As I write this, we are in the throes of seeing what could be the end of the state of the United Kingdom as we know it – but didn’t the prospect seem to happen in a jot of an eye?
From being confident to the point of smugness, the Better Together campaign appears to have got itself into a terrible plight. Having to roll out Gordon Brown from the shadows to state that additional powers will be given to the Scots, led one to ask if he had been told of the General Election result of 2010?
You will probably know the heading for this Comment comes from a well known monologue by Shakespeare; in fact, Richard II when John of Gaunt declares: “This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars…This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.” But many a canny Scot will point out that Shakespeare refers to England, not Britain and why this Gaunt fellow doesn’t have the manners to include Scotland in the ‘scepter’d isle’? (Well, probably because he was born in Ghent and his name was changed to the English ‘Gaunt’.)
The one point to make with all this comes from what will happen if Scotland decides to vote for independence? We have seen a degree of fragmentation already in the National Health Service (NHS). But what about other aspects?
This week saw the launch of Get Britain Building and we carry a report in this section. This campaign to get cross-party support for a concerted and planned programme of house building in the country has to be recognised. However, we have the simple fact that governments of different political persuasions have a track record on this – a pretty poor one.
We know that the housing stock in the UK is in a poor state and not enough is being done to rectify this. Does another campaign really change matters? And if we see Scotland drifting off into the distance, should campaigns that include the tag ‘Britain’ be dumped?
The worst thing to do is a Corporal Jones and start panicking as when we wake up after referendum on 18 September, the sun will still be shining, Carol Kirkwood will be giving her lilting weather forecast on the British Broadcasting Corporation airwaves and we have been promised that the regal hand will wave on both sides of the border.
Some things will change but it would be a very foolish person to think that some seismic shift will occur. Business is still business and even enemies have been known to find a way round their enmities. (For example, it was reliably reported that Iran was supplied with extensive military equipment from Israel when the war with Iraq began in the 1980s.)
Despite the famous rivalry between England and Scotland, no matter what the outcome, business will carry on as usual, be it in whisky or windows.
Truth to tell, the only Gaunt expressions, will be on the losers’ faces next week. The only thing that is likely to put a spoke in that will be politicians thinking they really can help us change the world….or even a scepter’d isle.
Caption John of Gaunt was credited by Shakespeare of talking about ‘this scepter’d isle and business will carry on as usual, be they in whisky or windows.