Queen’s fears raise stakes in the Scottish game

Manoeuvres over the future of Scotland grow ever more complicated. Who leaked the story to the Sunday Times that the Queen is worrIed about the breakup of her Kingdom? (I’m referring to Scotland of course). The Prime Minister’s weekly audience is supposed to as secret as the confessional and you can bet it wasn’t her that leaked. While such leaks are almost as rare as hens’ teeth, I remember that the last one, in 1986, turned out to be completely gen. The Queen’s press secretary the late Michael Shea off his own bat leaked that the Queen was unhappy about the threatened breakup of the Commonwealth over Mrs Thatcher’s  opposition to sanctions against apartheid South Africa.

Any suggestion that the Queen is taking an anti-Salmond line could damage the First Minister’s soothing strategy of supporting the retention of the monarchy in an independent Scotland.

Alex Salmond is not so respectful of the new UK Supreme Court however.  Entirely apart from the devolution settlement, the UK Supreme Court  at Westminster  hears appeals in Scottish civil though not criminal cases,  but may hear human rights appeals that affect criminal cases. Salmond opposes this and appears to want to end appeals to the Court altogether. The Court is also an adjudicator in constitutional disputes between the UK and Holyrood (and the other two devolved) governments.   As the Herald reports:

The SNP has long argued for a self-contained legal system as part of an independent Scotland, and resents the Supreme Court’s as-yet untested power to strike down Acts of the Scottish Parliament, while Westminster Acts are off-limits.

But on the big issue of independence and the economy one of Salmond’s own economic advisers, John Kay of the LSE comes down comprehensively against separation, in a special article for Scotland on Sunday.

The reality is that Scotland would gain little by full independence. In the modern world, economic sovereignty for small nations is inescapably limited, and political sovereignty is largely symbolic.

There is very little possible autonomy for Scotland which is not potentially available to it as part of the United Kingdom…

An independent Scottish government would also have to be careful about raising income tax. ” People would just move south,” he says. And while Scotland would lay claim to the substantial reserves of oil still in the North Sea, Kay says it is not clear “that Scotland would be better off with oil, not subsidies”.

Kay says another question should be added to any independence referendum ballot paper.

The next step is likely to involve adding a compromise option to the ballot paper: greater fiscal autonomy, short of independence.

That is the likely outcome; faced with three options, many people choose the middle one. It is also the desirable one. Scotland can get many of the advantages claimed for independence if it negotiates for more autonomy, while still staying part of the Union.

But why leave the question and the political initiative to an SNP referendum in three or four years’ time, when taxation powers lie at the heart of the Scotland Bill before the Commons right now?  Failure to resolve the issue to Scotland’s satisfaction before the mooted referendum  gifts Salmond a major grievance and  could boost the case  for independence.  Might he therefore reject any offer from Westminster however much enhanced to create such a scenario?  In the game of political chess over the future of Scotland, the Westminster  government needs to concentrate as hard as Alex Salmond. So far there’s no sign they’ve begun to do so.

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  • Firstly, let me say that whoever leaked this, whether a member of the Royal Staff or a member of the Government, should be dismissed.

    That said, I dont think the information is as damaging to the prospects of preserving the Union as some Newspaper reporters would like to think. Why wouldn’t the Queen be worried about the possible breakup of the United Kingdom?

    The irony is that the person most likely to be annoyed about the leak is Alex Salmond. His strategy, hitherto, has been to keep the Monarchy out of his party’s Independence drive by continuing to insist that Scotland would retain the Queen as their head of State. In truth, independence is a stepping stone to a Scottish Republic.

    If Scottish independence does become a real likelihood, you will find that the future of the monarchy in Scotland will inevitably come into the debate.

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Seymour Major,

    “Why wouldn’t the Queen be worried about the possible breakup of the United Kingdom?”

    What is damaging about the Times story is the suggestion she is worried about losing out financially on ‘her’ land.

  • Sammy,

    That is utterly ridiculous. It is very safe to assume that money has nothing to do with why Her Majesty would be worried about the possible break up of the United Kingdom.

    I am sorry to note that you have been black-carded, all the same.

  • otto

    This has to be made up. How would the Sunday times have any idea but this and why should the Queen even care. She’s the Queen of separate “kingdoms” in Australia, New Zealand, Canada etc. She’s the Duke of Normandy or something in the Channel Islands. Separating her Scottish & English kingdoms would make no practical difference at all.

    How come Sammy’s chatting away and he’s black carded? Is it a thread thing? IP specific? The notes in the comments and moderation policy aren’t all that explanatory.

  • joeCanuck

    Sammy has had many warnings recently that he was headed for the pit. He overstepped some mark obviously.

  • Dewi

    Strange stuff – I wonder how much influence the (purported) words of Quennie will have?. (Black card for Sammy on this thread? Why?)

  • joeCanuck

    Yes, Dewi, it does seem strange. Brian says that it is impossible that the “leak” came from the Queen but is that truly impossible. I imagine it would be of great concern to her if the Union broke during her realm.

  • I wouldn’t be surprised if the leak did come from the queens office. I would think that she would be bound to be concerned at the risk of the union breaking up. Her age might well make such concern worse. I seem to recall that it became common knowledge that she and Mrs Thatcher were not exactly the best of friends…

    It appears Sammy got stung by the wasps that are hovering over my comment. I hate wasps, nasty stinging little things not a bit like bees.

  • Drumlins Rock

    would love to discuss this, but the article is behind a paywall so can’t judge the content. However I have read elsewhere Salmond wants to get his hands on the “Crown Estates” which for practical purposes is mainly the coastal land ie. anything below mean high tide level. HM still has some say in the administrations so I presume would want to discus it, so maybe thats all this is.

  • “Separating her Scottish & English kingdoms would make no practical difference at all”

    Independence for Scotland, as proposed by the SNP, would take us back to the position between 1603, when James VI of Scotland ascended to the throne of England and 1707 (the second Act of Union being that passed by the Scottish Parliament). Another proposal for independence would be that certain British institutions, such as the Armed forces and the BBC would remain shared.

    But if you believe that scenario makes no difference to the Monarchy or there is no reason for the Queen to be concerned about it, you would be very wrong.

  • Obelisk

    It’d be interesting to see how two independant nations could share a military.

    London wants to intervene militarily somewhere…Edinburgh says no.

    Edinburgh (and this is just throwing a situation out there as an example) wants to beef up anti-piracy actions off the horn of Africa, London says resources are needed elsewhere.

    Or by shared do you mean that regiments could be still raised and based in Scotland, with leases on bases paid to the Scottish government? Sounds more resonable until the English government does something the Scottish government viciously disagrees with (Iraq) and questions start being asked as to why they are helping support this military-industrial complex. Leases would have to be under very long term, legally water tight cases.

    And how would a shared BBC work? More specifically how would the License fee work? Would a certain percentage of the BBC’s budget have to go on Scots programming? It could so easily become a political football with Scots politicians regularly railing about the iniquitous BBC, like they do now but with added edge.

    I think this shared institution idea sounds nice in theory until you actually start thinking about all the problems that could flow from them, the ‘sharing’ not just a positive international endeavour but also introducing some real tensions into these institutions.

    Maybe as it was put the last time a part of the United Kingdom wanted to break away, that there is no resting place between complete union and total separation.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “The reality is that Scotland would gain little by full independence. In the modern world, economic sovereignty for small nations is inescapably limited, and political sovereignty is largely symbolic.”

    He means to say that who decides whether the Scots join the EU, NATO, the UN, etc., is largely symbolic? And did I mention war? Hard for the Scots to be neutral (if that is their desire) when Westminster says otherwise. Ditto whether the Scots have or don’t have things like extradition treaties with other nations. And so this statement is a complete and utter fail as well:

    There is very little possible autonomy for Scotland which is not potentially available to it as part of the United Kingdom.

    I found the comments to the piece much more interesting. For example, note the comments about SE England being favored over the rest of the UK. And so we find, in relation to that pot o’ gold or fool’s gold report that says that you shouldn’t lower your corp tax rate:

    “The Labour government rejected a plan to cut corporation tax after the 2007 Varney Review found it would lead to Northern Ireland losing £300m of subsidies and would displace companies from other parts of the UK.”

    Note the part after the “and”. Why should you care about that? You wouldn’t if you were independent. The displaced companies would be moving from SE England to where you are. The folks commenting on the Scotland piece to the effect that the entire UK is run for the benefit is SE England aren’t lying. And the author of the Scotland piece never began to address that matter. He might have started with this:

    http://www.freelanceadvisor.co.uk/news/money-monday-uk-government-invests-big-in-east-london-tech-scene/

    See the part about visas? So London decides to invest in London and to allow some others with the money and the know how to move on in and help ramp up and run the show. Scotland and you don’t have much in say that, since you don’t run your own show and your populations are so small, relatively speaking, that your vote doesn’t mean so much. So I don’t how our man can say that there is no economic advantage when Scotland doesn’t have the unilateral right to have an “entrepreneur visa” program and it would it were independent. By the way, that part after the “and”, the displacement, is why there has to be negotiations over the lower corp tax rate, as SE England doesn’t exactly want some to be “displaced” to Edinburgh. And so I don’t leave one critical item out, the matter of national defense isn’t subject to Barnett. Recall the US interstate highway system. A matter of national defense. So the SE England crew can otherwise game the system by calling the business friendly infrastructure investment a matter of national defense. Our man might want to check up on that.

  • Let me get this straight: I should be worried about the Union breaking/continuing because of a strange leak and/or two old queens who share a love of gee-gees?

    Or should I plough through yesterday’s Observer, and find a very useful and balanced article by Severin Carrell on the economics of what the SNP are up to? Even though “horse”, “racing” and “queen” appear nowhere therein?

  • Brian Walker

    Easy Malcolm. The Queen story whether true or not is interesting because somebody decided to elevate the theme – assuming the Sun Times didn’t just make it up.
    Thanks for the Carell link. I missed the story.

  • otto

    I suppose one difference Seymour is that the Scots wouldn’t accept ex-colonial status with an English Queen sending them a Governor.

    Alex did say he’d be happy if the Scottish people wanted to keep Elizabeth Queen of Scots.

    You’re a lawyer Seymour. Would she need to commute to sign bills or does the transfer of the Great Seal do the job for her?

    My yellow card’s gone and I just have a scary black one now.

  • Otto,

    I dont think the mechanics of delegating the Queen’s work, including granting the Royal Assent to legislation in two states, would be too much of a problem. There would have to be some re-organisation. My guess is that the Queen would not wish to see a person appointed with the title “Governor.” The reason is that I think the Queen would wish to preserve some sort of equality of ownership of the Monarchy between the Scots and the rest of the UK for as long as possible. Some new office (Lower than the rank of Governer but containing some of her formal powers) would be created to represent the Queen in Scotland to take the load off some of her work.

    In my view, independence threatens the monarchy in ways that have little to do with the running of the two “ships of state.” The problem lies in the way British people see themselves post Scotish Independence. In my opinion, that does have implications for the future of the monarchy.

    The monarchy is, first and formost, a British institution. It has been for 300 years. With independence, the British identity would undoubtly start to decline. How would people, including people in England, feel about the union jack after Scotland became independent.

    I dont have a crystal ball. I dont know what would happen but I do believe that Independence would have implications for British culture and the monarchy, the magnitude of which is very uncertain and difficult to predict.

  • Seymour Major @ 4:49 pm:

    Were the Scottish people, somehow and however unlikely, to vote for “independence”, would that mean much more than renegotiating the 1707 Act of Union? Since there was a unions of the crowns for the century before that, precedents exist. Even so, only with George III did a “British” king emerge: Queen Anne, for example, was no lover of the Scots, “a strange people”.

    Somehow one cannot envisage Salmond (or, more likely, his successors) contemplating a return to the Thrie Estaitis: most likely the SNP (and Scottish Labour, when they get themselves to rights and lefts and truly Pàrtaidh Làbarach na h-Alba) would want a reversion to the 16th-century unicameral Parliament. As I recall from reading, because pre-James VI monarchs had a habit of being underage or absent, the office of Lord High Commissioner and the Lords of the Articles (in effect a cabinet or privy council) did the business.

    Large parts of the 1707 Acts could remain: notably the combined monarchy and succession. Beyond that, unscrambling three hundred years of entanglements would mean complex negotiation on state finance, debt, infra-structure, and a whole stretch of combined responsibilities. One can see why lawyers (Sturgeon, MacAskill, Ewing), accountants and bankers (Salmond) have a gleam in their eyes.

    Now, if the clauses on patriality could be satisfactorily negotiated, the environs of Earls Court might be reclaimed for Londoners.

    All that sorted, we can then revisit the Statute of Rhuddlan (Dewi to advise).

  • JohnM

    otto, a black card is less severe than a yellow card (I assume Mick is following the GAA on this one).

    Wait, why on earth do I have one?! I hardly ever comment here!

  • Dewi

    Nice link Malcolm:

    “Total public sector spending in Scotland was £56bn in 2009. The Scottish government’s official figures, in a document called Government Expenditure Revenue Scotland (known as “Gers”) show that including a full share of North Sea revenues would have given Scotland a modest £1.3bn surplus last year, thanks to the record global oil price, but a £10.5bn deficit without it. That small surplus is just 0.9% of Scotland’s GDP.”

    Surplus eh,,,,,cf UK defecit of £80bn.

  • Dewi @ 12:03 am:

    As the old joke has it, re: the Braille edition of Playboy: “I’m sorry, I’ll feel that again”.

    So, with added emphasis for the outstanding bits: The Scottish government’s official figures … including a full share of North Sea revenues ….

    Peak Oil, anyone? Especially in the North Sea, where Gids Osborne’s stealth-taxing has really put the mockers on. Even Shell’s assertion that world oil lasts another 20-odd years is a guesstimate based on exploiting iffy alternative sources, including the extraction from oil-shale in places like stockbroker-belt Surrey.

    Furthermore, note that Chris Huhne took time off from other matters, just this week, to develop an Oil Shock Response Plan. One scenario is the steps that would need to be taken now to protect the UK economy “if we knew that the oil price would soar to $250 in 2014”.

    All of which might imply that a monarch and her loyal Scottish First Minister should have a mind to issues other than whether shale-oil extraction could affect the going for the 3:15 at Epsom.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “Even Shell’s assertion that world oil lasts another 20-odd years is a guesstimate…”

    You’ve a cite for that claimed assertion? Saudi Aramco:

    “We are looking at more than four and a half trillion barrels of potentially recoverable oil. That number translates into 140 years of oil at current rates of consumption, or to put it anther way, the world has only consumed about 18 percent of its conventional oil potential. That fact alone should discredit the argument that peak oil is imminent and put our minds at ease concerning future petrol supplies.”–“The Impact of Upstream Technological Advances on Future Oil Supply” – Mr. Abdallah S. Jum’ah, President & Chief Executive Officer, Saudi Aramco, address to OPEC, Vienna, Austria, Sept. 13, 2006.

    And have you considered that the estimate that the peak oil loons have always used is “proven” reserves? Are you aware of the estimates of unproven reserves?

    Stop listening to folks like this:

    Dr Oliver Inderwildi, Head of the Low Carbon Mobility centre at the Smith School…

    There wouldn’t be any institutional bias would there, what with him head of the low carbon mobility center?

    For more institutional bias:

    Nick Owen, from the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, added: ‘Significant oil supply challenges will be compounded in the near future by rising demand and strengthening environmental policy. Mitigating the oil crunch without using lower grade resources such as tar sands is the key to maintaining energy stability and a low carbon future.’

    So, we’ve enough oil, he just wants a “low carbon future”. If you see the lad, can you tell him for me that if he offs himself, there will be one less carbon based life form and so presumably we’ll be that much closer to a low carbon future.

    Next, even the loons here at home spread their lunacy:

    In 1979 Energy Secretary Schlesinger proclaimed, “The energy future is bleak and is likely to grow bleaker in the decade ahead.” The Global 2000 Report to President Carter, issued in 1980, predicted that the price of oil would rise by 50 percent, reaching $100 per barrel by 2000.

    Oil was in the mid-30s before the last run up to over 100 a barrel, and that was past 2000.

    Even Rome has its lunatics:

    During the 1970s, the Club of Rome report The Limits to Growth projected that, assuming consumption remained flat, all known oil reserves would be entirely consumed in just 31 years. With exponential growth in consumption, it added, all the known oil reserves would be consumed in 20 years.

    Does the phrase, false prophets of doom, mean anything to you? And can I call you one of the Malthusians among us:

    When it comes to energy, Malthus lives on with those who believe in peak oil. Peak oil is the idea that humans have reached the point of maximum oil production, and that proven reserves will be depleted. Despite these claims by peak oil alarmists, world proven reserves have doubled since 1980.

    Some peak oilers point to the U.S. and note that U.S. proved oil reserves are down slightly from their 1980 levels. This is true. It’s also true that in 1980 the U.S. had oil reserves of 29.81 billion barrels. From 1980 through 2009, we produced 75.36 billion barrels of oil. In other words, we produced 250% of our proved reserves over the last 30 years. [my note, that’s the problem of claiming that proven reserve means a thing, it doesn’t, since we produced 250% more than our proven reserve and there’s still oil being extracted].

    In light of the conflicts in the Middle East, I am sure we will see the resurgence of peak oil claims that are artfully designed to encourage the taxpayer into thinking we need to further subsidize renewable energy. In order to combat the emotional pleas of Malthusians, here are a few fun facts from Reason and a great video from Learn Liberty that explains how resources are conserved and preserved:

    In 1855 there was an advertisement for Kier’s Rock Oil, a patent medicine whose key ingredient was petroleum bubbling up from salt wells near Pittsburgh, urged customers to buy soon before “this wonderful product is depleted from Nature’s laboratory.”

    In 1943 the Standard Oil geologist Wallace Pratt calculated that the world would ultimately produce 600 billion barrels of oil. In fact, more than 1 trillion barrels of oil had been pumped by 2006.

    Any guesses on how much oil we will have in 20 years? I’m guessing 2 trillion barrels.

    Here is the vid:

    http://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/2011/03/08/malthus-lives-on-with-peak-oil-alarmists/

    Here’s the problem with “proven reserves” and note the words after the “be”:

    Proved reserves are those quantities of petroleum which, by analysis of geological and engineering data, can be estimated with reasonable certainty to be commercially recoverable, from a given date forward, from known reservoirs and under current economic conditions, operating methods, and government regulations.

    All of that after the “be” can and so has changed over time. As the vid makes plan with the map of the world thing showing just when certain extraction started owing to the time being right given the technology and the market price for oil.

    Relatedly:

    “For instance, the government ban on developing oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge prevents those oil reserves from being counted as “proven.” The oil producers know the oil is there. They know they can drill for it and pump it. But because the government says they can’t, it’s not “proven.””

    Why not “proven”? Back to our prior definition, because the oil is not “commercially recoverable” owing to the ban on drilling.

  • slappymcgroundout @ 4:49 am:

    Start with Shell chief executive Jeroen van der Veer, in 2008, before the present crisis:

    “Energy demand will double between now and 2050,” he told his 200-strong audience of Shell executives, think-tankers, academics and journalists. Between now and 2050, world population is set to grow from six to nine billion people, who will all want access to transport and electricity. This means the era of easy oil and gas is over, according to van der Veer. “We have only seen the beginning” of carbon dioxide emissions problems, he said.

    For the last three years (see Energy scenarios to 2050, Shell’s own report) the company has finally come to terms with the notion of depletion. The only difference between optimistic Shell and the intelligent universe is that Shell push back the date by a decade:

    Shell predicts that global oil production will peak around 2020. But the company neatly side-steps the debate in its scenarios by predicting in both the Scramble and Blueprints scenarios that the decline rate of global production will be virtually negligible up to 2040.

    David Strahan is surprised that Shell’s oil peak estimation is now 2020. “I haven’t heard them say that before,” he says. The world has already reached the beginnings of a global oil peak, he argues.

    Since when, of course, Shell has managed to mislay a substantial part of its “proven” oil reserves.

    Another (perhaps better) source might be the IMF’s World Economic Outlook, issued April 2011 [http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2011/01/pdf/text.pdf], especially chapter 3. That considers a number of possible outcomes: page 106 seriously considers the oil depletion assumption, and concludes:

    Th e most striking aspect of this scenario is, however,
    that supply reductions of this magnitude would
    require an increase of more than 200 percent in the
    oil price on impact and an 800 percent increase over
    20 years. Relative price changes of this magnitude
    would be unprecedented and would likely have
    nonlinear eff ects on activity that the model does not
    adequately capture. Furthermore, the increase in
    world savings implied by this scenario is so large that
    several regions could, after the fi rst few years, experience
    nominal interest rates that approach zero, which
    could make it diffi cult to carry out monetary policy.

    I think that’s a macro-economic way of predicting the end of the world as we know it.

    You want a whole tranche of peak-oil comments? — http://odac-info.org/peak-oil-quotes. Add to that Ben Casselmann on Facing up to the end of ‘Easy Oil’ in the WSJ, 24 May 2011 [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704436004576299421455133398.html?mod=WSJEUROPE_hpp_MIDDLETopNews]. Casselmann accepts that ‘heavy oil’ is there for the taking — but extracting it is a “chemistry experiment” that may be unsustainable in cost and complexity.

    None of this is new. The Rand Corporation’s Richard Nehring did a report for the CIA back around 1978. Nehring was concerned with those sempeternal questions:
    ¶ How much oil does the world have left?
    ¶ When will it run out?
    Nehring reckoned on 60-70 years (from 1978):

    … the world’s reserves can really be significantly increased only by additional recovery from known fields and by further discoveries of ‘supergiant’ fields containing at least five billion barrels of oil.

    Well, the former is already happening (but see the likes of Casselmann above) and the latter most definitely hasn’t.

  • Dewi

    So Malcolm, under all circumstances the oil price looks likely to rise in general for the next decades – generating enough revenue whilst Scotland puts in it’s huge investment in renewables. Sorted….

  • Dewi @ 10:47 am:

    I fear that the self-basting Salmond has a touch of the Old Testament prophet about him —

    my people shall never be ashamed.

    And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

    And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.

    And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.

    [Book of Joel, chapter 3]

    Except Salmond will do it all between wind and water. Now there’s an analogy I’d leave others to explore.

  • Dewi

    Not at 10.47am please Malcolm…

  • Harry Flashman

    I love the implication that poor wee pacifist Scotland might get dragooned into “England’s” wars like that in Iraq.

    Just for the record a Scottish Prime Minisister financed by his Scottish Chancellor of the Exchequer with the support (temporarily) of his Scottish Foreign Sceretary acting on legal advice from his Scottish Lord Chancellor backed up with his over represented Scottish MP’s in the Commons sent an army with a disproportionate amount of Scorrish troops to Iraq against the wishes of a majority of English people.

    Shortly thereafter of course the new Scottish Prime minister backed up by his new Scottish Chancellor of the Exchequer fleeced the English taxpayer to rescue two massively profligate Scottish banks.

    But it’s all the fault of those English bastards innit Jimmy?

  • Yes, its easy to forget or for most people to not even notice that the UK was ruled for twelve years by the Scots. I remember sitting in a black cab in London and the driver telling me that Tony Blair should get back to Scotland and take his cabinet with him.

  • Harry Flashman @ 7:32 am pungently makes a point. An alternative view, of course, is that when the British War Office intends a major catastrophe it invariably dispatches Irish, Welsh and Scottish troops. Equally, Harry might have noted Sir Douglas Haig’s hecatombs.

    Similarly, pippakin @ 8:29 am could extend his scope back to the start of the 20th century:
    #2: AJ Balfour, born East Lothian, PM for 3 yr 145 days
    #3: Henry Campbell-Bannerman, born Kelvinside, 2 yr 122 days;
    #4: [Asquith, MP for East Fife 1886-1918, 8 yr 244 days]
    #6: Andrew Bonar Law, Canadian born, returned to Scotland aged 12, 209 days;
    #8: Ramsay MacDonald, born Lossiemouth, 6 yr 289 days;
    #10: [Churchill, MP for Dundee 1908-22, 8 yr 240 days]
    #14: Alec Douglas-Home, Borders family, MP for Lanark and Kinross, 362 days;
    #20: Tony Blair, born Edinburgh, 10 yr 56 days;
    #21: Gordon Brown, born Renfrewshire, 2 yr 319 days.

    Even that omits two suspiciously-named characters (with Scottish connections a generation or so back):
    #13: Harold Macmillan, 6 yr 281 days;
    #22: David Cameron, still cooking.

    In short, about 45 of the last 110 years involve PMs with Scottish connections. Whereas Scotland is less than 10% of the UK population. Compare the contribution London (Attlee and a few society births in Mayfair) apart.

    All of which doesn’t prove a thing, except the validity of Dr Johnson on the finest sight a Scotsman ever sees is the high road to England. Particularly so among those Scotsmen successfully managing English football teams.

  • JR

    The queen as a person who does not have a vote in Scotland shoud have about as much say in their affairs as me. zero.

  • JR @ 11:00 am:

    That’s an interesting one.

    Let’s assume that the 1707 Union were dissolved. The monarch does not “vote” because technically she/he is the Third House of the Union parliament. No legislation is complete without La Reine le veult.

    As I recall, without reference, that was not the position in Scotland before the Union. Indeed the Covenanters (among others) resisted the Stuart concept of Divine Right to the point of insisting on the supremacy of General Assembly.

    Sometime today (I’m currently under the cosh) I must find time to see if Gerry Hassan has pontificated on the issue.

  • Harry Flashman

    Well if we’re going down the road of pointing out suspicious names we might also give an honourable mention to the press secretary who sexed up the Iraqi war dodgy dossier, take a bow Mr Alistair Campbell.

    Yes, it’s a bit rich to blame the “English” for the war in Iraq.

  • Harry Flashman

    So it was the “British” War Office who sent off “Irish” and “Scottish” troops was it Malc? Was Edinburgh man Douglas Haig “British” or “Scottish”? Field Marshall Sir Henry Wilson from Longford who planned the initial entry of the BEF into the First World War, was he “British” or “Irish”, and Haig’s predecessor as commander of the BEF, Sir John French of Frenchpark, County Roscommon, was he “British” too?

    Reading my namesake’s novels one is frequently struck by how often when the boul’ Sir Harry finds himself among the great heroes and adventurers of the Victorian Empire he seems to be the only Englishman present among so many Jocks and Paddies.

    It reminds me of the common complaint that Scotsmen had about the BBC, when a Scottish sportsman failed he was referred to as “Scottish” but when he won he was of course a “British champion”, the reverse process now seems to be happening.

  • Harry Flashman @ 3:36 am:

    My well-attested proposition was based on two excellent authorities and Georges: MacDonald Fraser passim and Bernard Shaw.

    In The Devil’s Disciple, Shaw puts into the mouth of General Burgoyne: … your friend the British soldier can stand up to anything except the British War Office.

    As for Henry Wilson, the only British [sic] Field Marshal “to die in action”, shot down on his own doorstep by a man with a wooden leg, where would we be without His Majesty’s most political soldier engineering the Curragh Crisis? Wilson’s diaries (Cf: C. E. Callwell’s official biography) suggest a man of extreme views and passions, sufficient to allow Bernard Ash’s later study, significantly titled The Lost Dictator, to wonder if he could have developed into our local Mussolini … or worse.