Thursday, 10 April 2014

A foreigner on Princes Street or Piccadilly?

Mr Massie in serious mode
Alan Massie's suggestion in The Scotsman on 9th April that post-Independence Scotland will feel no different from the Republic of Ireland does not reassure me; in fact it reinforces my concern that the country I live in will be irreversibly damaged.

For Scots whose horizons stretch no further than the 1707 borders, Independence might bring a few superficial changes, a small price to free themselves from the imaginary impositions of the British state. For the rest of us, however, whose vision stretches beyond the Solway and the Tweed, Independence would diminish us.

As a dealer in rare books who divides his time between London and Edinburgh, I am one of many Scots whose life and work straddles the border. Among the many burdens imposed by Independence would be an additional bureaucracy, increased postage costs across the new border and at some point perhaps an extra currency.

As many others have pointed out, the financial argument for the Union is unassailable, but the emotional argument is even stronger. Whether or not I would have to show my passport on leaving Berwick, independence would make me a foreigner in a country I once called home. Which country that will be, I do not yet know; I wait for Alex Salmond’s pronouncement as to whether I should be considered an alien on Princes Street or Piccadilly. In the Union I can be equally Scottish and British – proud of all the historical strands that have created this nation. Scottish separatists would deny me my – and our – heritage.

So no, Alan Massie, I do not want to become an Irishman – a friendly neighbour who is welcome as a visitor to the UK. I want to be what I am already - a Brit who is at home wherever in the UK I find myself. If you want to limit yourself to Scotland, do so, but don’t deny the rest of us our right to be part of a Greater Britain.

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