Til the next time …

In the aftermath of the Scottish referendum Mark Steyn reminds us of a column he wrote in 2006

Indeed, the remarkable feature of contemporary Scottish nationalism is that it has achieved all the features of a failed nation state without achieving the status of a nation state …

How did this happen? Almost everywhere you go on the planet, the great institutions of this world were built by Scots, from the Canadian Pacific Railway to the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank. Where is the spirit of Mel McGibson in Braveheart?

Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you’ll live…at least for a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade all the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take…OUR FREEDOM!

But it’s all more complicated than that. The modern Scot is prepared to fight – or, at any rate, strike – but only for the right to die in his bed on a government pension.

… and of course he reminds us that Braveheart was filmed in Ireland. With an Australian midget playing a Scottish giant.

How long can the English be denied the opportunity for self determination?

No …

So Scotland votes to stay in the UK.

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Were I a Scot, I would have voted No as well, especially if I were concerned for the future of my kids.

But as a spectator I’m a little disappointed. Had the vote been yes the excitement to come would have been enthralling. James Delingpole will also be disappointed although not surprised. In a recent and entertaining article he urged the Scots to vote Yes for ten reasons including number 3 …

Scotland’s economy is the bastard love child of a Ponzi scheme and Venezuela under Hugo Chavez. Till now, the Scots have been cushioned from this by dint of the fact that their socialistic economy – and the vast welfare zone otherwise known as Glasgow – has been propped up by English taxpayers. It’s about time we stopped treating the Scots like children and told them the truth: Father Christmas doesn’t exist.

and he goes on to lament that …

All a “No” vote next week will do is make the “Yes” campaigners more embittered, more chippy, more bolshie, more determined than ever to secure Scottish independence in the future. So a “yes” vote is really just the least worst of all the options. It won’t make things better. But at least it will put us all out of our misery.

Another journalist, with a typically Sassenach name, Milo Yianopoulos, gives the impression that if the English had a vote they would be expelling their northern neighbour ASAP …

Let’s consider for a moment how Scotland herself might fare. In my view, she would be well served by some time alone to consider who she really is. Historically, Scotland was renowned across the world for entrepreneurial spirit and engineering genius. Both reputations have been lost after a century of Labour government and the overweening arrogance and control freakery of the trades unions.

These days, Scotland is more commonly associated with work-shy dole scroungers and skag-addled prostitutes than with the industriousness of Adam Smith or with its glorious pre-Reformation spirituality. Sorry, no offence, but it’s true.

Absent subsidies from the British taxpayer, supposedly “Scottish” institutions might be forced to rediscover their zeal for enterprise. They’re Scottish in name only, you understand, paid for by the English. So you see, independence might be a way for this once-great nation to shine again.

A country that loses no opportunity to paint itself as independent, despite being the recipient of largesse from elsewhere, and which drones on and on and on about its “rich heritage” and “distinct identity” – almost to the point of psychosis – should really be given the chance to prove how exceptional it is. Don’t you think?

What Scotland thinks is its “rich heritage” and “distinct identity” was largely invented by Sir Walter Scott and given a recent infusion by Mel Gibson. Fake though so much of it is , it will have been just the stuff to raise the passions.

The reality is better, Scotland has done so much to enrich Britain and indeed the world. The Scottish Enlightenment gave us the thinking of Adam Smith, David Hume, James Watt and Robert Burns. Plus an army of capable and literate men that were the backbone of the Empire. It gave us Francis Hutcheson …

As nature has implanted in every man a desire of his own happiness, and many tender affections towards others. . . and granted to each one some understanding and active powers, with a natural impulse to exercise them for the purposes of these affections; ‘tis plain each one has a natural right to exert his power, according to his own judgement and inclination, for these purposes, in all such industry, labor, or amusements, as are not hurtful to others in their persons or goods.

That was written in 1728 fifteen years before Thomas Jefferson was born.

45% of Scots voted to leave the union. That is a sizeable minority. In the final analysis was it reason that ruled or was it passion? Western philosophy has a long tradition of holding up reason as the proper guide to our decision making. It is fitting that David Hume, the greatest Scottish philosopher had this to say …

Reason is, and ought to be, the slave of the passions.

It is a little odd that, when all around them are coalescing into the stifling globule that is the EU, the Scots should consider striking out on their own. It may have been that they would have been “dragged over the cliff by their First Lemming Salmond” as Delingpole quaintly put it but perhaps those canny Scots may instead have rediscovered the passion and reason that formerly did so much to make the modern world.