9 September 2014

The blame game……..

With the approach of the Scottish independence vote, and the very real possibility that there will be a 'Yes', I have been thinking about how we have come to this situation.

As the vote approaches it would seem that the Government made a major error of judgement in not offering the Scots any option other than a blunt Yes or No. The Government refused to include a the 'Devo-Max' option which now, at the last minute, they are being forced to propose. I don't know how many postal ballots there are in the referendum but it is lucky that they had to be sent some weeks ago when the tide was with the 'No' campaign. But how many more postal voters would have voted 'No' if they had been offered the 'Devo-Max' option as an alternative?

By the same token, would the heat be in the debate in the final days had the voters more generally been offered the 'Devo-Max' option. It seems clear that most people in Sctotland want some degree of autonomy but 'In' or 'Out' now seems too stark a choice, too beset with risks which the 'No' campaign have been forced to underline. But the Scots would seem to be moving towards a 'Yes' probably because many feel that they have nothing to loose given that they have been roundly ignored by successive governments in the last 30 or 40 years.

And this discussion highlights another, possibly more significant issue, which is the 'London-centric' view of Britain, embraced by most politicians. Owen Jones writes an excellent piece in the Guardian on the subject and describes the parade of politicians since Thatcher who have determinedly maintained the Union whilst focussing their attentions on the south in general and the health of the City of London in particular.

Depending upon whose opinion you take, the centre of the United Kingdom is somewhere along a line between Blackpool and Leeds and nearer Blackpool or, alternatively, it is somewhere on a line between Lancaster and Burnley, but nearer Lancaster. Either way, the centre of the United Kingdom is somewhere north of Westminster but, the way our politicians behave, you'd never have guessed it.

In many ways, the Scottish vote will be influenced by the way our politicians have treated the United Kingdom, as a whole, over the last 100 years. In the last 50, they have behaved as if Westminster, and the City of London, is the centre of the universe. As a direct consequence, I can't blame the Scots for voting with their feet.