Tuesday, 3 December 2013


No, this is not an attack on UKIP, who will carry on muttering their stuff regardless of me and be very happy, on their own, in a pub with locked doors.

No, it’s a reflection on the dangers I see in isolationism and resistance to change.  It seems entirely possible that we could soon have a resignation and a divorce pretty well all at once with Britain saying goodbye to Europe and Scotland saying goodbye to Britain.

All done and dusted, we’d be proudly on our own.

But why stop there? Let’s ditch everything apart from London and the South East. We’re roughly 40 % of the UK and twice as rich as the rest. A £1.5 trillion gated community of an economy and no need to worry about Labour or Liberals anymore or those strange Northern accents or greyhounds or pies or the Co-op. Burn the cloth cap and build another runway or two at Heathrow and who needs HS2? We’ll spend it on skyscrapers instead.

Increasingly we’ll retreat indoors behind our PCs and read about the Bulgarian invasion of Scotland and laugh drily.  But weren’t we born to huddle together, laugh, drink and tell stories?  Weren’t we born to exchange views and change minds?  Aren’t we hard wired to work together?

I was asked today if I thought travelling broadened the mind. Not exactly, I reflected, it’s bigger than that. It explodes boundaries. Go to China or India and you see unimaginable scale, poverty, wealth, growth and a sheer sense of wonder and discovery in their eyes and through your own. These are places that are devouring a diet of change. They have infinite  horizons just as extraordinary and wide as Columbus saw.
Caitlin Moran lamented her London being stolen by a new rich foreign cadre who’ve taken it over. Yet I rejoice to hear people describe Mile End as trendy and smart. I’m amazed (happily) that Park Royal is cool – a sort of South Ealing without the ponce and that Clapham is the Chelsea of today.

Because there is only one poison more toxic than that of hating abroad and that’s the small ‘c’,  conservative resistance to change and hostility to ambition.

You know, the view that we can’t afford to do whatever it takes to get to the next level when all the evidence of history has consistently shown ambition, investment, drive and change has, nearly always, led to a better life. Isn’t that the lesson of the Olympics?

I realise how much I like being part of Scotland and how refreshing, foibles and all (and we’re good ones to talk) Europe is (from Greece to Sweden) and how good it is being a European citizen…..because here’s where I live.

Maybe we’ve got bored or gone mad but as Tom Peters once put it “you can’t shrink into greatness”.

Here’s hoping lots of people hear that.

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