I must confess that I haven't been watching Nick Clegg's speech to the Scottish Lib Dem diehards. (After making it through eight whole minutes of his debate with Nigel Farage earlier this week, which was hosted by Nick bloody Ferrari of all people, I reckoned I'd probably suffered enough.) But I have been getting a flavour of what was said by following Caron Lindsay's Twitter feed. This bit caught my eye -
"Nick: my family is brimming with diverse heritage & that's just like we are across the UK. We need to show we can build on shared history."
Now on the face of it there's nothing new in that message - we're all too familiar with anti-independence politicians telling us that "I have an English granny, a Welsh uncle and a Scottish wife, and that's why it's ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL that Scotland continues to be ruled by a Tory government it didn't vote for". The difference here, of course, is that by definition Clegg can't be talking about "intra-UK" family ties - his mother is from the Netherlands, and his father has a part-Russian family history. So if we follow the traditional (and extraordinarily egotistical) logic that insists an individual's patchwork of multiple national identities simply must be reflected in the political union that they inhabit in order to prevent them from suffering the unspeakable trauma of feeling that they have "foreign" relatives, this presumably means that the country of which Clegg is Deputy Prime Minister should now dissolve itself into a unitary state that also includes the Netherlands and Russia. Such a country would have a total population of some 223 million, of whom 143 million would live in Russia, which means...well, it appears to mean that Vladimir Putin is our rightful President.
Still, on the plus side, at least our Tory masters in London would suddenly know what it's felt like all this time.
It's an oft-repeated statistic that roughly 50% of people in Scotland have relatives in England. I've no idea whether that's actually true, and I've also no idea whether it refers only to English relatives or sometimes to Scottish relatives who have moved to England because of the state of the Scottish economy under Westminster rule. But either way, it means that there at least 50% of us who don't have relatives in England. I'm one of them. I've visited England a number of times, due mainly to its geographical proximity and the fact that it provides the land route to the European continent. But I quite literally have no personal ties to the country whatever. Like so many others on my side of the "50/50" divide, I do however have family ties to countries outside the UK - in my case the US, Ireland and Canada. So what about us? Do our sensibilities not count? Or are we the only ones expected to be mature enough to recognise that something as uniquely personal as family background is not the most rational way of deciding how a country should be governed?
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