WHEN Ireland decided to rise up against the English in the 1916 Easter Rising, a small band of less than 2,000 men took over strategic points in Dublin such as the Custom House, the Post Office and, most importantly of all, the biscuit factory.
The plan clearly relied on the depravation of any afternoon tea snack and a cutting off of the postal subscription to The Times to cause havoc in the British Army. It was however a masterstroke in terms of timing and symbolism as England was entrenched in the First World War and it was to be the sacrifice rather than the success of the plan which would prove crucial. These are both lessons that seem to have been lost on the Scottish bid for independence.
Ireland’s revolution in 1916 was lead by poets and teachers and resulted in the occupation of an odd selection of venues. Were it to be repeated today, suspicions that it was part of an elaborate ITV hidden camera show would be justified. It was clear from early on that the Irish Republican Brotherhood (which in retrospect does sound like a Dan Brown invention) would be defeated easily. It was the subsequent execution of the leaders that lead to public outrage and a War of Independence proper.
I bring this up in stark contrast to what appears to be the easiest breakaway from a crumbling empire since Peter Andre’s last divorce from Katie Price. Scottish people are clearly unmoved by how little effort independence requires these days as only a third of the population are seemingly in favour of it.
Couple this with several factors and we might explain the malaise in the revolution; Scottish identity is already recognised in terms of sports, an assembly and a variation on sterling notes which constantly befuddles shop assistants in London and other southern boroughs.
The foundation of the plan seems to be the vast oil revenues available to the government. Having never studied Geography, it seems the SNP are under the illusion that fossil fuels are made by the magical infinite pixies and such revenues will last forever. The plan smacks of a country in mid-life crisis where they’ve won the lotto and, instead of buying a house for the wife and family who they’ve been attached to for centuries, they get a fake tan, fix their teeth and leave to take up with a young hussy called self-determination.
Last but not least, we should not ignore the number of oil rich nations that have gone from peaceful tribal lands to dictatorships run by madmen with a penchant for gold cars and private jets made out of unicorn pelts. Alex “Mugabe” Salmond anyone?
There is something missing from this independence bid. There has been no sacrifice. There has been no oppression. Perhaps Alex Salmond’s cause would be helped by a massive crackdown by the English and a mass execution of the heads of the SNP because there’s nothing Celts like more than being told they can’t do something to turn them into born-again radicals. Then again, perhaps most people would just shake their heads, say what a shame and get on with their lives. Until David Cameron makes the dreadful mistake of occupying the whisky distilleries and the Irn Bru Factory. There are some lines you should never cross. Viva la revolution. Pass the biscuits.
• Keith Farnan will be bringing his Fear Itself show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe