Matt’s View: The UK is better off together

PUBLISHED: 15:11 30 November 2013

Hitchin Xmas lights

Hitchin Xmas lights

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Earlier this week Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond revealed a blueprint for Scottish independence.

Earlier this week Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, revealed a blueprint for Scottish independence.

Scots will go to the polls next year to decide whether to break away from the rest of the United Kingdom, a move Mr Salmond and his Scottish National Party are very much in favour of.

The benefits of an independent Scotland listed in the document, which has the imaginative title Scotland’s Future, read like a directory of voter-friendly governmental policies: Free child care? Tick. Bedroom tax scrapped? Tick. Secure pensions? Tick. Increased minimum wage? Tick. They’re all there.

“This is the most comprehensive blueprint for an independent country ever published, not just for Scotland but for any prospective independent nation,” said Mr Salmond.

“But more than that, it is a mission statement and a prospectus for the kind of country we should be and which this government believes we can be.”

Unsurprisingly, those campaigning for a ‘no’ vote aren’t so convinced.

Former Chancellor Alistair Darling, who is leading the Better Together campaign against independence, said: “What currency would we use? Who will set our mortgage rates? How much would taxes have to go up? How will we pay pensions and benefits in future?

“It is a fantasy to say we can leave the UK but still keep all the benefits of UK membership. The white paper is a work of fiction.”

So what do you think? Personally I’m more of Mr Darling’s point of view than Mr Salmond’s. Scotland is a lovely part of the world, and I quite like having it as part of the UK. Plus, the Scots have given us a lot of cultural high-points over the years; the poetry of Robbie Burns, the music of Idlewild, the, er, string vest (and comic stylings) of Rab C Nesbitt.

And moreover I always find talk of independence to be a bit sad, be it from the UK, the European Union, or whatever. The idea that we’re better off as a bunch of small, separate, entities rather than a collective is completely counter-intuitive economically, and also worries me on a human level. The more you loosen the bond between nations, the more groundwork you lay for conflict in the future.

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Several people have remarked to me that my column from earlier in the month about getting rid of bonfire night made me seem like a miserable git.

Generally I don’t think I’m either miserable, or a git, but I did have another Grumpy Old Man moment last Friday when I discovered Hitchin was already switching on its Christmas lights.

Who remembers the date last Friday? That’s right, November 22. More than five weeks before the big day.

I like Christmas, but for me sparkly lights and decorated trees should not appear until December 1 at the earliest. I was relieved to note that we’re a bit more sensible here in Royston and the big switch-on isn’t happening until December 7!

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