How long will it take the Tories to ditch their over-sentimentalised attachment to the Union and realise that England on its own would be a richer, more successful nation without the tremendous drag-factor of the Celtic fringe - and one with near permanent Tory government to boot! From yesterdays Irish Times. Scotland takes a right bashing. An Irishman's Diary Kevin Myers Nations are not usually murdered; more often, they commit suicide. During independence, this nation came perilously close to doing that - damnably close. But our destiny was in our hands. Twice - under Sean Lemass and later, though admittedly under pressure from the IMF, Charles Haughey - we decided to put our house in order, and we did so because we had the power. Scotland has no such power. It is committing suicide, even as it chooses to be powerless. In three years' time, there will be more pensioners in Scotland than schoolchildren, when its population falls beneath 5 million, as the population of the Republic approaches or even passes that figure. Indeed, one of the most extraordinary phenomena of the past decade and a half is how the fortunes of Scotland and Ireland have marched in dramatically different directions. The respective fates of the countries have been in part a vindication of total Irish political separatism, and a reminder of how wealth, if taken for granted, can soon pass. Laissez-faire Scotland prospered under the union and was the inspiration for much of the empire. Hong Kong, for example, as characterised by the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, was largely a Scottish invention - and the extraordinary truth about the imperial sun setting there lies in the following question: did Hong Kong subsequently follow the Chinese Communist model, or did Communist China follow the Hong Kong model? The answer? You know it. The greatest economist of all time, whose principles have been vindicated by Ireland but repudiated in his native land, was Adam Smith. And the 18th-century Scottish renaissance of which he was part was one of the most extraordinary Europe has seen, made possible by the triumph of the Lowland Lallans speakers at Culloden over the Highland Gaels. For all that we might wax sentimental about the picturesque clans of the Highlands, and deplore Cumberland's evil excesses after Culloden, theirs was a barbarous, vendetta-ridden culture; and no mature civilisation could emerge from a society characterised by the perpetual feuding between the McDonalds and the Campbells. The future lay in the Smithian economic and social principles which were triumphant after the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and which paradoxically saw the main protagonists at Glencoe crossing the Atlantic and achieving international celebrity in an altogether healthier fashion - as the manufacturers of soups and hamburgers. Economics, the raincoat, tarmacadam, single malts, penicillin, the suspension bridge, modern roads, the novel, the thriller, the detective story, modern banking - these are just some of the inventions of the Scots, when the culture of enterprise was rewarded. Sixty years of the welfare state have just about polished that magnificent culture off. Not coincidentally, the decline of Scotland went step by step with the death of the Scottish Tory Party. Simultaneously has grown a pathetic Anglophobia, alongside a parasitic, cowardly but boastful pseudo-independence. It is now a national pastime for the Scots to complain about the very country which subsidises them. There lies the ruin of Scotland - subsidies. Guaranteed transfers of capital from England have created a political culture of sloth which is now endemic and even personalised. Scottish people are the most obese in Europe, in which regard they resemble the wretched Scottish statelet. Only a minority of Scottish people work for a living - and most of those who have jobs are employed by the state: 577,300. In other words, they are employed by the English to manage themselves. The rest of the Scots are on the dole or pensions, living in state-owned housing estates, sending their children to state-run schools, where the most likely form of personal enterprise they will ever encounter is their local heroin-dealer. Five Scottish children aged 11 have been treated for heroin addiction, and 70 children under 16 have been arrested for peddling hard drugs. The land which gave the world Thomas Telford and Sherlock Holmes is now the home of the pre-pubescent junkie, the deep-fried battered Mars Bar and plummeting birth-rates: half as many children are born in Scotland as 50 years ago. Now, the people of Northern Ireland have two models before them: that of Scotland, where there is an enormous state sector of outreach officers, social workers, performance monitors, and diversity inspectors. Or that of the Republic, where the State has developed on entirely different and more minimalist lines. But it is probably too late. English money has also debauched the North; the once vigorous Presbyterian linen and shipbuilding culture of Ulster has been subverted by state welfarism and its handmaiden, chronic dependency. Something which no one ever predicted has happened. Catholic Ireland has, demographically and economically, overhauled its once-triumphant Presbyterian neighbours. A vibrant enterprise culture flourishes in a once priest-ridden, backward and dirge-filled land. Whine-Eire has been vanquished by Ryan-Eire. The transformation in the respective fortunes of our tribes was classically embodied in the conflict between Alec Ferguson, on the one hand, and Dermot Desmond and John Magnier on the other. Once upon a time, if you matched a flinty Caledonian Presbyterian against a couple of southern Irish Catholics, the two Paddies would have ended up gouging coal and digging potatoes for the Scot. This time, the flint was both silken and Hibernian - and it was the Scot who was trounced. It was a perfect allegory for the fortunes of the respective societies. We should engrave the lesson on our hearts: depend on the state for your wealth, and you will end up watching daytime television and drawing the dole, while your diminishing band of overweight offspring shoot up in their classrooms.