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15 October 2012

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Daniel Nicolas

As an individual with mostly Scottish bloodlines, and having traveled about the land that my family owned and lived on years ago, I feel a hope for an Independent Scotland that boldly stands united as a people against the tide of financial corruption (as Iceland did).

Unfortunately, I am led to believe (based on all available information) this is mostly about greed and negotiating a bigger cut of the oil revenue - and not quite about the above hopes.

Perhaps in stirring up the spirits of scottish pride and arrogance, those in it for the $ will have awakened a larger beast than they reckoned existed - but I do doubt it.

harry

As with most divorces its due to "irreconcilable differences". In this case, Scotland is gloriously socialist, and England is stolidly Tory. The Scots are getting the poor end of the deal, having had quite a lot of the oil revenue already "syphoned off" in the past. Oil revenues are still substantial but the net subsidy of england (effectively London) to Scotland is about 1,000 pounds per Scot if I remember rightly.

The other way of looking at this is the impact on politics in England. Losing Scotland's seats will make England safely Tory. Once the phasing out of English money is complete I doubt the Scots will be better off. They will need to get European money to replace English money which might be harder going forward than it was in the past. The other question is who will pay for the bankrupt Scotish banks. Well we already know the answer dont we.

So net net, you can see why this divorce is happening.

charlie

i think the current stuart "pretender" are Bavarian royal family. Of course, technically breaking up the UK would not change that -- it would either remain with Elizabeth as monarch or (more likely) become a Republic.

Scotland of course went broke and had to be bailed out by the UK. I would assume the same problems would exist today.

Abu Sinan

I have spent a lot of time in Scotland the last few years. The money issue isnt what the man on the street is talking about. There is a feeling towards national self determinism that goes beyond money and seems to deal more with political freedom and national identity.

The outcome of any such vote is not a given so expect a lot of electioneering as the date approaches. I have spent a lot of time in Ireland and wonder how this will play there? There are a lot of Protestants in Scotland who will look at this as a sectarian issue. There are close ties between Catholics in the north of Ireland, and Protestants (Orangeman) in Ireland and Scotland. All one has to do is to see the lines of drummers and flute players coming from Scotland to march across the north of Ireland every summer.

I wonder how the outcome, either way, will also impact the drive to unite Ireland, which also has an agreement that would allow for a referendum for unity.

Matthew

Col: Scottish Nationalism has been good for English nationalism. Each time I return, I see more Crosses of St. George.

turcopolier

matthew

Strangely, We see both the Scottish and English (St. George cross) flags on my block. I don't think that this move towards (dare I say secession) has much to do with money. The canadians won't give me a passport in spite of my ancestors having founded their "country" on both the French and Anglo sides. Scotland, hmmm... pl

Lord Curzon

Colonel,

A total waste of time and money, and all to pander to that raving egomaniac Alex Salmon. That man needs a GS shovel to the face!

Quite apart from anything else, if Scotland left the Union, it would almost certainly use Sterling and will effectively be borrowing in a foreign currency. Add in a lack of fiscal management plus the national debt, and I think the markets will draw their own conclusions.

mbrenner

There may be an aesthetic/ethical factor to consider. How much would any of us give to evade the rule of David Cameron and Nicholas Clegg on those grounds alone?

William R. Cumming

Given the complicated history and traditions could not Scotland, Wales,Ireland,and England be headed towards a Union with the Provinces of Canada as a North Atlantic Nation benefiting from climate change and the tremendous opening of the Arctic to resource exploitation. Greenland and Iceland also and perhaps Norway and Sweden?

Ursa Maior

Multinational states, created through immigration and marriage policies (seea Austro-Hungarian Empire) or created forcibly (see UK and its ex-colonies e.g Iraq) split up sooner or later. Especially in an age where everything is allowed, which is not forbidden.

I heard a saying. May or may not be true. It goes like this. Mexicans say what our grandfathers lost our grandchildren will get back.

Walrus

The younger generation really hate the English according to my son. His mother is of border riever stock.

Gerard

I think a more likely outcome might be a "North Atlantic Spring" with possible secession movements hitting Canada, Belgium, and Spain.

Beachdair

How might this affect US foreign policy? The UK has been a reliable companion on some of our more recent misadventures of late. The UK is already facing budget issues with their military. Speaking of marriages, the military marriage of the US & UK is over 90 years old. Anglophilia played a large role in our entry into WW1. Is Cecil Rhodes' dream unraveling?

Assuming the neocons and Democrat Wilsonians remain on top, and we stay at [eternal, undeclared] war, who will take the UK's post-imperial role as US sidekick? Our other bff is a little too hot to show up at too many parties with, particularly parties in our playground of choice- the ME. We could never use said country as an ally in the way we have the UK.

turcopolier

beachdair

IMO the UK is so far gone down the road into a post national mind set that little is as it was. The UK's armed forces are very small and about to get smaller. They must have had a very difficult time maintaining their deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would be more difficult in the future. Their whole set up is tiny. As an example, there are no military hospitals in the UK. They put their wounded in civilian hospitals run under the national health scheme. There is no "Walter Reed" in the MoD. I guess you refer to the French as our "other BFF." Well, the French have a lot better record of cooperation than American prejudice will admit, and they have sizable, deployable forces. pl

turcopolier

Gerard

Yes, the temptation to imitation would be strong. pl

William R. Cumming

Perhaps not this century but perhaps by the next the real resource base of nation-states will not be focused on natural bounties but the education, skills, and brain-power of its citizens and residents.

Thus, smaller units might well be able to be in positions of power unheard of in the years since a small city state called Rome amassed its power for almost 900 years. Britain and Japan are worth close study IMO!

PS

Wait till the Scots wake up to the check for the bailout of Royal Bank of Scotland, which cost the British taxpayer roughly $74 billion in 2009. (Subsequent asset sales and share sales may have recovered some of that money.)

Allen Thomson


Speaking of flags, would the Union Jack have to have the Cross of St. Andrew removed if Scotland leaves?

mbrenner

PS

The Scots may have the good sense not to Socialize the losses of reckless private banks. Would we have that sense

Tja

Och, but a vote for independence would put us in a terrible position: who will there be to blame for everything with the English oot the way?

Hmmm. We _are_ a resourceful people, though...

Beachdair

Col,

The French would be the most likely candidate for the reasons you mentioned. They, thanks to vapid prejudice, aren't credited enough, as you say. But will they, or other European governments, be able to go to war or remain at war in the face of domestic opposition? The 2000-2010 period seemed to have been a perfect storm, all the pieces were in play to allow a boondoggle like Iraq. Support, material and rhetorical, such as Bush got from the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Norway, etc. will not happen again. Particularly in an era of Euro austerity.


I was referring to what has been called our essential, "one true", strategic, only, and key ally in the Middle East. Nobody in DC is crazy enough to want that name top a list of a "coalition of the willing"/"friends of Syria", etc.

Matthew

Walrus: And the English response to Scottish hatred is boredom. I've like visiting Scotland. I like the people. But I'm ready for the divorce.

Twit

To start, I agree, Col Lang, the 'economic determinist' argument is, as usual, overplayed. The economic discussions you hear in the news (especially about oil) are simply about the VIABILITY of an independent Scotland, not a reason to achieve it. Abu Sinan is right that the push for independence is primarily about national self determinism. This is not a new phenomenon - Scots have always been fiercely proud and independent, and, Braveheart mythology aside, the union with England was in fact originally and - until recently - was always the consensus 'nationalist' position - i.e. the best way for the Scottish nation to achieve its interests is to be joined with the rich and powerful English and to be a part of the British Empire. But nowadays, with the Empire long dead and the English not so rich and powerful, a growing minority of Scots genuinely question the need or the desirability of continued union with their more numerous and highly self-regarding neighbors, especially when these neighbors are daily drifting farther away from core Scottish political beliefs, especially relating to economic and social fairness - and indeed treatment of the military.

It's also important to understand that Scottish nationalism is very different from other European nationalisms. The SNP is the only left wing nationalist party in Europe and possibly the world, and interestingly in all of Europe it's actually the political party with the most Muslim members (absolute and per capita). Tellingly, you meet many people of Pakistani, Arab, African, and other foreign descent in Scotland who would call themselves 'Scottish' but never 'British.' This is becoming increasingly true also for indigenous Scots. The SNP slogan "If you feel Scottish, you are" definitely has truth to it. Walrus, I have known many Scottish nationalists and none have been rabid England haters (mockery yes, but not hate).

The practical side of contemporary nationalism is as I see less about economics (as in wealth) and more about preserving what nationalists view as 'Scottish' socio-economic culture. This culture revolves around eqalitarianism and specifically a belief in social and economic equity. Equity (fairness) is not the same thing as equality, and this difference is why the socialist (Marxist) label is inappropriate for Scotland. Equity is a big deal in Scotland and the inexorable march of the Tories and the New Labour Blairite corporatists in London have helped define the Nationalists practical agenda. Independence thus is not just a question of North Sea oil, tartans and bagpipes, but about the right of Scots to keep free university education, high-functioning local councils, and the beloved Scottish NHS (which in fact is institutionally distinct from the England/Wales NHS and indeed is more innovative, more cost-effecient, and - relatedly - more evidence/research based than its southern counterpart). Regarding the military, Col Lang your observation about the UK's treatment of its military is shared by many Scottish Nationalists. Scots in general are actively supportive of their 'boys,' and the loss of the Black Watch should not be underestimated as an injury to the Scottish national memory. Returning to economics, a big threat to Scottish viability is actually the fact that a small circle of Scottish business and political elites who could easily turn an independent Scotland into their own profit making machine. Given that Scotland's elites have an uninterrupted record of selling their less fortunate countrymen down the river for personal gain, this is a major concern for the average Scot.

Would an independent Scotland be viable? I believe it would, if it made a clean break from England and embraced an economic policy that focused on leveraging Scotland's huge and powerful state sector to build up the skill base of the Scottish population. Scotland actually has a number of top flight industries - bio tech, video game development, wind/water energy, etc - but most Scots don't have the skills to work there. Whether an independent Scotland could be economically viable depends on its ability to become essentially more like Holland or Denmark - entrepreneurial and liberal in the classic and Enlightened sense. The oil revenues will be sufficient to absorb the short term costs, but should not - and probably are not - be counted on in the long term. On the currency issue, Scotland already prints its own money, and so not sure why it would be an issue to just float a Scottish pound (with a one pound note of course!). Also, the UK's entire nuclear weapons capability is resident in Scotland, at Faslane. Scotland doesn't want them, but still this will be a powerful negotiating chip for Alex Salmond, e.g. in particular to lower the percentage of the UK's debt Scotland must assume.

Ultimately, however, the question of the viability of an indepenent Scotland is a tautology. If a majority of Scots vote yes then the depth of feeling for self determination would be such that the Scottish people would find a way to make it work, and those that were unhappy with the economic downsides would simply leave (as they do now). If a majority votes no, then the feeling is not deep enough and an independent republic wouldn't have had a chance anyway.

Memory and history are powerful in Scotland, and how Scotland votes in 2014 will not be about how 'independent' Scotland feels - they feel 100% independent as they have since the time of Robert the Bruce - but instead about whether this independence is best expressed as it has since 1707 or whether its time for a new chapter in the collective memory of the Scots to be written.

I base these opinions on having lived in Scotland for about 7 years out of the last 12.

steve

Yes, Colonel, aside from the recent French opposition to the Iraq War, I have read time and again that France is one of the few nations that if the US insists that a certain action is within some vital national interest of the US, the French will implicitly acquiesce.

I have no independent judgment as to whether it's true or not, but just note it as a counterpoint to the popular French-bashing or "American prejudice" as you refer.

steve

The Republic of Ireland will give a passport to those whose grandparents were born in Ireland.

However, certain vital statistics records in Dublin were lost or destroyed during the Anglo-Irish wars and the Irish civil war of last century which makes documentation a bit more daunting.

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