What about this Scottish independence malarkey eh? Which way is the vote likely to fall and what are the expected consequences?
If I had Scottish blood coursing through my veins instead of the part Irish blend I have in reality, then I know I’d be sorely tempted to go for the misty glories of independence. For my heart at least it would be no contest.
Delightful though it would be to deliver a sword-thrust into the stinking bowels of Westminster, I’d have to convince myself that Scotland actually wants and is prepared to grasp a new spirit of adventure. To my mind, the value of independence lies in making a distinctively Scottish future from the distinctively Scottish virtues of the past.
I’d need to be sure that a reborn and independent Scotland would rid itself of the soul-rotting government-sponsored illusions of everlasting welfare. It would have to decide once and for all that there is no magic money tree fed and watered by bureaucrats.
So how likely is that? How does the leadership of Alex Salmond infuse the Scottish people with a sense of personal responsibility in this adventure? Because it could be a fine adventure, but not if somebody else is always supposed to do the adventuring.
How does Alex Salmond attract able people who have left Scotland simply because they are able people – because they need something more than an endless tangle of small surrenders - to borrow Chesterton’s telling phrase.
It’s the chance of a lifetime – literally. He isn't the only player in this drama, but is Alex Salmond capable of delivering the fruits of a vote for independence? To me he comes across as a very accomplished political huckster, a charlatan’s charlatan. As ever it comes down to people, so although I’m not Scottish I’ll watch the vote with interest.
If the vote goes for independence, and whatever my concerns I hope it does, then it will be seen as a huge vote of dissatisfaction with Westminster politics. Whether that dissatisfaction amounts to something different and vibrantly inspiring - that's another matter. The people of today are not the people of yesterday.
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