Lining up challenge to rule by dictat

The SNP is keen to channel Bannockburn in its quest for separation – but Scottish history isn’t necessarily our history.

In 1530 Johnnie Armstrong went to hunt with the Scottish king, but he was betrayed and murdered in an act of treachery that defined my namesakes for a generation.

Black Johnny wouldn’t likely be considered a good man by modern standards, but the Reivers were men and women of their time; strong-willed, independent and loyal only to their family and community.

I believe that the best of the Reiver spirit is with us today in our communities, shining through in our love of the outdoors and community traditions unique to our corner of the world. These traditions and communities have allowed a unique identity to flourish in the region. It is that identity that sets us apart from the rest of Scotland – we never wore kilts, never spoke Gaelic and never bent the knee to a Scottish or English king who hadn’t earned our loyalty.

It is in that Border spirit that I could never bend the knee to King Salmond.

Too often Unionists make the case against separation an economic argument. It’s an argument worth having, but I believe an independent parliament would not represent the Borders’ best interests.

The Holyrood parties are statist in nature, wanting to control everything centrally, consolidating power in the hands of the few. Holyrood MSPs are all about banning, regulating and managing issues that should be determined locally.

Politically, Borderers tend to vote for the parties that are supposed to represent our instinct of having government remain out of our personal lives and homes. How often have Labour MPs, SNP MPs or their Scottish equivalents been elected by the Borders (not Midlothian)?

An independent Scotland would be dominated by these two big-government parties for a generation, with dictat after dictat.

The Labour Government banned fox-hunting and the SNP appointed bureaucrats who fill the region with wind farms, despite local objections. Whether they are right or wrong to do these things isn’t the issue – the issue is that these are parties that do not represent the views of the majority of Borderers. Regardless of that, these are local issues and should be decided locally.

I have no great love for Cameron or Clegg either, but they come from parties rooted in personal freedom, localism and rural affairs.

The Borders is an oddity in Scotland, truly unique. Most of Holyrood is made up of urban-dwellers who are concerned with the issues that such constituencies have, and while the SNP Government complains about the EU fishing policy, it’s nevertheless devoutly in favour of EU membership and, one day, joining the Euro. The same values that make Borderers lean to parties other than Labour and SNP are values that would not be extolled by an independent Scottish Parliament. Politically, it would be a legislature for urban Scotland, just as it always has been.

I’ll close on a cultural argument. Culturally, we would have as much in common with an Englishman who grew up three miles down the road from where I was raised than with a Glaswegian, Aberdonian or Dundonian. Culturally, what difference can an arbitrary line on a map make between those who live just north of Berwick to those who live just south of Eyemouth?

My guess would be less than the difference between those who hail from Jed to those from Hawick. To our ancestors that line on a map was merely that – a line.

Jamie Armstrong