James Snell looks into the Backbencher’s very own crystal ball to see what future awaits an independent Scotland.
Much as I supported the right of the Falkland Islanders to choose their own fates, regardless of what the Pope says. I also am strongly committed to the Scottish Referendum on independence in 2014. This is not merely a gentle assent to the principle, enshrined by the United Nations, of self determination; it is largely because of my own partisan position. For I really want the Scots to make a clean break with the Union, and leave us to deal with the problems caused by Kircaldy’s deficit-creating son.
And so, I almost regret my decision to share the following glimpse into the future of a free Scotland. But the truth will out, and it wouldn’t be in keeping with British fair play to allow them to make their decision without more information. So here it is: Scotland’s possible future.
The year is 2015,
The year is 2015, one year after the stunning success of the ‘Yes’ campaign created the world’s newest nation. The President of the new Republic, Alex Salmond, having reneged on his promise to keep the British Monarch as Head of State, sits like a well-contented walrus in the exquisitely furnished interior of the Presidential Palace in Holyrood.
But despite all of his comic smugness, the economy is in trouble: since nine in every ten Scottish people were net tax takers when they were still part of the UK, there needed to be serious changes to the way that the country balanced its books. A politically popular move was to tax the rich and the resulting 80% top rate of income tax was supplemented by greater tariffs on imports from south of the Border. This, motivated by a patriotic desire to sting the ‘English’, was met with retaliatory measures and a trade war commenced. Talent deserted Edinburgh en masse as those classed as ‘bankers’ were slapped with surcharges related to what the tabloid media gleefully called the ‘bastard tax’.
The Scottish were not able to get the automatic EU membership Salmond had so confidently predicted. Importing food from the continent at an unfavourable rate, an unfortunate necessity, caused prices to rise: creating discontentment among the people. The EU leadership did not want to take on another basket-case state, and even NAFTA (to whom Salmond had turned in desperation) were not interested. The new Prime Minister of Italy, Bepe Grillo, expressed sympathy; cordially inviting the new nation to join GRIP, the economic union of defaulted nations; using the contingency currency of the Denarius, minted with an image of the late Silvio Berlusconi giving the thumbs up.
The youth of Scotland were particularly aggrieved. Unwisely given the vote in the referendum, they had (as predicted by a scheming leadership) supported independence more vehemently than any other demographic. They were lulled into voting by promises of a post-Britain boom, which had failed to materialise. With youth unemployment surpassing the levels of a newly resurgent Spain (which had left the Euro and devalued) they felt betrayed by the man for whom they had so naively mortgaged their futures.
The bright future the SNP had optimistically predicted was on indefinite hiatus. The disaster came when tough environmental legislation prohibited fracking, while the North Sea gas reserves were being drained. Wind power was not efficient or reliable enough to cover the requirements of the country, and a hasty nationalisation of the energy sector led to nothing more than a ludicrous plan to set up vast fields of solar panels. Enthusiastically greeted by Tim Yeo, now CEO of Eco-Panel Ltd. this initiative ran up huge taxpayer bills and failed, rather obviously, as it was Scotland – not Miami.
The pace of other political change also adversely affected the nation’s power supply: with the Northern and Western Isles, fearing a lack of representation in the new government with its ‘tendency to centralise’; and a possible lack of local autonomy, sought independence of their own. This was a disaster for the new country as it now could not make use of the perfect conditions for wave and tidal energy which had recently begun in earnest on the Isles.
In the plush surroundings of his official residence, it was quite easy to lose touch, and although a dedicated team of spinners spent all day once a week précising poll results and number crunching for the boss, the President did not seem to know why he was so hated. In his delusion, he was still the man who delivered independence to a nation weary of Union, and his bold declarations about Scottish identity and ability to self-govern hid rather nicely his personal inability to do so for them. One day, however, it became too much for his Vice President: Nicola Sturgeon, who saw an unending sense of self-satisfaction in her leader, as well as a striking inability of the press to report this fact, due to the particularly draconian interpretation of Leveson which he had decide to enforce in March 2013. She saw all of this, and decided to do something about it…
Taking the first plane to London, she found herself in the office of the Prime Minister. David Cameron smiled; tight-lipped, as she explained her situation in an outpouring of bitterness and remorse. It was a doubly grim pleasure for him to hear of the downfall of his adversary. Firstly, he always suspected that the mob oratory of the SNP would not translate into effective governance. But, secondly, because listen was all he could do. Marooned in his office, he watched on mute monitors the frantic process of coalition talks between Ed Balls’ Labour Party and the Liberals under David Laws.
After she had gone, and he set to the task of writing his resignation speech, he thought back to the earlier conversation. While it did not mask the heart-rending loss of office, he had been proven right; and he did, he reflected, get a certain pleasure from that.