Skip to comments.Mark Steyn: The Celtic canary in the UK's coal mine
Posted on 01/23/2006 2:56:16 PM PST by Pokey78
I am tempted to use that failed bottlenose rescue as a metaphor for poor old Britain. By "bottlenose", I don't mean Charles Kennedy, although the Liberal Democrats' leadership race is not without its forlorn symbolism, too. Rather, like that whale, Britain is a magnificent creature, but looking ever more beached by the tides of history and floundering for a way back into safe waters.
For example, consider the following headline from the Scotsman the other week: "Teaching jobs in doubt as pensioners set to outnumber pupils by 2009."
This was a story by Peter MacMahon, the paper's "Scottish Government Editor", and it begins thus: "Scotland's demographic time bomb will explode in three years, when the number of pensioners north of the Border overtakes the number of children in school, the Executive has been warned."
Seems straightforward enough: the country's demographic death spiral is accelerating faster than expected. And, as far as the Scotsman is concerned, the alarming thing about this development is that it could put cushy state teaching jobs "in doubt".
For crying out loud, man, get a grip. It puts every job "in doubt". It puts the continued existence of your country "in doubt". And it means the Scottish National Party is going through the motions: nobody needs a Scottish nation if there are no more Scottish nationals. See you, Jimmeh? Not for much longer.
Indeed, the remarkable feature of contemporary Scottish nationalism is that it has achieved all the features of a failed nation state without achieving the status of a nation state. "Teaching jobs" are the least of it. And doubtless the unions will see to it that, even when there is only one wee scrawny bairn left in the whole of Scotland, platoons of teachers will still be manning abandoned elementary schools across the kingdom. The jobs-for-life public-sector employee stood on the burning deck whence all the boys had fled.
With half the annual births it had in the 1950s and a population on the brink of falling below five million, Scotland has become a minor member of the axis of extinction: Germany, Japan, Russia - once great nations now recording net population loss. In its general approach to economic reality, not to mention the physical health of its population, Scotland is closer to the Russian end of the picture than to the German-Japanese end.
How did this happen? Almost everywhere you go on the planet, the great institutions of this world were built by Scots, from the Canadian Pacific Railway to the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank. Where is the spirit of Mel McGibson in Braveheart?
"Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you'll live at least for a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade all the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take OUR FREEDOM!"
But it is all more complicated than that. The modern Scot is prepared to fight - or, at any rate, strike - but only for the right to die in his bed on a government pension. In fact, one of the small signs of the country's woes is the byline of Peter MacMahon's Scotsman story. It is apparently possible to make a career in Scottish journalism as a "Scottish Government Editor", which in itself tells you something about the Scottish state.
What can be done to save Scotland? The Scottish Executive would like Scotland to have control of its own immigration, as the province of Quebec does. Quebec's collapsed birth rate has also cost it its dreams of nationhood and, like Scotland, it looked to immigration to save it, since when it has attracted a lively range of jihadist cells for whom Montreal offers the advantage of being a terrorist-indulgent neighbourhood only a stone's throw - or a bomb's - from the Great Satan's border. As the estate agents say, it is location, location, location. Glasgow has no such unique selling point.
Where are the immigrants going to come from? The birth rate is falling everywhere but the pre-modern world, ie, Africa and large swaths of Islam. Assuming that a talented Indian wished to leave his own land, which has the fastest-growing middle class in the world, why would he eschew America or Australia in order to go to Aberdeen and spend his working life supporting the elderly unsackable hordes of superfluous primary-school teachers?
The Muslims do their bit to keep the classrooms full. Abu Hamza, one notes, has seven children, all British subjects, although none inclined to go north, young man. But, in a world running out of emigrants, that is where any policy based on immigration leads: a future in which Scotland achieves nationhood as North Yemen.
Scotland is the canary in the United Kingdom's coal mine, but, given that three of the four component parts of the realm are mired in the same bloated, dead-end dependency culture, it would be foolish for the English to assume they won't get stuck with the bill for a Celtic fringe decaying into a long-term geriatric hospice. I doubt any Scot with an eye to electoral viability would want to run on anything that smacked of American conservatism, but surely they could at least learn something from Ireland, where, you will recall, Braveheart was filmed. They could have shot it in Scotland, but the Scots are too busy shooting themselves.
The other day Esko Aho - oh, come on, you remember, the former Finnish prime minister - presented a report to the European Commission that, in essence, read like a three-year-old Steyn column with an expenses budget: successful companies are abandoning the EU because it is becoming an irrelevant, sclerotic, statist backwater, etc.
Europe, says Mr Aho, is "living a moderately comfortable life on slowly declining capital. This society, averse to risk and reluctant to change, is in itself alarming, but it is also unsustainable in the face of rising competition from other parts of the world. For many citizens without work or in less-favoured regions, even the claim to comfort is untrue."
That is the point. On the present course, everywhere will wind up like Scotland. Mrs Thatcher liked to say that "the facts of life are conservative". Having declined to endorse that proposition in the Eighties, the Scots will be learning it far more painfully in the years ahead.
Och, my brethren in the Highlands need a good shot of backbone!
Nobody says it like Steyn.
Nobody says it like Steyn.
BTTT. Boy, is that guy brilliant.
Thanks for the ping Pokey.
I recall that a majority the Southern US's population are Scottish descents (Scots or Irish-Scot) and they have inherited the fiercest fighting spirit of their ancestors and are some of the most solidly conservative (in British terminology, classical liberal). It is ironic for them to observe that the descendents of their ancestors' relatives or friends who stayed in Scotland descends to French-clones.
Having said this, English descent may be worse. New Zealand is majority British descent (that is, English. We don't have too many Scots descents apart from the Otago region) and hey, New Zealanders love the welfare state to death.
Remember Scotland has a long term affinity with France since time immemorial (Auld Alliance). It wouldn't be a stretch to assume modern Scots behave like the Frogs.
I wish I was one half the snide bastard that Steyn is.
The Highlanders are forever!
As for the Highlanders, well...
"the facts of life are conservative".
Maggie, we miss ya! What a great quote.
Harry Blackitt: Protestant, and fiercely proud of it.
Mrs. Blackitt: Hmm. Well, why do they have so many children?
Harry Blackitt: Because... every time they have sexual intercourse, they have to have a baby.
Mrs. Blackitt: But it's the same with us, Harry.
Harry Blackitt: What do you mean?
Mrs. Blackitt: Well, I mean, we've got two children, and we've had sexual intercourse twice.
Harry Blackitt: That's not the point. We could have it any time we wanted.
Mrs. Blackitt: Really?
Harry Blackitt: Oh, yes, and, what's more, because we don't believe in all that Papist claptrap, we can take precautions.
Mrs. Blackitt: What, you mean... lock the door?
Harry Blackitt: No, no. I mean, because we are members of the Protestant Reformed Church, which successfully challenged the autocratic power of the Papacy in the mid-sixteenth century, we can wear little rubber devices to prevent issue.
Mrs. Blackitt: What d'you mean?
Harry Blackitt: I could, if I wanted, have sexual intercourse with you...
Mrs. Blackitt: Oh, yes, Harry.
Harry Blackitt: ...and, by wearing a rubber sheath over my old feller, I could insure... that, when I came off, you would not be impregnated.
Mrs. Blackitt: Ooh.
Harry Blackitt: That's what being a Protestant's all about. That's why it's the church for me. That's why it's the church for anyone who respects the individual and the individual's right to decide for him or herself. When Martin Luther nailed his protest up to the church door in fifteen-seventeen, he may not have realised the full significance of what he was doing, but four hundred years later, thanks to him, my dear, I can wear whatever I want on my John Thomas... [sniff]
Mrs. Thatcher was right.
He takes a long view on these issues, and he is right.
What does it matter if you call a place Scotland when there aren't enough Scots to support it?
We may be getting to a point where countries will be competing aggressively for fertile immigrants. "Come to Scotland we'll give you more goodies"
Scots have lost because they no longer believe in God. The Brits disarmed the Scots at every opportunity, then disarmed themselves. The welfare state is God, and real men and strong women are few.
Sad to say but they have contributed to their own demise. A once proud and strong people are now just a bunch of wimps with their hands out. Enjoy your history Scotsmen, because that is all you have left.
This is exactly why that mullah demands that Scottish Catholic school be changed to an Islamic school. Muslims breeding in Scotland like rabbits.
Oh, I've seen you approach 40%, on a really good day ...
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