It used to be said that California was our future - that whatever was hot there would inevitably come to pass in our own land. This has been pretty accurate as far as the last half-century's concerned - from sex/drugs/r'n'r to counselling, fitness centres and the rise of the me generation, California led the way.
I like to think though that Scotland is a model of England's future. The politics of the country is dominated by the Central Belt from Glasgow to Edinburgh, where the majority of the population live. Labour have controlled things for a century, with the usual mix of idealism alongside corruption.
But of course, despite having its own legal and education system, arguably both superior to the English one. the country was part of the UK, subject to the laws of Westminster. No more (in many though of course not all areas), since the Scottish Parliament came into existence.
Now the left in Scotland is in a most happy situation. Total control of the legislative body, a massive budget to spend, a host of quangos to subsidise and appoint your friends to - and the whole thing heavily subsidised by the oppressor across the Border !
So we can expect to see in Scotland the agenda which the left would like to see in England.
Massively increased NHS spending, up to European averages. Done. Oh dear - Scotland has the worst health in the UK.
Abolish hunting. Done.
Republicanism, anti-Americanism and integration into an EU superstate. Can't be done. Such constitutional matters haven't been devolved. Otherwise Blair would have had to fight Iraq without Scottish regiments, Britain's submarines would have left Faslane, Lossiemouth and Kinloss would be empty of aircraft. And what would happen to the 'secret' US base in Kintyre ?
Make it illegal for a parent to smack their child. Half way. When French tourists are banged up for disciplining their child in a restaurant, or a teacher is sacked for smacking a daughter who plays up in the dentist's waiting room, the message gets useful reinforcement. Thank God we spend our holidays in the (socially conservative though politically radical) Highlands and Islands (Though children rarely seem to misbehave carving down ski-slopes or wandering Arran's beaches).
Of course, once you've completed this, you're well on the way to the nationalisation of children, to that happy state described by Polly Toynbee where the state is 'the best possible nanny to all babies'.
Strange that as this progressive movement increases its influence, so increases the background noise from teachers and others bemoaning the rise in badly-behaved children.
But it's the (relatively) smaller politically correct things that make a culture. Fancy a job on this quango ?
"Transsexuals will be given new birth certificates and will have the right to marry if they can satisfy a gender recognition panel that they have changed sex."
What a job. Coming soon, the gender recognition consultant ? Professor of Gender Recognition at the University of South-West Scotland, formerly Annan Working Men's Club ? The Institute Of Gender Recognition ? And just imagine the appeal procedures.
Or the NHS hospital that amputates the legs of otherwise healthy people with "Body Dysmorphic Disorder" - a condition in which people are dissatisfied with their bodies as they are, and wish they were different. Which means 95% of the population and 100% of women suffer from it.
You couldn't make up the fact that the amputee 'now feels like a complete person' or surgeon Robert Smith's remark that for the patient, having both legs was a 'quite seriously disabling condition'.
9 hours ago