Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Happy birthday United Kingdom!

This day is the tercentenary of the union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland. The crowns had been united for over a century before from the crowing of James VI of Scotland as James I of England. I remain unconvinced that importing Stuart monarchs was "a good thing". The divine right of kings had to be denied and kings taught they had a joint in their necks. But I have more sympathy with uniting the countries. I think it has been mutually beneficial and a splendid diversity has been maintained ecclesiastically, educationally and legally.

However, with devolution and the restoration of a Scottish parliament, I am now critical of the Union because of new inequities. The Scots get all the fiscal breaks for which the English pay. (And do not tell me it's Scotland's oil financing this. Whose navy gives oil rigs security?) Scottish elderly people do not have to pay for residential care. The English and Welsh do. Scottish undergraduates pay no tuition fees, nor do E.U. students in Scotland, unless they come from England of Wales where fees are paid. Then there is the matter of M.P.s who represent Scottish constituencies voting on matters like health legislation for England. There people do not represent England and should have no part in out local legislature when their own parliament in which they do not sit is devolved.

I love Scotland. I am a whisky drinking Presbyterian with a Scottish forename. But I do not think Scotland can continue to have it both ways. Let us revert to an equitable Union or go our separate ways.

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