Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Aye or Nay?

I’ve been keeping an occasional eye on the debates leading up to tomorrow’s vote for Scottish Independence, and we watched the Dimbleby Interview last night where the two main advocates of the opposing factions faced the redoubtable DD in turn.

While neither Gordon Brown nor Alex Salmond actually said much of any substance, it was the way they said it that struck me. The ex-PM looked nervous and uncertain at times, while the potential premier of a new Scottish Republic looked confident and at ease, even joking at times with Mr Dimbleby.

Since being elected as Scotland’s First Minister in 2007 Mr Salmond been working towards his dream of an independent Scotland, but it’s only since the 2011 elections, in which the SNP won a majority, that the campaign has really kicked off. It took the Westminster government by surprise…
Watching him last night, it’s hardly surprising he has been able to influence the Scottish electorate so thoroughly. Charming, charismatic and confident was the way he appeared.
He’s not the first political figure to show these qualities, at least one other I can think of led his country to disaster… I just hope Mr Salmond doesn’t do the same.

Personally I think it would be wrong to break up the Union in this way. Scottish national identity has survived the last 300 years, and is as strong as ever today. As, of course,  has that of Northern Ireland and Wales. Asked about nationality anyone from these three countries would declare their origins with pride; it’s only the English who may say that they are British

Mags was outraged by an article on today’s midday news in which AS has stated that an Independent Scotland would keep the pound, would have monetary union with the rest of the UK, and would have influence with the Bank of England with regard to interest rates.
Her opinion was clear  – “He can sod off!”

Just an aside, the 1707 Acts which created Great Britain, formed of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England, probably would never have been ratified in the North if Scottish landowners, nobles and tradesmen had not invested heavily in the ill-starred Darien Venture.
Wishing to improve their economic status on the world stage they embarked on an ambitious project to colonise a part of the Panama Peninsula in Central America, a project which absorbed huge amounts of capital, estimated to be between 25% and 50% of all the available funds in the kingdom. When it failed, influential Scots were left with huge debts, debts which would be paid off if the old Scottish Parliament were to sign on the dotted line…

The principal of establishing the colony there were sound; it was an opportunity to form a trading gateway between the Atlantic and the Pacific; so sound in fact that the Panama Canal was built just around the corner.

But the execution was flawed, poor leadership, disease and the expansion of Spanish influence in the area saw the colony of New Caledonia abandoned after just two years.

Anyway, enough politics.

We spent a couple of nights in Union Wharf, at £10 a night including free electricity and WiFi (if you’re near enough to the office!) it’s not a bad deal for a secure mooring. A 10 minute walk into the town takes you to all the shops you could want.

Market Harborough, the fine Parish Church of St Dionysius dominating the town centre.DSC_0295

The Old Grammer School, dating from 1614, is having a makeover and is shrink-wrapped.DSC_0296

The wharf itself, at the terminus of the Market Harborough Arm, was completed in 1809. Originally just a widening of the canal, a basin either side has been added more recently.

An open coal wharf, bonded warehouse and timber yard flanked the water, only the bonded warehouse remains but sympathetic development is in keeping with the period.Panorama 1


We had a gentle cruise back towards Foxton, pausing once in an abortive attempt to retrieve a few small logs spotted on the way down, and moored just short of Bridge 5.

Squirrel stocking the larder

The Old Union Canals Society base near Bridge 14IMG_1607

Oncoming boat under Bridge 6
This was the seventh boat we’d passed heading towards the terminus, there were another five still due. It’s going to be busy down there tonight…

We’ve a Tesco delivery scheduled at Black Horse Bridge tomorrow morning, so we didn’t want to go all the way to the junction. There’s a nice, sunny stretch of piling just before Bridge 5, but I thought we might not be able to use it. Luckily the angling match finished a hundred yards short of the bridge, plenty of room to moor.IMG_1612

Locks 0, miles 4½


Malcolm said...

Hi Folks
Glad you had a good stay at Union Wharf it's a nice spot.
Great to meet you at last, maybe next time I'll be on the boat and not winding paddles at Foxton.
All the best.
NB Meg

Graham said...

Hi Geoff & Mags,

Can I make a comment on what you say about the Scottish Referendum.

Scotland is not voting about becoming a republic. The referendum is about the Act of Union of 1707 and not about the the Union of the Crowns of 1603, which created the United Kingdom

However, technically the United Kingdom and Scotland have not had a correctly constituted monarchy since the death of the King in 1952. The present queen is the first queen to be named Elizabeth since 1603 so she is correctly, Elizabeth the second of England and the First of the United Kingdom and Scotland. The first king of the United Kingdom was known as James VI of Scotland and James 1 of England and the United Kingdom.

To address Mags' point about the pound. Strictly the pound does belong proportionately to Scotland as well as the rest of the United Kingdom. It is in the interest of the UK to keep Scotland in the £ as the income from oil helps the balance of payments. The Republic of Ireland kept the £ for a number of years before adopting its own currency, which was pegged to the £ until about 1980.

I am English but live in Scotland and I can tell you that while Alex Salmond might be the name most people know the campaign for independence goes into every corner of Scottish society.

If Scotland does vote yes the blame will, in my view, lie firmly at the feet of the unionist parties who have made a complete mess of their campaign and are now trying to bully the voters with increasingly outlandish threats. On the basis of the campaign alone the unionist parties don't deserve to win.

It might also be worth mentioning that the campaign and the wish to be independent is not anti English, there are of course a few nutters around any campaign. The people of Scotland feel that they are on a divergent course from England and that they would be happier now as a separate nation.

If there is a yes vote there is no desire, that I can detect, to sever any friendships or relationships with the rest of the UK. Having a foot in both camps my personal view is that independence, if it happens could actually strengthen the bonds between the nations of the British Isles and Scotland as it will remove the current sources of tension.