Saint Andrew’s Day + 1

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maxmium Leader took a brief moment to celebrate his Scottish heritage yesterday. Yesterday, in addition to being the anniversary of the birth of the Great Man Himself, was St. Andrew’s Day. St. Andrew’s Day is a bank holiday (as your Maximum Leader understands it) in Scotland. And while it is not Burns Day by any stretch, it is a day of some note in Scotland (and to Scots and those of Scottish ancestry) as St. Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland. Your Maximum Leader celebrated the day by making himself a Scotch Egg for lunch. Longtime readers may wonder if your Maximum Leader imbibed in a little of the Scotch Whisky as well… Sadly he did not. He needed to remain true to his 4th of July pledge to only drink domestic for the balance of the year. (Rest assured he will imbibe a bit of the good stuff at a few seconds after midnight on January 1.)


Your Maximum Leader was going on about St. Andrew’s Day…

You know your Maximum Leader doesn’t read Andrew Sullivan’s blog on a regular basis anymore. He is less thought-provoking and more shrill nowadays. But from time to time a series of links lead your Maximum Leader back to ole Mr. Sullivan. Today that link started with a Charles Krauthammer smackdown of ole Sully. (If your Maximum Leader may… One wonders if Sully liked it, the smackdown that is…)

Well, having read the Krauthammer smackdown your Maximum Leader felt as though he ought to read the offending passage by Sully. So he clicked through and read it. (He also found, clicked through, and read Sully’s apology.)

Well… Since your Maximum Leader was on Sullivan’s blog he decided to poke around and see if anything struck his fancy. Lo and behold, something did. That something was this piece on Scottish Independence.

Before moving on to the point, your Maximum Leader tips his bejewelled cap to Sully for choosing such a fine Caravaggio to put into the post…

So… Sully linked a piece in The Guardian on how the Scottish Independence movement stands currently within Scotland; and England. The focus of the Guardian piece is that there are a number of options available to the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Tories when the subject of a referendum on Scottish independence comes up (presumably after the next national elections for the Westminster Parliament). The first choice for Scots is maintain the status quo. The second is for complete independence. The third is tweaking the existing devolution of power to the Scottish Parliament. The fourth is the “devo-max” option. The “devo-max” option is described thus:

The fourth option is the most interesting. The SNP leader calls it “devo-max”, and his opponents call it “independence-lite”. (The Scottish propensity to name political initiatives after fizzy drinks presumably being a backhanded reference to the nation’s notorious sugar habits.) Whatever you call it, though, it basically means the Edinburgh parliament and government getting control over everything except defence, foreign policy and macroeconomics. It would keep the pound, the British army and the Queen.

When your Maximum Leader read that bit he thougth to himself “Wow. That would be just like the arrangement between the Federal and State governments of the United States circa 1790.” He was intrigued.

Sullivan noted, almost in passing, that the removal of Scottish MPs from the Westminster Parliament would cripple the Labour Party in England - as a substantial portion of their majority comes from Labour members from Scotland. This point was, in your Maximum Leader’s opinion, the main thrust of Jackie Ashley’s piece in The Guardian. The political ramifications of either Scotland’s independence or a “devo-max” situation would mean that England would, as your Maximum Leader interprets Ashley’s comments, devolve into a center-right nation. That “devolution” to being center-right and governed by Tories might make Ashley a little queasy; but it sounds just fine to your Maximum Leader.

Of course, your Maximum Leader needs to go back to Sullivan for a moment. You see, Sullivan got a note from a reader that he published and commented upon. The reader points out that Sullivan (and one presumes by extention the Guardian) presented the whole situation from the English perspective. Basically the writer stated that the English seem to like to blame the Scots for all that is wrong in the nation and think it would be better for them to all bugger off. The writer then proceeds to describe the problems as he sees them. (His thoughts are well-put and are commended to you.) He makes a fine suggestion (which your Maximum Leader will touch upon in a moment); and then ends with a bang. That ending for your edification:

And in truth it would probably only do Scotland good to be cast off [from England - ML]. If nothing else, it would force some clear choices about taxation, the size and scope of the public sector, industrial and education and policy, and so on. I’d like to believe that my long-left-behind countrymen-and-women could recreate themselves to be a Tartan Denmark, but I suspect that old political habits would die hard and there’d be a rush to get money from the EU. Still, we’ve already got the chilly disdain of Eurocrats, being shot of the English might not be the worst thing ever. It would be typical if after more than 30 years of talking about finding a new landlord or maybe even buying their own place, Scotland was evicted.

Your Maximum Leader wonders if the nation of his ancestors could, in his view, recover and become a thriving vibrant state without a reliance on social-democratic entitlement programs that seem to sap so much life out of the societies they propose to help. He agrees with Sullivan’s reader in thinking that if Scotland became independent that they would go crawling to the EU for cash. They’d go somewhere. Sadly.

Well… Back to this “devo-max” idea. Your Maximum Leader does think it has merit. Your Maximum Leader thinks that the two nations should maintain a narrowly defined and mutually beneficial Union. That Union should take care of the “macro” issues like defence, foreign policy and macroeconomic policy. As with so many proposals, the devil is in the details. But a carefully crafted Union could work out well for both nations. Sullivan’s reader suggests that rather than having two parliaments after a “devo-max” event that there be three parliaments (or two parliaments and a national assembly of some sort). A parliament for England (sans Scots) one for Scotland (sans English) and one that will handle the narrowly defined issues of “Union” (and contain both Scots and English). Frankly, your Maximum Leader doesn’t see why one would need a full parliament for the “Union” issues. It could be some sort of governance committee with so many members from the Westminster and Edinburgh Parliaments. It likely wouldn’t have to be in session very long each year either…

Your Maximum Leader is intrigued by the whole idea of keeping the Union and re-establishing the autonomy of the component Kingdoms. It worked for the US (a federal system that is) for a while. He wonders if it could work in reverse for the Brits.

Carry on.

Polymath said:

I like the idea of independnce, but doubt it will happen.

On the practical side, what sort of sausage does your Leadership use in the making of his Scotch Eggs?

I read a great paper once (perhaps circa 2001) by a Cambridge based group that showed that complete independence wouldn’t work (long-term) for Scotland without major budget cuts. That was before the oil boom. A few years ago, with oil prices so high, indpendence would have worked - but only if the Scots got all the North Sea Oil and England got none. Unlikely proposition. I don’t see how complete independence actually works. From what I’ve seen of this “devo-max” option it looks like a good choice for England. It still probably isn’t the best deal for Scotland if only Scottish taxes will be used to pay for Scottish programs. They will need to cut budgets very much.

As for the important question… I used Smallholder sausage for the Scotch Eggs. I learned that you have to have the sausage at room temp before you apply it to the egg. If the sausage is cold it contracts too much in cooking. So room temp sausage and generously put those bread crumbs on it…

Polymath said:

I have to wait until December to make Scotch Eggs - ran out of Smallholder Sausage back in August.

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