Why don't we tell the Scots to shove off!
By Simon Heffer
Alex Salmond's offensive comparison of Scots voting for independence to the ending of apartheid and blacks being given the vote in South Africa took the rank dishonesty of the nationalists’ campaign to a new low yesterday.
Mandela went to prison for his beliefs, something that doesn’t appear to have happened to any Scottish Nationalists.
And, far from being victims of a cruel and unjust system, they have been encouraged to participate in the political process, and to live in a Union replete with opportunities — unlike millions in South Africa who were excluded from politics and advancement simply because they were the wrong race.
Alex Salmond's offensive comparison of Scots voting for independence to the ending of apartheid and blacks being given the vote in South Africa took the nationalists’ campaign to a new low yesterday
It was equally offensive to see Mr Salmond embracing immigrants from Eastern Europe and telling them that their intention to vote ‘Yes’ would be the culmination of their own long walk to freedom.
They chose to come to Scotland not because independence promises an extra layer of liberty, but because of the hard won, wide-ranging freedoms already available throughout the UK, and bestowed upon the Scots as they are bestowed upon every other Briton.
Enough, frankly, is enough. We have long tolerated Mr Salmond’s mendacity, and his twisted loathing of the English, largely because many felt he would be the loser of this fight and should be indulged.
So when he dropped hints that the NHS would be privatised if there wasn’t a ‘Yes’ vote, or made up the rules about Scotland’s continuing membership of the EU as he went along, or exaggerated the wealth from Scottish oil revenues, we felt slightly patronising towards the old rogue, assuring ourselves of his inevitable humiliation in the September 18 vote.
Now that humiliation appears less certain, and the arrogant dishonesty is so overwhelming, it is time to tell him what some of us really think.
First, this referendum has been a democratic disgrace from the outset. Not only were innumerable expatriate Scots in the rest of the Kingdom not allowed a vote on the Union that has benefited them all so practically, but the English — who subsidise Scotland to the tune of £17.6 billion a year according to the most recent Treasury figures — were not allowed a say either, as if the Union were about Scotland alone.
The sight of English politicians — and Scottish Unionist ones — bending over backwards to encourage the Scots to stay in the UK is as pitiful as it is outrageous. And it has inevitably proven counter-productive.
The Scots absurdly misrepresent us as oppressors and leeches who have taken ‘their’ oil money since the 1970s, when the opposite is largely true.
Scotland has boomed under the Union, Scots have thrived in the land of opportunity that is England, and much of the North Sea’s oil was extracted only because of English investment.
So why the need for further bribes? Couldn’t a perfectly sober, rational case be made about the massive mutual benefits for both parties — and shouldn’t our politicians, now in a demeaning state of 11th-hour panic, have been making it from the moment the devolved assembly opened in 1999?
They should — but their failure to do so emboldened grasping SNP politicians to push for independence. It says much for the stupidity and complacency of our political class that none appeared to have seen this coming.
'The English, especially, will wonder why our leaders feel the need to suck up to a nation that sponged off our largesse consistently over the past 307 years, yet is still not satisfied.'
I don’t know whether Scotland will vote to become independent. I’m pretty sure that if it doesn’t the ‘No’ campaign’s victory will be narrow, another plebiscite will be held within five or ten years, and there will be further self-serving mischief, strife and instability until the separatists get their way.
Instead of telling Mr Salmond where to get off after his grotesque misrepresentation of life under the Union, our politicians have responded with the pathetic stunt of cancelling Prime Minister’s Questions today so they can campaign in Scotland for the Union.
Worse, we have had the spectacle of Ed Miliband gurning in front of TV cameras and demanding that English town halls fly the Saltire to show their love for Scotland — I trust most English town halls won’t waste ratepayers’ money on a flag they would never normally fly from one decade to the next.
But I suspect that this supine response to Salmond’s lies will be the final straw for most English, Welsh and Northern Irish voters.
The English, especially, will wonder why our leaders feel the need to suck up to a nation that sponged off our largesse consistently over the past 307 years, yet is still not satisfied.
Hard-pressed English taxpayers today see Scottish families enjoying free tuition in higher education (worth £9,000 a year), widespread exemptions from prescription charges and state-funded care for the elderly, and wonder why they don’t get the same benefits, even though they contribute to Scotland’s.
We have long tolerated Mr Salmond’s mendacity, and his twisted loathing of the English, largely because many felt he would be the loser of this fight and should be indulged
And only two years ago, the British taxpayer had to bail out two Scottish banks on the verge of collapse.
The tragedy is that Scotland’s enterprise and energy, underpinned by a ferocious Protestant work ethic and an education system far superior to England’s, enabled the Scots to be hugely successful in British life — another fact that makes a mockery of Mr Salmond’s whingeing victimhood.
Scotland provided England’s monarchs (our Queen is of Stuart descent) and numerous prime ministers — Gladstone, Rosebery, Campbell-Bannerman, Balfour, Bonar Law, Ramsay MacDonald, Macmillan, Douglas-Home, Blair and Brown were all either Scottish or of Scots heritage.
The list of great Scots is endless: the inventor of the telephone Alexander Graham Bell, the discoverer of penicillin Alexander Fleming, the inventor of television John Logie Baird, inventor of the steam engine James Watt, historian Thomas Carlyle, philosopher David Hume and economist Adam Smith are just the tip of the iceberg of Scots talent.
Alex Salmond's offensive comparison of Scots voting for independence to the ending of apartheid and blacks being given the vote in South Africa took the rank dishonesty of the nationalists’ campaign to a new low yesterday
Countless unsung Scottish pioneers built large stretches of the Empire, notably Canada, New Zealand and southern Africa, and Scotsmen made a disproportionately large sacrifice in two world wars.
Yet now England and Scotland are not merely two different nations, but two different cultures. The old Scotland was washed away by the tide of post-1945 welfarism even more than England was.
The difference was that England threw off socialism in 1979 and, under Margaret Thatcher, engaged in radical economic reforms.
Those were never accepted by post-industrial Scotland, whose people in too many cases preferred to live off the efforts of others, and came to regard Mrs Thatcher as a symbol of foreign oppression and themselves as her tragic victims.
That gulf is wider today than ever, and it won’t be bridged by a few patronising Englishmen flying Saltires or engaging in a rampantly insincere group hug with the Scottish people. Our two countries now have little in common, with Scotland now exhibiting the most appalling mentality of dependence.
I am of a generation of English who grew up considering ourselves British, and seeing no great difference between the English and the Scots, for whom we had great affection and admiration. But that has changed over the past two decades with growing hostility towards the English dripping out of Scotland.
Enough, I say again, is enough. As an Englishman, I feel my country has done all it can for Scotland and the Scots, sharing our country and wealth in the most open-handed way, while being branded as exploiters in return by a people for whom a vindictive ingratitude now seems to be a way of life.
As far as I’m concerned, the Scots are welcome to believe the untruths, distortions and downright lies Mr Salmond and his pals have decided to tell about the Union so they can get their hands on complete power.
If they really do feel the English are so toxic for them, there is nothing left to say except: clear off, good riddance and tell us where to send the bill for more than 300 years of subsidy.
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