As I expect most of you are aware, this year marks the tricentenary of the Union between England and Scotland. This union has had many challenges over the last 300 years but has, for the most part, been largely beneficial to both nations. From many perspectives the idea of the Union still makes sense - not least from a geographical point of view - but the question of whether it can survive is probably more pertinent today than it has been at any other time in the last three centuries.
If you read this blog regularly, you will know that I am in favour of England becoming an independent nation once again. This is not because I have any particular animosity towards the Scottish or antipathy towards Britain - I don't. I am English AND British and proud of both identities. England, however, is my nation and English is my nationality and I will always put my nation first ahead of all others.
My preference would be for the Union to continue for another 300 years - at least - but I do not believe that can now happen. I believe that the collapse of the Union is certain and has been since Labour introduced devolution. Labour are now desperately firefighting to rescue the Union from the damage they have inflicted - not least the Prime Minister in waiting, Gordon Brown.
Gordon Brown is a lot of things, but he is not stupid. He knows what the breakup of the Union will mean for Scotland. The Scottish economy is a house of cards based on a bloated public sector, declining industries and a shrinking population. Brown's desire to see the union between his nation and mine continue comes not out of a love for Britain or some deep rooted feeling for England, it comes from the certain knowledge that a Scotland without England would be a considerably weaker and even more dependant nation.
It shouldn't be like that. Scotland has given Britain some of it's greatest thinkers, engineers and soldiers. But that was before Scotland embarked on it's flirtation with and eventual marriage to the dependency culture. Now, Scotland is utterly dependent - if not on England then on the EU. If not on the EU then on immigration. I'm an admirer of all things Scottish and think that is a great shame.
Perhaps the greatest shame is that, after devolution, Scotland had the opportunity to assert some degree of independence but chose instead to milk that dependency as much as possible through the Barnett Formula and to ally itself ever more with the EU. Instead of using devolution to promote the idea of increased Scottish independence as part of the Union, they have used it to promote greater dependency on the EU and now more people in Scotland than ever believe that can continue outside of the Union.
But Brown knows that that would be a disaster for Scotland. It's influence on Britain is still substantial - but as a separate nation it's influence on the EU would be negligible. Perhaps even more galling for Brown is the expectation that an independent England would almost certainly withdraw from the EU becoming truly independent and removing the milch cow upon which the Scottish - and much of the EU - economy depends.
I still believe that the best thing for both England AND Scotland is the maintenance of the Union - but only if Britain withdraws from the socialist construct of the EU which fosters the dependency culture. However, because Scotland is now so wedded to this culture and because the EU has, on the surface, proven to be a good surrogate to Scotland I now believe that the majority of Scottish people no longer want to remain part of Britain.
I also believe that the majority of English - that's English, not people living in England - want to withdraw from the EU and become an independent nation once more. And if that means the breakup of the 300 year old Union - so be it.