I turned on the news the other day (which I don’t often) and instantly, had I lived in Scotland, would have been back considering a “yes” vote.
Yet Scotland was scarcely covered at all. What I saw was a main headline about the Prime Minister’s cunning plan to stop thousands of people being butchered and beheaded by, er, removing a few passports. At some stage. If it’s legal.
Here is a man – supposedly the Prime Minister of my country – whose concerns are utterly and bizarrely different from mine, and who is not even competent at addressing those concerns. That is not to say I am unconcerned about “Islamic State” and such like, but it is instantly obvious that it will take rather more to tackle these crazed merciless bigots than taking away the passports of the few who happen to originate in the UK. It is also instantly obvious that the Prime Minister is (or at least thinks he is) responding to a political challenge from UKIP, rather than to the real social challenge of a deeply segregated society which leads people in England to grow up full of destructive bigotry and resentment.
Of course, it has not occurred to the Prime Minister that the real issue – the segregation issue – is also the one which enabled the unleashing of a horrendous conflict in Northern Ireland within the past half-century. After all, David Cameron has no concept of Northern Ireland really. I would imagine, despite his heritage, that most Scots would take him to have no concept of Scotland either. It’s not just David Cameron either – would anyone seriously argue millionaire Ed Miliband is a true “man of the people”?!
Put simply, it looks like the leading politicians of my country have more interest in the theoretical consequences of the Clacton by-election than the practical consequences of the Scottish referendum. It’s bizarre.
That is the point. The news was not only not about Northern Ireland or Scotland, but it was utterly distant and frankly odd. Were I presented with a ballot paper asking if I wished to remain related to something so distant and odd, I would at least have to think about it. That is the scale of the challenge ahead, even if the Scots just about vote “no” as (still just about) expected.
It was the first time I had turned on the news for a while because the previous time had involved me looking on in disbelief as the main headline (despite all that is going on in the world) focused on Boris Johnson’s decision to stand for a Westminster seat. I just don’t care! The Boris-Dave thing is a bizarre soap opera of interest only to a narrow English elite. For those of us in Northern Ireland, no doubt Scotland, and probably frankly the north of England, it’s meaningless and irrelevant. Indeed, it’s almost foreign…