Edward the First failed to overrun Scotland, thanks in large part to William Wallace, but he brought Wales under the influence of England where it has remained ever since. The English still own most of Wales but they have had negligible impact on Welshness. Annoyingly bumptious they may be but they are unmistakeably Welsh.
So far as I can judge, my fellow Wee Voices favour an independent Scotland but by this they only mean independence from the rest of the United Kingdom. I know the First Minister paints the independent country as Shangri La but there is no real chance that Scotland can cut itself off from the rest of the world as that Himalayan valley did.
The new nation is, after all, planning to be an enthusiastic member of the EU, ceding significant powers to people who do not even speak Standard English. Then we will remain in NATO, ceding more powers. Incidentally, is it morally right for a non-nuclear nation to rely on a nuclear alliance for its defence?
The truth is that we are very reluctant to be governed by anyone. We want a government that gives us what we require without asking us to put our hands in our pockets. The chancellor should give money to businesses to create jobs so enabling families to live comfortably with dignity; he should give money to the unemployed so that they can live comfortably and keep their dignity; he should give money to the sick and elderly so that they can live in comfort with dignity.
Whoever manages to do all of these things should be governing us: my vote is to give the job to Angela Merkel, sending Cameron and Salmond for a wee holiday on St Kilda to try to resolve their political differences over the fulmar broth and seaweed salad.
Scots are already independent even if, like me, we are living in a foreign land. Robert Burns went to the heart of what it means to be a Scot: as good as anyone but better than no one and with the understanding to appreciate the plight of other people and creatures. Cronin wrote movingly about the life of a doctor in the Welsh valleys but he could not have located Dr Finlay anywhere but Scotland. Hamish Macbeth could only survive as a polis in the Highlands.
Our defining characteristic is Scottish humour which is, in my experience, beyond the grasp of people from other nations. Australians manage the irony well enough but they lack the undertones of self-mockery. Para Handy, Lobey Dosser and Rab C Nesbit share a view of the world that is beyond the grasp of English and American people I have talked to. They really only respond to Punch and Judy – slapstick and custard pies in the face get them going.
What worries me is that our honest assessment of our strengths and weaknesses makes it difficult to find the self-confidence to govern others. Gadafi and Hussein were, undeniably, monsters but they did keep order in countries that seem to be falling apart in their absence. In the depth of my psyche, a self-confident Scot feels like a contradiction. There is a very narrow line between self-confidence and hubris. As the old herdsman says in the poem, ‘Gods are kittle cattle’.
Do you remember Ally McLeod before we went to the World Cup in Argentina? He had bags of confidence but he turned out to be a balloon! Further back there was Charles Edward Stewart who promised a great deal but he also proved to be un balon.
At a village meeting when I was a lad, the provost was making an unpopular pronouncement. He was logical and convincing, if pompous, but no one wanted to accept his conclusion. It was left to an old farmer in the front row to sum up the feelings of the constituents. Standing up and shaking his cromach at the provost he shouted:
“I remember you when you were a wee lad wi’ nae arse in your trousers.”
I do not doubt that Scots could govern Great Britain or a Federal Europe but I have great misgivings about letting them attempt to govern their fellow countrymen.