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Newsweek Scotland: Burns and the Union

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Derek Bateman Derek Bateman | 15:40 UK time, Friday, 9 December 2011

"Bought and sold for English gold", wrote Burns about the demise of the first Parliament. The Unionists were hireling traitors and cowards. Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.

Except to say; we heard this week that two thirds of Scots would vote for independence if we thought we might be £500 better off. Where's yer Burns noo?

That finding from the British Social Attitudes Survey also found that the numbers reversed if we thought we might be £500 worse off. We'll discuss the implications with one of the researchers, Rachel Ormston, and find out the truth behind the headline. (Note to Mr Salmond: I could be persuaded for a good deal less if it came in cash in an envelope before Christmas)

Maybe it was reading what Burns thought of Unionists that prompted Michael Moore to recant and declare that he is NOT a Unionist. He doesn't like the epithet, apparently. Why not? Because it is an old fashioned concept, he says. So the Union that he is committed to retaining is out-dated? I have to admit to some confusion over this as Mr Moore has made his name as Scottish Secretary on a deluge of questions doubting independence and is on record deriding Scotland's ability to cope with the banking crisis and much else. I may have misunderstood (not for the first time, ed) but surely, while he can be a devolutionist and a federalist, he still remains, for the purpose of the national debate, a UNIONIST. No wonder Number 10 was peeved. We'll discuss.

By the way, on the question of money, oor Rabbie is reported to have dragged himself from his sick bed a week before his death to wend his way to Dumfries for his £2 wages. He was much reduced and shattered, we are told, but thrawn in his need to collect what he was due. He expressed his dismay at imminent death at only 37. What might the poor fellow have produced had he lived even 10 years longer? We will never know but will toast his memory with gusto next month.

We will hear how human rights directly affects the lives of ordinary Scots, get the lowdown on Ireland's hard-fought but growing recovery and hear from Russia and China. I'm going back to work to earn my BBC wages. (Bought and sold for English gold, anyone?) Join me tomorrow at 8.


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