16 April 2007
The last time I clearly remember an April as glorious as the one we are currently having was precisely 10 years ago and I spent almost all of it desperately trying to help the Tories cling, if not to power, then at least to the Bristol West constituency. Of course, they did neither. Like the devil, back then Labour had all the good tunes. Our charge that one of the "New Dangers" of New Labour was constitutional damage to the UK as Scotland would get a vote on whether or not to have its own parliament was greeted with the unanswerable - "its only a vote - why shouldn't they vote on it". Ok, not unanswerable - we had the answers, but it was obvious that nobody cared even what the question was as they started humming D-ream's "Things can only get better" at you - "so that's an undecided then, sir?".
It's deja vu all over again, as Labour, having let the Nationalist genie out of the bottle is forced to argue why the Scottish people shouldn't be granted their second wish. Right now, on the front of Labour's campaign website is their slogan "Not breaking up Britain". Aside from the use of "Not" at the start of any slogan being disastrous ("Not doing much" etc), is the smug and arrogant assumption that their third way namby pamby hotch potch of a parliament is a perfect constitutional creature and not some evolutionary blip on the road to something altogether more natural - perhaps something that stands on its own two feet and possibly with opposable thumbs to boot.
At this point I have to declare my interest: none whatsoever. Like most southern conservatives, I pretty much regard Scotland as a foreign country. I have spent more of my lifetime in Belgium, Sweden, Germany - even Bermuda, than I have in Scotland, and I cannot see that changing for a while. I have nothing against the Scottish people - I even married into a Scottish family, but all this indifference makes me highly sympathetic to the idea that if the Scots want to vote themselves into economic and political oblivion by choosing independence and in one fell swoop inflict a deadly blow against the Labour parliamentary party by casting out (or perhaps reclaiming?) 39 MPs including Brown and Browne, then who am I to quibble?
In any case, independence for the Scots makes more sense today than it ever did. Traditionally, hard working and enterprising Scots got the hell out of there and came down to London. In these times, what chance do they have, when for the price of a one bedroom flat in the Royal Borough of K&C you can purchase several hundred acres of blasted heath and a property with a moat, turrets and probably a coven of witches if you drive a particularly hard bargain.