“Scotland’s Impending Disaster”


That’s how one reader puts it:

I am an American and I love Scotland and Scottish culture. My father is from Scotland, my grandfather served as an officer in a famous Scottish regiment, The Black Watch, and he was given an award for bravery posthumously by the King of England in WWII. I am involved with Scottish charities in the US and have been a Trustee representing one of the largest Scottish charities here in the U.S.

Sometimes when dealing with the home country, I’ve heard my fellow Scottish-Americans mutter, “The smart ones left”. I can’t help but feel this may be true, as the “Yes” vote seems an increasing possibility.

Who rules who? The last three prime ministers are Scottish or of Scottish descent. The Scots have historically been a force at the Bank of England. Scotland is subsidized by the rest of the U.K. and, unlike the English, they have their own separate parliament. In fact, it makes (barely) more sense that England would tell Scotland to leave at this point, rather than the other way around.

This isn’t the thirteenth century or even the seventeenth century. There’s 300 years of cooperation and prosperity with the English. Where was Scotland before the Union in 1707? It was broke! That’s why they agreed to join. The U.K. assumed their debt and gave Scotland access to their markets to trade. I hope they like independence, because they’re coming out the same way they went in.

Oh and by the way, the only people the Scots like to fight with more than the English are with each other. You can see it now with the violence and intimidation (mostly by the SNP it seems) as the vote gets closer. And if there’s a “Yes” vote in Scotland tomorrow, get ready for a Shetland Independence vote as well. Huge economic incentive for these folks with a big slice of what’s left of the North Sea oil. We reap what we sow …

Another is also worried:

While we wait for the Scots to decide what they want to do, it might be worthwhile to consider the ramifications beyond Britain.

I have seen a couple of people speculating about the implications for various places in Europe: Catalonia, Northern Italy, etc.  And no doubt there will be an impact there.  But what nobody seems to be talking about (at least in my limited browsing) is the impact beyond Europe. The Middle East and Africa are full of countries that are completely artificial constructs, with no relation to the reality of the nations (or tribe, or ethnic groups, or what-have-you) on the ground.  If Scotland can become a separate country, why not Kurdistan?  Why not Somaliland?  Etc., etc., etc.

How will Britain, or any other country that recognizes Scotland as a separate country, justify not doing the same for others?  How will they justify the last half century norm of treating virtually all national boundaries (Bangladesh and South Sudan being the only exceptions I can think of) as set in stone?  Will China decline to recognize Scottish independence, lest it be used as justification for considering independence for Tibet or Xinjiang?

If it happens, there is a huge can of worms being opened up, not just for Britain but for the entire world.

Another reader:

I like many in Northern Ireland, England, and Wales are waking up to the possibility that a part of our identity may, in many important and resonant ways, cease to exist by this time tomorrow.

The British aspect of national identity in Northern Ireland is, as can be expected, complex. Between the hardline orange unionists and the revisionism of Sinn Fein that sees British influence as nothing but negative, there are many in the province who hold a kind of conflicted affection for being British.
It comes less from a conflict of national identities than a kind of hierarchy.

I would view myself, first and foremost, as Northern Irish, possessed of a mongrel mix of Celtic traits that borrows from Irish and Scottish influence. Because of this, I have no issues with being described as Irish. But both Irish-ness and British-ness seem inaccurate designations that prompt a “yes, but” rather than a “no, actually”.

If Scotland secedes, our closest cultural link with the rest of the UK will disappear. In the short term, this will lead to a crisis in political Unionism that, frankly, will be an entertaining watch. Over the long-term, a referendum on a united Ireland will be inevitable. The Scottish debate, while notably mature by Northern Irish standards, has so far failed to present a positive case for Britishness beyond the financial implications for the Scots. I would fear that a national conversation in Northern Ireland would be dominated by the extremes of both sides, leaving the rest of us, with complex identities that can love Radio 4, value the NHS, and still despise the England rugby team with a jihad-like passion, out in the cold.

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(Photo: A pro-independence supporter blows a “Yes” balloon during a rally in Glasgow’s George Square on September 17, 2014, ahead of the referendum on Scotland’s independence. Campaigners for and against Scottish independence scrambled for votes on Wednesday on the eve of a knife-edge referendum that will either see Scotland break away from the United Kingdom or gain sweeping new powers with greater autonomy. By Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)