So says daughter Olaf who has repudiated her father’s DNA and is now identifying wholly as Welsh. She is perplexed that I laugh at the Welsh and its certifiable political class, predict that Independence in the short term would be an economic disaster for Wales as well as Scotland yet support the cause, as a Welsh resident, most strongly. Our starting point here is that my daughter is a teenager, lives in Islington and is a bit of a lefty. As such, she, by definition, does not really believe in jokes and many of my comments about cottage burners are said in jest and, thus, she does not understand them.
I grew up in a household where, although my father’s links with Ireland were a couple of generations removed, we identified with “the old country” and thus when the Welsh or Scots put one over on “the old enemy” we naturally supported them. My natural inclination, in a rather patronising Anglo Irish way, is to have quite a bit of time for my celtic brethren.
I lived in Scotland for a while. It was a miserable part of my life, away from everyone I knew and in a job I hated working for a complete tosser. He had a Scottish name but was Welsh but I hold neither point against him. He had an English accent and was a tosser. What made that time of my life worse was that, even 30 years ago, there was a small but significant minority of the smelly socks who showed overt hostility, even hatred, for folks with an English accent. In the case of my boss that was justified but the rest of us? That hostility in Scotland has grown over the years and in Wales, there is an even smaller minority who behave in the same way.
There is no doubt that economically folks in Wales and Scotland are worse off than folks in England. That is not all of England. Averages are distorted by the extreme affluence of London and the South East. Parts of the grim North of England and the extreme South West are poorer than Wales and Scotland as a whole. But the difference is that only in Wales and Scotland do large numbers of folks blame the accursed English, or rather England itself, for the lower wages, higher unemployment and other signs of poverty.
Scotland and Wales have as Nations got into the grievance business. Most folks in both places are net takers from the State. In Scotland, 88% of the population receive more than they put in via tax. The political culture in both places is thus one associated with poverty and the idea that everything is someone else’s fault. In both countries, parties of the left dominate. The media, with its ludicrous subsidies for own language programmes nobody watches, falls into the same GroupThink.
However, in a vain attempt to preserve the Union, English politicians chuck more money to the Celts which is squandered. Feeding a dependency culture only grows that dependency culture. Think of bunging cash at a begging heroin addict or, if that is a bit too close to home for Scottish readers, reflect on the decades of experience of Quebec and its secessionist movement and ever increasing subsidies.
And that brings me to my schizophrenia. You just have to laugh at a nation where so many insist on blaming all their ills on folks in England, usually including a late great lady who has not been in power for almost 40 years but sometimes also a chap called Edward from the 1300s. Sorry Olaf, such appalling logic and pitiful culture of victimhood is what a writer should satirise. That more folks do not is probably because some mad cottage burner will inevitably report you to the Old Bill, as has happened to both Rod Liddle and myself. And the political pygmies in charge of both Scotland but, especially Wales, do need calling out as they are utterly low grade. One almost longs for the days of that old Badger fancier Ron Davies who when compared to Mark Drakeford seems to be of the stature of Lloyd George, that great son of Wales who was, in fact, born in England.
But having said all of that, and even though I am now a resident of Wales, I wholeheartedly support the idea of independence for both nations. The relationship has become like a very bad marriage where the husband (England) is the main bread winner but the wife (Wales or Scotland) just cannot accept that she is given enough cash to spend. Worse still, the wife cannot forgive the husband for sins, real or imagined, over many centuries and constantly snipes about this and complains. The husband ups the allowance to save him from a divorce court but that solves nothing. What all parties need is a clean break settlement.
Now I am in no doubt that the first years would be painful. If Scotland or its smaller Celtic cousin where I live think that the EU will bail it out, it is deluded. The EU already has the Greece of the South with its huge budget deficit and bloated state sector. Why does it want to take on the Greece of the North as well? When the divorced lady has lost her rich husband, suddenly she does not look like such a hot prospect on tinder.
I am in no doubt that for a while the parties of the left would dominate an independent Wales or Scotland, spending more and more, raising taxes, throttling the private sector and so pushing the smarter and more ambitious folks to head to England. The electorate would, for a while, buy the line that still it was the wicked English who were to blame. And so it was in Ireland after the declaration of the Free State in the 1920s. But in due course, the Irish realised that their future was in their hands and as a proud people with a traditional work ethic they got on with life and discovered that self-reliance is the way forward. It took almost sixty years but eventually a Celtic Tiger emerged.
I suspect Scotland and Wales would see the light much more rapidly and might reject the politics of dependency and envy and move forward as proud Independent nations where you are allowed to fly your national flag without some Guardian-reading prick accusing you of being an alt-right, xenophobic, far-right, knuckling dragging nationalist, as happens to folks flying the English flag in the land of the infidels, 30 yards away from me.
The Union might be destroyed but the member nations of the British Isles would be all the happier for it and more likely to get along in a spirit of friendship rather than resentment.
Pro tem the Union of Scotland and England and the older, forced, marriage of England and Wales are now dysfunctional relationships. Just as I might laugh at those English folk who bang on about the “Awesome Foursome”, oblivious to grim reality, I must laugh at Celts blaming the English for their self-inflicted wounds and all of their ills, and imagining that as an Independent nation everything would be better on day one. All such folks should be laughed at and their pitiful logic exposed.
So Olaf, I don’t think I am schizophrenic at all. Do you see where I am coming from? Cannot we just vandalise your mother’s Islington townhouse by scrawling “cofiwch dryweryn” in large red letters and accept that logic is on my side?