The words that Lord Falkland is supposed to have said—that when it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change—are a lesson that humanity and above all politicians are reluctant to learn.
There’s no profit in it for “projectors,” Edmund Burke’s term for those who place at the center of their own sense of importance change brought about by them.
And there’s no greater projector than the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Alex Salmond. Mr. Salmond does not so much promise to solve specific problems as arouse hope, a hope that is vague, general, and unfocused. He has been very successful at this, assisted as he is by the fact that there is good cause for discontent in Scotland. Deindustrialization has not been kind to the country, and there are parts of Glasgow, its largest city, where living standards and life expectancy are at levels found in the old Soviet Union.