Current road signage system would also be scrapped under scheme nationalists say helps show country is ‘part of Europe’
Scottish nationalist leaders will attempt this week to give the trailing yes campaign a boost by revealing a series of measures aimed at showing what an independent country would look like.
Seeking to capitalise on the arguments this week about “bullying” England and keeping the pound, they will unveil an ambitious scheme to scrap the current – English inspired – road signage system. M for motorway will be replaced with a new S – for Scotland and the A trunk roads will become N roads – for Nationalist in honour of the new country. Blue will be the predominant backing colour.
The scale of the scheme is enormous: Scotland has 2,174 miles of road, including the 273-mile long A9 stretching from Edinburgh to John O’Groats – known as the “spine of Scotland”.
It is estimated that 58,000 signs will have to be replaced – scrapping the famous road sign font known as “Transport” with a new Celtic-tinged typeface, Proclaimer. And it could be that they may take the opportunity to renumber all of Scotland’s roads, beginning at one.
Independence strategists are believed to have sought advice on the plan from the Stirling University professor of transport semiotics, Lana Gocaireachd. “It’s exciting, it gives us a clear difference from the English and is a tangible manifestation of a new, vibrant and independent national,” said one official close to the scheme. “A more conscious uncoupling, perhaps.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he revealed that if the proposals were seen to swing the needle towards the yes camp then the next stage would be revealed: switch driving on the left of the road to the right – from the first day of independence in 2017.
To ease the transition, Scottish transport planners, under strict conditions of secrecy, have begun drawing up plans for a series of spiral interchanges at the major border transport nodes. These will transition drivers to the correct side of the road – whether travelling south–north or north-south – and avoid cross-border crashes – “a PR disaster worse than horsemeat in haggis”, according to one planner.
The campaigners take their inspiration from what Sweden – a much larger country than Scotland – was able to do in a single weekend in September 1967. Adopting the Swedish model, Scotland would need all signs ready, an intensive information campaign, and temporary speed restrictions. Backers say it would be more than symbolic – it would let Paris, Berlin and Brussels know that Scotland was serious about an EU role.
“It sends out an explicit signal: we are part of Europe,” said one of the brains behind the scheme. “The little Englanders who want out of Europe are the only ones driving on the left-hand side. We’ve been the smaller relative dominated and having to copy their ridiculous ways for too long. No more. Just think, this will be an indignity for little England – isolated in Europe and pootling along in the slow lane on the left,” he added.
They are concerned, however, that opponents of the move to the right might mobilise under the emotive slogan: “Proud to be left.” Some fear that when the plans go public, the charismatic MP George Galloway would not be prepared to stand on the sidelines but would launch his own appeal: “Stay left, hard left.”
It is understood that another proposal involving traffic light sequencing has been rejected. Instead of red, amber, green, it would have become red, amber, blue. But there was a fear that this would be adopted south of the border by the Conservatives and so lose any distinctiveness.
From the Guardianon the 1st April 2014!