Sunday 14 February 2021

As I was saying - continued

In the meantime I was still reading the Scotsman and also the rather better Glasgow Herald (as it should still be called). I would visit Scotland at least once a year. The pressure for devolution (or more) was growing. I was sympathetic. Recall how annoyed I'd been when my father had told me that we were moving to London because companies liked to be near government. By now I knew that the libertarian answer was for governments not to have so many powers in the first place. But if that's not possible (for now) why not have more decentralised government so as companies didn't have to move to be heard by the political class? 

We moved to Edinburgh in 2002. By now there was a Scottish Parliament. I have no doubt that the prosperity of Edinburgh over the past two decades is to some extent due to the fact that it is a political centre of some significance. In the same way as London draws wealth to itself. But I am an anarcho-capitalist of the Rothbardian/Hoppean variety. Surely the state shouldn't exist at all? That's right. And if Scotland ever did become independent I would celebrate for a few days and then launch the Dumfriesshire National Party! To be followed by independence for Annan.

So, will Scotland become independent eventually? Probably. And it's all because of what I call 'the presumption of the English norm.

Consider: Around 230 countries have a central bank. All of them name the central bank after the country concerned. Of course. What else would they do? But there is one exception. The central bank of the United Kingdom is called the Bank of England! After over 300 years of union. Is it any surprise that the UK contains what is probably the most powerful independence movement in the world? I'm not remotely anti-English. I've been to every county in England (and Wales, and Scotland, and Northern Ireland). But how about renaming the Bank of England, let's say, the "Bank of Wales"? For the next 300 years. 

Consider: As a result of the above we had, at least before travel in the UK became illegal, the perennial question of Scottish bank notes being rejected by English businesses. This was the cause of dozens of letters to the Scottish press over decades, all expressing intense annoyance. And all drawing so many supporting comments. A competent unionist government would have fixed that decades ago. 

Consider: The BBC weather map that persisted for years and years in showing a distorted view of the UK with a vastly enlarged England (especially the south) but a tiny Scotland. Where were the unionists then? Again, ignoring all those angry "letters to the editor".

Consider: Cities like Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield are always described by English politicians and journalists as being in the North even when they are discussing the UK as a whole. They are all in the South of the UK. Look at a map. But all UK taxpayers will be paying for the "Northern" Powerhouse! And as for rebuilding Hadrian's Wall! At least Newcastle United would give Rangers and Celtic some much needed competition in the Scottish Premier League.

Consider: Professional organisations down south always see things from the presumption of the English norm. Let's say that there was a proposal to have a single UK legal system. Logically, one would examine the Scottish and English systems and pick the best bits from each. I doubt that any lawyer in England would consider such an approach for a moment or even think about it at all. If they did they'd almost certainly just assume that Scots law was rightly to be abolished that we up here we're going to adopt English law. Treaty of Union? What on earth is that?

Consider: It's the same with academic folk. I heard a prominent English historian give a talk in Edinburgh a few weeks before the 2014 referendum. They mentioned the Act of Union. There was no understanding at all that two nations had agreed to unite and that therefore two Acts had been passed - one in each Parliament! A different English historian told me that Oxford had once held a session on important constitutional events in English history. Things like the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights. But there was no mention at all of the Union of 1707 which had ended England's status as a separate self-governing country!

Are any of these things in themselves sufficient reason to end a union of more than 300 years? Not really. But they all add up and, in my view, eventually, enough people will say "that's enough".

As I said earlier, a competent unionist government would sort this out in an afternoon and the SNP would then be history.



dearieme said...

Goodness me, I'm glad to find you're still blogging.

The best example I've seen pointed out in the English press of the Presumption of Londonness involved the National Lottery.

A rational statesman would ask which industry would suffer from the lottery. Answer: the football pools companies. He'd ask where they are based. Answer: Liverpool. He would conclude that the lottery should therefore be based in Liverpool to reduce the damage to that city's economy.

But John Major and his government did no such thing. Without any reflection they simply knew that they would base it in London.

I must add that I think the royal family is too obviously an institution for London and the Thames Valley. They have been shamefully lazy over the generations in failing to change that. Happy hols in Aberdeenshire and Norfolk are not enough.

dearieme said...

By the by, your call for "independence for Annan" is too parochial. I demand independence for all of South Central Dumfriesshire. It might reasonably be called the Kingdom of Ecclefechan. Or the Ecclefechan Republic. That question can be settled by a referendum.

After a few years the headlines will say "Ecclefechan pronounced success".

David Farrer said...

We could perhaps resurrect Thomas Carlyle, late of Ecclefechan, as high heid yin
but that would surely require an Ecclefechan Empire at the bare minimum. My late mother went to the same school as Carlyle but not at the same time...

dearieme said...

"My late mother went to the same school as Carlyle"

As did my late mother. And all her children.

My mother's mother went to the same school as the girl who became Rebecca West. By chance we later became friends of West's favourite nephew and his wife.

Small country, Scotland.

Alexmmby said...

Grreat post thank you