Breaking Britain: Scotland’s choice


Above: Scotland’s Future launch. Photo: Scottish Government

Fifty years ago, the idea that Scotland would leave the United Kingdom would have been almost impossible to imagine. But this week the Scottish Government launched a white paper, Scotland’s Future, setting out the case for just that in next year’s independence referendum.

For a party proclaiming the case for divorce, the SNP seem curiously keen on many aspects of the United Kingdom. The Queen would still be head of state. The pound sterling would still be Scotland’s currency. And the white paper even reassures Scots that they’d still enjoy Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing and CBeebies – even though the BBC would be replaced by a Scots equivalent. Heaven help us if Waybuloo is the only thing holding back the break up of Britain.

As many have said, it’s far from certain if the remaining UK countries would allow all this to happen. But it’s a clever ploy by Alex Salmond to suggest Scotland can have it all outside the union.

Scotland is, of course, right to decide its future. The fact the vote is even happening is an indictment of the failures of successive Westminster governments to govern for the whole of these islands. As I wrote a year ago, there are echoes here of the way British malevolence and incompetence led Ireland to independence rather than home rule.

I still hope that Scotland chooses to help us reshape Britain, rather than break it. Scotland has played a hugely important part in our nation’s history. It, like Wales, has shown that we can enjoy multiple identities: Scottish/Welsh and British. That diversity is a great model for life in these islands. It would be a great shame to diminish Celtic influence in Britain.