Passions Running High In Scotland

So what else is new? But Brenda Kutchinsky, a Scottish No voter, argues that the independence referendum has unleashed a “collective madness”:

I am as passionately Scottish as anyone who is planning to vote Yes, but I am being made to feel as if I don’t deserve to belong in my own country. … One of the region’s wealthiest businessmen, Charles Ritchie, has dared to speak out against both independence and the alleged bullying behavior of the Yes campaign. In the past two months, his company has reportedly received two hoax bombs in the post and one live bullet in a box of matches. I have heard that the police are now investigating this terrible matter. Two weeks ago, I summoned up my courage and put a No Thanks poster in my window, against the advice of friends who said it would open me up to abuse and possibly even a brick through my windowHow ridiculous that I should be worried about the consequences of expressing my opinion to people among whom I have lived happily for 15 years, but this is the climate of fear in which I am currently residing.

But Leonid Bershidsky emphasizes that in a global context, “both the secession and anti-secession campaigns have been courteous, nonviolent and affable”:

“Within the set of civil wars, secessionist wars are not only the most common, but are additionally among the longest and bloodiest types of warfare,” Bridget Coggins, now at the University of California at Santa Barbara, wrote in her 2006 doctoral thesis, based on a database of the secession attempts from 1931 to 2002. Of these 275 attempts, 195 were characterized by violence on at least one of the sides.

Although that suggests rather a lot of peaceful disengagements, many derive from Britain’s relatively nonviolent dismantling of its empire after World War II — a policy orchestrated, at least partly, by Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, who was of Scottish descent. Ask Chechens, East Timoreans, Sudanese, Kosovars, Eritreans – or the leaders of the countries from which they fought to split – about playing by the rules; the word “massacre” figures prominently in the histories of these independence bids. … Comparing Scotland with Chechnya or Crimea may seem far-fetched, but Northern Ireland during the so-called Troubles was a hot spot on a similar scale, and its own secession referendum in 1973 was boycotted by the Catholic population. Passions in Scotland, by contrast, run no higher than they would during a local soccer match.

Bershidsky sees the relatively calm campaigns as evidence of the status quo’s soundness, asking “What would a division solve that negotiations within the current scheme of things can’t?” Tom Rogan argues that it’s in the Scots’ economic interest to vote No:

Consider a few statistics. Scottish exports account for only 6.3 percent of the U.K. total, whereas England accounts for 74.1 percent. While Scotland has a slightly higher total employment figure than England does, it has a bloated public sector (22.1 percent of total employment vs. 17.4 percent in England). The Scottish work force is also less productive than its English counterpart. Most disconcerting: Measured per 10,000 adults in the U.K., Scotland has fewer businesses than Northern Ireland and Wales, and a staggering 21 percent fewer than England. The business community has been clear about its view of the referendum. Even the Royal Bank of Scotland has threatened to leave Scotland if independence occurs. In short, the Scottish independence movement has subjugated itself to voodoo economics.

But the prospect of independence sends Suzanne Moore into paroxysms of enthusiasm:

Surely if this “political reformation”, as John Harris described it, happened anywhere else, we would be calling it a velvet revolution and marveling at democracy in action. It may well be fierce, shouty and messy, but these are undeniably voices from below and we should listen. The SNP, once conservative and narrow-mindedly nationalist, has turned itself into something that can harness progressive forces. … All this fretting about neighbors becoming foreigners is a denial about who we already are. Rather than post-national identities, post-sovereignty is the aim. Open borders, mobility and federalism could have been offered through devo max – but they weren’t, so now we have the entire establishment yelling “no, no, no.” So I say yes. Take a leap towards self-rule. One can be on the side of change or against it. The thing is, change is here now, whatever happens. Finally, thankfully, yes.

More Dish on tomorrow’s vote here.