I have followed the independence referendum debate with interest, but am disappointed at the part played by the Better Together campaign.
The passion seems to be all on the Yes side, while Better Together appears entrenched in the hoary old arguments about boundaries, currency and what we cannot do.
The other week I had occasion to visit Cumbria and travelled down the A7, the so-called trunk road. The three towns on my journey – Selkirk, Hawick and Langholm – are a fine example of how the phrase “better together” has a hollow ring to it.
Selkirk’s Market Place can be a nightmare if two heavy trucks meet on any of the right-angled corners and likewise the centre of Hawick. Langholm? Oh dear– traffic lights at inadequate bridges in and out of the town, and a central jousting point with oncoming traffic.
When I got to my turn-off point on the M6 to get to the well-known metropolis of Grange Over Sands, I found dual carriageway and well-kept road almost all the way there. If we are better together – and presumably this means we have been up untill now – why have we got the rubbish roads that are positively archaic and dangerous?
A statistic from The Motorway Archive tells me that there are 53,000km of UK motorway and that we up here contribute a whole 380km to that total. Better together? – I think not.
We have three politicos joining up in an unholy coalition to tell us we cannot use the pound – George Osborne, an ex-Etonian with a degree in modern history and some experience folding towels in Selfridges; Danny Alexander, who read philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford and whose party has just lost its deposit in a by-election; and Ed Balls, who studied the same subjects as Danny, but whose party is now in opposition and very much divided.
Also, why would we listen to the man chosen to lead the Better Togther campaign, Alistair Darling? Here is someone who has a safe parliamentary seat with a Commons salary of £66,000, and who also earned £33,150 last year for making three speeches. The chances of this man making a reasoned statement on Scotland’s future is extremely problematical, to put it mildly. Turkeys are not known to vote for Christmas.
We are now being told that the oil will run out – I think a former Chancellor, Denis Healey, told us that lie on a previous occasion. If the oil does run out, will that not affect the Westminster coffers just as much as it would us?
If we remain bound to England, we would still be worse off.
Among other benefits, we still have the wind and tide – we already export a fair bit of electricity to the south and here I will throw in a cheerful statistic.
Scottish renewable electricity made up 39.9 per cent of the UK’s renewable energy generation in 2011. Scotland continues to be a net exporter of electricity, exporting more than 26 per cent of generation in 2011 – up from 21 per cent in 2010.