Friday, 13 January 2012

Scots Wha Hae

Although there's been a lot of politiciking on the part of the Tories and SNP over the timing of it, the question to be asked and rules for who can vote in it, a referendum on Scottish independence now looks likely to be held within the next couple of years.

Scotland is clearly a nation with its own history, culture, language, literature and education and legal systems.  If the Scottish people want to separate from the rest of the United Kingdom they should be allowed to. But what would they gain?

Nationalism is a divisive force but some nationalisms are more understandable than others, especially those of oppressed peoples such as Jewish nationalism (Zionism) in the late nineteeenth and first half of the twentieth century, Irish nationalism from the late eighteeenth to early twentieth century and black nationalism in the US in the 1960's.  Scottish nationalism is one of the least understandable, being a mix of romantic longing for a past that never was, a drive to sell Tartan and tweed to the tourists and anti-Englishness.  In no way are the Scottish people oppressed and nor have they been in history.  Scots have been prime ministers, top judges, generals and colonial administrators.  There has been no discrimination against Scottish people in the United Kingdom or British Empire akin to that experienced by black, Jewish or Irish people.

Things like the Highland Clearances happened all over England as land was enclosed and peasants driven into the towns.  Scotland was ruled for much of the twentieth century by Tory governments despite only electing a handful of Tory MP's but then so was the North of England.

The SNP is clear that Scotland would remain a monarchy post-independence, a member of the EU, with no border controls with England, and would keep the pound at least initially.  Whether an independent Scotland would leave NATO is unclear.  Would anyone in an already devolved Scotland notice any difference if independence were won?

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