Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Edinburgh belongs to me.
Weegies tend not to live in Edinburgh. There's a pride in their hearts that would make them feel stupid in admitting that their postcode had changed from G to EH. But there are lots of people from all over the world who've come to live and work in Edinburgh who have apride in turning the world inside out. Walking from my house into the city centre, I walk through Cape Town, Porto, Harare, São Paolo, Margate, Taipei, Osaka, Kraków, Casablanca, Tel Aviv, Marseille, Louisville, Cancun, Melbourne, Mumbai, Baden-Baden, Barcelona, Ottawa, Willemstad and Lima.
Therein lies my pride.
I'm not Scottish, I'm not British, I'm not even a European. In my heart, I'm an internationalist - and that's why Edinburgh belongs to me.
Alex Salmond is everything I am not. He is a nationalist. Instead of looking out, he looks in. It's my opinion that his view is inward looking and not outward because of the heavy burden of greed, hate, jealousy and lust for power.
Today is the anniversary of the Act Of Union. Well, the act didn't actually take effect until 1st May 1707, but it was three hundred years ago today when the treaty was accepted by the Scottish Parliament. Today should be celebrated, certainly not mourned.
Elections take place, here in Scotland, this coming May. It looks as though the Act Of Union will be a hot topic in the run up to this election. Some polls suggest independence is likely for Scotland, some polls suggest the SNP might take power in Scotland, some polls suggest opposite outcomes for both questions.
It seems identity plays a large part in the debate. Are we Scottish or British? Most Scots, it seems, would call themselves Scottish. I'd call myself Scottish, but I'd also call myself British, European and, as I said before, an internationalist. I can call myself any number of things. Calling myself a brown-eyed man does not stop me from also being a 5'10" man. I am both. But I am neither. I am a man. And furthermore, I am a man of the world. I may call myself Scottish, but I am an internationalist. There is a very big difference. What I call myself and what I am can be two different things, or the same thing. That's pluralism.
The Act Of Union brought peace and prosperity to this island, albeit for a Catholic blip, united people in a common cause and added to the strength of Scotland and England in The Kingdom Of Great Britain.
With the real possibility that England and Scotland, after the death of Anne, could each have a different monarch, war on this island seemed almost inevitable. After the failure of The Darién Project, Scotland's bankruptcy also seemed inevitable. The Act of Union saved all British islanders from death and starvation. This is a point that should not be ignored.
The Act Of Union, I think, has been a successful experiment. I see no reason to end it. We share risks, rewards and resources.
The SNP claim independence would be good for Scotland. They talk of North Sea oil. Scotland, without union, would have had no mney to drill for oil in the North Sea. Does Alex Salmond intend to repay the Darién debt to the British government? With interest? It, clearly, is ridiculous. We'd have had no access to oil in the North Sea without union. One clear example of how union has worked.
Leaving the union may well be good for Scotland (though I can't see it myself) but the reasons for doing so are entirely selfish. The SNP claim we'd be better off without England. We'd keep all the North Sea oil revenue for ourselves. Great! Well, ok, let's call for Pictish independence. We'd keep all the North Sea oil for ourselves and Glasgow would go to pot.
Ridiculous and silly.
It's not a good time in the story of the world to cut ourselves off from others, stand alone or act selfishly. It's time to continue to hold hands with our friends and join hands with others, making friends with others.
Sure, the Scottish economy is different to the English. But the Edinburgh economy is different to the Glasgow economy. The Morningside economy is different to the Niddrie economy. Does Alex Salmond think that Niddrie should have independence?
Independence means peril and chaos. It's time to come together, join with others and work as a unit. As much as our union with England has been a resounding success, the European Union has been a success. The SNP recognise this and would adopt the Euro at some point. Hypocrisy is not a good trait in a political party and I believe this is where the SNP falls down.
Why and how, within the EU, would independence do Scotland any favours?
Strength is in unity. It's time to go forwards, not backwards.
This is a happy day.
For more information, click here to watch a piece about union and independence. Click here to listen to a short radio broadcast about bribery in the discussions for the Act Of Union. Click here for a BBC news article about the anniversary and here for a fabulous wee quiz.
Of course, the UK is far from perfect. Northern Ireland has an assembly, as does Wales. Scotland has its own parliament. But England has no parliament, no assembly. No equality. No justice. Federalism is the only answer. But that's a whole other kettle of fish and perhaps something for another day.
Is time running out for the United Kingdom? Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock...