Thursday, 11 September 2014

Another point against Scottish independence

There can be little doubt that James Bond, perhaps the most successful long-running film series of all time, is a shimmering emblem of contemporary British culture. The illustrious character's cinematic career began all the way back in 1962 with the path-breaking thriller Dr. No, and since then it has gone from unflagging strength to unflagging strength. Bond movies consistently rake in substantially more at the box office than is forked out on their productions. Our gallant protagonist is watched, admired and celebrated not just in the British Isles but in countless other countries around the world. Indeed, two years ago in 2012, his presence embellished an occasion of no less global significance than the London Olympics' opening ceremony.

And yet there is a frighteningly real possibility that, with Scottish independence and the dissolution of the British Union, James Bond could be brought to a rather abrupt end.

Readers sensible enough not to have missed the tireless series' latest instalment, Skyfall, will be aware that Bond is the son of a Scotsman, Andrew Bond, and that he grew up in the stunningly beautiful yet ruggedly mysterious landscape of Glencoe, Scotland. Although to my knowledge we are never actually informed of Bond's birthplace, it seems highly likely that he was therefore also born in the land of your wee bit hill and glen

Now in the event of Scotland seceding from the Union, Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (also known as MI6) would no longer continue to operate on behalf of the Scottish people, meaning that its eligibility requirements would have to be changed accordingly. At present, only British citizens are qualified to work for MI6. It presumably follows that, if Scotland were to become a separate country, only individuals born in England, Wales or Northern Ireland would be qualified to work for MI6... One can just imagine that awkward telephone call from M:
Bond, are you listening? I've got some thoroughly rotten news. Those chaps over at the foreign office aren't playing cricket, so I'm afraid the service is letting you go.
Of course an alternative possibility is that Bond, along with all the other Scots-born Brits currently residing in some other part of the U.K., would be granted dual citizenship in the event of Scottish independence. MI6 reports that appointees with dual nationality are required to foreswear their non-British citizenship as a condition of appointment to the service. In this case then, Bond would be able to continue working for MI6, but only if he agreed to renounce his Scottish citizenship. I suppose there is at least one major reason to think he would choose to do so (spoiler alert), namely the sombre memories he has of the country where his late parents are buried. Indeed, when prompted with "country" in a simple word-association task, he responds emphatically with "England".

However, this would be a hollow victory. After all, Bond is not an English icon; nor is he a Scottish one. He is British right to the core.

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