdom.
Any foreign government getting it wrong will find that diplomatic recognition will be removed for one month for every offence. If M Sarkozy refers to the UK as "England", we will call France "Bretagne". Should President Obama get it wrong, we'll start to call the US "North Dakota". But if Ron Paul gets elected and makes a mistake we'll give him a second chance...
So, is all of this going to happen?
I don't think so, and that's why I expect to be a holder of a Scottish passport in the not too distant future.