Monday, 3 December 2012

Britain - more than the sum of its parts

On Friday I went to hear Jim Wallace speak.  He spoke of many things including how he believes Scottish devolution should be developed.  As part of this I thought he was particularly eloquent in his passage about why Scotland should remain part of the UK.  He not only made the case well but he touched the emotions of his audience - a mixed one of proud Scots and people from other parts of the British Isles.

There are many different ways into this argument; cultural, political and economic - but on the night Jim Wallace quoted this passage from the 2006 Steel Commission.

"The United Kingdom has been one of the great success stories of
the world. The Union between England and Scotland joined
together nations who had been warring with each other for
hundreds of years. It took a small island country on the fringe of
Europe to a position where its influence covered a quarter of the
globe. It established a formidable commercial, industrial and
financial position. It spawned new nations in all parts of the
globe. Its language has become the lingua franca of the world. It
developed ideas of liberty, democracy and the rule of law which
were widely emulated. Its people produced much of the
philosophy and many of the ideas which shaped the modern
world. The contribution of Scots in philosophy, in science and
engineering, in medicine, in administration and finance was
disproportionately high. For example, it was a Scot, William
Paterson, who was the principal driving force in the establishment
of the Bank of England (1694), before playing an influential role
in the establishment of the Bank of Scotland (1695). The Union
enabled Scotland to punch above its weight on the world stage,
and allowed Britain to be more than the sum of its parts."

As we debate our future it is important to understand who we are and what we have got here in Britain.  This is of course a historical argument but it captures something of what Britain is and of how Scotland works - extremely effectively - within that.

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