Thursday 31 October 2019

Loch Nowhere and how to save the British union

My apologies to anyone who realises, as I do, that I haven't been posting enough recently. I try to put most of my contributions here, but I'm very aware that I don't always. If there is really anyone out there impatient to hear what I think, I'm usually blogging at Radix early most weeks...

In the meantime, I have been worrying about the future of the UK after Brexit, given the enormous strains that will be put on the union.

I'm not a unionist. I don't think Nick Clegg was right when he declared the Lib Dems a unionist party. In fact, the party divided on the issue in the 1880s and the unionist bits went off and merged with the Conservatives.

But then, I also not a nationalist, and the process of division is likely to be frightening and possibly violent. I'm even aware that in parts of Wales - where people are reacting badly to being part of an English nationalist venture under Boris Johnson - they are investigating some kind of link with Ireland.

Now, I believe in these link-ups, if we can arrange them. In fact, it seems to me that the only way to save any aspect of the union is to act now to give Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland their independence in a controlled, peaceful and ambiguous way - within a national umbrella which might include the Queen, the pound and the Ministry of Defence.

It needs to be done quite soon and so that Scotland can stay in the EU if it wants to.

Two developments stand in the way of breaking the nation down further. One, we need the ambiguity that the government's virtual border system. Two, we need a better understanding of how local economies can provide what people need - so that small nations and regions can begin to go it alone.

It so happens that I have written a modern folk tale in the new collection by the New Weather Institute, Knock Three Times (which, full disclosure, my company published), and it looks at these issues, through the eyes of a man who - like Rip Van Winkle - wakes up a century in the future.

It is called 'Loch Nowhere'. In fact, I recommend the other 27 stories too, each one of them shedding light on modern crisis using older narrative styles. You can read the introduction here...

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