The United Kingdom is in many respects a highly unusual country. It is a unitary state comprising four countries. Well, there are questions surrounding Ulster’s status – province or country – but that isn’t the topic of this post. England, Wales, Scotland and Ulster are distinct political entities, but there is only one sovereign state and that is the United Kingdom. Scotland, Wales and Ulster have assemblies to sort out certain local affairs as they see fit, but this is a right granted by Westminster. In short, there is absolutely no inherent sovereignty in any polity in the UK except the UK itself. This is in stark contrast to Germany, Australia or Mexico where sub-national units hold varying degrees of sovereignty within a federal nation-state.
Scotland has fared better than most. Scotland was able to develop a perfectly sensible and highly functional legal system prior to 1707. This fact was respected and Scotland was allowed to keep it after merging its parliament with England’s. When Germany’s myriad states joined into a united Empire under a dominant Prussia its diverse legal systems were gradually unified under the German Civil Code. As civil law goes, Germany’s was a stroke of brilliance and has been emulated around the world. In other unitary states things were far worse for integrated regions. France paid absolutely no respect to the traditions and customs of its ancient provinces. In fact, post-Revolutionary governments have sought to crush every vestige of difference in their mad drive to create a unified French state in the image of the Île-de-France. Education and religious matters were similarly left to those of a distinctly Tartan persuasion to sort out themselves. There were a few challenges in the 18th century but cooler heads prevailed and Scotland retained a very distinct sense of being a country within a country.
It is for this reason that I find the Ghastly Sturgeon Woman’s constant shrieking about “Scotland’s place” to be ever so slightly irksome. Scotland has done very well out of its union with England, Wales and Ulster. It has a parliament of its own, not a mere assembly. Scotland even has its own heraldry. In the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s Scotland’s unique status was acknowledged by special reverse designs for shilling pieces. It took until the 1980s for Wales, Northern Ireland or England to be similarly acknowledged in coinage. The bloody Scots even issue their own rudding banknotes which are honoured with a nearly Latin disregard after a change in series. I received a few defunct Ulster banknotes. I could change them in Belfast, no worries. Jockish banknotes? No, might as well take a few Soviet roubles to a shop in Moscow. Anyway… Are they really that mad north of Hadrian’s Wall? They want to be a sovereign state in the EU, but with an open border and shared currency with the rest of the UK as it prepares to leave the EU. I’m thoroughly disgusted.