How Scotland May Feel the South's Pain (or not)

Turns out that getting out of a united and centralized nation may have been easier if you fought your way out (or, count the ways I was wrong):

The SNP has no idea what it is doing, or the risks it is running. Worse, nor does it seem to care.

During a debate in the referendum campaign last fall, then-SNP leader Alex Salmond was asked simply what currency an independent Scotland would have. That would be no problem, he said. We would carry on using the pound, together with the rest of the United Kingdom, and we would share control of a central bank. Absolutely not, said his unionist opponent. Every British political party has made it starkly clear that they would never accept such an outcome. By the way, that was last year, when the rest of Britain was feeling much less aggrieved than it is now by the SNP’s general demagoguery and hate campaigns.

So, given that the shared pound is not a starter, asked his critics, what was Salmond’s Plan B? Repeated questioning failed to shift Salmond at this point, demonstrating to all but his most unyielding supporters that there was no Plan B, and that the SNP had never even thought through the currency issue. That might have been the single moment at which the referendum campaign was lost. Salmond resigned as SNP leader after that debacle, but he has been very visible in recent days, repeating the familiar claims and boasts.

Fortunately, Scotland never had to confront the consequences of this insanity, but let us assume that, after the recent elections, they do become independent. What about the currency?

In the referendum debates, Salmond’s next option was a threat, something at which the SNP is expert. If the United Kingdom refused to share the pound, he said, then the new Scotland would refuse to pay its share of the national debt. The problem there is that an independent Scotland would begin its career as a nation in default, unable to raise credit even for its existing commitments, never mind covering the expense of the ever-expanding welfare state promised by Salmond’s party. The likely consequence would be social collapse and mass unemployment. Presumably English and European aid would prevent actual food riots.

Meanwhile, the moderator of the Free Church of Scotland still wants to turn the world upside down:

The Marxist historian, Christopher Hill, wrote a magnificent book about the 17th Century English Civil War, which he entitled The World Turned Upside Down. In it he examined the radical ideas of the English revolutionaries. Those who are familiar with the King James English version of the Bible will know that he lifted the phrase from Acts 17:6. I liked the idea so much that when I first became a theological student and had to travel the country preaching, one of the verses I often preached on was that one. And then I discovered the more modern NIV translation “These men who have caused trouble all over the world, have now come here”. Did I want to be known as a troublemaker? Do we? It seems to me that in modern Scotland those of us who want to hold to the biblical position are in danger of being regarded as, if not enemies of the State, at least troublesome undesirables from a past era. Is it not the default position of much of modern European Christianity, that though we talk about being radical, we prefer comfortable conservatism, the kind that never changes anything?

Except, that is, in the presence of royalty (or its aura):

then came the evening ‘Lord High Commissioners’ reception at Holyrood Palace. From the beginning it was just such a different world. The palace itself is beautiful, the ceremonies quaint and the people ‘different class’….mostly aristocracy and high clergy. There was so much that fascinated and amused me. Walking into one room and seeing the portrait of Charles the First (perhaps I shouldn’t have commented ‘off with his head!”); thinking that black tie meant a black tie – not realising that it meant black dickie bow, tails and more formal dress….so there was I standing in my brown suit (and black funeral tie) whilst the other ‘high heid un’ clerlgy were in dog collars, purple robes and the various regalia. Still at least it made people ask ‘what do you do?”.

Sitting at the massive table in the dining room – with 80 others – was also an experience. The Lady beside me asked ‘what do you think of gay marriage’ as her opening gambit. Then I spoke to the Lady on my right – who was a judge and indeed had judged the FCC v’s Free Church case. She was absolutely wonderful. She is an intelligent, thoughtful and open minded atheist/agnostic. She is my new ‘bestie’! Suffice it to say I had the most stimulating two hour conversation (Annabel was sitting further down the table) on the law, the bible and the gospel. I feel that I now have a calling to ministry amongst the aristocracy!

Although I am a bit of a pleb. I was horrified when we were asked to raise a glass to the Queen, as I had already drunk my wine. And I was even more horrified to discover that my part of the beautiful white linen cloth was the only one stained by gravy. I wasn’t the only pleb there though! Annabel was talking to a woman who said that she helped with the Queens flowers. To which Annabel replied ‘Are you a florist?”! Not sure that Lady X was all that enamoured.

Postscript: if you want to know the biggest difference between Old and New World Presbyterianism, it is this. In Ireland and Scotland moderators of assemblies still report to and hob nob with the monarchy and its minions. In the United States (can’t speak for Canada), you are lucky if the White House chief of staff knows the URL for your communion.

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17 thoughts on “How Scotland May Feel the South's Pain (or not)

  1. you are lucky if the White House chief of staff knows the URL for your communion

    while “orthodox” does require us to explain a little more about who we are (in a good way, really), o p c . o r g is pretty nice and neat. Plus, we are in the more common toungue when you do find us, I’m a little lost when I click here (where’s my google translate, stat?).

    That, and

    Open Platform Communications
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Open Platform Communications (OPC) is a series of standards and specifications for industrial telecommunication. An industrial automation industry task force developed the original standard in 1996 under the name OLE for Process Control (Object Linking and Embedding for Process Control).

    didn’t nab the opc first, so we are in good shape as long as whomever pays the $4 a month fee (if you are reading, webmaster, make sure to keep the domain registry updated! can’t lose such a valuable url…)

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  2. worth clicking on the link above to the vatican site, they have a nice rotator/rocker of all popes, from francesco back to Pietro. We need to parade our moderators a little more, me thinks (scratch that, we are conciliarilists, not papists).

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  3. Reading Robertson’s FCS Moderator’s address and about his recent trip to the USA to spend synergistic and perhaps profile raising time with Keller and Begg, I ask myself is there any limits to this man’s force of personality and opinion? He even writes in his address of the hope of a united Presbyterian denomination in Scotland. Any idea of who might head or have a major influence in such set up, David?

    There could be two or three ways of viewing such Robertson. Either his passionate views are so forcefully right, or he is something of a simply formidable character who knows the power of the individual via the internet/blog, the network and celebrity status who is seemingly unassailable. He may well be a mixture of the two views.

    It could be interesting if any of David’s fellow Scots, even from the principled Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, would comment on his apparent burgeoning influence. I also find it curious that David rarely speaks well of other Presbyterian denominations in the UK, notably the Free Church of Scotland Continuing and the EPCEW from the disparaging comments he has made about them.

    As clearly defined Presbyterian polity and practise not diluted or compromised by the so called praise band worship (promoted by the Gettys, Kauffman and Townend) and equally the anaemic church government of independent evangelicals is being sought in the UK I hope there will be vigilance and rebuttal of being coerced by powerful personalities like David Roberston. Is it time for another book along the lines of Engaging with Keller, one with the title of Engaging with Robertson?

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  4. Please let no-one write such a book whether entitled Engaging with Robbo or otherwise. He will only write three in response, and increase his blogging output. This may distract him from his role as Archbishop Moderator.

    I’m not sure if Philip Jenkins understands the SNP tactics at all. I’m not pro SNP nor did I vote for independence in last year’s referendum. But Alex is a seasoned campaigner and debater. In all the statements he made about currency I believe he was being provocative. The detail of currency would only have become clear during the negotiations if the vote had gone the SNP’s way. I think most people in Scotland understood that despite the rhetoric.

    I suspect David Robertson plays a similar provocative game when he talks about joining the FCoS to the CoS.

    While our moderators gravy stains and all, may hob nob with the minion of our Monarch – the Lord High Commissioner, they certainly don’t report to that person. Rather the LHC observes proceedings and reports to the Monarch.

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  5. Darryl,
    How representative of the FCS Robertson is a good question which folks within his denomination can answer. I have noticed that retired Professor Donald Macleod of the FCS seems to run counter to Robertson on some issues, but whether is this is a subtle riposte or just a plain coincidence I don’t know.
    I know the men of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland could give some detail on the FCS as it is being shaped today, but they are probably reticent to comment which is a shame for they have a great knowledge of Scottish church history and present day issues.
    The Brits. are like sheep today, following and quoting their favourite celebrities like Kevin DeYoung like star struck fans, so any opportunity to set back this sad trend of being beholden to men such as Robertson and getting in line with their undue influence needs counter acting.

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  6. UKPaul, I guess it wouldn’t do for me to come the Isles for a speaking tour dedicated to declaring British Protestant independence from the U.S.

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  7. Darryl,
    U.S. and British Protestants are joined at the hip in many ways. I recognise that in my denomination our American friends are a massive encouragement to us, but not in an overt or celebrity sense. I know your knowledge of Presbyterian history and men like Machen would be a great asset to the newly emerging Presbyterian churches in the UK.

    One of the biggest challenges in such congregations is teaching why we are Presbyterian as opposed to independent evangelical in church government and practise. Church members need a sense of historical perspective on such matters so they can appreciate their present postion, and why we don’t dance to all the modern trends. How about a UK tour in 2016?

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  8. Thanks for the fix Darryl.

    I think that Donald is acting as a deliberate counter to some of the recent trends in the FCoS. That being said much of what we wrote and said years back encouraged a FCoS version of YRR. But I think he is perhaps discourgaged by the non-presbyterian behaviour observed as a result.

    I am not sure David is representative. He is perhaps the loudest. Most of the FCoS I know get on with their lives and ministries and don’t comment much on the issues that David speaks on. Of course most of those folk don’t use twitter so their voice is not heard. Also because of the various controveries that have caused much pain in the FCoS in recent years people are perhaps tired of controveries and controversialists.

    As to currency, it was obvious the Euro was out (plan A). As to the pound (plan B), while that is in the gift of the UK goverment, by denying a seperated Scotland the use of it during any transition the UK goverment was perceived by some as holding Scotland to ransom. Of course there really doesn’t need to be a public plan C as such, as should Scotland choose independent then any subsequent seperation would be subject to detailed and perhaps protracted negotiations. I suspect that there are plan C’s on both sides as contingencies but no-one is showing their cards.

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  9. Brexit could turn into Scremain (Scottish independence? No):

    The SNP has exchanged the idea of Scottish Independence for the fantasy of the progressive EU – There are those who think that the SNP are just using the EU referendum as an excuse to get Scottish Independence. I think this is a faulty analysis which does not take into account the changes in the party over the past three years. They think that the SNP only care about independence and are just using the EU issue to get it. Whilst the initial change in the original anti-EU stance of the SNP was a tactical change (basically to argue that we would not be on our own), the current passion for the EU is of an altogether different order. It is not some kind of Salmond like Machiavellian plot to get another Indy Ref and Scotland out. I don’t believe that Nicola Sturgeon is either that deceptive or that stupid. I think that the current SNP leadership really do think that being part of the ‘progressive’ EU is more important than Scotland being independent. Which is why when some activists say to me ‘we agree – but let’s get out first and then we can vote on joining the EU’, I have to point out that does not work. The whole current SNP case is that we have to leave the UK, not to be independent, but so that we can join the EU. Any referendum based on that premise deserves a no vote.

    How did this happen? How did we get to a stage where a party that was committed to the idea of Scottish independence was willing to bargain it away in order to stay within the EU? After the Independence Referendum the SNP membership increased by over 100,000. It wasn’t just that these were people who were sold on the idea of Scottish independence. No the SNP became the ‘go to’ party for social progressives and those who wanted a fast track career in politics. We received some really good people, but also some who were clearly inadequate and in a political (if not a financial) sense, those who were ‘on the make’. Somewhat counter intuitively, instead of broadening the party base, the massive increase in membership resulted in an increasingly narrow ideology. The whole nature of the party as a broad party with a wide range of views united on the one common aim of an Independent Scotland, disappeared almost overnight. We have become the Lib Dems of Scotland – only with a more Nationalist tinge. Anyone who does not buy into the progressive, EUphile agenda is out.

    The EU is presented as the solution for everything. The EU as religion is deeply ingrained in the metro-elitist culture in Scotland. One senior academic told me that of course he, and most academics were for the EU – because the EU paid them. The arts establishment, the business establishment and the political establishment are the same. But it is more than finance. It’s emotion based on a political and historical myth. The EU is all that is good. It is progressive, the defender of human rights, the Saviour of the world.

    Think Hillary as EU, Trump as independence.

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