Whisky and Whine

Hugging_Face_Emoji_2028ce8b-c213-4d45-94aa-21e1a0842b4d_largeAccording to the United Nations, Norway is the happiest country in the world, edging out previous winner Denmark and third placed Iceland. The UK was 19th happiest out of 155 countries. Not bad. Of places with decent weather, Australia led the way at 9th.

But here is the thing. The top three all have quite high suicide rates.[1] Much higher than the UK. Which stands to reason, in a macabre sort of a way: if the most miserable people in any population commit suicide in substantial numbers, then those who are left will be, on average, less miserable.

chartimage_001A similar picture emerges within the UK. Scotland has a much high suicide rate than England, but scores slightly better on the happiness index.  More marked is the trend in Northern Ireland: it has the highest suicide rate in the UK, but the greatest happiness rating.

It is not hard to see why Northern Ireland is more cheerful these days: its terrorists have stopped bombing and killing, having instead been given jobs running the place. And there is nothing the Scots like more than a good moan about something, especially about the English, and they are presently being whipped up into a frenzy of whingeing by the Poison Pixie. teapot Unhappily for those who would prefer for the United Kingdom to remain united, she is possessed of a certain low cunning, and calculates that if she bangs on endlessly about how the UK Government is not treating her with enough respect, then sooner or later someone will admit that, well, actually, we do not care a monkey’s fuck about her or her ridiculous Scottish parliament, and that will (she hopes) play heavily on Scottish resentment.

And there may be another factor in play running alongside that. The English are, on the whole, feeling pretty chipper these days. The attempts by the Europhiles to frustrate Brexit in the Courts and in the House of Lords seem to have failed, and so the country is happily set on its way to rid itself of the burden of the EU with Article 50 due to be triggered next week. There are those in England who will feel a fresh wind in their nostrils, and think it might be time to get rid of Scotland while we are at it.  The UK’s contribution to the EU is about £250 million a week[2], most of that of course being paid by the English. The English subsidy of Scotland is about £1,600 per person per year, or about £160 million a week.[3]. In other words, the money that England would save by getting rid of Scotland would not be quite as much as the saving occasioned by Brexit, but is in the same ball park.

Furthermore, with no Scottish MPs at Westminster, the Tories would command a substantial majority. The collapse of the Labour Party is of course very good news for those who want a long period of stable Tory government, and getting rid of the eternally anti-Tory Scots would be the cherry on the icing.

That might be good for happiness. The UK stats show a steady increase in happiness since the socialists were voted out of power in 2010:

chartimage

But divorce from Scotland would be much harder than divorce from the EU.  For the Scots, obviously: they would be Greek-style bust in no time. But even for those who do not care about that, there are issues. Moving the Trident submarine base from Faslane to England might cost around £3.5bn, so that is several months’ worth of the saving straight away[4]. But then again, there are thousands of jobs associated with that base, and so the English economy would benefit from its move to England.

Hadrians WallWould there be a hard border or a soft border? Probably soft: it seems that Hadrian’s Wall was in reality a pretty soft border even in Roman times. But what would stop the Scots pouring over the border, for example when they want medical treatment, education or welfare that a bankrupt Scotland can no longer afford? Would the Scots be given a right to reside in England, as the Irish were when they got independence 100 years ago?

And what about the whisky? Well, that should be OK: these days only about 25% of the distillery production is in Scottish ownership anyway.

Cheers.

[1] According to the World Health Organisation , they are at 9.1, 8.8 and 14 per 100,000 per year respectively.  The UK figure is 6.2.

[2] The figure of £350 million a week bandied about before the referendum was the gross figure, before taking account of the £100 million a week that found its way back.

[3] There are about 5.3 million people in Scotland, so the annual bill is over £8 billion per year.

[4] Some estimates are higher.

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