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In the wake of polls suggesting that Scotland could be poised to vote for independence next week, the unionist party leaders are throwing new policy baubles to wavering Scots and scrambling to rewrite the British constitution by lunchtime on Thursday. The hope is that by giving Scots almost everything but independence they will reject independence itself – the political equivalent to offering civil partnerships because they are not quite gay marriage.
But this highlights the lack of imagination within Westminster at thinking up inducements to keep Scots in the family of the union.
To: David Cameron, Prime Minister
From: Unionist Strategy Working Group
Following your request last week for more policies to dissuade the Scots from voting for independence, we have drafted the following plan which we feel represents a compelling and comprehensive package to offer in return for a No vote. Some of these ideas are pretty radical but you did indicate that no step would be too crass to be considered.
Hong Kong: Firstly, we must counteract the long-held grievance that Britain keeps choosing Conservative governments that have been decisively rejected in Scotland. We think this could be best achieved by replicating the excellent Hong Kong model in which all potential prime ministerial candidates must first be approved by the ruling council of the Scottish National Party before they can stand for office. A side-effect of this may be to preclude the future candidacy of Boris Johnson. However, you may feel this is a price worth paying.
Glencoe Massacre: The time may be right to reopen case of the Glencoe Massacre, announcing a full public inquiry into the incident. We believe Lord Saville is available. Full public inquiries have worked terribly well in Northern Ireland so why not give them a go in Scotland. As you know, there remain lingering doubts about the Crown’s role. Nationalists have long contended that the Campbells were acting as knowing agents of the English when they murdered the MacDonalds. There is, we admit, little in the way of new evidence and witnesses are hard to find these days but we think the effort would be appreciated and Lord Saville can take his time. You know how he tends to rush these probes.
Scots at the centre: Scots will feel more loved if they also feel at the centre of British life so we propose a number of cultural initiatives. We have already made some important headway on this with Doctor Who, recasting the planet-hopping time lord as a Glaswegian and believe this could be just the first step on a path of cultural reintegration. In the event of a No vote we should promise that the BBC will commission a remake of Dad’s Army with Private Frazer in charge of the platoon and Captain Mainwaring busted down to corporal.
We are also looking for other leading roles which might be recalibrated in the same way and are in talks with Simon Cowell about getting a Scot on the panel of Britain’s Got Talent. Your suggestion of Moira Anderson was much appreciated but we fear she may not hit the younger demographic at which we are aiming.
Wallace: As a further gesture of goodwill how about a royal pardon for William Wallace. We could stage a very nice ceremony near Smithfield market and Mel Gibson has indicated that he would be willing to attend in person providing we organise a decent hotel. We could build up the pardon by disinterring Edward I from his tomb in Westminster Abbey and burying him somewhere less grand. We hear that a king’s grave has recently come free in the staff car park at Leicester council.
Bannockburn Day: To celebrate a great Scottish victory and to show that British history is not merely English history, we propose a nationwide Bannockburn day. We admit this was a long time ago but Scottish wins are a bit thin on the ground. An alternative is June 4 where we could celebrate their 1977 2-1 win over England in the Home Championship. We’ve spoken to the Wembley Stadium authorities and for the good of the union they are happy to agree to an annual pitch invasion and smashing of the goalposts. It will be marked by fireworks and the flying of the Saltire from public buildings as soon as we’ve trained the Downing Street staff.
Underwriting: If none of the above works how about underwriting the entire debt of their financial service sector. Perhaps you feel this is a step too far.