The starting gun has already been fired in the race to tell Scotland how poor, how small, how weak and how useless it is.
Gordon Brown kicked off the run-up to the Scottish elections in May by trotting out the old “you’ll not have any pensions” in a bid to caw the legs from under support for the SNP and the rising clamour for independence.
We have, of course, heard all this before back in 2014 for the first referendum when we were handed the chance to decide our own destiny.
Remember? All of a sudden having oil in your waters was a curse that can destroy a nation, just like it has wrecked Norway’s prospects. Besides, it was running out – other than those massive fields still being quietly discovered.
And of course our economy could never survive, what with all that green energy we were producing, all the outstanding produce we grow, the world-class seafood we offer, the global market in whisky and tourism. Nope, we would be Third World status if we were lucky.
For goodness’ sake, there were even suggestions we would be banned from watching EastEnders and Doctor Who on the Beeb.
And let’s not forget if we were to vote for an independent Scotland we would be ripped out of the European Union and cast into an abyss. Besides, why on earth would Scotland want to leave a partnership of equal nations?
Remember all of that? Well, if you have, don’t worry. All the usual suspects are about to be coming back at you with all the usual spin and nonsense.
But this time it’s different. Very different.
Let’s start with the obvious. We’re not in Europe anymore, Toto. We have indeed been ripped out, against our will and our democratic vote, by a Westminster that’s been hijacked by right-wing oiks.
Union of equal nations? So how come it doesn’t matter how Scottish MPs vote, it changes nothing at all?
Can’t govern ourselves efficiently? So how come so many of our friends south of the border wish Nicola Sturgeon was in charge of their coronavirus response and not Boris Johnson?
So here we are, a modern, viable, progressive European country, that cannot make vital decisions for itself, that sees its democratic choices thwarted and is governed by a party that makes no effort to disguise its contempt for our choices and institutions.
This latest move by the Tories to bypass Holyrood with the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, designed to replace lost EU funds, is a stark two-fingers up to the Scottish Parliament and the concept of devolution, never mind independence.
As I said, get ready to be told we are small and stupid and cannot survive outside the beneficence of the magnanimous United Kingdom, so settle your hash and get on with it.
Fortunately, all the polls have consistently indicated we’re not listening to the spin this time around.
As the old saying goes: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
And we’re not fools.
Let’s keep faith we can set plague times right
When Robert Burns wrote about when drouthy neebors, neebors meet, I rather doubt he had Zoom in mind.
But I’m planning to mark Burns Night this weekend, sitting on my couch talking to folk through a screen.
It’s not even close to the real atmosphere of a Burns Supper – although I will have haggis, neeps and tatties and a fair few drams sitting in front of me, courtesy of the Marine Hotel and Stonehaven Whisky Howff. Innovation in a pandemic means fusing a whisky and beer-tasting session to the Address To The Haggis in the comfort of your own home.
This is just another milestone on the long march through these plague times… a lockdowned festive season, followed by a lockdown Burns Night and a reminder of how much has changed since we first heard the word “coronavirus”. In fact, on January 25 last year, the Evening Express had a headline story about 36 million people being forced into lockdown. Little did we know that was our future.
But we do, hopefully, know what’s in our future now. With common sense, common purpose and a vaccine, we can put coronavirus behind us.
Of course, we all know the best laid plans o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley, but let’s keep the faith we can set all this right. And for next year’s Burns Night we can say: “There’s a hand, my trusty fere, and gie’s a hand o’ thine!” and take a right gude-willie waught in person.
World calmer without Trump rants
To quote the marvellous Bjork… it’s oh so quiet.
Since social media took away Donald Trump’s platform for telling lies, the world seems to have been a calmer place. No more ranting and raving and demands to “stop the steal” – it wasn’t stolen – and mean girl names about his opponents.
Of course, there’s always the worry the nut jobs have gone into darker reaches of the internet, but hopefully they’ve actually realised the world isn’t the way they say it is.
So let’s hope Joe Biden’s inauguration goes smoothly tomorrow and we can enjoy a better, Trump-free, world. We need it.