Architects of discord: Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond have overseen a dramatic rise in support for the Scottish National Party (photo: Barbara Alper/Getty Images)
Drive across the border from England into Scotland, as my family did recently, and a change becomes apparent within the first few miles. While the large electronic signs over the motorway in England offer updates on traffic jams that lie ahead, in Scotland they transmit a different message every few miles: “Get your eyes tested . . . drive with caution . . . don’t take drugs and drive . . . slow down . . . get your vehicle tested . . . have a rest . . . Vote SNP.”
Of course, I made that last one up. There are no road signs ordering voters to back the Scottish National Party, or at least not yet. But such is the sinister atmosphere in modern Scotland, with the nationalists on the rampage, that it would not be a surprise if the SNP government north of the border did decide to make voting for the Nats compulsory.
Those authoritarian instructions on the motorway are the first indication for new arrivals that although they are still theoretically within the United Kingdom, going to Scotland means crossing into what is becoming a foreign land in which the dominant political mindset is separatist, statist and bossy.
It is not just that nationalists want a separate state. They want that separate state to be exceedingly left-wing too, and the Scottish parliament has been their laboratory as they and their Labour opponents compete to test their theories about the capacity of bureaucratic intervention to reshape society. Whether it is a product of latent Calvinism, or whether it is down to the desire of many MSPs in the Holyrood parliament to assert themselves over their fellow citizens, the devolved government in Edinburgh now pushes itself aggressively into daily life.
In all manner of transactions, a visitor is made more conscious of government and its power than is the case south of the border. Go to collect a prescription in Glasgow and watch as the assistant struggles with the idea that as the form is from a doctor in England then the person handing it over must pay with their own money. In Scotland, all prescriptions are “free”, meaning they are paid for by the government. Of course, government only has what it takes from citizens in tax, but don’t expect to hear that view stated very often by Scottish politicians.There is also minimum alcohol pricing, aggressively enforced household recycling and a plastic bag tax (5p per bag). The politically correct bullying even has a linguistic component. The signs at railway stations are in Gaelic, including in populous central Scotland where the Gaelic language was never spoken. These are comically small impositions on their own, all produced by the pygmies in the pygmy parliament in Edinburgh, but cumulatively they indicate where Scotland is going.
Scots are being taught by a “progressive” political and media class that responsibility lies with those in charge telling the individual what to do. That means that when something is wrong or perceived to be wrong, there are demands for government to do more or tax “the rich” more. This is doubly dangerous when the government doing the ordering around is nationalist, and claims to speak exclusively for Scotland while declaring that criticism is “talking Scotland down”. This creates a toxic brew. Nationalism meets socialism.
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