Up to a Point: A Free Scotland Would Be a Hilarious Disaster

An independent Scotland would be a catastrophe as a country. But it would also be very entertaining for reporters like P.J. O’Rourke.

Elena Scotti/The Daily Beast

This coming Thursday the Scots will vote on whether to make Scotland an independent nation. And I hope they do because it will be a disaster.

I don’t say this as a prejudiced Irishman. Even though the thistle-arse sheep-shagger Scots swiped Ulster and sent a herd of Presbyterian proddy dogs and porridge wogs to squat on our land and won the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 by using unfair—indeed, unheard of —- organization, discipline, and tactics on an Irish battlefield. We Micks only hold a grudge about such things for 300 years or so.

Nor is Scottish independence a misery-loves-company moment for us Irish. True, Irish independence has been no bed of shamrocks, what with the Easter Rebellion, the black-and-tans, the civil war, the IRA, and the Celtic Tiger turning out to be a mangy barn cat drowned in the well.

We Irish don’t hate the Scots per se. They’re too much like us Irish, who all hate each other. So we’re just looking for a fine entertainment from across the Irish Sea as Highland Scots have a donnybrook with Lowland Scots, Glaswegians dust up with Edinburghians, and Clan Dewers unsheathes its claymores for battle with Clan Johnny Walker.

I, however, have a personal reason for wanting an independent Scotland. I’m an ex-foreign correspondent, vintage 1983-2003, who retired after the Iraq War, too old to be scared stiff and too stiff to sleep on the ground.

Yet once foreign correspondenting gets in your blood…

Ah, there’s nothing like a primitive, quarrel-torn, disastrous Third World country. And Scotland has everything it needs to be what old-school foreign correspondents fondly call a “shit-hole.”

Plus Scotland is conveniently located for aging journos like myself. It can be “covered” from the comforts of The Ritz in London, and there will be plenty of unemployed Scottish unionist refugees hanging around waiting to be hired as drivers and translators.

Scotland’s economy will be the requisite Third World shambles. Scotland’s two dominant political parties are the leftist Scottish National Party and the leftist Scottish Labor Party. These can be counted on to vie in out-lefting each other. Cuba-with-chilblains, here we come!

The Brits won’t let the Scots keep the pound. The EU needs another Greece or Portugal dragging down the euro like the EU needs another bureaucrat in Brussels. Scotland will be reduced to using the 16th century pund scots, value soon equaling the Zimbabwe dollar—to the delight of bean-counters employing journalists who have expense accounts.

Scotland already has the essential Third World drug oligarchy -— Chivas Regal, Cutty Sark, Vat 69, Grant’s, Ballantine’s, Teacher’s, J&B, Black and White, Haig and Haig, Laphroaig, Dalwhinnie, Glenmorangie, Glenfiddich, The Glenlivet, The Balvenie, The Dalmore, The Macallan.

And as a guarantee of a Third World economy in shambles, Scotland is oil-rich. Proceeds from its North Sea drilling rigs will insure corruption and kleptocracy on a Nigerian scale.

Get The Beast In Your Inbox!

Daily Digest

Start and finish your day with the top stories from The Daily Beast.

Cheat Sheet

A speedy, smart summary of all the news you need to know (and nothing you don't).

By clicking “Subscribe,” you agree to have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
Thank You!
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason.

Besides poverty, privation, and suffering, Scotland will have the other standard-issue Third World conditions that foreign correspondents need to provide the colorful, heart-rending, op-ed provoking, Amnesty International-baiting copy we love to file. My Pulitzer is in the Highlands.

Scotland has poignant disease too. Does Doctors Without Borders treat hangovers?

You can be sure Scotland will have armed conflict of some kind (“bang-bang” as we pros call it). Besides internal feuds, Scotland is perfectly positioned between two hostile powers—England and Norway, who aren’t going to let those North Sea oil fields go without a fuss. Scotland will be Pakistan with exposed knees.

Scotland has terrible weather—always good as dramatic background for on-camera live reports. Albeit Scotland’s terrible weather is more the sub-Arctic than the usual sub-tropic shit-hole kind. But you can always put on more Banana Republic safari jackets, while you can only take off so many layers without looking like a half-naked fool.

Speaking of which, the Scots are ideal in the matter of outlandish native costume. The males go about in skirts and tam o’shanters carrying a lady’s purse, a sporran, that puts Channel to shame. They’re ready for their close-up. But don’t giggle. There’s a dirk at the waist and a dagger in the left sock.

Scottish foreign food is sufficiently foreign. I’ve had raw lamb brains in Kuwait, goat in Somalia, cobra blood in China, and dog stew in the Philippines. I’m eager to add haggis to my list of bragging rights.

Scottish music is sufficiently—to be kind—exotic. As soon as Scotland descends into barbarous chaos expect the pig-sticking squeal and shagged sheep moan of bagpipes to be frequently heard on NPR. (By the way, NPR newscasters will have to learn to pronounce “Scotland” the way the Scottish do. When asked how to pronounce the name of their country the Scottish say, “Faauhk you.”)

The Scottish language is, as all good Third World languages must be, incomprehensible. Take this verse by famous Scottish poet Robert Burns in his famous Scottish poem “Auld Lang Syne.”

We twa hae run about the braes,

And pound the gowans fine;

But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit

Sin’ auld lang syne.

No one in the civilized world has any idea what that means. This allows news reporters to translate whatever is said by a Scot being interviewed into whatever will make the most news. If it bleeds, it leads.

The Scottish have the regulation Third World tales of past glory, featuring such unlikely characters as The Maid of Norway, a King Robert nick-named “The Bruce,” an Earl of Atholl (really), and Mel Gibson.

They also have the standard-issue yarn about how, after brilliant victory upon victory in defense thereof, their independence was treacherously stolen from them. This would be by the 1704 “Act of Union” with Great Britain, which passed the Scottish Parliament by a vote of 110 to 69.

The one thing the Scottish don’t have is a ridiculous dictator. The Scots exhibit many of the Third World shit-hole qualities that foreign correspondents prize, but a penchant for ridiculous dictators is not among them.

However, Mike Meyers—from whom we haven’t heard much lately—would, I’m sure, for a reasonable price (always hard to obtain from a Scotsman), get his Fat Bastard costume out of storage and undertake the role.

Oh, what a glorious catastrophe independence would be. Excuse me, I have to get the keffiyeh out of my dusty suitcase and pack a kilt.