Charles Ellingworth

17:15

Scotland - an alternative future

The weary battlefield  of  Scottish independence drags on. It is a battle that brings out the worst in both parties. The English are patronising and irritated - wearily going over the old arguments about  how dependant the Scots are on the Barnett Formula that gives them much more than they deserve. The Scots on their part are chippy and aggressive, nursing every slight and bristling at every hint of English superiority. 


It doesn’t have to be like this.


The 1708 Act of Union happened because Scotland had bankrupted itself in the Darien Gap venture This could have been the beginning of an everlasting chip - but it wasn’t, because the Scotts joined the English on their empire adventure. They in many ways dominated it, in the armies and in  the commercial ventures that straddled the world. I used to work for Jardine Matheson who engineered wars (the Opium Wars) and founded Hong Kong - tough minded Scots who certainly didn’t see themselves as second class citizens. When the empire faded, Scotland was central to the great nationalised industries - ship building, coal mining and steel making. Scots nationalism was a tiny minority sport in those days. 


The problem started with the axe that Margaret Thatcher took to those industries. It created a culture not of partnership but of dependency - one that corrupts both parties and brings out the worst in them and their politicians. The Union is something that is resented rather than being seen as something that both can be proud of. What is lacking is a great project of equals and the leadership to take both parties down a road of a new adventure.


What about Net Zero? Scotland has led the way in renewables. Why can’t they leverage this up as an inspirational joint venture where they are the ones leading the way? It needs an  leader - Ruth Davidson? - who can rise above the snarky style of Nicola Sturgeon and paint a picture that Britain can be proud of, allowing a proud patriotism in both nations that respects each other’s contribution to a vital joint venture. What a shame it would be if the current iteration of small minded nationalism prevailed. 


There is another future that can be imagined given imagination and leadership.


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