Posted on July 9th, 2016
by Rab Bruce’s Spider
Sir Nicholas MacPherson has written an article asserting that Brexit offers some excellent opportunities for an independent Scotland, a comment which has been widely welcomed by many in the Yes movement, not least by Nicola Sturgeon.
However, the cynics amongst us are sceptical about Sir Humphrey’s – sorry, Sir Nicholas’s - motives.
Remember, this is the man who was so committed to the UK that he was prepared to ignore the Civil Service rules of impartiality and brief against Scotland becoming independent. It is also worth noting his title. He is an Establishment man through and through, owing his career and status to the UK.
So why would he make such a comment now? There are three possible reasons.
First, he may genuinely believe that retaining membership of the EU is so important that it outweighs any loyalty to the UK and that Scotland would genuinely be better off as an independent nation. But, bearing in mind his former position and his proven loyalties to the UK State, this really has to be taken with a very large pinch of salt.
A second possible motive is that he intends to move to Scotland if we do become independent. He apparently owns estates here and he may want to retain the EU subsidies he is no doubt eligible for. Given that he spent his working life in a system which promotes personal betterment at the expense of pretty much everything else, this cannot be ruled out as a reason for his apparent change of heart.
There is, though, a third and more Machiavellian reason why he might have made such a pronouncement. You see, some members of the Establishment know that Brexit is a bad idea which will not only cut the UK off from the single market and create financial hardship for years to come, it is also likely to lead to the break up of the UK. The vestiges of the colonial mindset which still retains a massive influence over many in England may just baulk at the thought of Scotland going its own way. It’s a high risk strategy but reminding people of the international prestige they stand to lose if Scotland leaves the UK might just be enough to deter them from going through with Brexit. The reason it is high risk is because patriotic pride is a driving force amongst Brexiteers and Scotland hasn’t exactly displayed the appropriate amounts of jingoistic fervour recently so it is possible that many in England will be glad to let the whingeing Jocks go their own way.
But if this is the aim of the strategy, who could come out and plant the seeds? Current members of the Civil Service might not be willing to put their heads above the parapet or they might have more scruples about breaching regulations than Sir Humphrey – oops! – did during the IndieRef. But he is retired now and therefore in a position to say whatever he likes. Perhaps he thought up this wheeze himself or perhaps he was approached and agreed to write the piece in order to help out his old chums.
If this hypothesis sounds like a conspiracy theory, maybe it is. It could be completely wrong and Sir Humphrey – damn! – may be absolutely sincere in his views. After all, there is a first time for everything.