definition, taken from the Economist magazine and applied to those who seek Scottish self-determination, makes me a 'long-hauler'. I joined the SNP as a teenager on witnessing the desperate rush by the UK Government to get North Sea oil flowing in the 1970s regardless of the impact on our local economy, while government revenue from it was diverted into a newly invented off-shore UK tax region. Before the Scottish Parliament was re-established, Westminster again 'waived the rules' by changing the national boundary in the North Sea, moving as much as possible of it into English waters.
Perhaps it is inevitable that Perfidious Albion will always operate in what is perceived as England's best interests given that nation is by far the largest member of the multi-national UK state. This has left Westminster governments poorly equipped in dealing with the true partnership of equals that the EU has shown itself to be. Post-empire, Britain simply couldn't compete with the reformed economies of Germany and Japan, nor with the diversity-inducing federal governance structure of the USA, so we instead became by far the biggest tax haven in the world, along with a number of former colonial satellites.
The richest of ironies as we near Theresa May's Brexit cliff edge is seeing Dublin harvesting financial services jobs from a City of London bogged down in her self-made quagmire. When the Irish Free State was formed almost 100 years ago, 'free' referred to freedom from abuse by imperial Britain, not any intended form of tax avoidance. Despite efforts to paper over this massive fissure in the imperial facade with residency and voting rights retained for Irish citizens, the UK's approach was very much that the Irish had become one of 'them' rather than one of 'us'.
Ireland was required to stay in the British Commonwealth but remained neutral in the second world war and thereafter promptly sloughed off this last colonial imposition and became a fully independent republic. Governance structures in the UK remain feudal in essence, and English society reflects this with a rigid class system. Some new members are grudgingly admitted to the upper-class fold, but without aristocratic ancestry or a Norman bloodline, they will always be regarded as second-raters. This is the society that Margaret Thatcher sought to reinforce – an antiquated elite supported by state-educated technocrats.
Entrenched elites inevitably engender inertia, and people who are accustomed to simply imposing their will by diktat make poor negotiators. Britain built a huge empire by imposition of divide and rule, supported with enthusiasm by regiments of Scots soldiers along with shoals of technical and administrative professionals. Some could not thole it, though, and went off to what became among the most successful democracies in the world, such as Canada and New Zealand. The changes imposed by the Allies on the forceably reconstructed second world war Axis powers, to provide future stability, were never applied to the UK itself.
If the UK does go over the cliff edge then it will be every nation for itself, and, as currently constituted, England could go down the road of its xenophobes and racists. Divide and misrule will come home to roost, and England may well find it has few, if any, friends left and no-one willing to listen anymore. Hell mend them.
If you would like to contribute to the Cafe, please email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org