- Created on Monday, 01 September 2014 15:08
- Written by Christine Beech
You know the one. He's the smaller brother that makes a lot of noise for his size, enjoys a lot of attention, and frequently whinges at the slightest perceived injustice. He's also brilliant, annoying, and a character who's a much-loved part of the family.
Yes, it's time for Scotland to decide whether he ( I always think of Scotland as being masculine for some reason) still wants to be part of the UK family, or whether to stand alone and proudly independent. With its ingenious people, fabulous scenery and oil wealth, it must be a tempting prospect for many Scots to vote 'yes' in the independence referendum on September 18th.
Loved, feared and respected over the centuries by its neighbours England, Wales and Ireland, Scotland has produced great warriors such as Robert Bruce and William Wallace, great inventors like John Logie Baird ( TV) , Graham Bell ( the telephone) and Alexander Fleming ( penicillin) to name but a few. When King James VI inherited the English throne in 1603 there began a Union of Crowns that was later made permanent by the Acts of Union betweeen England and Scotland in 1706 and 1707. Simon Schama described the union as 'what began as a hostile merger would end in a full partnership in the most powerful going concern in the world.'
We've fought battles over our borders, crowned and murdered each other's royals, married our sons and daughters to each other to keep hold of lands, titles and power. As a result the United Kingdom has been one of the great success stories of history- a small group of islands with just 60million inhabitants, but with a cultural and political influence completely at odds with its size and wealth. Despite loss of empire and economic power, Great Britain still has a voice on the world stage.
What of Scotland on its own? It already has its own Parliament with considerable powers, and is promised more. Scotland apparently wants to keep the Queen and the pound sterling- but how can it, if it is to be a truely independent nation? How will its share of government departments, national debt, and the NHS be split out from that of the rest of the UK? Every citizen will need a new passport, and the new authorities will need a new currency and new legislation for every single area of the national constitution- paperwork that will take years and billions to produce.
What of England on its own? Will Wales and Northern Ireland want to break away as well? What will we call our new country- the one we didn't vote for? The Former UK ( think about it!!)?
Only one thing is certain- if Scotland breaks away we will all be fractured, smaller, poorer and less influential. Like that annoying but much-loved younger sibling, life without him ( or her) would be simply unthinkable.
sibling- a brother or sister ( a word that is not used very often in English, except in official or formal contexts, we normally prefer just sister/brother)
to whinge- to complain or moan
ingenious- clever, skilled
influence-power resulting from position,wealth, ability
irreplaceable- cannot be replaced