Yesterday’s Coalition government reshuffle was described as many things, but most consistently as a means of establishing the team that David Cameron feels can win the Tories next year’s General Election.
On that subject, for me, the jury is still out. It’s far easier to list the reasons as to why each of the three main parties will not gain power in 2015 than it is to predict which of them might form a government, either alone, or in partnership perhaps with either the Lib-Dems or UKIP (or possibly both?).
When you think about it, one way and another, our Scottish brethren are in for a pretty far-reaching twelve months, with Scotland conceivably voting to go independent from the UK and then at least one party (the Tories) apparently committing to holding a straightforward ‘in/out’ referendum on the EU within eighteen months of May 2015 if they win.
Let’s look at the Scottish independence issue first.
This is not because I’ve formed a considered view based upon my understanding of the various arguments for and against the proposition. The truth is that I’m not really bothered which way the vote goes.
However, what I’m really fed up to the back teeth with is having to listen to all the ‘chip on the shoulder’ pro-independence Scottish agitators and – under the heading ‘be careful what you wish for’ – would love their campaign to succeed, just so the rest of the UK could be shot of them … and indeed of Scotland.
Furthermore, the one condition I’d impose upon the result is that, if Scotland does vote for independence, under no circumstances would the rest of us subsequently have the buggers back … even if they knocked on the door, bent in submission upon their knees, with their tail between their legs and their begging bowl to the fore, apologising profusely for their stupidity.
The UK government has already wasted far too much time and money (illogically in my view) trying to bribe Scotland with cash and all sorts of concessions to pro-independence sensitivities.
Tell ‘em to put up or shut up, is what I’d do.
Furthermore, what is criminal in my view is the latest list of bags of sand thrown out of the balloon in an attempt to keep the UK intact.
Apparently, even if the Scots should vote to stay in the UK, they’ve been promised all sorts of further devolved power and rights (a form of ‘Devo-max?’). That’s crackers – for the rest of the UK, it’s tantamount to having surrendering your negotiating position even before you know what it is. It’s a Grade A hostage to fortune.
In addition, apparently, Scotland will also keep the anomaly that, whereas English MPs cannot vote on Scottish matters, Scottish MPS will retain the right to vote on English ones.
I’d tell the voters of Scotland that, if and when they vote for independence, they will instantly lose their representation at Westminster, together with all the accoutrements and expenses that go with it.
In short, if they go, good riddance to them.
Now turning to the EU referendum issue:
For, if the UK votes to leave the EU, it looks as though Scotland will be out on a limb … and probably in limbo as well.
The position of Alex Salmond and the SNP seems to be that an independent Scotland would either automatically remain an EU member and/or would be able to negotiate (on a ‘favoured nation’ basis) entry back into to the EU within eighteen months.
Not only have all the indicators from Brussels been that this position is rubbish, but at least two EU commissioners have specifically said so.
In addition, I very much doubt either of these options would apply in circumstances where the UK has just voted to depart the EU.
Rather, Scotland would have to join the back of the queue to join the EU as a brand new nation, along with all those former Soviet states, principalities and tin-pot dictatorships that have been begging to be taken in for decades.
As I said, an interesting twelve months in prospect for the United Kingdom, I feel.
I cannot wait!