Letter from the i editor: Britain’s unique union


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Ah, the joys of an England v Wales football match. Forget the result, it’s the opportunity for all the banter in the office, especially sitting next to one Rhodri Jones.

Writing this before the game, we’ve pledged not to barrack his singing of “Land of my Fathers” — if he promises not to call the HR hotline about the same old, lame old jokes.

Events like this are among the joys of Britain’s unique union. But, we all know that beneath the humour and friendly rivalry lie centuries of hurt over oppression, both alleged and real. Mary Ann Sieghart’s column on Monday: “A dose of tough love is what the Scottish need” tapped into some of that hurt. Inevitably, English readers agreed, particularly with the familiar complaint of England’s supposed “subsidising” of Scotland’s free university tuition, social care, and prescriptions. News that “free-to-Scots” Edinburgh University is to charge £9k a year — or £36k in full (four-year courses up there) — if you hail from England, Wales and Ireland, is a red rag to their particular bull. Then, of course, there is the divisive news that Scottish Tories may split with the Westminster party.

I would love to publish these letters, but as I have mentioned previously in this space: the red mist descended in the typing, and they were all way too long to publish, but the general gist is this: fine, cut us loose if you dare, that is what we really want, we have been propping up you English with our oil money for far too long.

At the risk of upsetting a few Scots near and dear to me, I believe it would be a really sad day for all of us if that moment ever did come to pass, and fear for both countries post-schism. But there is, discernibly, a simmering mutual discontent that our leaders would be wise to pay attention to. In the meantime, there’s the small matter of England v Scotland at the rugby world cup. Roll on 1 October.