Stands Scotland where it did, Macduff asks in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.     Not exactly, I think would have to be the answer now.

It was our impression  when we visited recently that the suggested statistic of 60+% of people wanting an increased form of devolution is probably about right;  the Unionists (Tories) are rabidly opposed, and the English resident in Scotland are concerned.    The civil service who would have to administer any such change seem anxious and uneasy about it.    What also seems probable (and we heard various people in different groups voice this) is that if the Scots are forced to choose only from a choice of Yes/No to full independence and secession from the Union, many of them will vote Yes, even though that would not have been their first choice.    (Of course this is a personal impression only and hardly scientific.)

I don’t think the English actually understand the basis for Scots desire for independence (or greater devolution.)    In the first place, the Scots were never conquered, not by Rome nor by England, and the union of the Crowns was agreed to by James VI of Scotland and lst of England to satisfy hIs own ambition.   In those days kings had not yet been brought to heel sufficiently to understand that they are the servants of the country and not its masters and considered themselves appointed by God as fit to make decisions without consultation.   Even the salutary example of what happens when you try the patience of the English too far, in the unhappy fate of Charles 11 (later in history than James of course) did not appear to modify their arrogance for some considerable time.

It seems doubtful that England alone could have created the empire without the freedom from domestic dispute it enjoyed, plus the manpower and the special skills contributed by each of the four nations who comprised Great Britain.   We have all benefitted from the wealth and power that the empire brought us;  the Scots are not suggesting that they are an oppressed people.    But the English have always regarded ‘English’ and ‘British’ as being one and the same thing, whereas they are not at all.    I am proud to be British, but I can never be English.

So I posit that the other nations feel that whereas they made an equal contribution to our wealth and prosperity,  their equality of status has never been recognised by England, who dismisses them as ‘the provinces’ and is impertinent enough to appoint a Secretary of State for each ‘province’ as though these countries were dependencies that had to be ‘governed’ instead of independent and equal partners with themselves, the English.  (  These particular Secretaries of State are generally loathed as traitors in the countries where they hold office, and perhaps symbolically they should be escorted to the borders and requested to return to whoever employs them;  or else to accurately represent Scotland and the other nations’ interests, instead of ‘ruling’ Scotland etc in England’s name.)   Why is there no Secretary of State for England?

This view is borne out by England’s complete rejection of any devolved parliament for them.   Why should they need this, when (they suppose) Westminster is theirs anyway?

I live in England and love Sussex and the English.    There is no country on the planet more beautiful than England, and the people of England are a fine people with many virtues of their own.     We need to handle this transition –  which I believe will come to pass – with tolerance and kindness for one another.   We the British have lived and worked together for centuries to our mutual benefit.   Our kinship and friendship circle is intertwined.    To tear this apart, to turn our backs on one another, would be a disaster for all concerned.   In this case, we truly are all in it together, and personally I hope we stay that way.   However, in my view. there is little possibility of maintaining the status quo.

I hope that in say ten year’s time, we have a British Federation under the Crown (initially anyway.   If future monarchs follow the exemplary conduct of the present Queen, there should be no difficulty;  but this remains to be seen.)    The English can keep Westminster for their parliamentary affairs, but it should handle purely English business on exactly the same basis as the other countries of the UK govern their national affairs.   The House of Lords, elected only and reformed at last, could, with equal representation from the constituent countries handle the UK’s agreed commonalities:  foreign affairs, the defence of the realm, etc.   (We could call it The House of the Nations?)

Cameron needs to get his act together.   His condescending and bullying treatment of these issues, his contempt for the people of the countries apart from England, could jeopardise our whole future together.     He has to stop meddling in the affairs of the other British nations (and certainly in Scotland he has no mandate other than that he is Prime Minister of the Union, which is the point at issue)  and address himself urgently to the task of explaining to the English the choices before them, and guiding them along a peaceful path to our future British cooperation and prosperity.

On this journey, which now it has been started, cannot I believe be aborted, the English have by far the longest way to travel.     We, the British, want to remain friends and allies;  we do not want to happen to any of us what happened in Eire.

This is presumably not  at all one of the principal  tasks that Cameron thought was facing him when he took office.   But Harold McMillan, when asked what was the most difficult thing to deal with as Prime Minister, replied, Events, dear boy, events.     This issue is not going to go away.

Although I have no time for the Tories and have never been an admirer of David Cameron, I wish the Prime Minister good fortune in this endeavour, for all our happiness depends upon it.


About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.


  1. turquoisebay says:

    Our primary school ran an event in February where Nicola Sturgeon was invited with several other local dignitaries. She is our local MSP for Glasgow Southside, and the SNP Deputy First Minister. I overheard Alexandra and her friends talking about the bigwigs. She was described as the ” Vice-Prime-Minster ” for Scotland. I think that the current children of Scotland already see independence as a natural progression.

  2. Moira McNair says:

    It is good to see the thoughts and propositions of our recent discussion on the future of our homeland written down in such a considered and clear way, Anne. Would that more people on all sides of our Kingdom’s borders were giving its future as much consideration. My hope is that the people who are resident in Scotland will think with their heads before they rush to act with their hearts, as they seem to be the only ones who will be gifted a vote on the future of Great Briton.

    • adhocannie says:

      Yes, your and David’s report on the lecture you attended was very informative. I think at the moment this tends to be viewed as ‘the Scottish issue’, whereas I think we – the four nations – should be talking in a mature fashion about our future together, and what will best serve the needs of us all in the 21st century. It is fundamentally a UK issue, and no section should seek a dominant role. I am reminded of the quote by some American politician: We must all hang together – or most assuredly we shall all hang separately!

  3. Carolyn says:

    Re ‘But the English have always regarded ‘English’ and ‘British’ as being one and the same thing, whereas they are not at all’. Afraid this is a bit of a hobby horse, but personally speaking, I get pretty damn cross when I as an English woman and proud to be so, am obliged to describe myself as ‘British’ on passport application forms, immigration forms and other assorted official documentation. I am British yes, but my first and overriding loyalty and identity is forever aligned with England, much as I have enjoyed living in and visiting these other three countries. Why when people from Scotland, Wales and Ireland are free to claim their own heritage, is it not considered to be the done thing for the English to claim their’s, which is an infuriating situation, believe me.

    • adhocannie says:

      I think this illustrates my point – why should the English apparently feel they’re not free to rejoice in being English? (Though in terms of official documents, I think Scots etc are obliged to put British as well.) Perhaps in the adjustments to come, this grievance of the English can be addressed.

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