On this day in 1329, Robert I of Scotland, more commonly known as Robert the Bruce, died. At the time of his death the future of the Scottish Kingdom had been secured with the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton which finally recognised Scotland as an independent nation after many long years of armed struggle.
Could it be that 700 years after Robert the Bruce’s most famous battle at Bannockburn in 1314 that Scots will once again have to fight to save Scotland?
If so, we will not be fighting with swords and shields, nor will we be fighting against the English. In a new age when words fly around just as sharp and deadly as arrow heads, we will be protecting Scotland from the creeping barrage of separatism which threatens Scotland just as much as any Plantagenet King may have centuries ago.
Scotland is a stronger nation because of our history, a rich history of which I am proud. The stories of Wallace and Bruce are ingrained in the memories of Scots. We feel their passion when our warriors of today take to the field at Murrayfield, when we see the Saltire flying high, or when we open a can of Irn-Bru.
Triviality aside, we are a proud nation and so we should be. But separatists often forget that our history with our neighbours from the south is just as rich, just as important as events pre-1707. That should be celebrated too, not condemned as 300 years when Scotland was a second-class nation.
The lead up to the Act of Union of 1707 does have a counterpoint today. In the early 18th century, Scotland was trying to recover from the Darian adventure, or misadventure, where Scots attempted to set up a colony in what is now Panama. The failure of the expedition bankrupted the country and, some would argue, was one of the main reasons from accepting the Union with England.
Today, Scotland is trying to recover from the banking crisis that engulfed the world. Scotland’s biggest bank, RBS, was bailed out by the UK Treasury when it pumped in over £30billion of capital, making it 84% controlled by the taxpayer.
Much as Scotland was not able to cope with the fallout from the Darian Scheme, Scotland would not have been able to cope with the fallout from the RBS collapse. Now, despite what separatists might say, this is not doing down Scotland. I am a nationalist, meaning I love the nation in which I was born and I can fly the flag just as high as anyone else. What I am not is someone who wants to rip Scotland out of a Union that has served us well.
The world is very different today than in the days of Bannockburn. Then, our world stopped at the borders of our closest neighbours. Today, we live in a global age when the actions of one nation can impact the fortunes of another on the other side of the world. Strength in numbers is a good thing, hence alliances like the European Union and NAFTA.
To have a real debate on what separation would mean for Scotland then the SNP and others must give more than a smile and platitudes about doing the best for the nation.
They must come forward and answer some of the hard questions on what Scotland would have done during the banking crisis, and what we would do if the same happened in the future. Would Scotland be compelled to join the Euro, how would we defend ourselves, how would will influence global events by losing a seat at the top table at the UN and NATO. The list goes on.
The battle for Scotland’s future in the next few years will be just as important as that undertaken on the fields of Bannockburn. But in this battle, it is those that support the continuation of Scotland as a vibrant member of a successful Union who are on Bruce’s side now.