Brian Monteith: Hypocrisy leaves real bitter taste

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Sometimes the double standards of Scottish nationalists really do make me want to wretch. St George’s Day on Wednesday this week was one example.

Clearly, somewhere in the SNP campaign bunker, the command had gone out: be nice to the English. Social media was awash with Yessers tweeting good wishes to their English brothers and sisters – while saying they still want a divorce. SNP MPs led the charge, knowing what wonderful fellows those English are, they hoped they would have a lovely St George’s Day. How kind, how nice, how sweet.

Why, those nationalists, they’re all right you know, they do like the English after all.

It made me ask myself, was I living on a different planet when former chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Sir George Mathewson, complained of “snooty English” people “coming up and telling us how things are going to be”. Given that the majority of RBS customers in George’s time at the helm were (and remain) English, I’m sure he didn’t mind them paying his salary or funding his pensions scheme – even if they were snooty types.

He had been talking of course about the one George nationalists don’t want to offer good wishes to – even on St George’s Day – the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne. Well, snooty or not, that George has actually managed to haul the UK economy back into better shape – unemployment down, inflation down, public deficit down, economic growth up, new jobs up, new investment up, tax receipts up.

George Osborne had the temerity to come to Edinburgh, a city in a country that he is democratically elected to represent on the world stage and as a British citizen is welcome to walk the streets and say his piece like any other Brit. He explained an independent Scotland would not be able to have a formal currency union sharing the pound. We could still use it, like Panama uses the dollar, but the Bank of England would not be underwriting the bank that George Mathewson used to chair, or any other Scottish institutions. Within weeks Standard Life let it be known it would have to consider moving some of its business to England if that happened.

If any of this were to happen, what do you honestly think relations between Scotland and England would be like? Harmonious? All slapping each other’s back saying “After you Hamish”, “No, after you Georgie”?

Well, just in case people might be worried that wrenching our two nations apart from a union that was formed over 300 years ago and has taken deep roots in both nations, intermingling like clematis growing through wisteria, Alex Salmond decided to make a speech reassuring everyone that Scotland will be best buddies with England.

And where do you think he gave the speech? Why, in England of course. Apparently it is top form for a Scottish politician with absolutely no mandate to make a speech to an English audience about their futures – after the border between Carlisle and Gretna takes on a new importance. But an Englishman, snooty or otherwise to come to Scotland? Get on yer bike, haste ye back, are the cries we hear – and that’s putting it politely.

It is worth noting that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats who form the coalition government polled 878,326 votes in Scotland in the 2010 General Election, more than the SNP’s 491,386. That’s not all, in Edinburgh’s constituencies the coalition parties polled 107,226 votes compared with the SNP’s 27,700 – more than four times as much. The Conservatives alone polled 42,682.

So let’s get this straight, the Chancellor or the Prime Minister should have no qualms about coming to Scotland or in coming to Edinburgh.

I’ve no problem with Salmond speaking in Carlisle or anywhere else in the UK for that matter, I just resent the complete hypocrisy when we hear “English go home” if any sassenach who hasn’t sworn at the door of the Wallace Monument or prayed at the feet of Bruce’s statue in Stirling opens his mouth.

The point is that the only people souring relations between Scottish and English, driving a wedge between families, are nationalists who go about claiming that English MPs are a problem, that Westminster is a problem, that the City of London is a problem.

London is not a problem, it is an international success story we should be proud of as our international capital and doing our best to make it work for more of us. Westminster has been demonised and yet to other countries is seen as a vast improvement on their parliaments. It is not as if Holyrood is scandal free.

Scottish politicians cannot say what will happen in Scotland if we vote for independence – so how can they tell us what will happen in England and how the English will react? Spare me the sentimental tosh – we will be competitors for much of the time and the idea that after such a disagreeable divorce we will want to get back into bed is just laughable.

And if you think I’m being mean spirited, just wait until the World Cup starts and let’s see how nationalist politicians express their love for the English football team.

Aye, right.