Sorry to be a bit behind with this one - as regular readers will know, I no longer have a home internet connection, so my apologies if anyone else has made these points already.
So Alex Salmond (pictured), the constitutional adventurer who for some reason or other holds the rank of First Minister of Scotland, has published his proposals for a referendum on whether Scotland should become independent. The loaded, juvenile use of words such as 'independent' and 'independence' in this context, with their mental associations that Scotland is in some way a colony of the United Kingdom, by Scottish 'civic nationalists' is, of course, a typically gross abuse of language on their part. There are few more independent people in the world than the Scots; at least that's what the Scottish 'civic nationalists' keep telling us. If an independent people are already independent, why should they seek independence?
The Tartanissimo wishes to hold his jamboree in the autumn of 2014. I have seen no comment being made on why this should be the case, but to me the reason for it being held at that time is clear. He is hoping that the Commonwealth Games, due to be held in Glasgow in the summer of 2014, will provide him with a national 'feelgood factor' upon which he will coast to victory.
There is, however, a credible alternative argument, which is that he is hoping that the sight of the English national team winning many more medals than the Scots, a statistical inevitability given the relative sizes of the two nations' populations, will cause an anti-English backlash, hopefully non-violent. I sincerely hope that this is not the case, if only because such a possible rationale for the timing of an event of such importance to our constitution would be negative, frivolous and deeply unstatesmanlike. But in the event that that is the case, I'll be supporting Australia, who'll probably win everything anyway.
The ubiquitous, sylphlike lingerie tycoon Michelle Mone has indicated that she will relocate her business elsewhere if The Tartanissimo is successful in his constitutional adventure. One hopes that Mrs. Mone ultimately has no need to pursue such a drastic course of action. I do not doubt for a moment that she is sincere in her desire that Scotland should remain a part of the United Kingdom, and that she will pursue whatever action she thinks is appropriate for the conduct of her business.
However, there are some matters upon which businesspeople don't have to be automatically believed, and one of them is their protests that they will move their business elsewhere if they don't get what they want - see, for example, Sir Robert Peel speaking on the textile manufacturers' intentions in 1807. The act of relocation is rare and is usually performed by zealots.
However, there is one area in which their word should be trusted as a rule, and that is their descriptions of the negative effects that constitutional uncertainty has upon business, a historical phenomenon usually known as 'decay of trade'. The Tunnocks Teacake is as Scottish as tossing the caber and the Stone of Scone, and Boyd Tunnock, the man who makes them, has already spoken out about the negative effect that constitutional uncertainty will have on Scottish business.
Decay of trade is not a fiction, it is a fact. At the moment, I'm reading 'God's Fury, England's Fire', Michael Braddick's fascinating account of the English Civil Wars. Professor Braddick goes into great detail about just how badly trade decayed during the constitutional upheavals of the 1640s, and how frequently those who were concerned by it expressed their fears (define irony - buying a book about the Puritans with the booktoken you got in the office Secret Santa). It could be that The Tartanissimo believes that any decay in trade occasioned by the uncertainty he is manufacturing over Scotland's constitutional status will be a necessary part of the new nation's birth pangs, before it comes crying in to the light; an intellectually cogent position, if also a lamentably naive one.
It is sincerely to be hoped that The Tartanissimo is not seeking to foster decay of trade, to create an economic position so bad that he will then be able to position himself as the strong guy we can turn to to sort it all out. As well as being horribly negative, it would be suggestive of megalomania.
The Tartanissimo is a member of the Privy Council, and has either sworn or affirmed the following oath -
"You do swear by Almighty God to be a true and faithful Servant unto The Queen's Majesty as one of Her Majesty's Privy Council. You will not know or understand of any manner of thing to be attempted, done or spoken against Her Majesty's Person, Honour, Crown or Dignity Royal, but you will lett and withstand the same to the uttermost of your power, and either cause it to be revealed to Her Majesty Herself, or to such of Her Privy Council as shall advertise Her Majesty of the same. You will in all things to be moved, treated and debated in Council, faithfully and truly declare your Mind and Opinion, according to your Heart and Conscience; and will keep secret all matters committed and revealed unto you, or that shall be treated of secretly in Council. And if any of the said Treaties or Counsels shall touch any of the Counsellors you will not reveal it unto him but will keep the same until such time as, by the consent of Her Majesty or of the Council, Publication shall be made thereof. You will to your uttermost bear Faith and Allegiance to the Queen's Majesty; and will assist and defend all civil and temporal Jurisdictions, Pre-eminences, and Authorities, granted to Her Majesty and annexed to the Crown by Acts of Parliament, or otherwise, against all Foreign Princes, Persons, Prelates, States, or Potentates. And generally in all things you will do as a faithful and true Servant ought to do to Her Majesty so help you God"
Now for the life of me, I can't see how he can square taking an oath to defend all of Her Majesty's 'civil and temporal Jurisdictions' with a course of action which would result in her principal jurisdiction, the United Kingdom, being rent asunder. To my mind, he should resign either from the Privy Council or from the Scottish National Party. While this might seem unfair, don't forget that he is demanding that Scots and those who live in Scotland make a once in a lifetime choice as to what country they live in. The very least he can do is show the way and make a difficult choice himself before insisting that everyone else does.
I might be wrong, but I think that the exercise of power is going to the heads of the soi-disant, ersatz 'Scottish Government' just a little. The absurd gagging order placed on Pollok Pot The Tartan Trot upon his release from chokey, itself less The Long Walk To Freedom than the long walk to Govan, is without precedent in our history. The Tories might have been out of touch with Scotland, but nothing like this ever happened on their watch (and they certainly would have had more political savvy than to place a gagging order on a person infamously incapable of keeping his mouth shut). If I didn't know any better, I'd think that the authorities were afraid of any Scottish republican voice, even as one as discredited as Pollok Pot's, being heard in the public domain. Remember, in their minds the Scottish 'civic nationalists' are the ones who speak for Scotland; nobody else does. Or should.
Similarly, the news that it's planned to give Scottish school pupils the right to study Scots to Higher level makes one wonder just how useful knowing the meaning of words like 'ilquhame' and 'oxter' will be when the Chinese come for our jobs. It's all so Scottish, and my thanks to Professor Braddick for furnishing one of the great quotes on this sort of situation, from a resident of Newcastle-upon-Tyne who had lived under the occupation of the Scottish Covenanters - for a week -
"God grant this viperous brood so freely received into the body of the Kingdom, do not eat through the belly of their fosterers: for I assure you where they shall govern we shall find them proud lords".
As the great philosopher Robert Mitchum noted in 'Anzio', nothing changes except the uniforms and the transportation.