As the Scottish independence referendum circus enters its final couple of weeks, it is blindingly obvious that, whichever side noses ahead on September 18th, the Union is emotionally and spiritually dead already: the debate devolved early into bitter wrangling over whether independence would leave people 8p a week better off or 3p a week worse off, with people egging each other in the street over the question of a few pounds a year, and the No campaign has had to beg all English unionists, from the PM downwards, to stay away, in the knowledge that the mere sound of an English voice in Scotland would send thousands of wavering voters into the Yes camp. Salmond would win by a landslide if even half the people who really favour independence, but are voting for the status quo through fear of the economic consequences, could be moved from the No to the Yes camp.
Eyeing these frankly repulsive manœuvres from safely south of Berwick, we feel furtively yet increasingly drawn to these words of that great English hero and proto-Whig Oliver Cromwell, that scourge of those first Tartan Tories, the bloody House of Stuart, from April 1653:
“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.
“Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?
“Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.
“In the name of God, go!” Read more