So, the issue of independence for Scotland from Great Britain is at the top of the political agenda.
Tory leader, David Cameron decided to force the issue and in the process managed to give a political boost to the Scottish Nationalists – any posh London Tory who tries to flex his or her muscles up in Scotland is going to be resisted by 90% of the population up here. As someone said, there are more polar bears in Scotland than Tory members of parliament!
I have written before about my own take on all this which is pretty much along these lines-
- I am an English/Irishman, living in Scotland. Most of us are part of a similar mix when you scratch the surface.
- I have an innate suspicion of nationalism as I can’t think of a single instance of nationalism being a force for good
- Rather nationalism is often associated with ‘us first’ – defended boundaries, exclusivity and sectarianism.
- This is particularly the case in when politics starts to use history as a justification. It all becomes distorted and dishonest
Does this mean that the 5.2 million people who live in Scotland (8.5% of the total UK population) could not benefit from independence? The answer to this of course is that no one really knows. The economic case is yet to be argued, not to mention the wider political implications for the whole of the UK. The argument has been really stuck at some kind of romantic notion of ‘Scottishness’, which is of course defined AGAINST as much as defined by.
Defined against the English that is.
Typified by the proposal (by the Scottish Nationalist Party) to hold a referendum on the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. Because Robert the Bruce has more to teach us about our politics than all those intervening years of Empire and conquest (apparently.)
Is it possible to love your country without seeking to denigrate your neighbours? I hope it is for the sake of the future of these islands. I hope we can promote the politics of reconciliation and respect. I suppose nationalists in Scotland would argue that this is only possible when there is an equal partnership, or even genuine self determination.
I read this recently, which paints a strange picture of views on this issue either side of the border –
The poll shows that while a substantial proportion of Scots (40 per cent) back independence, 43 per cent want to remain inside the United Kingdom.
However, among English voters – who would not get a vote in any referendum – there is a clear lead for those who support independence for Scotland (43 per cent) over those who want the Union to be preserved (32 per cent).
Most Scots admit their nation would be worse off after independence (41 per cent) than better off (38 per cent), while 51 per cent of English think the Scots would be worse off.
Some 61 per cent of English people, moreover, say the current formula which sees higher government spending per head in Scotland is unjustified – a similar finding to 2006.
Among Scots, 53 per cent think that the spending system, known as the Barnett formula, is justified while 21 per cent do not agree.
So will it happen?
At the moment I would say that the odds are against, but I hope that over the next year the questions asked will be much more sophisticated ones, rather than just the agenda that is set by the Edinburgh Tartan Elite.