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The English are coming! London liberals seeking asylum

Prepare for an invasion. Following the victory of Boris Johnson in the London Mayoral election, liberal minded Scots in London are packing their bags and preparing to scarper. Leading the rush north is Ian Jack, the celebrated Guardian journalists and former editor of the literary magazine Granta.

Jack recently wrote that he might find it impossible to remain in London after a take-over by Boris Johnson and his Oxford dining chum, David Cameron. “It means living under a double yoke of old Etonians” he lamented. .Jack compared Scotland to liberal Canada, where many American refugees from Bush Republicanism have taken up residence.

This could catch on you know. For many London-based intellectuals and literary bohos life could soon become intolerable as Boris’s Bullingdon boys take over the cultural institutions and start talking very loudly in restaurants. If the Tories win the next general election, a lot of Anglo-Scots – and some English people too – might start thinking seriously of doing a bunk.

What’s to stay for? The latest Rough Guide to England last week portrayed the larger partner in the Union as a nation of “overweight, alcopop-swilling, sex-and-celebrity-obsessed TV addicts”. Ouch. Mind you, in the interests of fairness, I’d have to admit that Scotland pretty much fits that prescription too – only with deep-fired Mars and Buckie on top.

But politically there’s a lot to commend Scotland at the moment to the liberal-minded. Not just free elderly care, free university education and relatively sane house prices, but a government that opposes Trident and nuclear power and seems to believe in the kind of social democratic policies that Gordon Brown used to advocate.

There are so many liberal Scots in London running the media – Andrew Marr, Kirsty Wark, Jim Naughtie – that a trickle could turn into a flood. The Scottish government might have to contemplate temporary border controls to prevent media ex-pats returning en masse and swamping our social services and wine bars. Glasgow’s West End could become seriously overcrowded; congestion on the Byers Road intolerable.

Perhaps it would be wiser for Alex Salmond to ask the Anglo Scots to remain where they are for the time being and instead seek to accession to the Scottish state, following the lead of Berwick which, according to recent opinion polls, wants to rejoin Scotland. Areas of London like Islington and Hoxton could be urged to hold referendums on independence under the Wendy Alexander principle. They could then start electing members to the Scottish parliament and be governed under Scots law. It would be like Passport to Pimlico, only Scottish.

Where might this all end? Instead of separation and the break up of Britain, we might be looking at a reverse take-over. Stick that in your national conversation.

About @iainmacwhirter

I'm a columnist for the Herald. Author of "Road to Referendum" and "Disunited Kingdom". Was a BBC TV and radio presenter for 25 years - "Westminster Live" and "Holyrood Live" mainly. Spent time as columnist for The Observer, Guardian, New Statesman. Former Rector of Edinburgh University. Live in Edinburgh and spend a lot of time in the French Pyrenees. Will that do?


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