All of which led me to speculate on where I stand on Scottish Nationalism. After all one of the reasons why I campaigned to remain the EU is that I believe we have a global economy and have to find ways of collaborating together to manage that global economy. To me that means moving beyond separate nation states and having a sensible degree of decision making at a European level. With the necessary institutions to ensure that important collective decisions are overseen by democratically elected MEPs. Indeed I am utterly convinced that we need to go much further and try to establish effective and democratic worldwide government mechanisms. You can't have a global economy and a global ecology without world government. Or rather you can and we do but what you get is a chaotic global economy that lurches from boom to bust accompanied by serious ecological instability.
Given how strongly internationalist this view sounds it may seem bizarre to some that I also strongly believe in localism. It seems to me that the more it is necessary to make some decisions at a national, European or world level the more important it becomes for local communities to have a genuine opportunity to decide on their own affairs. Whenever it is not absolutely necessary to make a decision at a higher level I think decision making should take place at the local level. At lot more decisions can and should be local.
Community is a really important asset. To his credit David Cameron spoke often about this in his early days as Prime Minister when he was very keen on the Big Society. To his shame what he actually did was to take power and money away from local government and to devastate the voluntary sector by inflicting more austerity on them than anyone else. Then he told local communities that they must allow developers to build on the Green Belt because he wrongly believed that was the only way to meet housing targets.
So on one level I tend to think Sturgeon has got it right. Scotland should be taking control of its own affairs. Within a network of formal collaboration between independent nations. I have a lot of sympathy for the view that the way for Scotland to preserve its strong sense of community and identity is to get out of the United Kingdom. There is certainly a strong case for saying that if their nation is to be forced out of the EU despite voting solidly in favour of remaining in it then, at the very least, they are entitled to vote again on whether they want this to happen. Before it happens. I also have a lot of sympathy with the argument that if you have got a competent left leaning Scottish government and an incompetent far right British government then the time may have come for a parting of the ways.
On another level I am not so sure. All the arguments about the dangers of Britain leaving the EU apply equally even more strongly if Scotland leaves the UK. Access to a single market. Free movement of labour within sensible limits. An absence of tariffs and border controls. Stronger together. All of these things matter. It is simply not in the interests of the vast majority of people in Scotland to have a firm border between their country and the rest of the UK. It is simply not possible to have separate countries with separate tariffs and not have hard borders. As the UK government is going to discover in Northern Ireland at severe costs. It is possible for a national separation to result in serious long term damage to an economy that outweighs the advantages of quicker local decision making.
At the moment virtually everyone is trying hard to be inconsistent about Scottish independence and the EU. The right keep telling us how important it is for nations to be proudly independent and to get away from remote government by unelected politicians. Until they hear that said by someone from Scotland when they immediately start telling us how important it is for us to all stay together inside a single market. The degree of little England contempt that they display goes way beyond any of the arrogant excesses coming out of Brussels that they furiously opposed. Meanwhile large numbers of Remainers are arguing that Scotland should cut their losses and get out of the UK. For them it is vital that we all stay together. Unless we are Scottish and English.
My view is that the EU is not such a magnificent institution that it is worth Scotland separating itself off from the UK in order to remain part of it. We need heavy reform of the EU to make it more democratic, to improve its common agricultural policy and to recognise the diversity that exists within its constituent parts. It makes a lot of sense for Europe to move forward to and allow Europe wide democratic decision making about those things that really do need to be in common across the whole of a trading block. It makes a lot more sense to allow EU member states to move at different speeds and adopt different approaches on as many things as possible. Put another way we need the ability to pass European wide laws about what safety standards a car needs to meet before it can be sold in fair competition but we do not need European wide laws about whether a woman is allowed to wear a headscarf at work.
In the referendum the Green Party campaigned on the slogan that "Another Europe is Possible". That was a very sensible approach that didn't try to threaten people and to defend the bureaucratic practices of Brussels but instead focused on the importance of trying to achieve positive things together. What we need now is a similar approach. We should be arguing that "Another UK is Possible". Let Scotland have its vote. But let's work together to create the kind of UK that people of Scotland will want to stay in.
I leave it to readers' judgement as to whether Theresa May is capable of doing that and of the damage that will be done to the UK if we lose both our membership of the EU and the membership of Scotland in the UK. I also leave it to your judgement as to whether telling the people of Scotland that they will not be allowed to vote on their future until they've actually left the EU is more or less likely to result in a vote for exit and the break up of the United Kingdom.