A Personal Neverendum
There has been an argument in my family over the last year or two. It's been quite good natured and humorous at times, but it has also been a bit strange and heated at others. Peoples positions have been the inverse of what I might have expected, and the whole discussion has often seemed to me like a manufactured conflict, the kind of conflict that arises when the real argument or issue is not the one being discussed or considered but something else. Something that is driving the dialogue unseen and unacknowledged, perhaps even unknown to the participants themselves. The argument, if it can be elevated to that degree of disagreement, concerns the future of the United Kingdom, specifically the issue of Scottish independence.
In my family this has a particular resonance. My maternal grandparents and great grandparents were all Scottish, Campbells, Lothians and Morrisons. They moved to London at the very beginning of the 20th century, and all of my mothers siblings, including her, were raised in London. There is a recently discovered family history that goes back to artisans and blacksmiths in Edinburgh and on the island of Mull. This makes me, my brother and sister half Scottish by descent, though we have not a gram of Scottish upbringing between us. Our youth was that of any child raised in rural Essex on a small farm, resolutely British and if one wishes to get more specific, English. But the connection remains, in the way that our genetics often betrays us, both in appearance and character we most definitely share many traditional aspects of the Scots as a people.
I have remained in England and now live in the Westcountry, far from London on high Dartmoor. My brother moved to Scotland some years ago, and he and his wife have raised their daughters there, dividing their time between Edinburgh and a small, remote farm in the borders.
The whole debate about Scottish independence arose in our family when my brother, and subsequently my mother, adopted a strong pro-independence position. This made me start to think about the issue, and I realised that I was, for a variety of reasons we will get to, almost completely ambivalent about the outcome of what was then the upcoming referendum. This ambivalence was not actually believed, it seemed impossible to everyone that I might not be on one side of the debate or the other and it was assumed that this meant I had to be pro union and anti independence. Attempts to declare myself genuinely neutral on the issue were met with further disbelief and the running assumption that I must be against independence by default, by virtue of simply living in England as far as I could tell. This was to me quite a strange phenomena to experience. It is true that it is rare to find an issue on which I do not have some opinion of other, or a position to take, but to be actively denied the opportunity to be neutral was a new experience, particularly when the denial took the form of an immediate pigeon-hole in one camp.
The referendum came and went and turned into that less than charming phenomenon the 'Neverendum', but the very existence of the debate caused me to go back to school and do a little reading, attempting to both try to understand why the desire for independence existed in the first place, why a large and expensive referendum had not put the issue to rest, at least for a while, and most importantly of all to me, why there had been a debate in my family that had become so strange. It was on the one hand emotional and lacking in rationality and on the other very artificial, as if made up by someone for reasons that were not clear. A good deal of thinking and reading later I feel that I have come to a better understanding of the issue. It is not a pleasant understanding to me, either in terms of what I think the motivations behind the movement to independence are or in terms of its possible outcomes for society in Scotland, England and Wales. I'm still fairly ambivalent about the issue, for reasons that I will describe, but not in the same way as I was, which is a surprise to me. If anything my ambivalence is stronger today, if that is a possible. I have better reasons to wish for the dissolution if the Union and also better reasons to wish to see it continue. It is an injustice that I would not be permitted to vote on the issue, I certainly have as much right as my brother or sister in law who got to actually vote, but it is an injustice I can bear easily as I would probably have to just toss a coin to choose between yes or no.
Let us analyse the main debate briefly. This is a well trodden ground, and if you have participated in it at all you will likely have strong opinions of your own. Oddly, I don't think much of that matters, in the same way that my analysis here doesn't matter that much either. I ought to lay out how I see the issue anyway though, before we dive in to what I think the debate is really about, which of course is nothing to do with whether or not independence for Scotland is a good idea. It's something else entirely, but let us first have a look at the 'issues', such as they seem to be.
There are really two main thrusts of the debate, the economic, rational one and the emotional, hopeful one.
The first and largest issue is whether it makes direct economic sense for the people of Scotland. There are a lot of strong opinions about this, and a lot of supposed facts and numbers thrown about that usually turn out to be untrue or at best not facts but just opinions. There are however some basic things that are pretty clear and hard to argue with.
Economically it is plain that Scotland could run its own government and pay for things. Lots of countries smaller than Scotland do exactly that, and they're not all third world horrors. This is a plus for the independence movement. Unfortunately for the pro-independence movement it's also quite plain that if it wished to do so then it would either need to give up its banking sector (the grim experiment Iceland undertook with a large banking sector and a small GDP makes a very plain example of why) or use someone else's currency via some kind of peg or wholesale adoption. If Scotland gave up its banking sector this would be quite bad for its GDP, if it has to use someone else's currency then it has to effectively surrender its economic policy control to another country or countries. If you doubt that I invite you to consider the current plight of Greece, whose economy is now effectively run by Germany. This is not to say that it is impossible for Scotland to have its own currency or use someone else's, just that there is a price to pay, one that I don't think has been very plainly laid out. The natural resources of oil, which were a big part of any post independence economic picture of prosperity for Scotland pre referendum, have been shown by circumstance to be deeply unreliable and fickle. If Scotland truly had voted for independence in 2014 its finances would be a disaster in 2015 as oil prices have collapsed.
Independence without the ability to set fiscal policy is not independence. Many of the things the SNP complain about are down to fiscal policy being set in Westminster. As a result of this simple conundrum, combined with the implausibility of Scotland being able to enter the Euro for political reasons (reasons that arise far from these shores and are down to the many separatist movements that exist in other EU countries, separatist movements that those countries will not brook being given encouragement), I think it very likely that independence would mean the loss of the current banking sector for Scotland. This, combined with the variable oil price and the end of the current large annual transfer of state funds from England to Scotland would mean a substantially and immediately reduced GDP with an accompanying drop in tax revenues, along with a substantially reduced ability for the state to borrow, particularly at low interest rates
My conclusion as far as economics go is quite simple. It is possible economically for Scotland to become independent, but it will be tough, quite probably very tough. The outcome will not be the lovely 'no austerity' message of the current SNP centre-left politicians, it will be a much harsher world for a while. It is more than likely that in time Scotland will do well, it has plenty of resourceful people and the adversity created, coupled with the psychological boost of independence, could be a big spur to the development of a vibrant economy. That will take time to happen though, in my opinion between ten and twenty years is realistic, probably closer to twenty if you want to think about being the kind of rich country that can afford lots of nice social, arts and welfare spending. In that time I doubt there will be much money for anything apart from essentials, so I think it highly likely that the price that will be paid for independence in the short term will be a huge degree of austerity, to an extent that will be shocking to most people. This would disproportionately affect the poor, students, and anyone else that depends on the state for their income.
Personally I wouldn't care too much about this. If one cared enough about independence then it's just the price you have to pay, and if you're thinking in terms of freedom of some kind then the price is nearly always worth paying. Liberty of any kind is usually an expensive and worthwhile purchase. I do however think it's very dishonest in the debate to avoid this issue, or worse still to lie about it. Anyone with half a brain can see that hard times for a while, quite possibly several decades, are a likely outcome of independence, and saying that the opposite is true is just taking advantage of peoples gullibility or innumeracy, which is mean. And suggesting that poorer people might or would be better off in an independent Scotland ('less austerity, we can have a socialist paradise!') is just plain lies, that outcome simply cannot be achieved in the short term. In the long term it is possible, many dream of turning Scotland into a Scandinavian style socialist society, but that requires an engine of major wealth creation to drive it, which is both speculative, difficult and time consuming to create.
The other main threads of argument for Scottish independence are the emotional ones. One of these and the most common is the appeal to nationhood, to a tribal identity combined with the grievance that the English stole the country and subjugated it to the Union as a vassal state, subsequently doing bad things to its people.
For me this whole line of argument is deeply worthless, but then again I don't really agree with the idea of nation states at all, never mind that dangerous and stupid idea of nationalism. This idea of tribal belonging based on where your feet happen to be standing at that moment in time, or worse still down to genetics, to who your 'folk' are with all the vile, discriminatory 'us and them' behaviour so wonderfully pioneered by the Germans in the 1930's, is dangerous, stupid and divisive. This is the 'ook ook' of politics, the appeal to our basest emotions, those of belonging to one tribe and hatred of the other, just because they are not you. These arguments are powerful, effective and wrong. Not only are many of the 'facts' used in such arguments simply wrong (I was confronted by the assertion at one point, made by an otherwise intelligent seeming Scottish woman, that the English were responsible for the Highland clearances, which I subsequently discovered was utterly incorrect) but they also prey on our collective weakness of mind for tribal hatred, a weakness we now know to be deeply dangerous to encourage. This style of argument has regrettably been seen frequently in the debates that ran up to the referendum, and those that have deployed them in any way should be ashamed of themselves. Appealing to emotion because you have run out of actual arguments is the trick of the politician who just wants you to agree with them, give them power and damn the consequences to you. It short circuits our reasoning and leads us to make stupid, risky or immoral decisions.
These appeals to emotion also fail when confronted by facts and documented history. Far from being oppressed by the English after the Union was established, there is widespread evidence that Scotland benefited hugely from the Union. Scots became vastly over represented in the government, the sciences, the services and in commerce. The period subsequent to the establishment of the Union was a flowering of culture, learning and commerce in Edinburgh and Glasgow. There were a great many horrible things happening too, just as there were in England at the same time, but the truly terrible things like the Highland clearances have little to do with England and a lot to do with rapacious clan chiefs, all of whom were as Scottish as they come.
Other emotional arguments also take stage in the debate. The largest is probably the great hope that an independent Scotland would encourage a flowering of creativity, energy, commerce and a general spirit of progress. This is a very nice idea. It is emotionally extremely appealing, particularly to young people who always feel stifled by older generations no matter where they live and enjoy the idea that it must somehow be someones fault, and best of all in this debate it is a 'someone' who can be immediately banished from their lives by the legislative act of independence.
This idea is, out of all possible arguments for Scottish independence, probably the most appealing to me personally. I have lived my life on the boundary between creativity, science, engineering and business, the very area that it supposed to flower in the absence of southern influence on Scotland. However appealing it might be though, sadly I find it very hard to believe it to be a very likely outcome. Firstly, the very flowering being talked about today actually happened for real when the Union was first created in 1707. Opinions seem to vary as to quite why, but quite a common consensus is that once the Scots were freed from the difficulty of governing their small and financially poor country, with its highly corrupt Lairds and broken systems of government, they were freed to get on with actually doing the things they were good at. Judging by the 200 years of achievements subsequent to the Acts of Union these were a great many things indeed. It is possible that this Scottish renaissance subsequent to the Union is just an accident of history, a spurious correlation, or even just a 'shock of the new' jolt to a society that was moribund, but I think not myself.
The huge benefit that came to all the people of the Union from Scotland's involvement is hard to explain as an accident, and the 'shock of the new' is very unlikely to have persisted for that long. To me the best explanation is the simplest one, that there were large positive forces that arose from the Union, for all concerned, and those forces resulted in exactly the kind of outcome that is wished for now with independence. Unfortunately I cannot see how such forces might arise from the dissolution of the Union. Perhaps this is a failure of imagination on my part, but I see no evidence of a giant pent up need for expression, or freedom from terrible governance, in the Scots today. There's plenty of divisive talk about identity and history, and plenty of desire for a change, but from what to what? The politicians of the SNP look just as bad to me as all the politicians in the rest of the UK. Many of them are just younger with less experience of power, but it's all the same horrible games being played. The older ones are just as creepy and power seeking as any English or Welsh equivalent. The record of the Scottish parliament to date is not edifying, if it were then I might have a different opinion on this, but the emotional appeal to a prospective renaissance in Scotland has no merit to me when faced with any actual evidence of current behaviour or analysis of actual history.
The final emotional series of arguments that I have heard quite a lot is for the desire to be able to elect a more socialist, left-of-centre government than is possible whilst Scotland is tied into the broader United Kingdom, with its right-of-centre southern counties. This is taking a basic political preference and attempting to give it more power by tying it to a geographic location. This is a perfectly understandable instinct probably best illustrated by considering a hypothetical village. Let's give this village a population with a divisive, more extreme view than normal. Let's assume that they are composed of purely racist crazies who think that foreign people are not human and wish to ban them from the village. In our current society they get no chance to enact any laws about this, they are bound to a wider and much more moderate consensus. Their only hope is to declare independence and make their own laws. In this case we can probably agree it's not a good outcome for them to be allowed to do so. But at what size of geographic territory does it become their right to do so?
Historically it's just been about fighting. If you have an army big enough you can declare independence whenever you like. These days it's also about politicking. The question remains in the independence debate as to whether this line of argument is a valid one, or even a reasonable one. My answer to that is 'perhaps'. Personally I think the left-of-centre dream of creating a wealth redistributive, Scandinavian style of socialist society is repulsive. It lacks freedom in so many ways, and depends on a gestalt of human behaviour that I would flee at all costs, it's too much like the Borg for me. However, I am what might be considered a fairly strong libertarian. I have a substantial dislike for the collectivist instinct, I see it too often leads to deeply oppressive societies and my opinion on this political position is coloured through that lens. If a substantial majority of people in Scotland (and is 51% enough to make that case?) really want that kind of life then perhaps this is one argument that is genuinely powerful. Unfortunately for this debate, I don't really believe that this is the case for Scotland. At the moment the state expenditure per capita in Scotland is considerably higher than in the rest of the UK, in 2010/11 it was over £1000 per head higher, or around 20%. This is a substantial difference and has immediate consequences. One of my nieces was at one point in a primary school with fourteen pupils in total, an extravagance that has been unthinkable in the rest of the UK for many years. As a result of this difference Scotland already lives in a more wealth redistributive, socialist world that the rest of the UK, and voting in left-of-centre MP's who help to keep it that way is just plain good sense for anyone who lives there. But the Scots people themselves have never ever struck me as left-of-centre. In fact, a more conservative people on a personal level would be hard to find. This leads the cynic in me to see the continuous election of left wing politicians as being a product of self interest rather than any desire to make the world a more egalitarian place. Perhaps I am wrong about this, but whichever way the truth lies I don't think that it is particularly obvious which way an independent Scotland would lean politically, simply because the environment created by the existence of that large south to north transfer and existence of the SNP makes the present landscape so weird and hard to read. To summarise this particular argument, I think that those who wish for independence to enable some different, more collectivist political future are probably deluding themselves based upon the current highly distorted picture, and I also think that this line of argument has some serious unresolved issues as well. The question needs to be asked as to whether or not it is morally acceptable to undertake such a risky and serious undertaking as the creation of an independent state just to achieve what I strongly suspect will be a minor (at best) political shift in the landscape.
The emotional arguments are manifold. They are are out there though, however distasteful they might be, however plain wrong their facts might be. The fact that they are being deployed so readily in favour of such a momentous, risky and very expensive undertaking as the dissolution of the Union is a bit of a red flag though. When I noticed these kinds of arguments popping up it immediately raised a big question for me; 'who stands to gain from this?'. If the debate is sane then you do not need anything apart from facts and reason. The use of these appeals to our irrational side is a bad sign, and it means that the whole debate deserves some deeper analysis, in particular that thorny question, 'who stands to gain from this?' needs a thorough examination, because when we answer that it may turn out that the answer is not 'The People of Scotland'. It is normally a logical fallacy, the 'Ad Hominem' error, to examine the person making the argument instead of the argument itself, but when the argument being made is not an argument but instead an emotional appeal to our non-rational instincts then 'Ad Hominem' is no longer an error, it is an essential step to understanding the situation.
To be clear here, I am not just asking the question 'who stands to gain from independence?' I'm also asking 'who stands to gain from the argument about it?'. These are both interesting questions. We can see that it's a real debate as to whether the Scottish people themselves stand to gain from independence, there are real pro's and real cons. The outcome is certainly not obvious and the costs of having the debate at all are substantial. For the actual, normal people of Scotland, the rationale behind embarking on a national debate about this issue is not compellingly strong. It has a giant 'maybe' as its value in terms of outcome, and big 'no don't do that' as a cost in the short term. It's just not very interesting, from a motivation point of view. So why is it happening at all? The answer, of course, lies in the answer to the second question, it lies with that most glorious of our social groups, the political class.
People enter politics for a variety of reasons. Some feel a calling to make some change to the behaviour of everyone else, to better reflect the way they think the world should be. Some seek personal advancement and benefit. Some just want a living and like the idea of doing the job of an MP in order to earn that living. What they all have in common is that in order to prosper in their world they must accumulate power. From power come all of these desired outcomes. Without it in politics nothing can be accomplished by any individual, with enough of it almost anything can be accomplished. It is the very currency with which they trade, and they trade it for policy, they trade it for lifestyle and income and they trade it for fame, status and recognition. It is the unspoken subtext to all politics, however principled it might seem, however much it might seem to be 'for the common good'. Without the power in the first place, no politics can exist, so it is inevitable.
The accumulation of power is a particular skill, and that skill is different depending on the particular political system one inhabits. The one common thing is that those who are good at it in that system rise to the top of their profession, those who are not good at it will leave or fail to prosper. It is quite Darwinian in nature, and not very pretty to observe. In our parliamentary democracy, the accumulation of power requires a set of skills we are pretty familiar with today, media savvy, networking, ruthlessness, being presentable and appearing to have convictions of some kind. Note that honesty, actually having any principles or being well and roundly educated are not required, and in fact are largely impediments. If you disbelieve me on this I invite you reflect that in a world in which our economy, health, safety and future are utterly dependent on science (an interesting example estimate is that 70% of GDP depends on our societies understanding of quantum mechanics) we have only voted in one scientific Prime Minister ever. We have voted in a lot of lawyers.
After the Acts of Union there was effectively little for a politically inclined Scot to do at home. All the action was in Westminster, and so off to Westminster a lot of them went. They were very good at it, enriching and improving the political life of the Union in the subsequent two hundred years. In the middle of the 20th Century though the world power of Great Britain was in sharp decline, and for aspiring politicians a seat at Westminster became less attractive. To put it simply, the power acquired by being an MP at Westminster was declining. Around this time what is now the SNP began its slow genesis. At first it was really a simple political party, loosely held together by the stated idea of a national identity for Scotland. One of its first leaders was imprisoned for resisting conscription, to give you an idea of how unelectable they were in the 1940's. In time however they found their voice, and it is a voice that appeals to a tribal identity, that of being Scottish, and about a geographic territory, Scotland. It is a nationalist party and all of its existence is down to that drive. It has a big pile of other policies as well, as is required by any political party, but like the Green Party these policies are near irrelevant besides the reason for the existence of the party in the first place, which is independence for Scotland.
They have, as a group of politicians, devoted themselves to creating and growing a feeling of separatism between Scotland and the rest of the UK. From this nationalistic, separatist feeling derives all of their power, so it is not surprising that they promote it so heavily. The more of it there is, the more powerful they are as a group. They have been very successful at this in the last decade, creating more division, nationalism and argument than in any previous decade. From this they have reaped a nice harvest, a majority in the devolved Scottish parliament and 56 MP's at Westminster. It is a great lesson in politics and power. They have fostered and grown division between people and used that to gain a substantial amount of political power. Note that this analysis does not require any attribution of rectitude, there is nor requirement anywhere for any of the participants to be dishonest, honest, kind or mean. It is just the way things work, and to follow the quite simple motivations of political people to acquire power is to discover at once who really benefits from the independence debate. The argument itself promotes the existence of the SNP and its success, along with the success of all the individuals who have joined that tribe for the duration. It does not even particularly need them to win, just the continuing existence of a conflict (now referred to I believe as the 'Neverendum', at least by friends in Glasgow) makes that power structure more secure and successful, so just like any force of nature it will continue to try and keep it alive and well.
So the answer to 'who stands to gain from the debate?' is quite clear, it is the SNP (and any other nationalist) politicians. All the other participants in the process can at best expect a marginal outcome either way, but the politicians all collect salaries, acquire power, prestige and nice pensions whichever way it goes. The actual people of Scotland, well not so much.
The answer to 'who stands to gain from independence' is harder to determine. I'm pretty sure that many of the Scottish MP's and SNP's think they would benefit from a 'Yes' vote in any future referendum, but I have, as you have seen, my doubts about that. The SNP is at core a single issue party, and if they win that war then they will immediately be superfluous to requirements. I'm seriously not convinced that the people of Scotland are really left-of-centre inclined politically, when left to their own devices. Absent Westminster I suspect that the nation would experience a sharp change in political landscape, and not one that the current SNP would enjoy. But then again, I could be completely wrong about that, it's very hard to tell. Whatever the case we can be sure that all of the current SNP imagine that an independent Scotland would afford them even more opportunities for power and they will work diligently towards that as a result, so from their point of view the 'who stands to gain question' has a clear outcome, even if the outcome for the actual broad population is far less clear.
The history of the last hundred years is quite brutal when it comes to nationalism. its lessons are stark and unkind. Nationalism (and its older equivalent twin, tribalism), however nice it feels to its participants, is also simply a wholesale force for evil. So many people died in the 20th century as a result of it that it is never something we can dismiss as harmless, and the time between it appearing to be harmless and then people suffering and dying can be shockingly short. In Rwanda a million Tutsi people were killed in an outpouring of politician manufactured tribal separatist hatred (mediated by of all things radio DJ's) in a time period literally measured in weeks. In the former Yugoslavia hundreds of thousands of innocents were slaughtered in what had been an apparently civilised, largely western culture, once again driven by politically driven division and hatred, fostered by leaders like Slobodan Milosevic whose power fed off the very creating of such hatreds. And if you think to yourself, 'yes but this is just Scotland, that could never happen here' I'd like to remind you that it happened to the highly civilised Germans less than a hundred years ago in the 30's, when once again a political elite fostered hatred, division and separatism to its own ends, that time a nationalism that cost the life of millions of Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, Poles and Russians, not to mention the disastrous war that accompanied that attempted genocide. Nationalism is not something to be proud of, it's a thing to very, very careful about. It runs madly out of control very easily, particularly when there are people forming political movements that stand to benefit from it, and we should view it at all times with a mixture of fondness, for the belonging and sense of cultural identity it can give us, and deep distrust, for the division, hatred and separatism it fosters in our hearts against our neighbours, our fellow human beings. I have heard the phrase 'I hate the English' a number of times in debates and discussion around this issue, and that phrase sends shivers down my spine. Not because I am English or worry about being hated (I've been hated plenty of times for better reasons than that) but because such statements are the surrendering of mind, personal identity, rationality and empathy with our fellow man. How can you hate a country full of people? It is the manufactured hate of a nationalist movement, and it is a horrible and very worrying thing to behold. History is clear, when you hear that kind of thing being said more and more, it says 'be very, very careful'. Be prepared to run away, or arm yourself.
So now we come to ask why it is that I am ambivalent on the issue of Scottish independence at all. It might seem from the discussion above that I am deeply against it, but I am not, or rather I am deeply against it and deeply for it at the same time. I have articulated the reasons that I think it a bad idea, including the one that concerns me most, the fostering of division and nationalism by politicians who stand to gain from it. The reasons I am for it are purely selfish, and as such I do not like to admit to them and will not as a result go on very long about them, but if Scotland were to leave the Union then politics in Britain would move substantially and probably permanently to the right on that outdated left-right political spectrum. Now I have weirdly mixed politics, but one thing I usually can guarantee is that if there is a socialist or collectivist policy that does not concern a genuine common property then you will find me opposed to it. British politics in the absence of the Scots vote would be a lot more preferable to me. The significance of this has recently been made even more stark, as the Scottish SNP MP's sitting Westminster have begun to, in contravention of all accepted practice though not illegally, take positions on purely English matters, on laws that are independently decided by the Scottish parliament. Now this is plainly a policy by the SNP to be as aggressive and divisive as they can be, morally it is disgusting and its only intent can be to make people angry. No clearer example can be given of this than the recent attempt by the government to have a vote to change the English law on hunting with hounds (and I like to go hunting myself, so this was personal) to bring it in line with the Scottish version of the same, which has proved more workable and is widely considered to be a better law by everyone except the extreme animal rights activists. This would have been an amendment to an existing law that only affects England and Wales, and it was expected to pass on a free vote of English And Welsh MP's. Scottish and Northern Irish MP's are expected not to vote on such issues as it would be very unreasonable of them to do so, they have their own assemblies for just such a purpose. The SNP decided to vote against it (and remember this is to bring English law in line with law the Scottish parliament passed some years go themselves), and were pretty blunt that this was done to anger David Cameron, who was behind the change. I do not think a better example can really be found of cynical politics, immoral behaviour and the active fostering of division and dislike for no reason apart from political advantage, and it was the SNP, a nationalist party that lives by the manufactured or exaggerated tribal differences between people that undertook it.
So on the one hand I'd like to see the back of Scotland in our UK political process, their current politics are affecting my life adversely and directly. Their MP's are behaving extraordinarily badly at Westminster, they push our national politics far to the left of where they would otherwise be and a lot of extra tax revenues go north of the border to boot. On the other hand I am aware that I am judging a whole region, a people, by the horrible politicians they've elected, which is unkind (I would hate to judged on that standard by any anyone from Scotland, I think the whole lot at Westminster are pretty horrid) and the rational debate about dissolving the Union is not clear, there are pro's and cons, both for the Scots and for the rest of the UK. The emotional debate is extremely disquieting, based in politically fostered and artificial division, a practice that history teaches us to be deeply suspicious of. This alone makes me want the whole argument to just go away, it feels unhealthy to be even having it. And there is my family, I am a descendent of Scots, I'm genetically half Scot, half my family live there once again, I love Scottish music and I think Scotland is home to some of the most beautiful countryside on Earth. The Scots have added immeasurably to the sciences, culture and history of our union, to see them depart it would be a sad day indeed, no matter how much it might advantage anyone. If done for reasons that truly bring no great advantage to either peoples then it would be a tragedy.
Which way would I vote? If I lived in Scotland I think I'd probably vote to be indepedent, simply because I am very much in favour of liberty and independence has that feeling to it, an emotional but powerful call that overides everything else. Living as I do in England I think I'd have to toss a coin, I have no better way to decide and the more I think about it, the more uncertain I get. It is a personal Neverendum and, just like the actual Neverendum that runs on and on, I would now like it to quietly find a dark hole, curl up and die naturally.
John Lambert - September 2015
1 – The New York Times had an interesting article about this phenomena, which shows how widespread it is, though it does not explore the reactions of existing EU governments: Seperatists Around The World