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October 15, 2012 1:26 AM   Subscribe

The governments of the United Kingdom and Scotland agree on a framework for the latter to vote on independence. Other reporting in the Telegraph, Guardian and the Scottish Sun. The referendum, for this nation of 5.25 million people and a unicorn as its national animal, will be held before the end of 2014.

16 and 17 year olds will be allowed to vote; the paper will contain just a single option on independence. Bookmakers currently predict a 'No' result.

In 1979, Scotland voted on devolution. The referendum resulted in 51.6% support which, with a turnout of 63.8%, fell short of the required 40% electorate approval level. In 1997, a referendum resulted in a Scottish parliament with tax-varying powers.
posted by Wordshore (109 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Independence" is a very broad term, but the Guardian has an excellent reference page with plenty of links that help describe what an independent Scotland might look like.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:36 AM on October 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


The Scottish vote comes despite no such referendum being offered south of the border. - Telegraph article

My question, from the position of being badly uninformed on Scottish independence: Is this important? Does England want to keep Scotland around and Scotland wants to leave or do both peoples want to split and it is the governments that want to stay joined? None of the articles give a lot of background on this point but I assume that's because their audiences know what is going on.
posted by fireoyster at 1:55 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Useful link, KokuRyu. My impression is that the result will not be decided by sentiment, but by whether people think they will get a better financial deal out of independence. Unfortunately that is unclear.

I think if Cameron is really a Unionist he should be trying to make it really clear that Scotland will lose out by independence, but in fact he seems happy to leave a state of confusion in which Scots may well get the impression they can get a priviliged position by voting for it.

They might be right. It's hard to avoid the impression that he is only a Unionist nominally but actually, like most of the English, couldn't give a shit and has some difficulty remembering the place exists. He might well be prepared to fund an independent Scotland handsomely out of some confused impression that by doing so he's 'conciliating' Scottish opinion.

A cleverer (and to be fair, nastier) politician might notice that since the Scots don't vote for him and never will, he might as well bleed them white.
posted by Segundus at 1:58 AM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Go Scotland - you may not get the chance again.
posted by Summer at 2:15 AM on October 15, 2012


I think if Cameron is really a Unionist he should be trying to make it really clear that Scotland will lose out by independence

Cameron can't really do anything to affect the outcome of this in a unionist way, he and the Tories are too hated in Scotland.

The case for the union has to be made by Labour. Worse, by Scottish Labour which is desperately inept and has a leader apparently politically tone-deaf. (It also has the structural problem of not having any hitters big enough to go toe-to-toe with Salmond, as anyone good enough goes to London to try their luck on the UK stage.)
posted by fightorflight at 2:15 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's hard to avoid the impression that he is only a Unionist nominally but actually, like most of the English, couldn't give a shit

[Citation required].
posted by MuffinMan at 2:15 AM on October 15, 2012


A cleverer (and to be fair, nastier) politician might notice that since the Scots don't vote for him and never will, he might as well bleed them white.

On the one hand, as a Tory he's instinctively Unionist. On the other hand, an independent Scotlands swings the Westminster parliament to the right.
posted by atrazine at 2:20 AM on October 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Indeed, fireoyster, one wonders under what terms a country taken and occupied by force should be required to ask its occupiers permission to regain its sovereignty.
posted by 1adam12 at 2:48 AM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't believe Cameron would ever want to go down in history as the Prime Minister who broke up the union, no matter how many extra seats it gave him in the short term.
posted by ciderwoman at 2:50 AM on October 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


one wonders under what terms a country taken and occupied by force should be required to ask its occupiers permission to regain its sovereignty.

Which country's this you're talking about? It isn't Scotland, which (more or less) won its wars of independence.
posted by fightorflight at 2:59 AM on October 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


but by whether people think they will get a better financial deal out of independence.

Which I have heard expressed by my Scottish brother-in-law as "when they pay us back for all the wealth they have stolen" which seems an incredible fantasy. Unlike prudent Norway, the UK blew all of its oil wealth on coke and hookers and there is no piggy bank to break open. Oil and gas revenues are in sharp decline and I don't see how Scotland can become independent of the UK without becoming more dependent on the EU and NATO, both of which come at no small surrender of independence.

An independent Scotland might look more like Luxembourg - or Greece - but certainly not like oil-rich Norway.
posted by three blind mice at 3:01 AM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Indeed, fireoyster, one wonders under what terms a country taken and occupied by force should be required to ask its occupiers permission to regain its sovereignty.

Eh? The Treaty of the Union was signed under duress, but the Scotland wasn't occupied or taken by force. It was debated in and signed by both parliaments.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:03 AM on October 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


one wonders under what terms a country taken and occupied by force should be required to ask its occupiers permission to regain its sovereignty

Exactly. And after this, in England we're going to rid ourselves of those evil Norman invaders and return to our true Anglo Saxon roots. Then we'll kick them out too, swiftly followed by sueing Norway to get all our Danegeld back and the Catholic church to get compensation for all those years of Roman occupation.
posted by ciderwoman at 3:11 AM on October 15, 2012 [18 favorites]


And after this, in England we're going to rid ourselves of those evil Norman invaders and return to our true Anglo Saxon roots.

Come on, we don't want to Godwin the thread.
posted by Abiezer at 3:15 AM on October 15, 2012 [20 favorites]


I would still like someone to define what "independence" looks like. Apparently Salmond abandoned Devomax, which to this Canadian (with memories Quebec) seems reasonable, and somewhat more understandable. And cheaper.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:16 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


one wonders under what terms a country taken and occupied by force should be required to ask its occupiers permission to regain its sovereignty

There is also the idea of national self-determination, too. No one should have to remain part of a country unless they want to.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:17 AM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


My major concern here is that Alex Salmond is a manipulative slime-ball. He's well aware of the Scots' weakness for sentimental versions of their past (cue the ghastly "Flower Of Scotland" - anthem for a defeated nation) and he will take every opportunity to play that to the hilt. That's perhaps one reason he wants kids to be able to vote - they're clearly more impressionable. I hope my fellow countrymen are smart enough to see through all of that and look at this proposal in a cold, clinical way. Scots wha hae wi' Salmond bled isn't what we want to be hearing...
posted by gallus at 3:18 AM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


1adam12, are you getting confused with Ireland? Scotland wasn't taken by force in the same way.
posted by Gratishades at 3:19 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Abiezer, when you have the comment I replied to and comments like this "when they pay us back for all the wealth they have stolen" then I believe mine is a legitimate reply and calling Godwin is just wrong and rather unfair.
posted by ciderwoman at 3:20 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just a joke about the Anglo-Saxon nobility, honest!
posted by Abiezer at 3:21 AM on October 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think it would be sad for Scotland to lose the rest of the UK. Poor Jamie VI must be spinning in his grave.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:22 AM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Believe Abiezer may have been referring jokingly to Harold Godwinson
posted by Gratishades at 3:22 AM on October 15, 2012


Believe Abiezer may have been referring jokingly to Harold Godwinson

I thought it was a rather clever joke. Well played indeed!
posted by KokuRyu at 3:24 AM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


My bad Abiezer, I'm slow today, sorry!
posted by ciderwoman at 3:24 AM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Don't go, Scotland! Don't leave us with the Tories and the Welsh!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:41 AM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thoughts as a Scot on independence;

I still haven't decided how I will vote in the referendum. Below are my conflicting thoughts

Pro Indie

We'll stop blaming the English for our woes.

We'll be shot of the right wing conservatives that dominate the South of England and could create a polity that matches our largely centre-left psyche.

Anti Indie

We'll be abandoning the progressives in England and Wales. They will, likely, move towards a smaller state- can Scotland run a bigger more generous state next door to England (EU laws mean that English folk could come for better education and healthcare here even though not paying the taxes that support it)?

Rupert Murdoch is pro indie- strong corporations prefer weak governments so they can play them off against each other for tax and legislation. You want to increase the minimum wage? Then we'll move to Scotland/England.

The SNP used to be a nasty right wing anti-Irish party (to be fair this was most apparent a century ago but I have a knee jerk wariness of all enthusiastic nationalism as it often becomes about who/what one excludes as opposed to includes).


I really am torn. I feel Scottish, British and European. Do I have to choose between Burns and Shakespeare? Do I go for the romantic and optimistic "live as though you were in the early days of a better nation"? Do I go for the more pragmatic "I can see more problems than benefits"?

It is going to be interesting.
posted by Gratishades at 3:46 AM on October 15, 2012 [18 favorites]


I don't believe Cameron would ever want to go down in history as the Prime Minister who broke up the union, no matter how many extra seats it gave him in the short term.

Extra seats and the short term being what the Westminster system is all about - that and gross incompetence seasoned with opportunism
posted by mattoxic at 3:48 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gratishades - I thought you wouldn't be a member of the EU by gaining independence and would have to reapply for membership?

And mattoxic - I very much disagree, this Prime Minister always has one eye on his place in history, just like Blair.
posted by ciderwoman at 3:51 AM on October 15, 2012


If Scotland does go independent, not sure how truly sorry Cameron et al in the Conservatives will be. Here's the map of the UK by seats in the UK parliament (House of Commons). Scotland is the knobbly bit at the top that is yellow, orange and red - with one solitary, lonely Conservative blue seat.

Remove Scotland from the equations and it becomes difficult to see how England will be anything but a clear majority Conservative-electing country for a long time.

I'm so glad I'm getting out and moving to the socialist USA at some point soon.
posted by Wordshore at 3:53 AM on October 15, 2012


Also, having lived in Scotland for over a decade, I can disappointingly report that the unicorn thing turned out to be false. No unicorns. No haggis, either. #FailWildlife
posted by Wordshore at 3:56 AM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


ciderwoman- Good point, I had been assuming that Scotland would be part of the EU by default (though most international lawyers state that we would have to reapply according to the Guardian). Would be interesting how easy that would be (countries like Spain worried about similar breakups in their own nation might try to make it more difficult for Scotland to gain entry as a successful Scotland may be used as a template for others).
posted by Gratishades at 4:00 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


And mattoxic - I very much disagree, this Prime Minister always has one eye on his place in history, just like Blair.

Sorry, I'm an Australian.
posted by mattoxic at 4:10 AM on October 15, 2012


I dare say that the remaining England, Wales and N.Ireland would have to do a fair amount of negotiation, most of the national targets across many policies will be based on the whole country. It may not be as simple as just dividing them up proportionately.
posted by biffa at 4:16 AM on October 15, 2012


Independence and freedom in the UK, after a struggle, often carries a price.
posted by Wordshore at 4:23 AM on October 15, 2012


Will there be a proviso that keeps Scottish links in the rotation for the Open Championship?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:29 AM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Remove Scotland from the equations and it becomes difficult to see how England will be anything but a clear majority Conservative-electing country for a long time.

Not really. It just makes things more difficult. Without its Scottish MPs, Labour would still have won the 1997, 2001 and 2005 elections, all with workable majorities.

I don't think there's any serious risk Scotland wouldn't be accepted into the EU. It would meet the necessary criteria very easily.

A veto/objection from another country (eg. Spain) based on their domestic political problems would piss off just about everybody - it would make a mockery of the Copenhagen criteria (ie. the values of the EU), and would probably inflame the situation with their own secessionists anyway.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 4:38 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Isn't this all sort of moot, with polls showing only around 25% support for independence? And that's before a spirited no campaign, which will raise all sorts of objections, fears and downsides. My impression (from the AV vote in Britain and virtually every referendum ever in Australia) is that it's really hard to push through a radical socio-legal change at the ballot box, and really easy to stop one.
posted by dontjumplarry at 4:39 AM on October 15, 2012


In my capacity as King of Albania, if the Scots want to be free of the United Kingdom, I hereby offer to place Scotland in personal and dynastic union. Let me know.
posted by Flunkie at 4:39 AM on October 15, 2012


Personally I don't want to see the Scots go, as it would push Westminster further to the right (and it's quite nice having a part of the UK going "yep, you totally can do education policy without bleeding students completely dry, guys"). That said, if the principle of national self-determination is to mean anything at all, then if the referendum comes up with a "yes" answer it should absolutely be respected.

Also, it would be quite amusing to read stuff on MeFi around US elections and think that we have our own colder and more politically liberal neighbour to the North that we can all threaten to move to if the election doesn't go our way...
posted by ZsigE at 4:56 AM on October 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


swiftly followed by sueing Norway to get all our Danegeld back

Danmark used to be bigger in those days (so England could sue Danmark, Sweden and Germany) but Norway wasn't a part of it back then.

The Norwegians landed in Scotland and Ireland. Scotland already has the Shetlands, so sueing Norway for even more might seem a bit greedy...
posted by Sourisnoire at 5:01 AM on October 15, 2012


Honestly if Cameron wants the Scots to vote against independence my impression is the best thing he can do is sit down, shut up, and never mention it in any way. Each time he opens his mouth on the subject it's probably 10,000 votes reminded how much they hate him.
posted by Francis at 5:01 AM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Would an independent Scotland still be part of the EU?
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:06 AM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


dontjumplarry- the opinion polls I've seen had the votes split equally between; status quo, even more devolution, and full independence. Now that it has been set as a two option question (status quo or independence) then the "devo max" people have to make a choice, so are in effect swing voters. That's the battleground. It'll come down to emotion and unforeseen events (royal family death or scandal for example) could swing sentiment wildly.
posted by Gratishades at 5:07 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hold on Queen. We need you alive.
posted by Summer at 5:19 AM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


How would Scotland be better off from independence? I've always thought they had a pretty good deal from Westminster. Would is just be a matter of North Sea oil?
posted by Vhanudux at 5:22 AM on October 15, 2012


I too am torn. English, yes, but British and European - and with a considerable emotional investment in Scotland and a great deal of respect for the culture and history of the place.

As far as I can work out, my opinion is formed from a mixture of tenets.

1. Self-determination. The Scots have a long history as an independent nation, albeit not an homogenous one. Small nations can certainly work, and who am I to be against what they want?

2. They're family. I don't want to lose them. We go back a long way.

3. Devolution is expensive. It's not just printing the passports - defence, national media, foreign policy, much of the machinery of government, all need to be to some extent rebuilt. It'll cost both nations a lot of money.

4. I don't much like the nation state as a concept anyway. It's far more interesting, and perhaps useful, to think of different ways of balancing cultural and economic needs of groups of people than by accidents of history, geography or language.

5. Isn't Europe supposed to be something like 4 anyway?

6. Bet Shetland (and perhaps Orkney) will declare UDI and fast-track the Nordic option.

Actually, I'd like to see what happens to Shetland and Orkney which, as far as I can tell, aren't fully part of the UK anyway - there's some interesting legal history there which means that Norway has a case that it can claim them in exchange for a sum of money. But that's just a personal (and minor) obsession.
posted by Devonian at 5:22 AM on October 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Gratishades: was wondering how it would play out if a certain M. Thatcher dies in the next few years (quite possible) and there's a subsequent (UK taxpayer-funded) state funeral.
posted by Wordshore at 5:28 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


What would a royal family death have to do with anything? The referendum isn't about abandoning the monarchy, just the union of government.
posted by rocket88 at 5:28 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


How would it affect the price of whisky?
posted by Egg Shen at 5:33 AM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


rocket88: would affect sentiment and therefore voting- would it be an outpouring of grief, or an outpouring of unease as the less lovable Charles would be going out to bat?

Wordshore: the Nats would make a big play of the difference in responses to Thatcher's death (they'd highlight the love for her in the South East rather than the street parties in the north of England and in Wales of course).

There's loads of times for other unforeseen events- wars, terrorist attacks, scandals at UK or Scottish govt level, Scotland winning a football game (unlikely), that could cause swing voters to feel more Scottish or British.
posted by Gratishades at 5:37 AM on October 15, 2012


Danmark used to be bigger in those days (so England could sue Danmark, Sweden and Germany) but Norway wasn't a part of it back then.

Hey, don't count out the Norwegians. They were around. Olaf I was pretty well known for his looting and danegeld collecting until his baptism for instance.
posted by Winnemac at 6:12 AM on October 15, 2012


We have a case where both parties have an interest in Scotland leaving:

- If Scotland leaves, the Tories will have an overall majority in the UK parliament.
-If Scotland leaves, it will damage the Scottish Labour party who'll be seen as the pro-union party.

Interesting times!
posted by gwildar at 6:16 AM on October 15, 2012


Indeed, fireoyster, one wonders under what terms a country taken and occupied by force should be required to ask its occupiers permission to regain its sovereignty.

King James of Scotland was also heir to the English throne and took it over. Scotland was never conquered by anyone.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:23 AM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


One thing that I wonder about is how they would decide nationality. Or do you just let every British citizen in Scotland at the time of independence pick a passport (or two)?
posted by hoyland at 6:29 AM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd imagine it'll be handled like in Northern Ireland where one can (in theory) live under either Irish or British citizenship (or both!).
posted by nfg at 6:31 AM on October 15, 2012


(And then sort the Scots who are elsewhere out later somehow. 'Can they play for Scotland?' is probably a broad enough test to include most Scottish people outside Scotland, so it's perhaps not that hard.)
posted by hoyland at 6:32 AM on October 15, 2012


Flower of Scotland
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:37 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


My question, from the position of being badly uninformed on Scottish independence: Is this important? Does England want to keep Scotland around and Scotland wants to leave or do both peoples want to split and it is the governments that want to stay joined?

Well one of the jokes i've heard doing the rounds is that if Salmond really wants to get a "yes" vote on Scottish Independence then he should be pushing for holding the referendum in England.

It's a crude exageration, of course, but since devolution (both in Wales and Scotland) there has been a certain low-level discontent in various part of England over the freedom of action those areas get compared to England. It's basically the West Lothian Question ramped up a bit.

Personally speaking I'd hate to see an end to the Union. I self-identify as English in some circumstances, and as British in others and I like being able to do that - I like being able to cheer on England and laugh (in a friendly way) at Scotland when the World Cup is on, but also proudly waved the Union Flag with pride (and cheered on the GB football team) during the Olympics.

To me, England and Scotland are part of the same family - we're like brothers. Yes, we could get happily without each other, but when we're together we're greater than the sum of our parts.

Mind you, if we're going to go right down this total independence route then, speaking as a Londoner, frankly everyone outside the M25 can sod off. Last time I checked there are more people and voters here than in Scotland and Wales combined, and London is a net exporter of wealth to the regions, so you can all do one. That goes for the Daily-Mail-reading South East too - you lot can get lost as well.

City States for the win!
posted by garius at 6:45 AM on October 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm with garius on this one. Just as long as Boris isn't our first city state emperor.
posted by ciderwoman at 6:52 AM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


The fact that London voted for Baw Jaws (twice!) did underline to a lot of Scots that we have very different political instincts up here.
posted by Gratishades at 7:01 AM on October 15, 2012


Yay for Scotland! Run away as fast as you can, and don't look back! The UK is a dying society, get out while you can!
posted by Jehan at 7:02 AM on October 15, 2012


If the referendum fails, would it be too much to ask for refactoring the UK into a coherent federal model? Set up a federal administrative capital somewhere central (perhaps near Carlisle, near the Scottish and Welsh borders, or Crewe, well connected by rail to all parts of the country) with a parliament that handles federal matters (international relations, monetary policy, etc.), and the London parliament being devolved into handling English matters and generally looking pretty and historic. That'd also get rid of the West Lothian Question, the bugbear by which Scottish MPs get to vote on English matters but not vice versa.

Then again, having a coherent, logically designed political infrastructure is like something they'd do in France or Germany, but is inherently un-British, or at least un-English. The English tradition, a child of philosophical empiricism and pragmatism on one hand and the tradition of make-do-and-mend on the other, results in institutions which are patched together until they don't work and then patched over until they more or less do, and thus look like one of Douglas Adams' Vogon starships, not so much designed as congealed.
posted by acb at 7:02 AM on October 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


If the referendum fails, would it be too much to ask for refactoring the UK into a coherent federal model? Set up a federal administrative capital somewhere central (perhaps near Carlisle, near the Scottish and Welsh borders, or Crewe, well connected by rail to all parts of the country)

No, because that would require people in power voting to move themselves to Carlisle or Crewe which nobody in their right mind would do.
posted by atrazine at 7:10 AM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


waved the Union Flag with pride (and cheered on the GB football team) during the Olympics

Just wanted to point out that no Scottish players were in the GB football team, so this example of union pride is a bit misled.

The Scottish Football Association, along with their Northern Irish and Welsh counterparts, have taken no direct involvement with Team GB and have made it clear they do not want their players involved for fear of risking their countries' separate identities in world football.

Scotland national team fans would probably actually be in favor of independence as it would assure them of a Team Scotland in the Olympics like in the World Cup and Euros.

But I'm sure you always cheer your heart out for Andy Murray right? :)
posted by like_neon at 7:12 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, because that would require people in power voting to move themselves to Carlisle or Crewe which nobody in their right mind would do.

Well, it worked for Brasilia and Canberra. Then again, looking at Canberra, that doesn't exactly sell it.

Perhaps, say, York or Manchester would be a better compromise?
posted by acb at 7:17 AM on October 15, 2012


This makes about as much sense to me as Minnesota becoming an independent nation. Which is to say, none at all.
posted by miyabo at 7:19 AM on October 15, 2012


no Scottish players were in the GB football team, so this example of union pride is a bit misled

No, but Welsh players were involved, so still a team involving parts of the union.
posted by ciderwoman at 7:27 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


This makes about as much sense to me as Minnesota becoming an independent nation. Which is to say, none at all.
Congratulations on saying the most offensive thing in this thread. Scotland has suffered centuries of denigration, being taught to believe that they are worthless unless shackled to England, held back by a taught feeling of inferiority. Yet they've struggled now for decades and managed to make a young, vibrant, and forward-looking society in spite of everything. They deserve independence as much as, or more than, anybody. They deserve to no longer be robbed and held down by London. They deserve to no longer have this fake "British" label attached to them, as though a mere name excuses the crimes committed against it. Scotland will be free one day, no matter how many sneer form the sidelines.
posted by Jehan at 7:27 AM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


miyabo: This makes about as much sense to me as Minnesota becoming an independent nation. Which is to say, none at all.

You can't see any significant difference in character between the historical relationships of Minnesota and the U.S versus Scotland and the UK which might impact on the tone/substance of the debate in this case? Seriously?
posted by nfg at 7:28 AM on October 15, 2012


Minnesota has never been an independent country. There is a regional identity (a relatively strong one as far as states in the U.S. go), but no national identity and no history of one. There are no Minnesota teams playing against teams representing other countries at international sporting events. I am a proud Minnesotan, but I don't think you've made an apt comparison.
posted by Area Man at 7:31 AM on October 15, 2012


They deserve to no longer be robbed and held down by London.

How is Scotland being either robbed or 'held down' by London? Is it the generous wealth transfers, or the outsized representation in Westminster?

Just curious.
posted by Vhanudux at 7:32 AM on October 15, 2012


How is Scotland being either robbed or 'held down' by London? Is it the generous wealth transfers, or the outsized representation in Westminster?
"Generous wealth transfers"? Yes, but only from Scotland to England. You may have missed the part about North Sea oil and gas being mainly in Scottish waters. London thieved them. They try to deny it, to say that it is "British" oil and so London, being "British" too, gets to take them. But the truth is clear, Scotland would be as wealthy as Norway if not crippled by London misrule.

Roll on all the "British" folk telling how wrong I am...got to love deniers.
posted by Jehan at 7:37 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fact that London voted for Baw Jaws (twice!) did underline to a lot of Scots that we have very different political instincts up here.

The first election of Boris was an abject lesson in how people will vote based on calls to emotion/celebrity rather than reading the small print - even when it goes against their personal interest.

The second was an abject lesson in why you need strong local political leadership that's prepared to make hard decisions - in this case someone needed to tell Livingstone that, politically, his time was well and truly up.

There's actually lessons there, to my mind, for the "No" campaign in Scotland. As Gallus says above, letting 16/17 year olds vote is nothing to do with giving them a stake in their future. It's about adding a group of voters to the pool who are going to be more inclined to vote based on emotion/celebrity rather than their head.

I really want someone to ask Salmond whether, given he's so sure all 16/17 year olds are mature enough to be part of such a huge decision, he'll be arguing forcefully for the lowering of the voting age and anything else you can't legally do until 18.

Just wanted to point out that no Scottish players were in the GB football team, so this example of union pride is a bit misled.

Not really - just because the Scottish FA threw a hissy fit doesn't mean the potential wasn't there and the door wasn't open to all. The Welsh FA did the same thing, yet that didn't stop Aaron Ramsey making the squad.

Frankly the lack of Scottish players was, to my mind, as much a damning indictment of the current state of Scottish football as some kind of indication that Scotland and England are two vastly different worlds.

As to Andy Murray? Yes - I cheer him on. He's British, like me, and the whole "He's British when he wins, Scottish when he loses" has always been a particularly ridiculous meme.

Only time I wouldn't cheer him on is if there were some kind of England vs Scotland tennis tournament going on because in that context, for obvious reasons, the "English" part of my identity would be the primary factor coming into play.
posted by garius at 7:40 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]



Interesting to see what happens.

Not that I have a stake in it one way or another but I do find my emotional side cheering for independence. It's purely based on family history and myth though and not based on anything concrete in how things are now. I wouldn't be here today (Canada) if not for the history of some Scots desire for independence. My great x 2 Grandfather and brother were apparently pro-indie and got themselves into some trouble for it. They ended up making the decision to leave with their families and come here because of threats of jail and as the story goes other non legal threats. Apparently it was a hard and heartbreaking decision and the love of everything to do with the homeland was passed down through the generations.

It's interesting how these things endure through families even to my generation. Most have either already visited or have plans to visit. My sister traveled to the family hometown and met distant relatives. There were still family living in the houses that were left behind.
posted by Jalliah at 7:41 AM on October 15, 2012


Yes, but only from Scotland to England. You may have missed the part about North Sea oil and gas being mainly in Scottish waters.

I don't think that's coming back, though. North Sea oil reserves have been declining some time. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I always thought England sends quite a bit of money north.
posted by Vhanudux at 7:44 AM on October 15, 2012


I don't think that's coming back, though. North Sea oil reserves have been declining some time. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I always thought England sends quite a bit of money north.
Nobody said it was coming back, but thank you for acknowledging the theft. That's a good start. Many won't even do that.
posted by Jehan at 7:48 AM on October 15, 2012


I wonder what implications a Yes vote would have for support for Welsh independence?
posted by Chrysostom at 7:55 AM on October 15, 2012


"Generous wealth transfers"? Yes, but only from Scotland to England. You may have missed the part about North Sea oil and gas being mainly in Scottish waters. London thieved them. They try to deny it, to say that it is "British" oil and so London, being "British" too, gets to take them. But the truth is clear, Scotland would be as wealthy as Norway if not crippled by London misrule.

Absolutlely true.

In fact, the only reason myself and the other residents of Hackney ever stop diving into our Scrooge-McDuck-esque vats of North Sea oil money, is because occasionally we like to go out onto the marshes and hunt Scotsmen with our longbows.

Saying that Scotland is some kind of modern utopia that didn't happen because the evil English stole all the oil is ridiculous. Yeah, Norway did great. Now go ask your average Nigerian how things panned out for them. Oil Wealth != automatic happy times.

Feel free to be angry at the Government. Feel free to be angry at the greedy fat cats who pocketed profits that should have gone to make our lives a better place. They were - and indeed are - utter bastards.

But if you think me, or any other regular English man or woman, has benefited in some way from the cannibalisation of the public sector and utilities that has happened over the last 30 years then you've been huffing far too much Mel Gibson lately.

They didn't screw you, Jehan, they screwed all of us - and they still are. The only difference between you and me when it comes to North Sea oil is that you got screwed by someone who didn't have the same accent as you.
posted by garius at 8:04 AM on October 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Nobody said it was coming back, but thank you for acknowledging the theft. That's a good start. Many won't even do that.

I can't help but think 'theft' is a bizarre choice of word. Given that devolution happened long after the oil, it's not at all apparent to me what other government the oil money would have gone to but Westminster. As far as I know, an independent Scotland should be entitled to the overwhelming majority of the oil (see that Guardian link KokuRyu posted way up at the top), and in that sense, they've certainly been hard done by, but it seems like a big jump from the non-existence of an independent Scotland however many years back to 'theft'.
posted by hoyland at 8:11 AM on October 15, 2012


Since we're talking about oil, the Dutch Disease is relevant.
posted by ersatz at 8:13 AM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just wanted to point out that no Scottish players were in the GB football team, so this example of union pride is a bit misled.

Not really - just because the Scottish FA threw a hissy fit doesn't mean the potential wasn't there and the door wasn't open to all. The Welsh FA did the same thing, yet that didn't stop Aaron Ramsey making the squad.

Keep in mind that the FAs are not truly representative of footballers or supporters or really anyone but the people that run the FA. That the institutions would reject the team GB offer was probably obvious from the beginning because any other response would basically sound to them like, "why yes, I would love to take a first step towards the elimination of my job."
posted by Winnemac at 8:20 AM on October 15, 2012


Since we're talking about oil, the Dutch Disease is relevant.
posted by ersatz at 8:13 AM on October 15 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]



Yes, Norway's success is the exception rather than the rule.
It is by no means clear that an independent Scotland would have produced a Norway-like result from petrodollar revenues - which isn't saying anything terrible about Scotland but underlining that Norway's experience is very unusual.
posted by Bwithh at 8:31 AM on October 15, 2012


Just to answer mailed question; "You can't eat scenery" is from Local Hero. The full line from the film is:

"It's their place, Mac. They have a right to make of it what they can. Besides, you can't eat scenery."
posted by Wordshore at 8:34 AM on October 15, 2012


garius: "I really want someone to ask Salmond whether, given he's so sure all 16/17 year olds are mature enough to be part of such a huge decision, he'll be arguing forcefully for the lowering of the voting age and anything else you can't legally do until 18."

I believe Salmond actually is in favour of allowing 16-year-olds to vote in all elections. I don't think that necessarily entails drinking age, age of joining the army, etc. You can make the argument that elections are special, because if a 16-year old can't vote at an election, they may still have to live with the results of said election until five years later, well after they turn 18.
posted by vasi at 8:42 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


To clarify some misconceptions in some of the comments upthread, the Union of the Crowns, where King James VI of Scotland assumed the English crown as James I, was not the act that combined Scotland and England (and Wales) into the U.K. That happened over 100 years later with the political Acts of Union, in 1707.
The latter was influenced by the near-bankrupt state of Scotland's coffers after the failed Darien Scheme to set up a Scottish colony in the Americas. It was basically an act of financial desperation.
Wales' story is quite different, as they were conquered and annexed by England hundreds of years earlier.
posted by rocket88 at 8:46 AM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


So- given that the UK started in 1707, and Gibraltar came under British rule in 1713, who gets to keep Gibraltar upon break up of the UK? Full list of the 14 British Overseas Territories here. This could be more difficult that splitting the CD collection post divorce. (First dibs on Bermuda!)
posted by Gratishades at 9:02 AM on October 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


They deserve independence as much as, or more than, anybody. They deserve to no longer be robbed and held down by London. They deserve to no longer have this fake "British" label attached to them, as though a mere name excuses the crimes committed against it. Scotland will be free one day, no matter how many sneer form the sidelines.

If they want to be independent, that's a fine and noble thing, but this persecution complex is preposterous.

Scotland benefited enormously from the Union throughout the Industrial Revolution and throughout the time of the Empire. Access to the large markets of the British Empire kept the shipyards and dockyards of Glasgow as busy as they kept those of Liverpool, the banks of Edinburgh fat with trade money, and merchants throughout Scotland prosperous. Scottish doctors and engineers built a great deal of the infrastructure of the empire and Scottish civil servants were well represented throughout the colonial civil service. Of course this wasn't a matter of only Scotland benefitting, England and Wales benefitted equally from the ability to buy Scottish produced machinery and from being able to sell their machinery to Scots companies in turn.

Some of the most famous mercantile houses of the Empire at its height of imperial arrogance and unpleasantness were Scottish and it's a bit much to play the poor-Scotland-ever-opressed card.

That the whole project of empire wasn't always pleasant for the working class - the demand for wool did result in the Clearances - is interesting from a class point of view but not from a nationalist point of view. Enclosure was often equally brutal in England and Wales and was carried out by Scottish landowners with the connivance of Scottish banks and their local Scottish agents, to produce wool to sell all over Britain, Scotland as well as England. An act of agression against the British working class (against tenant farmers who are the precursors of the working class anyway) as a whole by the British middle and upper class as a whole, but certainly not an act of nationalist agression.

A major driver for independence is that Scottish and English politics has diverged more and more over the last few decades and the Scots want to run their country in a very different way than the English and so it not longer makes sense to run it as a single country. I think an independent Scotland with a strong welfare state and a diversified industrial policy combined with the opening up of Arctic oil and gas resources (which we all know will happen) has a very good future ahead of it and I wish them all the best. A distinct national culture and diverging politics are plenty of reason for independence without bringing a mostly fictional weepy narrative of persecution into it.
posted by atrazine at 9:07 AM on October 15, 2012 [31 favorites]


Winnimac: from my experience the majority of Scots (not just the Scottish FA) were stone cold on the GB team at the Olympics. I for one did not watch one GB football game at the Olympics despite some (all?) of them being free to watch on the BBC, indeed I do not know one result of the team, I assume they did not win a medal or it would have been unavoidable on the BBC. From my own perspective this feeling of distance was not due to the fact that no Scottish players played for GB. (There will be some Scots who will have watched/supported GB, especially fans of Rangers who have a tradition of identifying with Unionism.)
posted by Gratishades at 9:20 AM on October 15, 2012


Did anyone watch the football during the Olympics? All eyes were on Chris Hoy and Andy Murray.
posted by Summer at 9:40 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did anyone watch the football during the Olympics? All eyes were on Chris Hoy and Andy Murray.

No-one anywhere watches Olympic football. The strange format pretty much guarantees that the quality of play will be way below World Cup standard.
posted by atrazine at 9:44 AM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Folks curious about the pro-independence line of reasoning should take a browse through the archives of Bella Caledonia.
posted by feckless at 10:07 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Welsh, Scottish and English all want more independence, although not necessarily for the exact same reasons. I'm bemused by the idea that Scotland is particularly put upon - a idea that harks more to William Wallace than modern history - when it has its own parliament, was well represented in cabinet throughout the last Labour administration, receives a generous settlement under the Barnett formula and for a country that is apparently repressed by England, despite the West Lothian question, seems remarkably ambivalent about independence.

The argument about oil somewhat of a is a red herring, and has been around since the 1970s. We can't unpick the balance sheet perfectly for the past 30 years, although there are reasonable arguments Scotland would have taken a net benefit. It is part of a running theme of Alex Salmond's that Scotland would have been/is able to take all the best bits and ignore things he doesn't like to talk about - like the financial stability Scotland gets from being part of the union. Scots might well like the idea of independence more if they weren't spooked by heavy reliance on the fluctuating price of oil in a newly independent Scotland, and the idea that they might have to carry the tab alone for future iterations of things like RBS' huge losses - something Salmond is, unsurprisingly keen to blame on London.

According to an ICM poll from early this year, the Scots and the English are broadly equal (43% - English/40% Scots) in approval for a Scottish Parliament and 49% of respondents on both side of the border would approve of an English parliament. A higher number of Scots would disapprove of a Scottish parliament. A lower % of Scots believe Scotland would be worse off independent. But it's still 41%. A history of polls on the issue can be seen here.

English voters, by and large, want the more control over their taxation and regulation too. Like elsewhere in the union, this is exacerbated by austerity measures, budget deficits and a more general decline in disposable income. What, I suspect, Scottish naysayers fear most is Alex Salmond is so keen for an independent Scotland he has a blind spot to the negatives - what we'd typically see as the cynicism for promise-it-all grandstanding from shadow governments. And that the English seem.. rather too keen on it.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:16 AM on October 15, 2012


This makes about as much sense to me as Minnesota becoming an independent nation. Which is to say, none at all.
posted by miyabo at 10:19 AM on October 15


the correct comparison would be Puerto Rico and/or The Virgin Islands or *ahem* Quebec from Canada; which to a lot of Puerto Rican & Quebecois nationalists would make total sense.
posted by liza at 10:24 AM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


So- given that the UK started in 1707, and Gibraltar came under British rule in 1713, who gets to keep Gibraltar upon break up of the UK?
posted by Gratishades at 12:02 PM on October 15


Spain :)
*ducks & runs*
posted by liza at 10:28 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Liza, I'm not sure I understand those comparisons for the reasons that atrazine posted above.
posted by ob at 10:32 AM on October 15, 2012


right before the US invasion Puerto Rico was negotiating its independence from Spain --and our history is one of loooooong fights to keep sovereignty in one way or another. So start here.

and actually, now that i think about it, there's another European sovereignty movement gaining traction right now: Catalunya.
posted by liza at 11:07 AM on October 15, 2012


Speaking as a Scot, if I had to vote today I would vote "No" but in two years' time I may have changed my opinion. Not because of Salmond's rhetoric or the nationalistic fervour induced (or not) by the Commonwealth Games being held in Glasgow but because it's a complex issue which I'm now going to have to put a lot of thought and research into.

I think that sentiment does have a part to play in the decision too. Echoing previous posters I consider myself Scottish, British and (to a lesser extent) European. Shakespeare and Dickens are as much a part of who I am as Burns and Scott. Edinburgh is my home town but I feel at home in London too. Full independence isn't going to make me any more Scottish but it might make me less British. In fact, Britishness might cease to exist. I know some Scots who would love that but it seems that they are in the minority at the moment.
posted by neilb449 at 11:32 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm bemused by the idea that Scotland is particularly put upon
Thatcher is the answer to this point, always and forever. The country turned redder and redder during her tenure and continued to suffer under Conservative policies almost designed to destroy the country's economy.

Even now, they have only one MP, no councils, hardly any MSPs -- they're politically dead in the country. Yet still the country's Prime Minister is a Tory.

I'm not saying this is a compelling argument, but by god it's one held with surprising passion.
posted by fightorflight at 11:33 AM on October 15, 2012


Thatcher is the answer to this point, always and forever. The country turned redder and redder during her tenure and continued to suffer under Conservative policies almost designed to destroy the country's economy.

Even now, they have only one MP, no councils, hardly any MSPs -- they're politically dead in the country. Yet still the country's Prime Minister is a Tory.

I'm not saying this is a compelling argument, but by god it's one held with surprising passion.


This, to my mind, is the one potentially compelling argument for separation. If England keeps drifting to the right, and Scotland stays to the left, then eventually the sum of the parts - England and Scotland - is no longer greater than the whole and a split is better for both parties.

I don't think that's in any way inevitable, at least I hope to God it isn't because an England that far to the right wouldn't be a country I'd want to live in, but it's not entirely impossible.
posted by garius at 12:11 PM on October 15, 2012



It's hard to avoid the impression that he is only a Unionist nominally but actually, like most of the English, couldn't give a shit

[Citation required].
posted by MuffinMan at 2:15 AM on October 15 [+]


Impressions don't require citations. Try communicating like an adult.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:27 PM on October 15, 2012


After living in Scotland for over a decade until a few years back (Glasgow, then Renfrewshire, then the Outer Hebrides), came to the conclusion that the one big thing that would help the Independence vote is if Salmond stood aside afterwards. There are people - a substantial number - who are inclined to Independence, but put off voting for this due to the thought of President Salmond.

A promise - a sincere one, not a Clegg-promise - that he'll stand down straight after the referendum and retire from politics would help. It'll show that he's not in it for the ego or the glory, and that he'd be handing over an Independent Scotland to a younger generation. And it'll give the SNP 16 months to sort out a new leadership, whatever the referendum result.
posted by Wordshore at 12:39 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Impressions don't require citations. Try communicating like an adult.

The second part of that of that statement is presented as a fact. It is objectively wrong and borderline racist If you're going to wade in like the sanctimonious argument cowboy at least pick something worth throwing your toys about.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:02 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Cool it a little.]
posted by cortex at 1:42 PM on October 15, 2012


Very interesting to reflect on what was going on for the UK 100 years ago.
posted by nfg at 2:10 PM on October 15, 2012


Personally as a Scot I take the most heart from presumably English (and perhaps Welsh and Northern Irish) people in this thread who talk about the UK being a family of nations.

It's nice to know that others would miss us if we ever did decide to go in the future. I'll be campaigning in my own way for a 'no' vote.... even though I wish I was campaigning for a 'Yes to the UK' vote simply because it sounds more positive and to me - is more accurate.

Regardless, staying up until dawn to watch the election results come in on TV will be a momentous experience.
posted by redskythinking at 3:35 PM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry Liza I wasn't clear, I don't quite see this as a colonial thing (which is Puerto Rico's case -very interesting read, btw -thanks for that). Still I see that there's a referendum on Nov 6th, so I can see how that's quite similar. I haven't seen any polling so I have no idea how that vote's going to go, but I'll watch out for it.

I do see the parallel with Catalunya, much more clearly. Actually, as someone with an English father and Catalan mother, this parallel is interesting for me. I'm much more pro Catalan independence than Scottish independence, but really my attitude towards the latter is more like "Well, it's none of my business really, if they want to go, they should."
posted by ob at 6:41 AM on October 16, 2012


I don't have a leg in this, but my now-deceased immigrant Jacobite Grandmother would be so happy. For much of my young life, I thought the fight for Scottish independence was an active on-going thing in our world. Bless you, Grandma, you were a nutter.
posted by _paegan_ at 12:15 PM on October 16, 2012


The fact that London voted for Baw Jaws (twice!) did underline to a lot of Scots that we have very different political instincts up here.

I'm sorry, rest of the UK.

What hasn't been said yet is that members of the Scottish diaspora can't vote in this election. If you live in England but were born in Glasgow, you don't get to vote - but residents from any other country living in Scotland, providing they are able to generally vote in UK elections/referenda, can vote. Of course, the commentary in the right-wing Evening Standard is of the tone of 'why can't we vote as well as they are parasites feeding off our backs' and 'so when will there be an EU referendum as well because IT#S WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT - Rt. Hon Maj. Forsonby Boris-Quantum, UKIP member'.

tting 16/17 year olds vote is nothing to do with giving them a stake in their future. It's about adding a group of voters to the pool who are going to be more inclined to vote based on emotion/celebrity rather than their head.


As someone who has been 16/17 and is well aware of how idiotic one can be at that age, I disagree. You can marry at 16, you can join the army at 16. So you can make legally binding decisions and commit yourself to situations where death or serious injury may be likely - but because all these things are inconsistent, you don't get any say in whether the country you will probably spend the rest of your adulthood within will be independent or not.

I wouldn't be surprised, given the changes to how alcohol can be sold in Scotland and the proposed moves to introduce a minimum price per unit, if an independent Scotland raised the drinking age to 21.
posted by mippy at 4:16 AM on October 17, 2012


Given that 16 year olds will have to live for the consequences of the referendum longer than older folk, I am all for them having a voice in elections.

Of course there will be strong Nats and Unionists who will come at this argument from the perspective of whether they expect this demographic to be more or less likely to vote for their respective positions. The assumption was that the younger you are the more likely to vote 'romantically'/'non-pragmatically' and go for knee jerk nationalism. (I did see a headline earlier this week that seemed to challenge that assumption but Google-fu fails me.)

Regarding ex-pats being excluded I would guess that this would, on balance, favour the Nationalists, though I have heard current expats disagree on this point. Living abroad I noticed my fellow Scots became more "Scottish"- folk that had never been to a Burns supper in Scotland are far more likely to go to one abroad. At the same time these people are likely to have a less parochial view of identity and might be inclined to focus on hard-headed cost/benefit analysis (cost of having our own embassies, trade agreements etc.)

mippy: not to derail too much, but the minimum pricing for alcohol annoys me as it affects poor folk while the drinking middle classes that go for the better booze are unaffected. I'd have preferred a minimum price calculated on income (impractical I know), just to see the volte-face of those who are all for increasing the cost of boozing of those of poorer than themselves, but would rail against having to pay more for their rioja and organic ciders.
posted by Gratishades at 5:02 AM on October 17, 2012


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