The 300th anniversary of the Scottish Parliament’s decision to ratify the draft Treaty of Union came and went on 16 January 2007 without rioting on the streets of Scotland, but plenty of debate about the circumstances in which it came about, the benefits it may or may not have brought to Scotland, and the issue of its future; all sharpened by the apparent strength of the SNP in opinion polls ahead of the Scottish Parliamentary elections upcoming in May. Interestingly, the tercentenary of the Treaty actually coming into force will be 1 May, just a couple of days before the election (a fact that clearly worries the Labour Party). This observer has also been greatly impressed by the ever more vocal unionism of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, expressed in language inconceivable for the young man who edited The Red Paper for Scotland and other works back in the 1970s. What worries him more, we wonder? – being seen as too Scottish to be accepted in England as Prime Minister of the UK, or the danger that Scottish Labour might not be the majority party in the next Scottish Parliament? It all gives the May elections a degree of savouriness which, one hopes, will improve the turnout compared to 2003 (see No 226).
Perhaps also worth noting here that the Brownie” – the £2 coin commemorating and celebrating the Union (see No 574) – was issued for the first time on 16 January. Will watching for the first one in your change be like listening for the first cuckoo in spring? For more on this see the Royal Mint website: http://www.royalmint.com/RoyalMint/web/site/Corporate/Corp_pr/txt_preciousGold.asp.