Monday, 15 September 2014

Scotland divorcing the United Kingdom - For Better or For Worse?

This whole situation with Scotland is very sad. It is rather like one partner in a long-term marriage having a mid-life crisis and suddenly demanding a divorce. Now, we all know that divorces can be clean-cut when there are no children involved – but in the Scotland versus United Kindgom case there are millions i.e the population of both countries combined. And we also know that divorces involving children can get very messy indeed – and very expensive. The only winner, usually, is the lawyer.

Imagine that Alex Salmond is the lawyer; then that his Scottish National Party is one parent and the UK is the other. Let's also imagine that the children are the 64 million individuals who reside in these islands. The parents are making a set of decisions and the children are being asked to take sides, without necessarily understanding the full picture. Everyone should really be all one happy family where loyalty, unity and history are the glue which holds it together, but the reality seems to be that familiarity is instead breeding contempt. 

The pages of history are speckled with moments where one man (or woman) has defined the future. Nothing has happened in the past which hasn’t led to where we are today. And one person can change the course of events for better or worse – especially when that person is a political leader. Think Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela – or Hitler and Stalin.

My worry with Alex Salmond is that he has his own personal legacy in his sights rather more than that of the people of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. His zeal for an independent Scotland is, I fear, more rooted in the fact that he will go down in those history books as The Man Who Created An Independent Scottish Nation on 18th September 2014 rather than in a full and proper understanding of the magnitude and implications of what he is actually doing. The course of history will be changed forever with currently unknown consequences.

Anyone who knows me also knows that I am not good at change. However, my thoughts here cast aside that acknowledged prejudice and, instead, are based entirely - I like to think - on common sense. I have witnessed too many friends heading for divorce not to observe how the one who wants out often (though certainly not always, I hasten to add) adjusts the past to fit the picture they are wanting to draw of the present. A veil of amnesia can be conveniently cast over the happy times that have gone before – the shared memories, the love, the friendship and, painfully, the children that have been created together. Sometimes all is swept aside in a polemic about how unhappy they have been in their marital union for years. To state the obvious, Scotland and the UK have been in a marriage for far far longer than the average couple - 300 years in fact - and I don't believe it's all been one hellish misery from the start. Is it really sensible to cast all that history and shared experience to the four winds in a moment of relatively egotistical petulance? Have the implications of the split really been thought through? Have many of the people who will be voting really lived long enough to understand the very complex situation they are making irrevocable decisions about?

I fear the answer is No. Undoing those hundreds of years of history and political and economic union does not come without a heavy price. In the vast majority of divorces, even ones which start off amicably, it can get nasty the moment the subject of money is raised. The economy of Scotland and the UK will be no exception should independence be declared later this week. Already people are taking their money out of Scottish banks due to the uncertainty of the situation. Currency union is a big issue, as yet undecided, and there are bound to be other myriad knock-on effects which many will not have thought about or even forseen. Such is the nature of divorce. You cannot control, let alone predict, other people's reactions to the split. Unpicking the stitching that attaches Scotland to the United Kingdom will be a long, involved and very complicated job.

Is that to say that it is not worth trying? Possibly not. Couples mature and grow apart and sometimes it proves to be better for all concerned that they part company. Though, in this case, I rather fear that there will be many who live to regret taking such a giant step in the heat of a political moment in time. Perhaps the more sensible thing to do is accept the differences and the niggles and enter into a more productive dialogue to try and improve the situation for Scotland. Perhaps it would be worth trying that before such a monumental decision is made as to the future of the two countries.

Indeed, if the divorce goes ahead, it will be only Time that will tell whether the original marriage was ultimately for better, or for worse.

Worth reading:-


Lucy Campbell said...

All good then in the end!! Lx

Linda said...

Thankfully we are still part of the UK! What relief!

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