Independent Scotland? Views from the front line.
Having arrived yesterday at 1530 hrs Local Time and after negotiating the security system, which I have to admit is better when trying to get on-board a P and O ship than most airports we then found out that the sitting for dinner was 2045!
In effect in UK British Standard time that’s a quarter to one in the morning.
Our first instinct was to simply say ‘sod it’ but then common sense took over and we realised that all we had to do was pretend that having got up at 0430 it was only half past three so no problem and we went to dinner as scheduled.
and what a meal it was,
I’m not talking about the food, which by the way was excellent, but the company that was interesting to say the least.
The table of eight consisted of two Scottish couples, Bill and Irene who are from Arbroath and have been married for 47 years, John and Mary who are from a rural village North of Glasgow, more of which later, and a young couple from Southport, Mark and Renata.
Mark it turned out was the son of a scot, Liz declared that her mum was a scot which of course left me and Renata as the ‘foreigners’ at the table except Renata came from Cracow in Poland to work as a nurse in Liverpool 11 years ago.
Strange to be the only Englishman.
Should I have run up a Union Flag and claimed the table as English Territory?
What really got the conversation going was when Mark let slip that they are getting married on-board next Saturday which led to high fives, well drones and congratulations all round.
The Scots of course as I learned from my indomitable mother in law Agnes are the friendliest and welcoming people you could wish to meet!
What she really said was that we, that’s the Scots Like to meet people of only because we want to know your business.
Anyway, either way a certain level of unplanned celebration took place.
How we got around to discussing how and why Renata ended up in Southport is a bit hazy but three things she said stood out,
The first was that as a nurse she couldn’t get a job back in Poland and even if she had the average MONTHLY wage was £300, so she came because there wasn’t a job and she could earn over four times as much in the UK.
The second was that she thought our Welfare system was nonsense and justified it by saying that in Poland if you refuse three jobs in 6 months all of your benefits are stopped which means people either work or move abroad.
The third and in some way most interesting was that she believes if Poland paid the same wages as in the UK there would be a mad exodus of people heading for home.
As you can perhaps understand the question of whether we are short of nursing professionals came up, at which point it turns out that Mary works in a senior position in the Health Service in Scotland.
It was fascinating to hear her talking of recruiting not only nurses but health managers from Portugal because she couldn’t fill vacancies locally in Glasgow for the simple reason that no one applies.
It was at this point that Mark asked the ‘elephant in the room question’,
“How do you feel about the independence referendum”
Initial silence, a pause for breath, and then, and I don’t know why I was surprised a coherent explanation of why the Scottish people are apparently not showing a great deal of interest in it.
John opened the response by saying that the historical difficulty is that when the Union was first agreed it was by eight men who were looking after their own self-interest so the Scot’s had never really been given an opportunity to have a say.
So it isn’t a modern-day phenomena that politicians first priority is their own self-interest then?
To summarise the discussion as far as John was concerned,
There are 5.5 million Scots who could since the oil was in Scottish Waters be a self-sufficient independent nation and that all talk of the Scots being subsidised by the English is nonsense.
(Let’s not get into the fact that it is in UK waters and we have the Navy which I did mention and to which the response was “What Navy)
Just to digress and as those who regularly read this know I was in the RN and looking at how it has been decimated over the past three years even I’m not sure we could take on a determined and no doubt angry Scottish nation and especially their trawler fleet,
Good grief even with a ‘Real Navy’, we couldn’t beat Iceland during the cod wars and that was only about fish not oil.
So they are all for independence then?
When I said more about that later I was referring to the fact that John and Mary live in the area represented by the only Conservative MP in Scotland, and they know him.
What they find amazing is that David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland unless you have forgotten, has all but opted out of the whole debate, and they think the reason is this,
In simple terms if Scotland vote for independence it removes a huge number of Labour MPs from Westminster, (the PM is willing to sacrifice his only one there) which would make it easier for the Conservatives not only to get a majority in England but keep it forever.
An interesting observation from people who are directly affected by the referendum and has a logic that is difficult to argue against.
Why aren’t the Conservatives getting involved in a referendum that would break the Union?
We did hypothesise that David Cameron and Conservatives would in fact prefer it if the independence vote included everywhere North of Leeds and Manchester.
William Hague better watch his back!!!
So are they For or Against independence?
Which of course their response was,
“We are undecided because we don’t really know what the truth is because ALL politicians are scaremongering and simply not telling the truth”.
“They are in fact a bunch of crooks”,
and in those few words the whole issue was summed up.
They don’t know if they are going to vote simply because they don’t trust anyone involved to tell the truth.
The problem is that if someone suddenly started telling the truth, how would they know?
It is a problem of course that as I was the only English National at the table one for the Scottish people to decide but I nailed my colours firmly to the let’s KEEP the UNION VOTE NO mast.
The last thing I want to lose is the current arrangements where the Scots as one of the friendliest and gregarious people on the planet are seen by the English as just another Country across a man created border, and if they do go,
Will we, the English be demanding that anyone with a Scottish name and ancestry will have to either swear allegiance to Betty Two or be repatriated?
The philosophical question is,
“When if ever will borders be seen as meaningless and let people have freedom of movement and choice in the same way multinational industries operate across the world”?
It was well into the early hours when, and after a few toddies, we called it a night.
What will today bring?
With a bit of luck another slice of what people from the UK really think,
Perhaps they feel they can express their views when 4,000 miles from home, or it may just be the Scottish characteristic of
“I have an opinion and I’ll tell you what it is” that makes them so popular around the world.
Note to John and Rachel.
Mum says you are half Scots on her side and therefore entitled to,
- Wear a kilt
- Live in an independent Scotland.
Her preference would be for one of you to elect to live in the Scottish community in New Zealand.
So please decide which one is going and where by the time we get back.