Where to start with respect to the Scottish Independence Debate and the recent Scotch Referendum ?
I'm English (with a little bit of Irish mixed in from a generation or so ago, apparently) and I'd describe myself as a Boltonian, an Englishman, and British. I guess I have three identities and even though Bolton is a bit of a tired old dump, it's my home.
Following the Scottish Independence debate closely, prior to the vote, it seemed the SNP were much better at selling themselves. But then they had a little extra financial help... http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2625863/Lottery-pairs-2-5m-Scots-Couple-provided-80-funding-yes-campaign.html
The "Scotch Brits" seemed quite laid back until matters got quite tense towards the end and then the politicians woke up a little.
Maybe it's my age, 46, but I take great pride in being British and subsequently took a couple of days off to travel around Scotland and try to gauge the mood.
I have a light aircraft and flew up to the Western Isles to both enjoy the scenery around Mull and fly up as far north as Stornoway. Beautiful countryside and the weather was great.
I had a bunch of stickers made at Staples, the day before I left, and wherever I found an SNP sticker I put one of my own by the side of it. Just to provide a counter argument.
My stickers had a picture of the Saltire & the Union Jack together. One version read, "Stronger Together" and the other read, "Proud to be British". They both had my name underneath.
In it's simplest form I completely understand the SNP perspective and Alex Salmond seems like a very clever chap who's an expert at self promotion. The shame about matters is that he could be a great power for good in Westminster, both on a global stage, and representing Scotland.
My point is that the Scottish people help make Britain a great nation. We're permanent members of the UN Security Council, we're a Nuclear power (which helps keep us safe and provides part of Scotland's energy mix), the Monarchy is world famous (who could not respect the Queen) and we've acted in defence of freedom through out hundreds of years. Not least two World Wars.
And the irony of all this is that there are so many Scots that have been major players in Parliament. Even David Cameron has Scottish heritage and for better or worse you can add in Tony Blair (born in Scotland), Gordon Brown, Alexander Darling, Malcolm Rifkind, George Robertson, Liam Fox, John Smith etc etc.
The Scotch get more from the Exchequer than any other part of the UK, plus Free Prescriptions, Free University places and it could be argued that they're a lot better off than I am in Bolton.
Getting back on track the argument for separation seems to be an emotional one rather than a practical one and it doesn't seem to me that the numbers stack up as a significant part of the SNP's expenditure plans are based on a dwindling resource. ie. Oil and all the market volatility that comes with it.
Can you imagine a separate Scotland still relying on the Bank of England ? Or Alex Salmond trying to headbutt his way through the dictats of the European Parliament ? The poor fella's head would explode, but then again he'd have his place in history so maybe he wouldn't mind.
But would it come at the cost of higher mortgages in Scotland ? Would banks flee to England ? Would a range of items cost more and prices generally rise ? And would house prices fall ?
My company banks with the Royal Bank of Scotland, my car is leased through a Scottish firm, my Pension is with a Scottish firm, the heating to the office is provided by a Scottish company... if Scotland went independent then I'd transfer that business to firms in the UK. ie. why take the risk of trading with a different country ?
Anyway the reason for adding this page is to say, the vote happened, Britain is still intact but the rest of the country needs to understand that whilst someone seems to have really narked of Alex Salmond 50 or so years ago, we still need to build the case for the defence of Britain.
Hence my thoughts are as follows;
With work I fly around England & Wales meeting prospective clients so in general terms, I get out a bit. Every Scot I've met is adamant that the UK should stay intact. The only dissenting voice comes from a lawyer friend of mine who was brought up in Edinburgh. He believes that if Scotland ever breaks the Union that his taxes will go down, so he doesn't mind either way.
Any way these are simply my thoughts as an individual with three identities, Boltonian, English and British.
I'm proud of being English, I'm proud of being British and I hope the country stays together in the long term. But the politicians need to understand that a battle still needs to be fought, both to keep us all united and "sell the concept" to a new generation of voters.
If you're reading this and you're a representative of Bolton Borough Council, please get your act together. The place is a dump and if Bury can make such an improvement I don't see why you lot can't.
Anyway, I need to get back to work so I'll sign off.
PS. During my flight upto Scotland I landed at a place called Barra. A beach airfield. Had a chat with the very nice lady in the Tower, paid my landing fee's and bought a few items in the shop.
Walking back to the aircraft I made my way past the Fire & Rescue truck. It was the day of the vote and the fire crew were chatting. One fella had his back to me and I heard him call all English "parasites".
I stopped in my tracks and pondered what to say or do. I didn't do anything. Took a deep breath and carried on walking back to the aircraft. I will say I was a bit bugged, especially having spent £50.00 in their gift shop.
The point being that you can't please some folk. But then again if I'd crashed on "take off" he'd have helped me and likewise if he ever needed help I could give, then I'd help him. That's part of being British.
May 2015. I would say the anti English sentiment seems to have made itself plain during the Election campaign. Regrettably on the basis the SNP will push for a fresh referendum I've started pulling the half a dozen or so financial products I have with Scottish firms back to businesses in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. All very sad.