2007 - 2020

End of the World: Not Many Affected

If you were looking at Thursday 19 May’s evening news on BBC Scotland, hoping to see details of the Cabinet changes, and blinked, you’d miss them. They came after a quarter-hour on the Killer Webster and just before the evening’s Footbollocks. I’m not being provocative – even if provocation: c’est moi (thank you Hootsmon colleagues) seems to be my by-line – but I reckon for two-thirds of the population two hours with Professor John Curtice on polling data would be preferable to the same time with the Old Firm.

So why is the I-word – supported pretty firmly by at least a third of the Scots electors – so deterrent to the bienpensant of the Scottish media scene? A prospect so awful that two alien life forms, Michael Portillo and Alistair Darling, were brought on to rubbish it on the ‘Portillo meets Salmond Hour’. Scotland was duly found too wee to sustain the risks of running two Big Bad Banks.

Now those of us who enquire after UK finance’s health have taken an interest in the City’s own sanitary squad, the FSA, and its attempt to clear up the mess. This business, slow and secretive, hasn’t exactly had the boys in blue trailing their way through HBoS on the Mound and RBS in St Andrew Square. In fact it’s quite obvious from the Financial Times that the deadly devilment happened in the City, in Wall Street, in the Caymans, in cyberspace, or anywhere else as attractive to Gillian Tett’s ‘tribal’ investment bankers as stagnant ponds are to malaria-bearing mosquitoes.

II

The City of London is one of several alternatives to the I-word. Let’s think of them:

Forsythian Unionists. Just when Auntie Annabel had persuaded the Scots Tories it was save to go out, or even come out …

Federalism, big idea of the LibDems, so likely to be as enthusiastically supported as the Alternative Vote, which appeared to gain majority support only in the close vicinity of the universities and the media: Oxbridge, Islington, Edinburgh Central. Embracing the doom of the pointy-heads.

The United Kingdom of London. In rude health, not just by feeding on us all. There are good technical reasons. Unlike the supposed central Scottish conurbation, devoted sixty-plus percent to motor-commuting, it runs on public transport, mainly electric, so its people will read/work on their way to work and it won’t have its throat cut by Peak Oil. But it (and us) isn’t weel-regarded by

Middle England – caught between cuts, petrol price hikes and falling house prices – which wants us to secede. So that the old bogey of an ‘all-UK referendum’ might end with our fearties singing ‘And sent them homewards to consider all aspects of the current situation …’ And indeed there’s something about campaigners for an English Parliament – see the ‘English Democrats’ – that’s disconcerting, compared with …

English regionalists’ from H G Wells on. Decentralism is a very decent idea, admirable as part of an Association of British States, like the Nordic Union, but isn’t that …

Confederal?

Something crafted by agreement between small, careful sovereign social democracies with few troops, co-operative and regional banking, good public health, gender equality, accessible local government, eco-hi-tech manufacturing?

Yes. Whoopidoo!

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