THIS is a personal reflection on Scotland in the midst of political turmoil. The CEO of the ruling party arrested, the Treasurer arrested, and we await the arrest of the former First Minister. We Scots are used to national ignominy, but it still hurts. Even those of us who are unashamedly unionist are toe-curlingly embarrassed by the state of Scotland today.
Be patient with me. If I am a unionist, it is because I am a patriotic Scot and firmly believe that, as in the past so today, the union is of great benefit for Scotland and for the other nations of the UK. If I believe in the union, a significant part of that is because I want the best for my country.
Scotland’s are the cultures, Lowland, Highland and Border, which formed me. The literature, the stories and songs shaped how I understand the world. Even my Christian faith is shaped by a particularly Scottish theology. I was fortunate enough to go to school at a time when the history we were taught in primary school was Scottish history. Not just Wallace and Bruce, but Black Agnes of Dunbar and Catherine Douglas, the original ‘Katy bar the door’. Tarmacadam and penicillin, radar and the telephone; we knew what the people of a small country could achieve, and it inspired us.
But it was a balanced education. We were taught that for every Bannockburn we had a Flodden, for every Stirling Bridge there was a Dunbar Drove, for every John Paul Jones who created the US Navy there was a John Law who brought France to ruin. For every Wembley 1967 there was an Argentina 1978.
We are not alone in this: even the country I most admire had its appalling failures. Scotland had its Darien scheme, England its South Sea Bubble. But somehow we Scots embrace disaster as a familiar companion. If Scotland were to have a national game, other than the omnipresent football, it would be shooting ourselves in the foot. It is doubtful that Scotland ever won a battle when we were favourites. Sometimes our defeats are so embarrassing we don’t want to remember them. At Solway Moss in 1542 a Scottish force of 15,000 somehow contrived to be defeated by 3,000 English soldiers. King James V took to his bed and died of shame.
At present we feel a bit like James V; unfortunately we can’t pull the duvet over our head and pretend we don’t know what is going on. It is now apparent to the world what many of us who have lived under SNP dominance have been saying for years: Scotland is screwed.
Scottish devolution was supposed to kill off the SNP, and there was massive over-confidence about the prospects of home rule saving the Union. Devolution was beloved by Blair, and all Labour’s giants north of the border in the 1990s assured us that once Scotland had its own parliament within the Union, there would be no need for the SNP. Aye, right.
The adulation of Nicola Sturgeon was the Scottish political equivalent of the hysteria in England over the death of Princess Diana. Our First Minister was the brightest and best and we could trust her completely, or so the nationalists assured us. In this they were supported by a lapdog British media bedazzled by her ‘progressive’ credentials. It was mass political delirium, and quite predictably we are now suffering from the consequence: political delirium tremens.
Can anyone truly imagine that an administration led by serial failure Humza Yousaf and packed with luminaries such as Shirley-Anne Somerville, now Justice Secretary, will aid Scotland? As Education Secretary she had the gall to defend Scotland’s appalling education record, a record so humiliating that Scotland removed itself from the TIMSS and PIRLS international education assessment tables. Then there is Angus Robertson, Air Miles Angus, who is so addicted to travel freebies that as Constitution Secretary he left Scotland for a fortnight during the debacle of the census which was delayed by a year, had a lower completion rate than the rest of the UK and provided poor quality data.
Scotland has no hope under Continuity Humza: we do not need more of the same with tweaks. It is generally accepted, even within the SNP, that independence is not on the cards in the foreseeable future. We do not need the Scottish Greens who have abandoned the environment to concentrate on independence in government. They have minuscule public backing and their policies are so outrageous they have split from the UK Greens whom they describe as transphobic and homophobic. When you think the UK Greens are not woke enough, you have serious mental health problems.
We do not need to pick a legal fight with the UK over the insane Gender Recognition Reform proposals which, although supported by the majority of politicians are rejected by the majority of Scots. We do not need a Deposit Return Scheme which will destroy small businesses. We do not need a National Care Service which will send health budgets ‘spiralling out of control’. We do not need higher taxes which will force businesses and entrepreneurs to relocate to the south.
What do we need? We need a return to sanity, to the virtues which once enabled Scotland to punch above its weight. We need a return to a work ethic, a culture of enterprise, a sense of self-reliance, a rediscovery of deferred gratification, an understanding of the value of real education for the working world. All these Scotland once had and all have been deliberately destroyed over the last five or more decades.
We shall not regain these until we return to the culture which gave us them, and we shall not return to that culture until we return to the much-derided faith which shaped that culture. The recent success of Kate Forbes with the Scottish public, if not the SNP membership, shows how ordinary Scots respond to Christianity-based policies. Just as England needs a return to the culture which produced one of the most successful nations on earth to rescue it from its present drift and weakness, so Scotland if it wishes to move forward will have to return to its formative Christian roots.