Scottish independence would help England focus on creating a fairer country rather than dreams of Empire – Kenny MacAskill

Reading an astute commentary by an Irish academic highlighted for me the benefits for England that would come through Scottish independence.

England should focus less on the past and more on present-day problems like inequality, says Kenny MacAskill (Picture: Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images)
England should focus less on the past and more on present-day problems like inequality, says Kenny MacAskill (Picture: Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images)

James Wickham, an emeritus professor at Trinity College, Dublin pointed out, in an article on Social Europe, how Britain’s “half-in, half-out” relationship with the EU had masked a growing divergence.

The Atlanticism of some and the Brexit delusions of others have seen the UK fail to capitalise on the opportunities afforded it with continental Europe. Instead, an aloofness, if not open disdain, persisted and either being a sidekick to a swaggering US or restoring the glories of Empire was to be pursued.

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But what that has created is a country far more unequal both regionally and economically than any in the EU27. The direction of travel under Boris Johnson will only worsen, not lessen, that.

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Yet that’s not England. There’s a country there to celebrate, cherish and enhance. One with natural beauty, great culture and wonderful people, enhanced by migration over centuries. Seeking to restore the mythical days of Empire – rather than ending the delusion of British exceptionalism – doesn’t enhance England but detracts from it and impoverishes, not empowers, their people.

The majority in England don’t vote Tory and the divide between rich and poor is accelerating under political leaders who persist in peddling past glories to retain power, rather than accepting modern realities and delivering a better society. Breaking that mythology’s essential.

England needs to come to terms with being England and abandon the fixation with the past. To achieve that probably requires some cataclysmic shock and if that’s Scottish independence, so be it. It’s certainly easier to endure and come to terms with than either revolution or defeat in war, which’s the usual precursor to acceptance that an empire is over.

The majority in England conflate England and Britain but see them differently. Ending the delusions of the latter would allow for a reassessment of the former.

Out with the glories of war and empire and in with respect for culture, rule of law and an open and welcoming land. Addressing inequality at home, not swaggering about abroad. Scottish independence can deliver that.

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