Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Scotland Remains: The Kingdom Stays United

The results are in and the decision is unequivocal: the much-anticipated referendum on the independence of Scotland from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which had been publicized as a neck-and-neck race between independence and status quo, ended up being anything but – more than 55% of the massive turnout of voters – some 85%, phenomenal by British and certainly American standards  – has voted to remain as before.

The 'nays' have it

Scotland has been united with England (and thereby Wales and [now Northern] Ireland) by the Treaty of Union of 1707, which recognized the fact that the two nations had had the same monarch since James VI of Scotland ascended the English throne as James I (the same James who authorized the famous Bible translation) upon the death of Elizabeth I in 1603 (he being her double first cousin twice removed, royal relationships being so complex almost by definition).  The tepid bond between the two peoples riven by Hadrian's Wall had been more than acrimonious, with the Scots driven to open warfare and oppressive subjugation by the English, but the Scots over time have been proudly British while still staunchly Caledonian.

My family on my father's side is Scottish (not Scotch – that's a libation), and my mother's otherwise German ancestry has a significant portion of Scottish ancestors as well (along with a dollop of Spanish).  The main family derives from the area of Jedburgh, and is thus classified as Border Scots, with a string of veterans of the great battles against the English – Sterling, Falkirk, Bannockburn and the rest, and our tartan is of the Jacobites.  My approach to the question of independence for Scotland is divided: emotionally, the idea of a freed Scotland has appeal from a bowed-but-not-broken sense of resistance (my people were all Confederates as well, many of whom owed an earlier allegiance to the Republic of Texas).  But that appeal is to an earlier Scottish sense of pride in its culture of hard work, frugality, and personal responsibility.  That sense, quite unfortunately, has been debased and subsumed beneath a Leftist philosophy of 'eat the rich', increasing dependence on the dole which is subsidized by London to the tune of some £1300 per capita more than the welfare payout elsewhere in England.  The SNP Leftist dogma is swimming against the slowly turning movement in larger England, seen clearly in the steadily increasing approval of Nigel Farage's UKIP party, and in the movement of the national center toward the right in even the Labour Party.

The general idea of killing such a generous British goose is found in the frankly incoherent policies of the now-resigned Scottish National Party's Alex Salmond, who tossed together the idea that the Scottish national income will absorb the whole of the North Sea oil revenues for a Saudi-like economy of living off the found wealth of their natural resources without having to apply any real application of actual work, an idea that would have Adam Smith, himself a Scot, turning in his grave.  The rest of his plan, including such necessities as a new national monetary system and defense policy, taxation, membership in NATO and the EU (to name but a few), was bound up in a wait-and-see attitude.  The idea was run on sheer emotion, with really nothing to tie it to reality, and Salmond was never able to explain how to get to the bottom line.

The election is over, but the issue remains.  There is a parallel in my mind to the Canadian referendum in 1995 on the question of independence for Quebec, in which the decision to remain united won by a slim margin of 51%.  If the decision had been otherwise, it wouldn't necessarily have stopped with a sovereign Quebec.  Newfoundland, previously a separate dominion from Canada, would have explored independence as well, having been split geographically from the remaining rump state.  There was a developing movement in British Columbia and Alberta to explore splitting off from Ottawa and seeking statehood with the United States.  This nightmare for Canada became more real when, after the dust had settled, it was discovered that the Francophone voters had voted for independence by a significant margin; it was the English-speaking citizens of Quebec that managed to keep the province from splitting off.  The only reason that the independence issue hasn't resurfaced is the political division within the Québécois.  But expect to see a ripple effect, if not the direct result of the referendum then a reflection of a rising tide of ethnic nationalism in Europe, such as the Catalanes in Spain demanding a referendum of their own.

The issue in Scotland is not likely to fade so soon though, with the 'Yes' voters being the more passionate and committed on the subject, and younger, with the age limit for voting having been lowered to 16 during the run-up to the vote.  They are a younger base, with more staying power.  And the question was given further life with a hasty concession by London, by the leaders of the three top parties (Conservatives, Labour, and Social Democrats), of greater autonomy within the future United Kingdom should it remain so.  Reform has a way of creating greater appetite for more change, and the maxim that the most dangerous time for a dictatorship is when it tries to reform itself actually applies to any government.  The promise of what "more autonomy" will look like has yet to be worked out, and the likely massive detail of whatever that plan will be undoubtedly will cover a legion of devils.  One such item to be resolved is the disconnect between the possible ability of Scottish MPs being able to vote on legislation affecting England, but English MPs being unable to vote on bills affecting Scotland.

This issue is far from settled, but we must keep in mind that a strong and united Britain is in the best interests of us all.


  1. Looked like a media-driven event from this side of the puddle.

  2. OT, sorry to see the Ags taking beatings from the Mississippis. Now that they're no longer Big 12 I prefer it when they do well.

    1. Ole Miss and Mississippi State (in particular) are a surprise to just about everybody. I believe that in the case of MSST, this is the first time since 1964 that an unranked team at the beginning of the season has risen to first place in the polls.

      The Ags still have a few issues to work out, but we're still pretty good. If you have to lose two games, it might as well be to the #1 and #3 ranked teams.

  3. OT Again: Some Longhorns fans are pleased about the massacre in Tuscaloosa: http://www.burntorangenation.com/2014/10/18/7001035/texas-a-m-aggies-schadenfreude-alabama-crimson-tide-football-recruiting

    I'd still rather see a Texas team do well in the SEC. Maybe next year.

    1. Nick Sabin has reserved a special little circle of Hell for the Ags, after they humiliated Alabama a couple years ago. That said, the Ags had hit a serious stumbling block after starting so well. Ultimately, they had no one to blame but themselves.

      Which is why Kevin Sumlin collapsed the program to a zero-based review after the Alabama game. We had a bye and a pre-scheduled game against UL-Monroe which served as a sort of Spring Scrimmage II, dismissed Kenny Hill as QB after what looked like a fit of pique on his part and replaced him with Freshman Kyle Allen.

      I would say that we're back on track after we beat #3 Auburn yesterday. Time will tell - we have Missouri and LSU coming up.


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