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Should we learn from history? How no?

I HAVE long since stopped becoming engaged in lengthy debate on the referendum. When asked my position on independence I reach into my pocket and hand out a badge that says: "How No?" This message is understood by those familiar with the Scottish use of "how" instead of "why". For those who aren't, I may have to get bigger badges with the translation: "Scottish independence? Why ever not?"

I have also stopped taking heed of expert opinion. For every academic/politician/blogger who says Scotland can't use the pound, won't get into Europe, or will be mired in poverty, just remember there will be another one along in a minute saying the opposite. I choose to take a naively optimistic view of what we might look forward to when Scotland is no longer part of the Union.

This leaves time to consider some arcane historical aspects of the great debate. History is full of examples of Scots against independence. Did you know that:

l After the Roman invasion of Scotland in AD71, the Melius Largior Dando (Better Together) campaign argued that armed resistance by the Caledonian tribes was counter-productive. Scotland would not be able to access the benefits of the Roman Empire slave economy. The violence could even lead to a border wall being built to prevent Caledonian immigrants moving south.

l During the Scottish wars of independence, the Scottish Lairds with Land in England Association took a dim view of the guerrilla activities of William Wallace against English occupation and advocated devolution as a sensible way ahead.

l 1707 was a successful year for the Better Off with English Gold political faction (aka The Parcel of Rogues in a Nation), who organised the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament and the Union with Westminster.

l In 1746, the Better Off with the Hanoverians organisation fought with the mainly English army at the battle of Culloden against the Jacobite forces. It was the last pitched battle on British soil and hopefully will remain so regardless of the outcome of the referendum.

l The common factor with those who promoted better togetherness through the ages is that they made a good living out of it. This spirit lives on today with some members of the House of Commons who are noisily in the No camp. Hardly surprising when a fat salary, liberal expenses and a second home with a luxurious three-piece suite and a big flat-screen telly are all paid for from the public purse.

l But let us not vilify the Scotsman on the make for whom the noblest prospect is the high road that leads him to England. The entrepreneur, as Dr Johnson might have said if the word was in his dictionary. They are merely following the example of King James VI of Scotland. He got a better job in 1603 as James I of England and returned north of the Border only once in 22 years.

l The Union of 1707 gave Scotland an entree into world trade. Scots did well out of the British empire and Britain did well out of Scotland - not least in recent years when North Sea oil kept the UK economy afloat. We have had the best of Britain and now it is time to set England free and give them Gordon Brown as a going-away present.

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