In May 1707 Queen Anne processed triumphantly and in spectacular pomp through the streets of London to attend a service of thanksgiving at St Pauls Cathedral, the spiritual home of her reign. She was paying personal devotion to god for the Act of Union that had joined her Kingdoms of England and Scotland under one Parliament and one Crown. Her crown.
300 years later, September 18th 2014, another Queen and distant descendant of Anne, Elizabeth II, sits quietly tucked away in much less spectacular fashion at her Highland retreat of Balmoral waiting to see if that historic union remains as dawn breaks over the remote Scottish estate. No doubt it will be a restless night.
And she is not alone.
The Scottish Independence referendum is a historic moment for this small coalition of islands regardless of the outcome (which indication shows is going to be close run).
It is a catalyst and for change and forces into our political arena many more questions that must be answered.
If Alex Salmond’s “Yes” campaign carries the day his career will have seen him go from a political laughing stock when the Scottish National Party won its first three parliamentary seats at to the victorious First Minister of the World’s Newest Independent Nation State. All achieved in a mere 25 years, an impressive achievement in itself but the hard work will have only just begun.
Scotland will become the latest of a long line of countries to have wrestled its sovereign power from the grip of a Westminster parliament back into their own control as the remnants of the former British Empire continues to disintegrate.
Great Britain will no longer remain and the United Kingdom will, at best, be a little less united, at worst a floundering group of small countries in turmoil.
If the Yes camp do prevail It will remain to be seen whether the doom mongering on the hot topics of currency, banking & business collapse and potential exclusion from the E.U all become reality? Or whether they simply fade away like the spectre of The Millennium Bug which had us all believing the western world would grind to a halt at midnight on 01.01.2000.
If the Scottish electorate agree with former UK Prime Minister and fellow Scotsman Gordon Browne that the union is “Better Together” and the vote is a “No” to independence the promises of further home rule for the Holyrood parliament will increase the demand for further analysis of how Westminster functions with regards to England, Ireland and Wales.
It is impossible to ignore the sheer volume of engagement and participation involved in the debate during the election campaigns. In an age where the populous feels so disconnected from and poorly represented by their governments discussion on this issue has been widespread and well informed. Clearly when voters are given a definite, measurable voice on specific questions or issues they engage more passionately than when they are voting for a politician and his endless empty promises.
Could this be the way of the future of our politics? More direct involvement in decision making for the masses? A tantalising thought.
In a time when a number of British subjects and members of our own society have been radicalised into leaving these shores to fight for foreign forces in terror regimes and are committing horrific acts of barbarism, should we be less worried by the fear of losing the labels of “Great” Britain and the “United” kingdom and more concerned with the realities of ignoring the changes required to our own state. Whatever state that may be.
So as the sun slowly creeps above the landscape and the morning dew finally extinguishes the burning question of independence in Scotland, a gathering wind carries the embers south across the border and sparks into a flame.
What next for the British Isles and its Politics & Policies?