By Jason Michael

It’s Trinity College, Dublin, and it’s lunchtime in the Buttery cafeteria. Armed with my plate of sausages and baked beans I park myself down next to the Yorkshireman from my theoretical concepts class. He’s doing his M.Phil. in Peace Studies and I’m doing my own postgrad in Conflict. Let’s call him ‘Steve.’ Well Steve – which isn’t actually his name – turns out to be a really interesting guy. He’s friendly, well educated, and a good conversationalist. So we’re all chitty chatty, chitty chatty until he drops it into the conversation that he was campaigning for the Tories in their Scottish Better Together efforts in Scotland last year. Naturally the discussion sped up, and on neutral Irish soil we thrashed out our agreements and disagreements. After lunch this Aye campaigner and this Naw campaigner trotted over Front Square to share a coffee and more chat. It was fascinating! As it turns out he wrote his undergraduate thesis on the partition of Scotland in the event of independence. It was at this point that it really dawned on me that if he was thinking about this, they were thinking about it – mutilating our country to enrich London, and divide and impoverish our people. It surprised me that he was shocked that I would take this idea personally.

Steve’s logic was simple: If a certain proportion of the Scottish people, albeit a democratic minority, voted against leaving the Union then it was the duty of Britain to chop up Scotland to keep them British. It appeared to have never occurred to him that by the same logic 45% of Scotland should already be negotiation for independence. That would be undemocratic. What was also strange was his proposed line of demarcation. His idea of a northern shift in the Anglo-Scots border failed to live up to his words of keeping Naws British. In fact his line wasn’t about capturing Scottish people but Scottish resources; North Sea oil mainly – the very commodity his party bosses were telling us we couldn’t rely on anyway. He mentioned its unreliability a few times himself. So what was this need to take it? Britain must be in the business of collecting unreliable resources from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Scotland. Without a personal dispute developing – he really is a pleasant character and he studies Peace Studies – I told him calmly that this was where I drew the line, that at the point where England took a hacksaw to Scotland is the point where I would change the rules of engagement.

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