It seems that much of the referendum debate, with all the talk of ‘our future’, works on the assumption that Scotland, England, and Great Britain are nice places to live in. Britain, as most of us who live here know, is a bankrupt museum for tourists run by old Etonians and geriatric media moguls. Come summer, most of us have to go home to places like Croydon, Darlington and Livingstone. New York, Los Angeles and Dubai are places we come across in old newspapers as we roam the wastelands of this once prosperous island looking for tins of food and old clothes.
Nothing reflects the state of the country more than the No campaign, which is a supergroup of unelectable politicians and children’s authors who have gathered together to play for one last time to their reluctant following. The kind of people who live in places called Crusted Thistle and don’t want the Union to split up because they think it looks nice when Mary Berry ices out a Union Jack on a cup cake. They are sadly right; Britain is ‘Better Together’. Not because of its successful past, but because of its miserable future.
The No campaign is getting even more desperate as this truth becomes apparent. Even the lads of the ‘Lad Bible’ have nobly rallied around the Union by confidently pointing out that if Scotland leaves they better not text back in the middle of the night like a drunken girlfriend. As if the two countries are in the prime of their life, and they still go out with friends to have fun, rather than drinking in silence in front of the television and sleeping in separate beds – the inevitable outcome of any long standing relationship. Divorces are for young attractive people, who still have plans to enjoy the rest of their life.
As most elderly couples reach the end of their lives they realise that a divorce may not be in their best interests. This may be because of health reasons, or the stress and upset it will inflict on their younger offspring. This is when they start to understand the value of pretending to love each other. There can still be moments of happiness, and very often any underlying hatred and resentment that comes from having to put up with watching their other half decay can be put off by complaining about immigrants or writing letters about grammar mistakes in local newsletters. There is still the chance for independence within such a relationship. In my local village of Bookham, many unhappily married elderly people still find excitement meeting up in car parks and having sex with strangers. The model for a successful Scotland within a Union lies not in our shared history or the undiscovered oil fields of the North Sea, but in the National Trust car parks of Surrey.
This relationship analogy is all underpinned by that rather weak and pathetic phrase – ‘Better Together’. The kind of thing whispered as two pensioners flick through catalogues for retirement homes and stair lifts. Better together. Grandpa and Grandma got drunk at Christmas and upset everyone by saying how disappointed they were with how their children turned out. Better together.
Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s too late in the day for a messy divorce. One day, in the near future, when we’re sitting together in a state care home, senile, incontinent, holding hands and staring out to the view of a brick wall, we’ll need each other as we’re made fun of and abused by the younger, fitter countries. Better together. And you know it.
Fred Sculthorp is a second year studying History.