Why Scotland signed up to the Act of Union is a hot debate. Different historians draw different conclusions from the same facts – depends where they start from. But what about the English, why did they drive this incorporating act in the first place? Well, it seems it was a pretty straightforward case of geopolitical insecurity. Fighting the war of the Spanish succession was challenging enough without a bunch of tossers in the Scottish parliament taking the piss (the act of security, the act of peace and war, the wine act, the wool act). Resolving the Scottish question was the act of a mature and responsible government seeking to preserve the united monarchy and get on with taking a leading role in Europe (sic). So far so historical.
When the English signed the Act of Union on the 19th of March 1707 they got what they wanted. But this merger (that’s the polite term businesses use for a takeover when there are sensibilities that have to be preserved) wasn’t motivated by increasing sharholder returns through anticipated synergies. It was about shutting up the Scots. Making sure that the French stayed over the channel and the Catholics stayed off the throne. The Union was a job done.
But roll forwards 300 years and ask yourself now: What do the English get out of the Union? The French are their allies not their enemies, and having a Catholic monarch doesn’t seem to be much of an issue – if they want to have a monarch at all. The Scots are still a moaning bunch of gits, hogging a disproportionate number of places in the cabinet, a Scottish prime minister to boot (maybe). They vote on English domestic matters and England subsidises every Scottish family by £5,000 according to that notable statistician Wendy Alexander and…and…and they just whine all the bloody time. Why do the English put up with this? Mostly because they’ve yet to realise they’ve got a choice! Inertia isn’t the only way to do politics.
Happy Anniversary England