Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Scotland


Tomorrow is the big Scotland vote. It's all we've been hearing about on the news here. It seems kind of crazy to me -- or did, until recently -- and I sincerely hope the Scots don't vote for independence. The vote is apparently so close that there are bound to be a lot of hard feelings either way and I hope this doesn't irreparably disunite both Scotland and the greater United Kingdom. (The way the George W. Bush / Al Gore presidential race disunited the United States for years.)

Alex Salmond, the Scottish leader who's pushing for independence, seems a bit megalomaniacal. I think he wants statues of himself as a modern-day "Braveheart."

But what I have gradually come to understand -- as an American who has only lived here for a few years and is admittedly new to much of this conflict -- is that this isn't just about flag-waving. The Scots see themselves as a progressive society chained to the more conservative causes of Westminster. I suspect this feeling gained a great deal of momentum from Britain's participation in the Iraq war, and the Scots apparently chafe at British nuclear submarines being harbored in their ports. Billy Bragg argued in an interesting piece in The Guardian that Scottish nationalism is a positive, civic cause, not xenophobic jingoism.

Scottish nationalists, he said, are "people who are no longer comfortable with the direction that Britain is travelling in; with the extremes of poverty and wealth that go unchallenged; with the dominance of the privately educated in positions of political and economic power; with the undercurrent of xenophobia that animates the Conservative party; with a Labour party that has too few MPs from working-class backgrounds."

In fact, he argues that an independent Scotland could lead to greater self-determination for working class regions within England that feel themselves marginalized by London-centric, pro-business policy makers.

I think independence is a drastic step, and one for which I suspect the Scots are not fully prepared. The cost of building international relations and trade agreements, military infrastructure (even on a small, solely defensive scale) and the like seems staggering. North Sea oil won't sustain them forever. I hope they vote to stay in the UK, and I hope Alex Salmond slinks away with his tail between his legs.

But I also hope that Westminster learns a lesson, that the Tories are chastened and that advocates for Britain's progressive, pro-labor society are galvanized in a positive way.

(Photo: A crushed flower on a street in West Hampstead.)

9 comments:

Ms. Moon said...

I don't even begin to have an opinion on this issue. But it seems to loom very large and indeed- it is.
May wisdom prevail. (Does that ever happen?)

ellen abbott said...

the world is in turmoil.

Linda Sue said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YkLPxQp_y0

The best coverage I reckon.

Sharon Anck said...

Wow, that was one of the most thoughtful dialogs about the England/Scotland event that I've read. Very well done. I totally agree and I love your analogy in the "Braveheart" comment. Now that you say it, it does seem that way.
Thanks for the comment on my site today. That event was surely a high point for me. Clinton is every bit as charming and personable as I've heard he was. When I told him I was there to take the photos he said "Just tell me what to do, you're in charge". One other thing I can say is, he does not take a bad photo. I downloaded 121 photos and everyone of him was fantastic. I think he could have made a face at the camera and he still would have looked good.

alphabet soup said...

Thanks for putting in the Billy Bragg link Steve, it provides another insight into the yes vs no vote.

Ms Soup

Sarah said...

It is hard to imagine how things will go if independence is voted for. That is what would stop me voting yes if I was Scottish, but I am not much of a risk taker. I sympathize a lot with the fact that Scotland ends up governed largely by people they didn't vote for, but so do a lot of the northern regions in Britain, they just don't happen to be a country and able to leave. I hope that the no vote prevails but as you say it causes positive change anyway. Don't have that much faith in that though!

utahDOG! said...

Well said.

If Scotland is successful, may it provide the model for Texas....

37paddington said...

Utahdog, lol

Elizabeth said...

I'm preoccupied by your commenter who evidently met Clinton!

I confess to not knowing enough about the Scotland issue (like most Americans, I'm sure) but am intrigued. Your point of view seems very thoughtful and sound.