Friday, 7 June 2013

More international frontiers.

I didn't want to sully yesterday's blog with politics but I did want to make a point about a frequently mentioned reason-for-voting-no-that-isn't-a-reason-for-voting-no; namely - border checkpoints and the threat there-of if you vote yes in the referendum.

Firstly, here are some pictures of other international frontiers, a real hodge-podge with borders between EU countries, borders between non-EU and EU countries and borders between non-EU countries around the globe.

I was also at a border recently (as you might know from the last blog) although I could be forgiven for not realising. I looked for signs which said I'd left the UK but there wasn't any, nor was I accosted and searched beneath machine guns and search lights - we just rode on through to the pub.

The pub.

I'm not saying there weren't problems mind... We had to tempt the Irish barman away from the TV - he was watching Top Gear on Dave - and ask if his establishment accepted Sterling; he said; yes, it did.

We ordered drinks and were horrified to have to wait for two minutes while he worked out the exchange rate on a solar powered calculator (yes, foreign countries* have solar powered calculators.) Even my friend there in the picture, worried that they wouldn't accept Sterling (he's Scottish but living in NI) but I said why wouldn't they? Its just different coloured money, it spends the same way does it not?

Also, it cost £4.50 for two cokes which even by Edinburgh standards is steep. If I'm being honest, I wasn't entirely confident the barman was proficient at working out exchange rates but do you know? I was just thrilled to be there. Crossing a border is still a bit of a novelty, I've been back and forth to England more times than I can remember but only been abroad maybe a dozen times, its hard to see borders when you're flying high above them so riding across one on a motorbike is still new to me.

So, I was a wee bit disappointed when I couldn't get a photo of the border, the only notification was a sign welcoming us to Donegal - on the way back there was a sign welcoming us to Northern Ireland - that was it. No swarthy border guards gleefully snapping on rubber gloves, no towers bristling with weaponry or barbed wire (I think most folk in NI are pissed off with that kind of thing anyway.)

In the face of incontrovertible photographic proof, demonstrable fact and not a little common sense, why would border controls be thrust up between England and Scotland on independence?


It wouldn't because it makes no sense. We sell lots of stuff to England and they sell a ton of stuff to us, why would they or we mess with that? Why would Westminster (or Holyrood) throw up border controls between England and Scotland but have nothing between England & France or Scotland & Norway?

What would change? In terms of borders and how your money spends - precisely nothing. Now, some might say; why bother with it then? Because its not about borders and currency (well maybe a wee bit about currency,) its about policy and aspiration. Its about how much money you have in your pocket, how much of it government has a right to take and how much of it we allow them to piss up the wall - on that point, I would refer you to Mrs Howden.

* Although this has probably never occurred to you (and why would it,) Ireland as far as UK law is concerned, isn't a 'foreign' country - it's part of the UK CTA (Common Travel Area to us dafties) - you can come and go as you please. Given this is the case for Ireland and Scotland currently, why would that change exactly? Will Westminster, in a fit of pique, chuck a huff and throw up border controls?


  1. I'm at a total loss as to why it matters whether someone is a foreigner or not.

    If my brother was a foreigner I'd still feel the same way about him; if my best friend was a foreigner he'd still be my best frined...

    Actually I'm not much into rating people as "best" and "second best" friends etc, so, at the risk of sounding like a stereotype, I have to tell you that some of my best friends are foreign (no honest they are) David de la Suisse, Marta de España, Станислав от България (Stanislav from Bulgaria), 來自馬來西亞的年譚澤克 (Zek nin Tan from Malaysia), Michael from Australia, Daniel de Québec), Dani Magyarországról (Dani from Hungary) and Magnús frá Íslandi, भारत से राज और सूबेदार राज (Raj and Ras from India)… and others from France, Germany, Italy, Uruguay and USA.

    I couldn't care less if they are Scottish or from Tuvalu. What the hell difference does that make.

    Actually I used to love crossing borders with a bit of fuss (not too much). Now there's very little fuss anywhere, and you don't really feel you've quite been there.

  2. Yup.

    I reckon they'll pay for the whole foreign = bad notion in future, one wonders how people who aren't from here think when they here that shtick.

    I remember flying to Iceland (no, not the shop, the moderately successful - which is to say - forward-thinking country that knows how to deal with a banking crisis and was a bit miffed there was no one to stamp my brand new passport at Keflavik airport.

    The entire referendum process for me has nothing what-so-ever to do with where you are from; its to do with where you want to be.


Thanks for comment as always and I apologise if you have to jump through any hoops to do so. Its just that, I'm still being spammed by organisations who are certain I can't get it up or when it is up its not big enough or that I don't have anyone to get it up for.

Who knew blogging could be so bad for ones self-confidence?