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Scotland's independence?

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  • Scotland's independence?

    Hey, all! A short while ago, I watched a replay of the BBC's most recent Darling vs. Salmond debate. Many of the specific points of disagreement were not topics I could easily envision being argued between current mainstream US politicians (e.g., the idea that one of our windbags might publicly defend a proposition that a significant military project ought to be shut down to help cover the costs of nationalized health care is ludicrous); nonetheless, the magnitude of the cluster of issues bound up in the decision that Scottish voters will make next month was impossible to miss.

    From what I've read online previously and what I saw tonight, my impression is that while Mr. Darling's position seems to make good sense intellectually, the emotional appeal of Mr. Salmond's argument is strong. In this era of mega-remote control of every aspect of our lives, the fact that a government has handed its people the ability to say, "Screw the giant US corporations, screw the 50,000 treaties we had no part in drafting!" has no small appeal. Particularly in light of that romantic quality of the event, I'd guess a lot of people in Europe and the US are quite interested in the final tally.

    So I got to wondering what people who actually live in Scotland or the rest of the UK or other parts of the world thought...

  • #2
    I suspect the purpose of these debates is not to debate, nor to change anyone's minds about anything. They are attempts to mobilise their respective voting camps (as apparently, going to a voting station is such an imposition in the modern age...). In my own screwed-up POV however, if somebody still doesn't know how/if they'll vote on such a substantive issue, said issue having being debated for generations, then its probably best you don't vote at all.


    • #3
      I think this a hellishly interesting subject given the long and often violent history of the two countries, including the charismatic historic persons in it who inspired playwrites and filmmakers (Schiller's "Maria Stuart" is a central work of German theatre, and then there's of course "Braveheart" that Mike Moorcock finds so disgusting). We on the continent have always perceived Scotland as more than a "province" of Britain, yet can she simply take her leave?
      But how would you explain to people outside the UK what it is all about, what the pros and cons of a Scottish Independance would be?
      What kind of Scotland do those intending independence envisage?
      Google ergo sum


      • #4
        One of the points is that a majority of scots wants to stay in UE when a majority of English wants to leave. It can be a good reason for independance.


        • #5
          There is of course no such thing as "independence": just (some) choices of where your dependencies are (and a whole bunch of dependencies you really can't influence at all). This has been relatively well understood by those calling for independence and seemingly totally misunderstood by those wanting to remain in the UK.

          The currency "argument" rather shows the point: the UK itself has rarely had an "independent" currency - indeed it can easily be argued has never done so (due to the inevitable interactions of currency and world trade). But that won't stop a specious argument being trumpeted as a fait-accompli of economic wisdom.

          The most telling point made last night was from the audience: a point that if we truly are "better together", why aren't we "better" already?


          • #6
            From what more I've read, it looks like there's something of a question as to how, legally, Scotland could be admitted as an independent nation into the EU.

            Looking at the responses above, I'm led to ask: let's say, hypothetically, the popular vote supports independence. What happens within Scotland if the EU then takes a long time dithering over the conditions of admission? Seems as though the new/old country's oil industry clout, in particular, would get its foot in the door pronto, but that's just my ignorant speculation.

            (BTW L'E, I couldn't sit through Braveheart because it seemed like a right-wing movie about US history masquerading as a movie about the history of somewhere else, and the somewhere else just happened to be Scotland.)


            • #7
              I can't profess to represent everyone south of the border but many I have spoken to about Scottish Independence are ambivalent about it.

              The notion of a United Kingdom is irrelevant militarily and economically nowadays. It was important when we had an empire to build and sustain, but as that has been dissolved there is no real need for the three countries and Northern Ireland to be joined at the hip.

              I would be as happy to see Scotland remain part of Great Britain as I would to see them gain their independence and make a go of it without England holding them back. In fact, the maverick in me wants parliament to get a resounding poke in the eye. The thought of a Tory PM being the one who oversaw the break up of the UK would really be something to cheer up a cynical old socialist like me.

              I just wish they'd get on with the bloody referendum because the mountain of shite that will be created by the media over the next three weeks is going to be overwhelming.


              • #8
                The UK was the an entity of empire: without empire, it serves little purpose other than as an institution serving the needs of the institution. This is more visible in the non-English nations as the English have a tendency to confuse the terms UK and England (a petty but recent example being Union Jacks on some of the English Commonwealth team outfits). One might go further and argue London thinks of itself as the UK (just look at the number of "national" bodies that are entirely London-centric) with the "vampiric provinces" just there for the ride.

                Regarding the EU, there is confusion as nobody really knows what happens when a country already in the system changes its 'state of incorporation' as it were. In truth, politics will happen - no matter what the rule books may or may not say. Particularly as Scotland is generally pro-EU while rUK (notably England) is going very anti-EU; one can expect political games to be played using that bias as a political tool vs rUK which may or may not be bad for us. Of course, the argument that Scotland may or may not end up in the EU is a bit moot as on the same timescale, we don't know if the UK will remain in the EU. So which choice is riskier? Which is better? Nobody knows but everyone claims they have the answer.

                The anti-EU but pro-Union stance has always been a head-scratcher, though seemingly common in the Better Together camp. In truth, the "ideal size" of a country is likely a non-answerable proposition - I'd say "big enough so the economy has sufficient breadth to survive the odd collapse here and there, and no more", which I'd argue is Scotland-sized given our economy. Other economies will need larger/smaller states to get the required diversity: and there again we get into unanswerable debate on just how much diversity is required vs. an overly-large state (i.e. bureaucracy).

                As for NATO, membership thereof is of little interest to anyone.

                All of the above if/buts rather enforces the recent finding that those with a higher "fear index" tend to choose the pro-union (stay the same) route, while lower fear index folks are more pro-independence. Sadly, the "stay the same" crew are gong to be disappointed as, if they win, with independence off the table, Scotland will have almost no political clout and a lot of enemies for having tried to rock the boat / shown up UK institutions in a less than ideal light. Much like post 1979, there will be punishments for getting "uppity" - the Barnet formula will go for one to appease SE England. So sadly, its either change a lot (independence) or the whipping-stool ("better together")


                • #9
                  Maybe it's the New Yorker in me, but if I was voting "No" I'd have to think long and hard about the sheer volume and value of real estate that an independent Scotland would reclaim as its own territoire--that's a nice bit of turf on the northern half of a rapidly-shrinking (and warming) globe.


                  • #10
                    I've sat out this debate because, while I do have thoughts and concerns about the whole issue of the referendum/Scottish Independence, as an Anglo-Welsh denizen of these sceptred isles my opinion counts for less than nothing from a Scots POV.

                    Instead, I'd like to quote what Mark Millar has written recently on the subject:
                    Originally posted by Mark Millar
                    I’m still undecided on how I’m voting in the referendum, seeing massive positives and negatives in both the Yes and No camps. I’m also not disclosing my voting intention at any point either because that curtain exists in the polling station for a simple reason; our right to privacy. In an era when we all seem to be posting images of what we’re having for breakfast I think it’s nice that we still have something that remains intrinsically private.

                    I’ve publicly endorsed parties in the past, but going forward I have no plans to. I think the SNP government in Edinburgh has generally done an excellent job and I like Salmond both personally and as a First Minister. But the Yes and No camps demean the debate I think by parading people in more publicly known jobs. I really don’t care how an actor or a comedian or a musician or a writer plans to vote. It doesn’t sway my intention and, if anything, I think it cheapens the level of debate in much the same way Hollywood actors being rolled out to support Democrats or Republicans seems insane to me when most of these guys live as far away from real life and real concerns as you can possibly imagine.

                    The Yes and No thing has become increasingly hysterical because the axis of the argument has shifted from the facts and more towards the notion that the vote is between Scotland and England. It’s gone tribal to the point where anyone expressing anything remotely seen as No is regarded as a traitor to Scotland when an entirely new social and economic blueprint is something that needs to be examined forensically and openly discussed because it changes our lives forever. The options aren’t what we have now or something much better. I’m excited about the prospect of a new country and a new plan, that blank piece of paper idea, but at the same time I see the pitfalls too, especially our complete consumption into the European Union or what it really means when we share a currency with a country where we suddenly have no elected representatives determining valuation and interest rates. All these things need to be considered and these are so enormous we need to weigh them all up in something more precise than shouting Yes or No or heckling opponents. It’s the dumbed down approach we saw with the Obama campaign where Hope was the buzzword without any proper details being determined in advance and this isn’t a decision we can reverse in four years.

                    I regard myself as traditionally left of centre and progressive, a Eurosceptic in the Bennite mould, and the policies espoused by the coalition formed under the Yes umbrella are the closest to my own particular ideology. But again, can we please stop this dumbed down notion that independence would mean NO MORE TORIES? Or that Scotland never gets the government we voted for and this is why we need to cut ourselves off from Westminster? First of all, Scotland has had the government it voted for over thirteen of the past seventeen years. Two of the last three British Prime Ministers have been Scottish. Even the Thatcher years, a time not traditionally associated with right wing votes in Scotland, the Conservative share of the vote was within a whisker of Labour’s in both 1979 and 1983. Looking back over the forties, fifties and much of the sixties Scotland OVERWHELMINGLY backed the Conservatives and Conservative support here is rock solid all the way back to the Whig-era in the middle of the nineteenth century. The notion that Scotland is any less right wing than England is a complete fallacy. The old Etonian Clement Attlee gave us a more left-wing, radicalised government than anything we’ve had before or since.

                    Also, let’s smash the notion that a separated Scotland would never have another right wing government. Even as someone sympathetic to the Yes campaign and warm to independence, it makes no sense to anyone with any proper sense of history dating back before Hannah Montanna. The political pendulum tends to swing in ten to fifteen year cycles between the two main opposing parties. There’s usually a couple of recessions in these political cycles and if you have a general election following a major one you tend to lose and the opposition gets a grip. In an independent Scotland we’ll have the same pendulum and the progressive leftist agenda will inevitably peak and decline, followed by an opposite ideology before swinging back left again. If anything a separate Scotland will be a good chance for a (possibly renamed) Tory right to re-establish themselves. Even as the embarrassing rump they are at the moment with several parties splitting the vote they managed to score half as many votes as Labour at the last General Election and about the same as an ascendant SNP.

                    Anyway, my point is this… let’s get smarter about the debate. Let’s not roll out stoned pop stars/ actors/ comedians/ writers and prop them up with pre-established soundbites. Let’s not heckle people who might have something crucial to say. Let’s cut all the crap and just get down to the facts. Demonising the Tories or whoever your particular bogeyman is accomplishes nothing. This isn’t a rally. This isn’t a football match. This isn’t good guys versus bad guys. Westminster gave us the welfare state as well as the Iraq War. Scotland gave us Keir Hardie as well as Nicky Fairbairn. This isn’t black and white.

                    Let’s all grow up and stop shouting each other down.
                    _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                    _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                    _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                    _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."


                    • #11
                      Being on the other side of the pond in a nation that gave a massive two-fingered salute to the UK and the Commonwealth nearly two-and-half-centuries ago I have little to say about the pros and cons of Scottish independence and frankly even if I had a strong opinion it would count for less than nothing. That being said, I am very interested in how this will play out and what the long-term effects of potential Scottish Independence may be. If Scotland can prove the end of Union is appropriate and possible in the modern global political field I have to wonder if other unions will look to the example?

                      The American Civil War of the 1860's settled the question of whether the United States was a Union of independent polities or a single Nation governed on a local level by administrative "states" with the later solution winning the argument. With the hard divisions in the U.S. and with growing movements of local governance and States Rights, I am forced to wonder if successful Scottish Independence will reinvigorate the question of the necessity of strong federalism in the U.S. system and inspire States to seek greater autonomy.

                      I'm not saying one way or the other but I am curious to see how this all plays out over the next generation if Scotland becomes independent.

                      Then again, I may be giving the general American Public too much credit in thinking they are even aware of the Scotland vote much less will be able to infer any personal similes with it.
                      "In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro"
                      --Thomas a Kempis


                      • #12
                        So here's the gig. You're living in Scotland and you're undecided about whether to vote Yes and go your own way or No and stay in the Union. An opinion poll is published 10 days before the vote that says that the Yes vote is just ahead by a couple of points. You're still umming and ahhing.

                        Then the senior politicians weight in. You get Cameron, Clegg and Miliband all turning up in Scotland in a flat panic and begging you to vote No.

                        So what do you do? In the words of Meatloaf, "What's it gonna be, boy? Yes or No?"



                        • #13
                          As I've said elsewhere, the choice in Scotland seems to be between an uncertain but hopeful future with Yes, or a guaranteed No future.

                          An excellent piece from Irvine Welsh, on the Bella Caledonia blog.

                          Labour Pains, Labour of Love

                          Pretty close to my thinking on both independence and to what became of Labour.


                          • #14
                            Intriguingly, no one has mentioned the Catalan vote in a few months time. If Scotland goes, it will be domino theory across Europe as other regions decided to go it alone.

                            It is a Brussels Divide and Conqueror strategy about it, then if you add to fighting a war for freedom in Ukraine to mould the populace into the cohesive state.

                            On the other hand, no more Blair or Brown as PMs and harder for a Socialist Government. Some good push points.

                            Either way it is not going to end well.
                            Papa was a Rolling Stone......


                            • #15
                              Well i am sure its going to be no surprise to anyone here which way i will be voting.
                              As our US cousins would say "its a no brainer"
                              On the one hand you have one campaign which has been waged in a happy positive manner with issues being deeply talked about all over the country from gatherings of hundreds to gatherings of a few people going through the many pros and cons which has brought people closer together with a common purpose.
                              Then theres been the no campaign.
                              The Yessers a few months ago had a deficit of 20odd per cent now its neck and neck..
                              Ah the sweet smell of momentum!
                              This is especially amazing because its like that despite the BBCs blatant bias towards the no camp.
                              All this talk of new powers is against The Edinburgh Agreement drawn up and signed by Cameron and Oor Eck'Postal votes are already in yet these paronising gits just decide to to change the goalposts.
                              This makes me wonder if UN monitors should be called in as i do not trust there to be no jiggery-Pokery come what should be Independence Day.

                              YES YES YES
                              "I hate to advocate drugs,alcohol,violence or insanity to anyone,but they've always worked for me"

                              Hunter S Thompson