Not content with lazily retreading a creative concept with its front cover (see the original version here), the Economist also decided to invoke that most stereotypical, historical example of Scottish economic folly, the Darien scheme. Yawn.
The thrust of the Economist’s article is that Scotland, if independent, risks becoming “one of Europe’s vulnerable, marginal economies” and weaves together a slew of tired old arguments to justify the claim.
We’re just too wee and too stupid. We just don’t have enough of anything to stand on our own two feet and to do so without plunging our economy and society into decades of penury and poverty. Conveniently forgetting in the process, all that Scotland has gifted to the world in the past.
For years, in my grandparents’ house, there was a cheap and cheerful banner hanging on the kitchen wall, listing many of Scotland’s greatest innovations and inventions. I wish I’d kept it, though Wikipedia does the job just as well. Some, of course, are not without controversy…. but taken together, they show clearly that oor wee nation more than punches above its weight. Apparently, though, we’d be incapable of this kind of thing if we were an independent nation.
There is a humorous (sic) version of this list of inventions that has done the rounds for many years in the form of teatowels and postcards. And sadly is still available.
But for your delectation and titillation and to serve as a poke in the eye to the Economist, the Wha’s like us “joke” is repeated here. Which is not to say I believe all that it says, nor support its anti-English overtones. But really it’s to make a point. We too can be as petty, lazy and stereotypical as they can. For the most part, though, we choose not to be.
A wee warning – if we think this is as bad it can get, actually they are only warming up. Fear is what drives the vested interests with most to lose from Scotland choosing independence and fear, in its most basic and nastiest forms, is what will imbue the anti-independence campaign. We just have to rise above it. And when we cannot, there’s always this:
Wha’s Like Us – Damn Few And They’re A’ Deid
A typical Englishman finishes his breakfast of toast and marmalade invented by Mrs Keller of Dundee, Scotland, and slips into his raincoat, patented by Charles Mackintosh from Glasgow, Scotland. He then walks to his office along an English – tarmac surfaced – lane, invented by John Loudon MacAdam of Ayr, Scotland. Or he arrives in his car, which is fitted with pneumatic tyres patented by John Boyd Dunlop, of Dreghorn, Scotland.
Before he had a car he used to travel by train, which was powered by a steam engine, invented by James Watt of Greenock, Scotland.
In his office he deals with the mail bearing adhesive stamps invented by John Chalmers of Dundee, Scotland, and makes frequent use of the telephone, invented by Alexander Graham Bell, born in Edinburgh, Scotland.
At home in the evening, he dines on his favourite Roast beef from Aberdeen Angus, raised in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He then watches some television – an invention of Scotsman John Logie Baird, of Helensbourgh, Scotland – about John Paul Jones, father of the United States navy, born in Kirkbean, Scotland. The Englishman’s son prefers to read Treasure Island, written by famous Scottish author, Robert Louis Stevenson, from Edinburgh, Scotland. Whilst his daughter prefers to play in the garden with her bicycle, invented by Kirkpatrick Macmillan, of Thornhill, Scotland.
It is impossible for an Englishman to escape the ingenuity of the Scots!
In desperation he turns to the bible only to find that the first person mentioned is a Scotsman King James VI, who authorised the translation. He could – of course – turn to drink, but Scotland makes the finest whisky in the world.
At the end of his tether he uplifts a rifle to end it all, but Captain Patrick Ferguson, of Pitfours, Scotland invented the Breech-loading-rifle! If the Englishman escapes death by the rifle, he would find himself being injected with penicillin discovered by Scottish Bacteriologist, Sir Alexander Fleming, of Darvel, Scotland – or he might be given Chloroform, am anaesthetic first used by Sir James Young Simpson, of Bathgate, Scotland.
Out of the anaesthetic, the Englishman’s mood would not be improved if the doctor told him that his condition was as safe as the bank of England, which was founded by William Paterson, of Dumfries, Scotland.
Perhaps in order to get some peace, he could request a transfusion o guid Scottish blood so that he to could be entitled to ask Wha’s like us….
And in case, you think we’re all taking this too seriously? Damn right. Though I’ll confess to chuckling at a few of the invented place names in Skintland….