Dear Westminster: a divorce letter


by Paul Kavanagh

Dear Westminster,

There was a time when you wooed me.  Once you promised me the delights of India and the magic of Hong Kong, but these days all you do is sit on the sofa with your American pal playing war games.  You’ve squandered all our money on expensive toys and presents for your mates in the City.  Now you tell me you’re cutting the housekeeping money but you’re still buying two aircraft carriers, only there are no planes to put on them.  You even had the cheek to tell me you were doing me a favour by letting me assemble the airfix kits.  And don’t start me on those bloody submarines.

You treat me like you’re ashamed of me.  You never let me leave the house alone.  Are you afraid that I’ll say something to embarrass you if I was to meet up with some other countries without you being there?  I was really upset when you didn’t let me go to Copenhagen to that workshop on climate change, especially because you know how much work I did installing wind turbines in the back garden and got all those books about tidal energy out the library.  It was hurtful and unthinking.  Does the term ‘control freak’ mean anything to you?

I always knew you were never faithful.  I never mentioned your thing with Wales, you know, the other woman, your kidnap victim from a previous relationship.  I was even your biggest supporter when you wanted to start that menage-a-trois with Ireland.  You know as well as I do how much that particular little escapade ended up costing in therapy sessions and broken crockery.  I can’t believe how naive I was.  It’s all water under the bridge now, but I’ll never have a proper relationship with my own family until you stop claiming the right to speak for me.

I bumped into Norway the other day, she’s looking good and doing so well for herself.  I remember her when she worked in the fish factory and didn’t have two kroner to rub together, then she divorced Denmark and rushed into that rebound affair with Sweden which ended in tears.  Well that’s all changed.  She was just popping off to some important do at the UN and was looking very stylish.  And there was me in an auld coat and head-scarf like the depressive suicide risk in an Ingmar Bergman movie because you say I can’t afford nice things.

I see the banks are Scottish again.  That’s nice.  For years you’ve insisted on controlling all the pursestrings, and now the pursestrings are flapping around your ankles like snapped knicker elastic all of a sudden the empty banks are Scottish and a reason I could never look after myself.  You’re like a wean that breaks a toy then gives it back saying it was broken when you got it.  Funny how you managed to play with the banks for years without noticing how broken they were.

You say the oil money is spent and gone, and you always said that it was never a significant sum anyway.  Well now I’ve discovered the truth that you’ve been trying to keep from me for the past 30 years.  For all that time you’ve known that I could be very wealthy, but you kept schtum so you could spend the money on things for yourself.  

I don’t know what’s more hurtful, the fact that you kept secrets from me and stole from me, or that you didn’t trust me enough to be honest with me in the first place.  Just what other dirty little secrets are you keeping?  You know what Oprah Winfrey said, when trust breaks down there can be no marriage.  You’ve ripped up my trust, thrown it away, and trampled it in the gutter.  You’ve only got yourself to blame for that.

Then there was thon weirdo Thatcherism cult you got seduced into joining.  You gave away all the family silver and kept chanting that mantra about obeying the market.   What a nightmare that was.  You went all wild-eyed and starey and really scared me.  Remember Jack Nicholson in the Shining?  I was Shelley Duvall cowering in terror while you took an axe to everything.  I’m still not entirely convinced you’ve got over that little episode, and there is no power on Earth that would force me to endure another bout of it.  You’ve not done a great deal to boost my confidence on that score.

I’m under the doctor now.  You don’t care, you just mutter about Celts and alcoholism and tell me it’s all my own fault because I’m feeble and useless.  But the truth is I have cancer, the media and political parties that you support have turned against my body, poisoning my system.  They make me weak and cause me to doubt myself and lose my self-confidence.  They eat away at me from within.  The doctors have diagnosed it as Unionosis, it’s caused by a loveless and one-sided marriage.

What makes it worse is that it’s you who is feeding the disease.  I’m not saying you’re doing it deliberately – that would imply you have a degree of self-awareness I don’t think you’re capable of – but I can’t rid myself of the dark suspicion and you don’t help by refusing to accept that there’s a problem.  It keeps me awake at nights and I’ve been drinking more than is good for a person.  

All you do is to accuse me of having a chip on my shoulder.  Well that’s true, and guess what honey – you put it there.  You aren’t just a chip on my shoulder, you’re a whole fish supper with extra sour vinegar all wrapped up in a copy of the Hootsmon.  And frankly the fish smells pretty rank.  Chip.  I’ll gie ye bloody chip.

Anyway, the only cure for Unionosis is to root out the problem at source, and that means leaving you.

We don’t have any reason to stay together.  The children are all grown up.  Australia and Canada are doing so well for themselves.  I used to worry about Canada living in that bad neighbourhood, but he managed to avoid getting led astray by that neighbour of his.  Such a sensible and level-headed child.  He gets that from me you know.  Even little New Zealand has done us proud, and you know how I used to fret about him being so far away with nothing but sheep for company.  It’s worked out well for him, and I’ve learned not to judge who the children choose to spend their lives with.

I know you’re angry.  No one likes to be told they’re a failure, and it’s hard for you to hear you’ve been a failure as a parliament and a partner.  But you react either by screaming abuse at me or by telling me I’m worthless and would fall apart without you.  I don’t believe you any more.  You’re acting every bit the spurned lover.  You’re acting exactly like you’re always accusing France of behaving, and I only broke off my engagement with him because you convinced me he was possessive and jealous.

We’ll always be close, we still share so much and I want us to be friends.  But until you can learn to have adult relationships with the other nations in these islands, and treat us like equals and not as your harem, there’s no hope for us and there’s no hope for the people of England.  People in England deserve a proper parliament and not the pretendy wee excuse for patronage, privilege and dressing up in fancy costumes that you’ve become.  It’s time you got your fat lazy arse up from resting on your Mother of Parliament laurels and went and took a long hard look at yourself in the mirror.  You’re very good at looking after your own interests,  In time you’ll realise that this is in your best interests too. 

Meanwhile I’m taking a leaf out of your book and putting my own interests first.  So I want a divorce.  There, I’ve said it.  There’s not much love anymore, I think you know that as well as I do, and it’s time we learned to live our own lives before what’s left of our feelings for one another turn into hate.  Being in this marriage has made both of us lose sight of who we are, and we need to find ourselves again.  I’ll still stand beside you to defend what we have in common, but I won’t be under your thumb.