The scene. The office of the First Minister of the ancient and independent kingdom of Scotland. A knock on the door. ‘Prime Minister of England, Wales and Northern Ireland here to see you sir. I’ll send him in.’
Good morning First Minister, good of you to see me. May I introduce my friend George, he’s our Chancellor don’t you know. Lovely flight up this morning. I always think Scotland looks so pretty in the autumn.
Anyway I know you’re a busy man so I’ll come straight to the point. We’ve been having a bit of a think about what’s going on in the world today. All the doom and gloom with this economic upheaval, banking crisis, recession, terrorism and all that. It seems to us that the right way forward is to move closer together, pull together. Share resources, share risks, stand taller, that sort of thing. It’s terribly popular in Europe just now with this EU thing.
What with us sharing the same island and everything it seemed to me and George that a political union between our two great nations would be just the ticket to face up to the challenges of the 18th er, 21st century. We could call it the United Kingdom. Catchy what? And terribly appropriate as we already share the same monarch.
Now I can see from your face First Minister that you’re not immediately convinced so let me just outline the advantages for Scotland.
Firstly we combine parliaments. We’ll move it to London, free up a lot of space for you. There will be 650 members with Scotland being well represented with 59 of them. A lot of the chaps down south are already well disposed to Scotland. Loads of them come up in August for the bird slaughtering you know. I know a lot of them are partial to your whisky and I believe the royals are very keen on shortbread. More of a smooth pate and Chablis sort of a chap myself to be honest. As we outnumber you 10/1 there may be times when the government isn’t quite what you voted for but as I say we’re well disposed towards you so that shouldn’t be a problem.
George has got some super ideas on the money front for you. Basically the plan is we’d take over all the admin for you, save you having to collect all that corporation tax and oil revenues etc. And we’ve got this great wheeze called the Crown Commissioners. They collect all the taxes on developments around your coast, grant licenses for all these new fangled offshore devices you’re working on and send the profits straight to the Treasury . Saves you a lot of time and effort.
So we do all the work for you, collect the mullah and send you a grant every year. Of course we do have some expenses so you may not get back quite as much as we collect.
You don’t have to worry about economic policy. We’ll decide what taxes are imposed, what rates they are set at and how we incentivise individuals and industry.
Then there is foreign policy and defence. We’ll handle that for you as well. We’re pretty expert in this area. You’ve got all these bases up north in just the right place to meet any threat coming from that direction. We’ve got these great early warning planes we could put there and….what’s that George? How did that happen? The MOD did WHAT with them. Didn’t it occur to them to sell them to the Saudis or someone? Good grief.
O.K. Well we’ve got these great, really fast jet fighters we could station at Leuchars. Nice and close to St. Andrews. The fly boys enjoy a game of golf you know. What’s that George? Why are they moving them away down there? Kind of far away from the action isn’t it? I swear I just don’t understand what goes on at the MOD.
Anyway we’ve got the Royal Navy too. When we sent up a destroyer from Portsmouth it fair put the wind up that Russian aircraft carrier battle group you chaps had dumping rubbish in the Moray Firth recently. Or at least it would have done if they had still been there by the time the destroyer arrived.
But the piece de resistance is these Trident nuclear weapon subs we’ve got. Point these babies at any of the enemies you’ve got and your worries are over. Who are your enemies? Really? We’ve gots loads of them. Of course we’ll park the subs in the Clyde. Yes its 30 miles from your biggest city but hey, better than parking them on the Thames near somewhere important like London, right? Big employment opportunity for you. I was talking to Jackie Baillie the other day and she reckons it’s worth 11,000 jobs to you. What George, 850? Bit of a discrepancy isn’t it? Still jobs is jobs.
On the defence jobs subject we do build our aircraft carriers here you know. What First Minister? Well yes, we were going to cancel them but those clever chaps at BAE had so tied up the last government in contractual mumbo jumbo that it would have cost us more to cancel them than to build them. Still they’ll be great when they’re finished, even if they will have to float around for ten years before we have any aircraft to put on them.
Of course there are opportunities for soldiers too you know. I know you don’t have much experience in travelling the world, invading other people’s countries, slaughtering the natives, colonising, but we can show you how to do all that. We’ve got some great places. You should see New England this time of year. Come to think of it we could rename it New United Kingdom. What’s that George? Really? When did the ungrateful wretches do that?
Well there’s other opportunities. We’ve got this thing going on in Afghanistan at the moment. Lovely country, lots of sand, nice and warm in the summer, gets up to 50c. Well perhaps a little warm for soldiering now you mention it. Some of our private soldiers start on as much as £14,000 a year you know. What First Minister, that’s ten grand below your average wage. Well yes but look at the perks. Free accommodation, some of these tents are all mod cons you know. Free uniform, free weapon even free ammo and the grub is fantastic particularly if you are fond of bully beef and beans. Of course we are an equal opportunities employer. Just as happy to send your daughters to their deaths as your sons. Naturally should things go fatally wrong we will fly your remains home at our expense.
No we really would like to have you chaps. You’ve always been highly regarded abroad and we’re not forgetting how many times we have sent well trained, heavily armed and indeed huge invading armies up here only for a bunch of your ragged arsed, skirted, neanderthals to beat the bejesus out of us.
Then of course there are the international organisations. Take the UN for instance. Rather than have your own seat and your own voice it would be much better to join with us on the Security Council and lord it over the rest. Actually to be frank First Minister if you don’t join with us and give us somewhere to park the nukes we’ll probably get booted off.
And what about the EU eh? Sure on your own you have your own chair at the top table, double the MEPs you’d have within a union and a veto and control over stuff like fishing rights but join us and together we’d have more influence. Well yes we might use that influence for England’s needs and we might use your fishing rights as a negotiating chip to be traded but there are more of us of course and partnership is all about helping out your neighbours. What George. No I don’t think we’ll mention that those pesky back benchers of ours may force a referendum on leaving Europe or the fact that the polls show our reactionary, xenophobic, wogs begin at Calais electorate would vote us out.
There’s lots of other areas where I’m sure you could learn a thing or two from us. Like Social Security and benefits for example. You really need some modern ideas. You really are a bit of a soft touch. I mean there are loads of jobs people in wheelchairs can do. We’ve got an unelected House of Lords you know and sometimes they come up with some really radical ideas. Take Lord Bichard for example. Came up with a great idea the other day. He said and I quote ‘’if you are old and you are not contributing in, some way or another maybe there is some penalty attached to that.” What he is saying is surely it is right if you are getting a pension in your old age you should be doing some work to justify it. Some of these oldies are lazy gits who have only worked 50 years or so. Mind you the noble lord was being a little cheeky as he retired at 53 on a pension of £120,000. Still the principle is sound.
Then there is free higher education. Really First Minister you are missing a trick there. We charge them £9,000 a year and everybody is perfectly happy. Anyway do you really want the great unwashed being able to get above themselves? Who’d be left to join the army or empty the bins?
We could lend you our expertise in how to run privatised industries, like the railways, electricity generation, water and the NHS. Sure we have had the odd little problem like leaking more water than we use, screwing up the rail franchises, bankrupting NHS trusts with PFI debt but really the system is much better than anything you have.
Well what do you say First Minister? Don’t you agree we could be stronger together, taller together. Better Together, I like the sound of that.
What do you say First Minister? You could have a referendum and put it to the people. Well ok maybe you shouldn’t take a chance on that. How about it eh? What have you got to lose? Apart from your independence, your pride, your self respect, control over your economy, your foreign policy, your defence, your welfare system, your energy policy, your natural resources, your transport system and so on. Small beer First Minister. Go on you know you can’t resist, go on say Yes.