Hope Berwickers will be given chance to settle own future
writes a self styled Aussie/Scot-but not Mel Gibson-he goes on in his letter to the Berwick Advertiser:
SIR, — In response to the erudite letter from ‘Southron’ regarding the status of Berwick, I think his idea of a semi-independent town is appealing, but totally impracticable.
We do have small states in Europe such as San Marino, Monaco and the Vatican, but these are all sovereign and independent. A semi-independent town is another matter, and basically would be an extension of the status quo where English law, and nationality would prevail in the event of England and Scotland once more becoming two separate kingdoms (which I doubt will happen in the near future,) based on independence polls conducted in Scotland showing that, even since the advent of a Scottish Parliament support for this is still under 30%.
He mentions that Scotland should never encroach into Northern Northumberland including Spittal and Tweedmouth and I mostly agree with him, but firstly it has to be said that it was England who did the encroaching by occupying Berwick north of the Tweed.
I, like most Scots when discussing Berwick, refer only to the old Scottish burgh and not the suburbs south of the river which to us are in England. We have no desire to annex part of Northumberland and the First Minister in Scotland has confirmed this. Berwick-upon-Tweed is a different matter sitting on the north side, as it is technically not in England, only subject to English law and administration, so in the event of townsfolk electing to be Scots, there is no question of annexing or stealing a town from England.
Any referendum, or petition to be conducted should only be north of the river, in Berwick-upon-Tweed itself and their wishes recognised and acted upon. If the population in Tweedmouth and Spittal wished to conduct a separate second referendum to maintain the integrity of greater Berwick, so be it, but certainly their vote should not be counted on when resolving the old Scots burgh’s future.
At the end of the day Southron wishes the status quo, and I being Scots, as well as Australian, would like Berwick back in Scotland where the town would hopefully regain the prosperity it once enjoyed as a Scottish burgh and has never enjoyed since. I think there would be extraordinary tourist gains with the wealth they bring. It is a splendid gateway into Scotland, especially when you cross the Tweed by train over the Royal Border Bridge. The bridge’s name would then properly reflect the reality of the situation that you are crossing a border, which was no doubt what Queen Victoria intended when she named it.
Sincerely hope you Berwickers are given the chance to settle your own future and vote to return home. You can add my name to the many new tourists, as I will make a point of stepping off the train in Berwick next year.
Allowing (a) for Oz ignorance and (b) Nationalistic bias Mr T might recall, if he had asked someone in the know-that Berwick enjoyed semi autonomous status for many years with the town being neither in England not Scotland before being reunited (it had long been in English hands before the new status was promulgated) with England by act of the UK (not English) parliament. And I am not sure how being under Scottish rule would somehow restore its prosperity rather the reverse with the dead fiscal hand of Mr Salmond lying heavily on it-I do not think the good Burghers of Berwick would like his idea for local income tax for a start.
But he has one point. Royal Border Bridge. It is a bit odd in the circumstances. I suppose Queen Vic might have had a problem with Royal Not Too Far From the Border Bridge? And she could not have meant border with semi independent Berwick as when it was opened in 1850 the borough had lost it special status.
Labels: Berwick upon Tweed, Queen Victoria