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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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Alan Vanneman
July 30th, 2015
11:07 AM
As an American, I find this piece hilarious. No wonder the Scots want to leave!

Lawrence James.
July 24th, 2015
3:07 PM
The 1707 Anglo-Scottish Treaty of Union is not, nor ever has been a sacred and immutable text, although many Unionists imagine that it is. It was the result of contemporary, wartime expediencies;England got a stable state on its northern borders and the Scots were given access to the benefits of England's global commerce, the protection of her navy and, within a few decades,new homelands across the Atlantic.Scotland flourished: when I lived in Scotland, Scots wryly joked about England giving away its Empire to their country's detriment. By the second quarter of the twentieth century, it was clear that there was a groundswell of popular feeling that the treaty should be revised. Concessions were made, grudgingly, and Scotland edged towards an equivalent of'dominion'status. Recently, a majority rejected the notion of total independence: Scotland would not become another South Africa or India. Yet,the demand for a new relationship with England remains and it will not be answered by emotional appeals to 'Unionism' or the carping of Mr Martin. The only answer would be a new negotiated and pragmatic settlement to replace its remarkably durable predecessor.

June 22nd, 2015
9:06 AM
The Scots Nats should focus their attempts to gain independence in England because the English will happily allow them to go their own way.Provided they take their fare share of debt and agree a lease for the nuclear subs base of 50 years and can't use the pound.

June 12th, 2015
10:06 AM
"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" You might want to try making a cursory effort to read up on Scottish history before you go making a fool of yourself. Gaelic was spoken in every part of mainland Scotland. Tenuously, and briefly in the extreme South-East/Lothians - which were known in the Middle Ages as 'the Land of the English in the Kingdom of the Scots' but for many, many centuries in every other part of the mainland. The only part of Scotland in which it is fair to say Gaelic was (almost definitely) never spoken is the Northern Isles. One of the quickest ways to identify someone who is both opinionated upon, and largely ignorant of, Scottish history is to listen for the oft spouted 'Gaelic was never spoken in X'. It's perfectly possible to be skeptical or totally against support for the Gaelic language without inventing lies about it's historical prominence and geographical spread.

May 26th, 2015
8:05 PM
Got as far as the 5p carrier bag charge being creeping scottish fascism. Its a Welsh Labour policy likely to become law across the rest of the UK soon. You're a moron.

May 24th, 2015
2:05 AM
Good grief. This is one of the most bigoted and ignorant article on Scottish independence I have ever read. And that's saying something given the coverage of the last few years. On Gaelic, I take it Martin thinks Canada should not translate signs into First Nations? On the economy, I take it Martin thinks every country should join with a larger country to firm a political union and 'pool resources'? And so on and so on. Incredible stuff.

Fraser Whyte
May 23rd, 2015
9:05 PM
An excellent article although I don't agree with it all, there are some clearly well-made and accurate points. I see the nationalist myths that you alluded to are in full flow in the comments section. Let's take mrGeod as a prime example - the claims of Scottish revenue not being attributed to GERS are absolutely, demonstrably false. How these myths gain such traction is beyond me. Read the methodology - All taxes for economic activity in Scotland are attributed to Scotland including corporation tax for large companies who have businesses across the UK, e.g. Tesco, Asda. There is no such thing as export duty so I have no idea where this nonsense about "whisky export duties" not being attributed to Scotland comes from. We would be FAR worse off outwith the UK. Just this year, for example, we would have had to have funded £4bn through tax rises, spending cuts or additional borrowing. And that's BEFORE the oil price crash. GERS are written by Scottish Government civil servants and endorsed by the SNP. Do you really think for one second that they would underestimate Scottish revenues? For what purpose? This is utter, utter nonsense based solely on nationalists hoping that the numbers are wrong. There is no factual basis on which to believe Scotland would be better off outwith the UK.

Damian Shand
May 18th, 2015
8:05 PM
Definitely a seeming show from some Cybernats here: Dr Angela McBain's thoughts are particularly charmingly expressed. It's good to see the SNP are learning the great language of slightly crackpot parties everywhere: I'm only surprised at that lack of "capitalist running dog" or "hyena" somewhere in these, but maybe I missed them.

May 13th, 2015
3:05 PM
A brilliant article: gets right to the heart of the issues. Well written Iain! (Especially the bit about cybernats, it would seem, ha ha).

May 5th, 2015
4:05 PM
To Jim Law: No border between Scotland and England? "There is no border." What are you talking about? Then you say "If you don't like going to Scotland, then stay away" How would you know you were in Scotland if there was no border? There's a bloody great sign near Gretna, that's where the border is!!

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