When Steve met Bert

I am going to begin with a health warning .

If you are of a nervous disposition or perhaps have a form of anaphylactic reaction to the words “Scottish Independence” look away now.  

I may disagree with you but I wish you no harm. Settle down to read the propaganda of your choice served with a nice comforting bowl of British exceptionalism. So much more heart warming than Scotch Broth made with Lamb from “North Britain . “

How is your blood pressure?

Do I sound a little bitter ? 

My apologies it is my dog’s fault.  If he didn’t have bodily requirements and too much energy that needs to be dispersed I would ever have met “Bert.”  

Bert of course is not his name I have changed it to protect the ….innocent? No that isn’t the  right word but I probably can’t use the one I want to in this publication of taste and moderation . . 

“ But that’s the thing all she can do is liken everything  to independence . It is all she is good for, all any of them are good for in THAT party. No original thoughts , they just use hindsight  to criticise people who are trying to do a fantastic job in the hardest of circumstances . “

It caught me a bit unawares, Bert and I had stopped on the hill, I was on the way down he was on the way up. I’d mentioned I’d had the vaccine and commented I’d wished they had made quarantine mandatory for all flights into the country not the few that they have . 

Coronavirus seems to be the “ weather” conversation of choice these days . Mea Culpa I didn’t  think it was that contentious,  just a conversation filler. 

But apparently the First Minister’s sheer cheek in repeating something she has been saying for months about wanting a stricter approach to travel is an egregious use of hindsight to bring unwarranted opprobrium to the honest and selfless striving of poor Boris and  the Government in  Westminster .  Anything other than supine acceptance is bad taste in the extreme it seems. 

As you might imagine that opened the flood gates . 

“Independence ! Independence! How irresponsible can you get !”  It was a cold morning and above his paisley scarf and tartan themed  jacket  there were  pink flushes that I  assume were not all to do with the weather . 

“ No Post Office, what are we supposed to do without a Post Office ? “ Said Bert .

“ Post Office …well we would have one ……..wouldn’t we?” I offered lamely 

“See no-one has thought of that and Banks too …”

“ I can see where  where you are coming from  Bert.

 No  I can, really. Someone will have to explain this to the Royal Bank of England and Halifax Bank of England .Has Clydesdale completed its move to Stratford upon Avon yet ? 

But I get it , I do, I am quite partial to the dark hooded delights of an English Widow myself. “ 

Bert’s  colour was up a notch,  I’d say we were heading for a good rouge .

“ What about Brexit Bert?” I said provocatively.  ( I know I’m not going to heaven, but celestial coronavirus notwithstanding I’m offering a good party in the other place .)

“Yes well, we have to trust them to do the best for us, it will turn out right in the end “

“ Did Scotland vote for Brexit Bert ?

“ Britain did and we are part of Britain they will do what is in our best interests ….” 

There was  a pause I think Bert felt he was on shaky ground but credit to him he came enthusiastically back to his main theme. 

“ And what will we do without the Barnett formula ?” Bert threw  this out with a glee such that he clearly thought this was an argument breaker. 

“ Come again? Sorry can you explain?”

“ See no-one has thought about that , what do we do when the Westminster stops paying us the Barnett formula ?”

“Do you know what the formula is? Do you pay taxes Bert ? Of course you do sorry for asking . Do you know your taxes go to pay the Barnett formula? “

“ Yes but that  is our  special allowance ( allowance, like pocket money given by parents to children Bert ? I couldn’t say what I wanted because  his colour was now crimson and I was worried for him  ) 

“ Bert we pay taxes,  this is money that comes back to us ….” 

“ Yes but we get FAR more back than we pay in…..”

“ Those figures are disputed Bert ….” 

“ Yes but that is just statistics not facts .”

“ So things quoted by those in favour of Independence are  just statistics while those for the Union are facts ?”

“Umm …Yes…….. ” he had the grace to say this staring at his feet. 

‘ Do you know the Barnett formula applies to Wales and Northern Ireland too?” There was no comment .

“ Bert do you think it is right for someone in Surrey to determine what is right for someone in Glasgow, or Swansea or Belfast based upon what they want to deliver for someone in Essex or Hertfordshire or Oxfordshire because that’s where  they get their votes from ? “

I left it at that. I quite like Bert, he is a good man retired now from a very responsible job in public service. I know what paper he reads so  his opinion  doesn’t really surprise me, but  the strength  of his standpoint does.

He is very proud of being Scottish . Perhaps he has the right I am English and live here, perhaps I have less right. Actually half French which possibly explains my liking for garlic and red wine and my sadness too at leaving the EU. So clearly “ not from around these parts.” I just find it odd that “ these parts” need a parental embrace when others like us don’t .

With the IMF suggesting Scotland has a total GDP the equivalent of New Zealand and a per capita GDP ahead of; Japan ,Italy France, Spain  and incidentally the rest  of the UK the question shouldn’t be “ Are we too wee and too poor?” But rather “with like sized countries like Denmark , Norway and Ireland having higher GDPs, what is holding us back?” 

Of course we could argue about that but it is  a more adult argument that discussing the size of our “ Allowance.” 

I sense though  that would be “ statistics” and if you are tuned to your own, and I might suggest force fed  “ facts “ then perhaps they will never convince you?

I think we will revert to the weather next time we meet. 

Brits are on safe ground with the weather,  it is often rubbish but it could be worse,  couldn’t  it ? 

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3 replies »

  1. Some folks are just impossible to talk with. Change is scary for them, and changing a viewpoint is a non starter. Depressing, but common. Cheer up, high blood pressure might do it’s job for you.

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