The Scottish Independence Vote: Views From a Distant Half-Scot

Since this particular half-Scot enjoys a spot of trolling, and this Scottish independence vote is a sensitive subject, I will first push the line that “Scottishness”, now invoked by the “Yes” camp who are pushing independence, is hardly any less of a mythical attribute than the “Britishness” they repudiate. Then I will scoff at the threadbare-to-non-existent financial institutions underlying Salmond’s current independence proposal. Then I will affirm that Scottish independence might be a fairly good idea after all, and lastly, with the utmost confidence, that even in the event of a “No” vote, the issue isn’t going to go away any time soon.

This post is about Scottish nationalism, and thus, Scottish identity, so let’s sketch in some Scottish ethnicity first, a closely related subject. To start on a personal note, I have something of an affinity for the descendants of Gaelic-speaking crofters from the Isle of Arran, for, dear reader, I married one, after a brief pursuit round a kitchen (by her, I should add, though I suppose I was not especially elusive prey). Here’s another Arran crofter who caught my eye, without so much recourse to heavy breathing, etc:

Dòmhnall MacMhaolain (1813–1857) …born on 13 September 1813, in the to a family. Moving to London, he founded , with his brother …He married, on 4 September 1860, Frances, daughter of Mr. Orridge, a Cambridge’ chemist. Their son, Maurice Crawford Macmillan (1853–1936) married Helen (Nellie) Artie Tarleton Belles (1856–1937), whose son became British .

That is a pretty swift ascent from pretty modest origins. Perhaps American readers need to be told that crofting is subsistence farming by tenant farmers. There’s nothing grand about it, but it can be a steady trade, though demanding. Practitioners develop a certain cussedness and resourcefulness. In fact plenty of Scots decamped, or were decamped, to North America in the 18th and 19th centuries. If they survived the trip and the initial privations, they carried right on with crofting. Scan a phone book covering the right locations and you will find their descendants are still there, like wee limpets.

My wife’s family’s former communal farm on Arran is modest too. A scatter of whitewashed buildings, it is now a cute teashop and visitor attraction, having been, I suppose, mostly derelict, or used as animal accommodation, since the tenants were “cleared” from the farm in the 1880s, and packed off to the mainland to become coal miners, for their own good of course. In due course, Mrs Smith landed me, arguably a less grand prize than MacMillan’s Prime Ministership of the United Kingdom, or, in his retirement, the last hereditary ever conferred upon a non-Royal in the UK. The Mac Mhaolain or MacMillan family does seem to have done spectacularly well out of the opportunities available to emigrant Scots prepared to ditch their Gaelic roots;  the allegedly rigid British class system isn’t, or recently wasn’t, all it was cracked up to be.

Fortunes differ, but between them, these two related Arran family trajectories (they are plausibly claimed to be cousins, in the very elastic Highland sense) do highlight just how the Union used to provide conventionally impressive things (riches, power, honours) to people caught up in it, as well as unambiguous misfortune (ethnic cleansing, deportation, exile, an unsought career in coal mining). Of course one can cherrypick the extreme outcomes of the Union to support opposite points, and the Yes (to independence) and No campaigns, now noisily underway North of the border, do exactly that.

Still, these Arran subsistence farmers are good representatives for many, many other Scots who travelled much further, off into the British Empire, to help build it, and prospered too, though less grandly than the MacMillans. Diehard stay-at-homes evidently got the memo about the relative advantages of English affiliations rather later. There were still three million Gaelic speakers in Scotland in 1920; a hundred years on, there are a few tens of thousands, mostly oldies in very remote places, if the overheard conversations on the streets of Stornoway are any guide. For the curious who fancy the idea of British-looking people apparently speaking Martian, there are samples of Gaelic , from the BBC, which, by the way, just happens to be a very Scottish-built institution too. In another manifestation of resurgent nationalism, Gaelic classes are increasingly available, for ex-Highlanders wanting to get back in touch with their roots, or for anyone else who fancies a shot at stilted conversations in a beautiful language that hardly anyone speaks any more.

The vastly more numerous Lowlanders of the Central Belt (Glasgow and Edinburgh and everywhere in between), an area by and large Anglophone for just as long as actual England (transitioning in the 7th to 10th century or so), are, roughly, urbanized ex-Highlanders, a bunch of long-lapsed Welshmen, all very heavily leavened by Anglo Saxon and Viking invaders & settlers, Anglo-Norman chancers and, more recently, immigrant Irishmen, Jews,  Italians, Pakistanis and so on. In short, they are, ethnically, the same sort of folk one finds anywhere else in the magnificently mongrellish UK.

The local rivalries are a bit more intense, though: the mutual, pointless disdain of the “Edinbuggers” (inhabitants of the fair city of Edinburgh) and the “Weegies” (inhabitants of the, in some minds, equally fair city of Glasgow) leave a newbie dumbstruck. The sulphurous atmosphere around football matches between Glasgow Celtic (Catholic fans) and Glasgow Rangers (Protestant fans) used to bespeak another kind of Scottish fissiparousness, recapitulated in the dizzying number of tiny joyless Calvinist sects still to be found glooming the place up. Giving an idea of the wholehearted commitment Scots put into this kind of rivalry, the long Celtic/Rangers grudge match series recently came to a halt when Rangers were bankrupted by a crazed attempt to outspend Celtic, and demoted to another league.

So there are just a few glimpses of the many, many historic convulsions of Scottish identity, some long past, some slipping out of living memory, some, still alive and well, thank you very much.

One relevant historic Scottish financial convulsion requires a quick summary. The Union between England and Scotland, 1707, was precipitated by a giant financial crisis when all the rich folk of Scotland simultaneously bankrupted themselves. They had judged that Darien (Panama) was a fantastic location for a trading station (correct, see the Panama Canal, two centuries later) and that they could put up enough capital, know-how and manpower to exploit it (totally incorrect). The settlers died like flies from tropical diseases, or in shipwrecks, and the implosion of the colony bust its funders. Joining up with the English was the only possible quick crisis resolution, but it left a lingering suspicion that the Scots had sacrificed their independence in a moment of weakness (sort-of correct).

The new convulsion, 300 years on, is political, but, one hopes, not to be financial. The single most important thing to understand about the Scottish independence movement is that it is not some sudden flareup, it’s part of a bigger, longer post-war story: the demise of the British Empire.

Somehow it fell to Harold MacMillan to announce, more than 50 years ago, but still belatedly, that the old British “One Nation” imperial opportunity, exploited so expertly by his own family, had passed. Back then, Scots were quick to draw :

The question of full independence, or the less controversial , did not re-enter the political mainstream until 1960, after the famous speech by UK Prime Minister . This speech marked the start of a rapid in Africa and the end of the . The UK had already suffered the international humiliation of the 1956 , which showed that it was no longer the superpower it had been before World War II. For many in Scotland, this served to undermine one of the principal for the and also symbolised the end of popular and the Imperial unity that had united the then-prominent . The Unionist Party subsequently suffered a steady decline in support.

Indeed it did. The independence-minded Scottish Nationalist Party got its first MP in 1967 and fifty years on, led by Alec Salmond, dominates Scottish politics. Meanwhile the de-industrialisation of the Thatcher years hit the Scots very hard, for their own good of course, and rammed home the point about policies made in London. In particular, after the brutally deflationary  was published, 364 economists wrote an open letter warning of the resulting threat to “social and political stability”. If they’d warned specifically about the death of the Union, that letter would look quite prescient now.

A recent run of Scottish and almost-Scottish UK Prime Ministers (Blair, Brown, Cameron) made no difference at all to the underlying realities. Since the 1960’s the SNP have had more and more of a point. Americans, with the words “taxation” and “representation” in mind, really should be able to understand why the Scots moan about national policies, set in Westminster, that hardly any Scot voted for. I suspect, though, that many Scots would actually prefer to pay more tax, for a bigger state. Whatever, with that democratic deficit, Scotland looks, to many eyes, less like part of a Union, and more like the last remaining significant English colony.

So here we are, watching the Scots about to vote for independence. The ethnic back story turns out to be a bit of a wild goose chase, since, despite all that fractious Scottish diversity, a magnificent national unity has almost been achieved. Out of the innumerable warring factions normally vibrating away in Scottish society, just two tribes count, right now: the “Yes” camp, stridently in favour of independence, looks set for a 40% share of those qualified to vote, as do their increasingly bitter opponents, the “No” camp, fronted by ex-Labour Chancellor Alastair Darling. Meanwhile 17% of voters don’t know. Only 3% of those potentially eligible to vote haven’t registered.

The apparently all-English Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has had to be seen to be doing something for the “No” campaign. But fundamentally he annoys and repels many Scots, not just “Yes” voters, so he’s kept it down to a couple of tepidly-received personal appearances. By the usual mild irony, Cameron is in fact yet another influential scion of . Half-close your eyes, overpersonalize it, drag in some facile stereotypes, and it is an all-Scottish pub punchup, this: Darling and Cameron versus Salmond.

The nascent nation is agog. How will the vote go?

One can at least confidently forecast that, whatever the outcome, 55-60% of the nascent nation, a reasonable majority, is going to be something between mildly hacked off and very hacked off indeed. Somehow that does seem like a uniquely Scottish sort of a result. Judging purely by the raised voices of my in-laws, grudges will be borne, and Scottish grudges are very durable items indeed.

So much for the inevitable aftermath, what about the point of the vote? It’s reasonably obvious what “No” means, in this context: a vote for the status quo. But what, exactly are ”Yes” voting for? They are not, at the moment, voting for an entity possessing certain key appurtenances of an independent state: a currency, a Central Bank, a financial regulator. Yet the new Scotland is to have its own taxing and spending powers, and conduct its own economic policy and apply for its own EU membership. How on earth do you do any of that without your own interest rate policy, your own currency (Salmond has ruled out adoption of the Euro for the moment), your own borrowing, your own capital markets and your own Lender Of Last Resort?

So far, Salmond hasn’t really explained that bit very extensively (“We will continue to use the pound”). Yet, replay the 1981-era sterling interest rate policy via a Scottish government still shackled to the pound and you get exactly the same annihilation of Scottish businesses. I had imagined that the very point of independence was to be able to mitigate that kind of “Westminster” cluelessness. I’m also certain the English won’t accept Salmond’s Plan A very willingly or for very long, especially not if there is a big divergence in the two countries’ fiscal policies. The EU won’t think much of Plan A either.

This “independence”, then, is devoid of some pretty basic financial institutional apparatus, and in consequence there has been a massive outbreak of concern trolling by the “No” camp; the direr prophecies associated with a “Yes” vote include capital flight, bank runs, job migration southwards, even economic depression.

Other wannabe dire prophecies aren’t necessarily that dire at all, for Scots anyway. The UK Treasury leaked news of the threatened redomiciling, by the immense financial garbage barge that is the Royal Bank of Scotland, to London. There it would burden the rump UK, but not Scotland, for a decade or two to come. In some ways, that leak reveals something much more like a coup by Salmond, than an expert smear by the No camp. I have no idea why Salmond is complaining about the leak so much. Scotland needed better banks anyway, something else that will need sorting out rather briskly in the event of a “Yes” vote.

On the other hand, capital flight wouldn’t be at all pretty, and if a Yes vote really does give us a chance to see that panning out, next week even, we may all suddenly be wishing that both No  and the Yes had got their acts together, a long time ago, on the currency/banking aspect. No-one wants to see the Union ending just the way it started, 300 years ago, in a huge financial self-immolation by half-right, half-wrong Scots.

What are my own irrelevant hopes about the outcome, speaking as a 25% Weegie, 25% Edinbugger, 25% Welsh, 25% English, 100% soon-to-be-mythical Briton, residing in England?

I’d barely take a “Yes”, now. I’d be crossing my fingers an awful lot about deposit flight, and interim or final currency arrangements, and EU membership. I’d also want some market-calming statements straight after the result announcement, and I’d be taking it on trust that the necessary extra institutions (Central Bank and so on) are to be lashed up, apparently from a standing start, over the next eighteen months. Then one must mention the forthcoming Massive Scotland-UK Oil Wrangle: who gets what?

Mind you, a “No” vote, giving time for Salmond, or his replacement, to work out a much more convincing position on currencies, banking, and maybe EU membership, would make me sigh with relief.

But then, I’d be expecting another vote, later on, on a better-developed proposition. Unlike Salmond, I don’t really believe that a second vote really needs to be . Be in no doubt, if there is a “No” now, that second vote will most assuredly come. It’s simply not possible to see off the whole trend of post-war British history, and a chronic democratic malaise, and a fifty-year-old independence movement, with one very closely-voted referendum. If you think the Scottish Nationalist Party would slink quietly away after a “No”, you are very mistaken indeed. After a pause for some much-needed thought, and sooner rather than later, they’d be back.

 

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68 comments

  1. paul

    We can only find out what Scotland is if we can actually vote for it.
    I certainly disagree with quite a few things in the SNP’s position, but I understand their timidity. It’s a big decision for a lot of people.
    I say again,the question on the ballot paper is:
    ‘Should Scotland be an independent country’
    not
    ‘Are you perfectly satisfied that every aspect and consequence of being allowed to vote for your own government has been adequately planned for and resolved in advance?’
    Nothing but disaster has been foretold by the no camp,which has spent twice as much as the yes,had the eager support of all print media(bar the Sunday herald),all of the broadcast media and is indulged by the electoral commission which was supposed to prevent major policy announcements such as the ridiculous ‘vow’ from the miserable tripartite Westminster coalition yesterday.
    The establishment has been caught out through it’s own complacency,contempt and confidence in the fear factor. They would not take things so lightly another time and would be in full attack mode from the start,no matter how thoughtful a plan was laid out.
    This time is as good as any for independence, there’s always going to be problems and I would like to feel I had choice in their solutions.
    The tripartite’s love for us could be expressed through help with our transition to democracy,but I fear those sentiments will evaporate in the event of a decision to decolonise. (Did they ever really mean all those things they said?). They’re talented destroyers of other countries, nation building is of little interest.
    As for the machinations of international capital, it will have to be faced sometime,why not now?
    It could be rough,but then our decadent union doesn’t look so wonderful either.

    1. Moneta

      Quebec is looking closely. I overheard a conversation about it on Radio-Canada. Interestingly, QC already has much of the banking and bureaucratic apparatus ready.

        1. Moneta

          I noticed that too… but I am not sure if they took the lessons or if it’s just a natural knee-jerk reaction.

          1. gonzomarx

            I’ve seen/heard stuff in the media that would suggest that the No camp have studied the Quebec referendum

            1. Moneta

              Interesting. It’s hard to believe anyone would actually care what happens here in Canada. But then again, when it comes to money… LOL!

                1. Moneta

                  Wait and see how Quebec reacts when its real estate weakens and it realizes “qu’ils se sont fait passer un sapin”… I’m sure it won’t be in love with Ottawa and Toronto. Everyone thinks separatism is dead but IMO, if you shake the ashes, you will see some embers that can be stoked.

  2. craazyman

    This reminds me of the Start Trek when two dudes — the last two surviver of their warring races — were chasing each other around the universe in one final gladiatorial death match.

    Somehow the Enterprise came upon these dudes in their spaceships, each of them had a face half black / half white with the division right down their nose from forehead to chin. Each explained how the other was a monstrous evil hideous murderer who deserved a violent death.

    Nobody on the Enterprise could tell the difference between the two dudes. They looked exactly alike! WTF was their problem?

    Finally Kirk or somebody in a fit of bewildered frustration asked one of them what the difference was. The dude looked back at Kirk in disbelief and said of the other, “His face is black on his left side, mine is black on the right!”

    Captain Kirk may have been Scottish actually. Certainly “Scotty”, the Chief Engineer, was Scottish. He even had a Scottish accent and he drank whiskey! That’s pretty prestigious. To have the first interstellar star ship commander from your own country and the head engineer too. It might be worth voting “Yes” just for that.

    1. craazyman

      God Almighty, this just occurred to me. What about James Bond? Sean Connery was Scottish, I think. he’s the “real” Bond, no doubt. He’s a little old to be Bond, now, but on Youtube there is no such thing as time.

      How can they have Bond working for Scottish intelligence out of, where, Edinborough? That can’t be. It has to be London and that means a NO vote.

      have they thought of how to handle this? it’s complicated

      1. ambrit

        My Moms family, a Blue Sky Tartan clan, claim that Scots Intelligence comes out of Glen Fiddich.
        (Scottys Starfleet Dress Uniform will be a kilt!)

        1. craazyman

          yeah my Mom’s side is Scottish too. I actually have a tie with the clan’s plaid on it. Some dude came here in 1720. I think my Dad’s side is Scottish too, if you go back past 1650. Those were the days when you Anglicized your name to cover-up your Scottishness. It’s very subtle, just removing a letter and all the sudden “poof”, you’re legitimate.

          I can’t say I know what it’s like to be Scottish, but I know this for sure. It’ll be one big trailer park north of the British border eventually if these fukkers vote “Yes”. bowahahahahahahaha

          1. dannyc

            If paleontologists ever go searching for the town of Bedrock, they’ll find it in Scotland. It’s a place right out of history.

      2. paul

        There’s also been Dalton – welsh, Brosnan – irish, Lazenby -australian, only the great Roger Moore and the morose Craig (always getting beaten up, hardly gets his nuts at all compared with the others) are english.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        David Niven was the inspiration for Bond.

        I’m pretty confident Connery has been pro-Scottish independence. A few years ago there were questions if he would show up for his knighthood ceremony. He wore a kilt.

  3. John

    The problem we have is we live under the illusion that bigger is better — somehow big buys you more power on the world’s stage. What we’ve seen as result of this mindset is ever growing financialization of the economy and staggering wealth accumulation at the top. In other words, bigger has made it that much easier for greedy capitalists to come in and short change Main Street. If we break countries down into smaller ones, like with the UK, then that changes the equation for financial engineers.

    On a side note, which should provide pause for any country (read: Scotland) wanting to sign up for the EU, the EC is requiring the Belgian government to account for an Antwerp tunnel project, which will cost billions of dollars and will take a few years to construct, into their 2015 budget. The Belgian government wants to account for the project over several years so it does not blow the all mythical debt targets set by…. the EC. This accounting plan would provide Belgium the flexibility to engage in other projects. Of course, this is too easy so the unelected EC heads will have none of it. On one hand the newly minted Commissioners are asking national governments to invest in their infrastructure and then on the other they are warning them about debt targets. UKIP and the Tories have rightly warned the world for years the EU is not about democratic processes.

    Naturally, an independent Scotland will experience great to pressure to sign up for the EU and accept the euro at some point. A totally independent Scotland — independent from Brussels and independent from Westminster would be the best option.

    1. paul

      I would totally agree, the EU is a menace. Totally anti democratic and the largest lobbying community outside of Washington, district of columbia.
      As with some things the opponents give some respite.
      The rejection of a currency union suggests the far better alternative of an independent currency.
      The willingness of some countries, Spain for instance, to block EU membership to a newly independent region might be an opportunity to avoid its tender attentions.

    2. MikeNY

      Coincidentally, I’m reading EF Schumacher’s “Small Is Beautiful”.

      As an American, I think many things would be better if my country were much smaller — especially its reduced capacity to wreak mischief and havoc globally.

      1. RUKidding

        No kidding! There’s been a separatist movement in CA to split up the state. The Northern part (north of Sacramento & the SF Bay Area) wants to become the 51st State of Jefferson. Of course, the crazy part is that the northern part of the state is very rural with very little in the way of industry, jobs, etc. They get the bigger bulk of tax dollars to support them, which tax dollars are provided by the godless heathen liberals in the south.

        That said, I’ve lately felt that, given that CA is something like the 8th biggest world economy, maybe CA should just secede from the USA and become it’s own country. Things certainly are far from perfect here, but boyohboy it would be great not to be affiliated with the insanity and unfettered greed associated with what goes down in the District of Criminals.

        1. MikeNY

          Yeah, I know there’s also some Silicon Valley dude who’s proposing to split the state up like 6 ways, with SF and Silicon Valley staying together. With Hetch Hetchy, presumably…

          Politics, strange bedfellows, etc. etc.

          1. sd

            It would make more sense to secede from the US and then split California into 6 smaller states with Eureka, Sacramento, San Francisco, Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Diego as capitols. Of course, the US military would continue to act as an occupying force thus making independence a rather moot point.

  4. The Dork of Cork

    Rab in Hoodie message to the goverment at 18.50.

    A Glaswegian Social creditor in action.

    Thes current “independence” memes have a goal.
    Avoid the real issues inherent in capitalism.
    Its amazing ability to concentrate claims and thus destroy wealth & local culture.

    My advice to the Scots.
    Spoil your vote.
    The painting the post office box green experiment did not work so well in Ireland.
    The Gaelic revival only became a failure after “Independence”
    Much of the money became concentrated in the local financial capital of Dublin.
    In practice Irish speaking people from Dingle got a job in Dublin because of their ability to speak Gaelic.
    This mass movement of people who became civil servants in the “Green” Irish republic resulted in the implosion of the typical Irish western market town and the death of the language in real intercourse.
    The Irish language became a private language of teachers & Christian brothers before it died.

    1. paul

      Much as I enjoy your dizzying rhetoric, I’ll have to decline your advice as I think one small step away from the beast is far better than none.
      The Irish have set a helpfully low bar to represent success.
      If we even do a little better than the land of a thousand welcomes, we’ll be ahead.
      Father from a limerick farm,
      Mother from a dublin slum.

      1. The Dork of Cork

        @Paul
        The old banking union is dead simply because they have built a larger one.
        The costs of expanding into a larger unit of scarcity will simply increase.
        Scotland is a land full of masons for Christ sake.
        This will turn into another Irish insiders joke.

        The SNP are very much like FF
        A corporatist party.
        We will see these great modernistic drives (at huge cost to local buying power) towards overproduction / export so as to access either Sterling or Euro paper much like Ireland post 79.

          1. the Dork of Cork

            Democracy post Cromwell is a illusion which is force to the masses.
            I fail to see the power of a vote within the company store.

            1. paul

              Well, what to do? Not make a start somewhere, wait for a capitalism to collapse which seems tightly inegrated with its own contradictions?

  5. Moneta

    In our current system, all peripheries are set to Rome. Status quo means a slow erosion.

    Separation brings hope. However, it would also mean short term pain for long term gain. We`ll see if the older ones in the population are ready to sacrifice.

  6. gonzomarx

    With regard to a Scottish central bank, Salmond has shown himself over the years to be a very canny political operator (also personally a bit of a keen gambler, make of that what you will) the only reason I can see that a Scottish central bank and its own currency has been left of the table (for now, i feel) is not to frighten the horses.

    The underreported story in this is the effect the referendum has/will have in the Labour party. Either way the vote goes there’s going to be a reckoning within the Labour party and with a general election in 8 months.
    The SNP over the last week or so have been talking about TTIP, the only UK party to do so and raising its threat to the NHS (which has been a main battleground of the referendum) causing Labour to make comments about an exemption for the NHS from the treaty

  7. An Englishman

    I suspect I am far from being the only Englishman who hopes to be bidding our Scottish neighbours a fond farewell next Friday morning. Perhaps then we might be able to regain a vestige of self-government in England. An independent England would be able to throw off the shackles of Scottish and neo-Scottish prime ministers, and dispense with the tyranny of Scottish MPs at Westminster voting on purely English matters. (The Welsh and Northern Irish we will hopefully deal with later.) Polls also suggest an independent England – without the dead-weight of our largely collectivist cousins north of the border – would be free to leave the unreformably corrupt and anti-democratic EU. A vote for Scotland is truly also a vote for England. I implore Scots to take this chance on behalf of both our nations.

  8. Leviathan

    Not to put too fine a point on it, Scottish nationalism currently consists of one part resentment at having to share the golden goose (a less fertile, decidedly aging goose) of North Sea oil, one part anger over NHS cuts, one part Robert Burns wa hae ye, and two parts overwrought Mel Gibson celluloidia.

    It is a testament to the ohsocivilized British reticence to make a scene that a country can be on the verge of tearing itself asunder for absolutely no damn good reason before anyone even starts to take notice of it!

    Living in the UK in the late 80s and visiting in the 90s, I was taunted for the American sin of overt patriotism, though I did not even own a flag until well into my 30s. Whenever I used the word “British” my friends’ eyes would crinkle in faint disgust. English was ok. British, no way. No one wanted this national identity that had served all so well for centuries. I was dumbstruck. Now they see what they were missing. It’s like realizing you love your wife as she’s leaving, suitcase in hand, with someone else.

    Of all the preventable tragedies the world has suffered, this one is most likely to break my heart for its sheer, utter, mindless stupidity.

    1. shtove

      I think the OP is right – this is the last gasp of the old empire.

      The new empire is global, financial, with its HQ in London – they’re all for transfers from Chinese investors, but against making transfers to Scottish welfare institutions. I’m pretty sure Boris Johnson sees anything north or west of Oxford as a bloody drag and a nuisance.

      Put away your hankie.

  9. proximity1

    “I will first push the line that “Scottishness”, now invoked by the “Yes” camp who are pushing independence, is hardly any less of a mythical attribute than the “Britishness” they repudiate.”

    Be that–concerning identities’ mythological bases–as it may be, many, I daresay, among the “Yes” camp do not necessarily repudiate either their own or other Scottish people’s “Britishness”. Last evening Channel 4 (Evening) News reported from Pitlochry in the heart of Scotland. Among other people, viewers were introduced to the titular head of Clan MacLaren, his wife, and two of the five children–two daughters. In the family, one daughter, decidedly in the “Better Together” camp, regards herself first as “British” and only secondarily as “Scottish”–when asked, she explained that she “feels” more British than Scottish and her father is the head of an age-old clan! IIRC, of the seven in the immediate family, five, the father, and four children (one son and three daughters) are voting “Yes,” while the mother, Mrs. MacLaren and her aforementioned daughter, shall be voting “No.” They have traded all the arguments one can imagine and nothing avails. The family remain divided –over the vote’s question. But no one doubts anyone’s “Scottishness” or “Britishness”. It’s a practical matter of “home rule” versus rule from Westminster, and which is best now and in the future.

    Knowing Paris and London as I do, I can well appreciate any French person’s view that, as seen from Paris, or, any English person’s view that, as seen from London, the native culture is, if not now simply completely lost,is well and truly swamped, overwhelmed, amid a throng of dizzying immigrants with their dress, their languages their habits, which, very simply, have nothing whatsoever with the cultural heritage of either France or England. When I walk for miles in Paris without finding a single cafe counter staffed by native French people, or I board a bus in London and neither the driver nor any of the passengers speaks English with any of the (many) native English accents, when, walking down the streets, (whether in France or Britain) I come upon one after another woman covered from the top of her head to the top of her shoes with a religiously-assumed garb, I do not feel the least bit that I am in France or in Britain. And, quite frankly, if I wanted to live among a population in which such people figure very importantly, then, my friends, I would pack up my meagre belongings and decamp to a country–there are many–where Islam’s rule is seen and felt everywhere in society, where women, wherever they may have been born, whatever they may happen to believe about God and religion, are expected and practically required, to dress and to comport themselves as if they are devout Muslims–and this is not by a request which they may either take or leave.

    The reader may object, that, Well, as these women presumably chose to live in such Islamic nations, they also chose, in doing so, to adopt the required dress and other comportment of their adopted society’s muslim women. If so, then I ask: why, by the same token, don’t Muslim women immigrating to France or Britain, feel a similar social obligation to adopt the dress and comportment of typical French or English, Welsh or Scottish women?– eventhough, needless to say, unlike in certain Muslim societies, no one requires of them that they do that! Double-standards, anyone?

    1. Banger

      I actually like your comment which brings us to the heart of the question here–what is national or cultural or religious identity exactly?

      As for Muslim immigrants to Europe, clothing and cultural conservativism means a lot to people in those societies and to move to England or France and remove that tribal identity means you are adrift in a culture that is unfeeling and cold. Muslims tend to live in a more friendly, warmer and nurturing environment where people come first. These communities, like many immigrant communities, are networks–to change clothing would mean to be ostracized from the warm and comforting of family and clan. In the West, such connections have been fragmented. If you have a wealthy relative (I do) they are under obligation to take care of other members of the family–they can loudly complain and make arbitrary decisions about poorer members of the clan or family but they are responsible–my relative is not responsible for me. She may help from time to time but that help is done in a resentful way and she is under no moral obligation (as she sees it) to help other members of her rather small family even if they are in major financial straights.

      Now, as far as Euro identities are concerned–that’s up to them to establish! France and the UK have collectively decided to embrace capitalism, groaf, jawbz and the whole nest of notions that make up our selfish and uncaring societies–at the same time those societies seem benevolent compared to the U.S. but they seem to be paddling with all their might to ape the level of callousness of American society.

      The Scottish referendum, the dissent of countries like Hungary, the Spanish separatists, the growth in popularity of Marine Le Pen in France point towards a gradually increasing revulsion of our post-modern societies in the hope we may see if we can find communality in more local political entities. Perhaps we can return to a more intimate and caring millieu like the ones that exist in many societies and used to exist in the West. I am, believe it or not, very sympathetic to some of the anti-immigrant feeling in Europe–I believe that this massive wave of immigration is challenging the values of Europeans both to return to a more communal mentality and forge some kind of identity. I’m not for expelling immigrants at this point but, rather, learning from them how to live more convivially rather than concentrate on selfish ends.

      1. proximity1

        “I’m not for expelling immigrants at this point but, rather, learning from them how to live more convivially rather than concentrate on selfish ends.”

        The thing is, to immigrate to a land (even as a refugee who is under duress and seeking asylum) in which the native language is not one’s own, in which the local cuisine, the dress, the habits of social comportment–none of these–are anything like those in one’s former home, and, there, to say, in effect, by one’s stubborn adherence to one’s home language and living habits, “I’m having nothing to do with the locals’ tongue or any of their ways; I’m speaking my native language only, wearing only my native dress, consuming only my native cuisine, etc. –that is my idea of the very epitome of “selfishness.” When one adds to all that a rigid sectarian way of life which is the antithesis of the new—“adopted” doesn’t apply here–place of residence, which is, as in the case of so many, even “moderate” Muslims, flatly obscurantist in character, then we have all the ingredients for social strife and conflict–tender feelings just (hardly) “waiting” to be bruised. In coming to France, my project was quite simple and deliberate: to learn and use the language of my adopted new home, eat their cuisine, learn and practice their customs, follow their social cues, and, in general, do everything possible to fit in, to make myself seem to be what is commonly regarded as part of the home people’s ways–despite my foreign origins announcing themselves at the moment I utter a phrase. That part, alas, I cannot quite eliminate. And it’s only rarely held against me–though, yes, that certainly happens and shall continue to happen.

        This is all side-bar stuff in the context of the Scottish referendum, of course, but it goes to issues of identity, nationalism and manners of daily living. I don’t see Scots being antagonistic toward other Britons. They’ve been patient and loyal members of greater Britain. I see them saying, “We’ve not got a good deal in this arrangement with Westminster, lads, lassies. Not a good deal at all.” Others, equally Scottish, disagree. This is quite rightly a question for them to determine and I laugh at those in England or Wales or Northern Ireland who argue, “We ought to have a vote in the matter, too.” That would be their own referendum, then, wouldn’t it. There has been recent talk–mostly in jest, but some half-serious, of London’s seceding–breaking away to form its own city-state. The reasoning goes that greater London possesses much more in “GDP” than Scotland, a much larger population, and so on. Thus, if Scotland should find grounds to go its own way, then why not with more reason, London, too?

        Whatever Scots decide about it, at some point, Britain is going to have to take up remedial work on itself rather than resort to secession as a cure-all for a society which long ago ceased to operate humanely for the general benefit of the majority.

        1. OIFVet

          Are you saying that immigrants must seek to assimilate themselves completely, or do you allow for at least some aspects of their native ways to be retained?

          1. proximity1

            No matter what they do, they’ll (almost) inevitably retain more than mere trivial vestiges of their native culture. I think that they–“we”, as an immigrant to a foreign culture– ought to at least “not reject out of hand” the culture in which we live; after that, whatever in assimilation that is possible is going to make life in that culture better-received by those in whose land we find ourselves as guests. I would truly hate to be obliged, for whatever reason, to live in a culture for which I neither did nor could feel any affinity at all. That would be my idea of a life of exile as opposed to a life as an ex-patriot–which is what I have, no matter where I may reside. Deliberately choosing to remain in a cultural ghetto, trying to remain as closed within one’s original culture as possible, is a poor way to choose to, or to have to, live in a land which is not one’s own and kind of a shame. Fortunately for me, as far as France’s culture has been concerned, I have been able to feel at least as much if not more affinity for it as I have for any other that I’ve experienced. At the same time, I no longer idealize it. In too many ways, French society–culture apart–exhibits so much of the least appealing in modern society everywhere in “the West.” The sight of French people at a Starbucks coffehouse, for example, simply leaves me “nonsed.” But then, it’s their “home,” isn’t it? And I’ve been just a guest-resident in it. Still, I’d have hoped for better–and some French people can and do share that view of the trend. It shocks their sensibilities and mine.

            1. OIFVet

              ” I think that they–”we”, as an immigrant to a foreign culture– ought to at least “not reject out of hand” the culture in which we live;”

              Well, it seems that the Anglo colonizers of this land rejected the culture of the inhabitants of the land, opting to not only bring their own but to persecute and destroy the native inhabitants of the land. They are still going strong too, as your “Frenchmen in Starbucks” anecdote aptly illustrates.

              As a naturalized American myself, and one that is extremely assimilated in most respects, I definitely get your point. I actively sought to erase as much of my native cultural imprint as I could. Yet, as I became more aware of the depredations of globalization and of what I consider to be the US’ malevolent intentions both at home and globally, I quickly discovered that embracing some parts of my former cultural identity was rather desirable as a protective mechanism and a push back against the McDonaldization of the world. My point is, I think you should consider why some immigrants refuse to part with the ways of the old country. It is not a given that any culture is superior to another or all others. Vive la difference!

        2. Banger

          Having a really good idea of how immigrant communities assimilate in the U.S. I know that when they first come they seek their compatriots and avoid as much interaction and assimilation as possible–their culture whether from Sicily or El Salvador or Haitian or whatever becomes the focal point for the adults who come over and they try to inculcate their children into their native culture. Their children, of course, develop a transition culture and speak, in many Latino communities “Spanglish” and so on. By the third generation if the children, everything changes. In recent years as life has become progressively more stressful for everyone there is a lot more clinging to ethnicity.

          Also, if I went to Italy or France I would try to pick up the culture and language but I’m used to being in an international setting and an international cosmopolitan millieu–it would be much harder for my wife, born and bread in a small town in the South to do the same–though I think she would do fine because she makes friends everywhere she goes.

      2. jlskdf

        This is a keen observation. This is why they will bury us Westerners in our own country. Even the poorest extended family/clan can pool together several hundred thousands of dollars in black market loans. The same family will also work there women, children for free under the table. For instance almost all Subways and budget motels are owned by Hindus now. Muslims have gas stations. And this is the USA, where we have few of these immigrants.
        Our nuclear families make us suckers.

  10. sleepy

    Thanks for the post.

    Are you sure though that there were 3 million Gaelic speakers in the 1920s? That sounded a bit high to me. The total population of Scotland in 1920 was only 4.5 million.

    1. Richard Smith

      I have that via MacFarlane the dictionary compiler. Census records say it’s a tenth of that, or less. Two sides to that story too, then.

  11. NotTimothyGeithner

    I think you are looking at it from a family lore angle, but even the “no” votes in Scotland are not pleased with the state of UK politics, especially the Labour Party. Given that t he whole UK exists as a tribute state for London, one of four (or so) sites in the world for financial servitude, the voters are looking for a way to end the relationship with the crooked London, and Labour hasn’t rid itself of Blairists in its time out of power. To the Scots this is a message, they don’t have a place. Labour could end this to do today by demanding for Blair’s arrest and separating itself from New Labour.

  12. paul

    I see some fellow called alan greenspan has weighed in, predicting terrible consequences for an independent jockistan.
    What’s his record like in predicting disasters?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’m usually anti-secession, I don’t buy nationalist nonsense, but the anti-independence side has the support of all the usual villains. If they could get Kissinger, they would have their own Legion of Doom.

      1. RUKidding

        Ha! I’m sure Kissinger is ready & willing to join the Legion of Doom, if only someone asks him for his opinion.

      2. paul

        There’s not really that much nationalism to it all, it is genuinely an expression of frustration with a status quo that is increasingly distant, decadent and destructive.

  13. Gibby the Fifth

    Salmond’s plan is to use what I think of as GBP by forming a currency union with rUK. That looks like the best solution but since it imposes contingent liabilities on rUK, there is a cost to it. So what price is likely to be acceptable to both parties? Salmond appears to believe that he could rent Trident for 20 years in exchange (nowhere near the right price) whereas rUK would offer conditions similar to the EU Stability and Growth Pact fiscal rules ie budget deficit < 3% and debt < 60%. Perhaps there could be some compromise there, with Scotland pledging oil revenues in certain fiscal circumstances in exchange for, or to prevent the need for, rUK bailouts. However, Scotland looks as if it needs a monetary union with either rUK or Europe, meaning significant constraints on independence. I do not think that this is what the people in Scotland are expecting to be the form of independence that they are being promised, and they may be disappointed if this is the result.

    The other big issue that is just starting to be discussed is the question of devolution to rUK regions. And that leads to the issue of the Barnett formula, allocating money currently between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on a purely mathematical basis with no real justification. (See Wikipedia for more details). This is a really nasty can of worms with no easy solution to the allocation of cash within the UK, and if, as suggested, it is merely a convention, could be changed by the Treasury. Which might be a bargaining chip of the UK government.

    The major problem with the NO campaign is that it rejected monetary union out of hand whereas it is clearly by far the simplest and least destructive way of going forward. If the UK government had "Yes but it will cost you a lot of fiscal independence", people in Scotland would have reacted very differently.

    The OBR has noted that there is considerable volatility in oil receipts in the UK: the yoy change in receipts averages about 35% compared with 5% for income tax and 7% for VAT. Oil receipts for an independent Scotland could vary between 20 and 20% of total receipts, an interesting issue for Scotland to deal with.

    Since this topic has considerable personal family details, i should state that my father worked on the Toothill Report into the Scottish economy in 1961, set up because of "the concern which had been felt over a number of years about the state of the economy". Mrs Thatcher was not the first person trying to address economic problems in Scotland, nor the last.

  14. Banger

    For me the Scottish referendum has little to do with whether people living in Scotland are “better off” or not. Mainly because I reject, out of hand, the notion that economic well-being should be or is the major reason for living or the major factor for political entities to be concerned with. “It’s the economy, stupid” means to me to me that we have nothing in common except commerce and that is deeply tragic. I favor Scottish independence because I hate the UK government and National Security State which is closely linked to the Imperial capital of Washington–any weakening of the UK is advantageous to those of us who are anti-imperialist. Same goes with my favorable opinion of Marine Le Pen and any anti EU or anti-NATO force in Europe. I believe “the West” has adopted a collective leadership that is deeply toxic, deceptive, corrupt and anti-humanist.

    The issues of a currency are not that important. If I know anything about the Scottish people it is that they are deeply resourceful. Independence will begin to free up creative solution to common problems at least a little to end the stagnant course of the UK. It is also an opportunity for people in England and Wales to rethink what they are doing and look more deeply into identity–identity need not be ethnic or racial or religious–it can be but it is, ideally in our current society, more an intention. Do we intend to live a self-centered greed little life pleasing ourselves or do we want to connect to community of some kind. I believe part of the impetus of Scottish independence is a hankering after meaning and connection and I think this is behind a lot of movements in Europe that appear regressive. I think the vaguely separatist ideology of many libertarians in the USA also reflect this concern.

    1. proximity1

      RE: “Mainly because I reject, out of hand, the notion that economic well-being should be or is the major reason for living or the major factor for political entities to be concerned with.”

      I do understand your point, There are plenty of celebrities from Hollywood entertainment and some from pro sports who have more money than they could ever spend and at the same time have a big hole where “life meaning” should go. But, I find that a certain amount of economic well-being goes quite well, or could, with the non-material virtues. As someone pointed out in last night’s coverage of the Scottish referendum on television, the Scots favoring the “Yes” campaign are somewhat less concerned than their opponents about “whose portrait is borne on the money they do not have” (enough of).

  15. kevinearick

    Nostalgia & Antiques

    I still remember those days, when my mom came up with the idea of TV dinners, Tang and Pre-School, peddled by the Dept. of Ag; when she came home from her latest visit with the relatives, only to find what remained of her furniture on the lawn, being sold to whoever wanted to buy it at whatever price they wanted to pay the jar; and reading her Declaration, winning judgment for divorce in California, three thousand miles from jurisdiction, and all the repeat damsel-in-distress performances.

    Don’t get me wrong; my mom had some very fine qualities, chief among them being the best cook, seamstress and accountant in the county, and where I am from, six healthy boys with little help from doctors is an accomplishment. She used an oven as an incubator for my brother. Just seriously misdirected, thinking Hollywood and Silicon Valley were manufacturing the new economy. So much for the space race, bait and swap. Ever notice how many pictures were made in San Francisco?

    Back when Jerry was with Linda, you could build a treehouse in a redwood, pull a salmon out of the river and bodysurf with dolphins, without too much interference. And what is the outcome of the pothead rebellion, but more toilet Paper, more arbitrary laws, and an army of peace officers, in five thousand different dresses, upper NY all over again, neighbor against passive aggressive neighbor, to an empire. Sorry, labor isn’t too bent out of shape to see the make-workers in the demographic boom riding coattails lose their pensions to falling purchasing power in the bust.

    Ron Paul would be an interesting character if he attacked the medical establishment the way he attacks its derivatives, the kettle calling the pot black, both of which find themselves in a fire much too hot for their design. Can’t wait to see what Carney’s crew comes up with, when he runs out of diapers. London is the financial whore in chief, wiling to launder anything, anytime, anywhere, for sufficient real estate inflation. I suppose those waiting five thousand years to settle up will have something to say about those Saudi oil fields.

    The first time you get an unsatisfactory mark for working beyond the Bell Curve tells you everything you need to know about government, for the past, by those competing to become the past, and of those supposed to subsidize the past, always with a scapegoat in a sidewalk survey to re-enforce the law, with ever more arbitrary laws. There is nothing new about Boxer, Feinstein and Pelosi; Boehner, McConnell or Reed; same sh-show, always the promise of a city on a shiny hill of gold, with equality among make-workers as the slogan.

    The critters are always in some kid of self-induced emergency, hoping you will jump in to save them, at the end of the ponzi bankruptcy queue, to be recycled over and over again, chasing Chinese toilet paper in this episode, watching talent and skill disappear from empire radar, only to be replaced by more efficient automation of extortion toll booths, operated by politically correct civil servants of feudalism. What is the difference between Brown the Republican and Brown the Democrat?

    Funny, the critters will avoid reality like the plague, but adopt fantasy like a duck to water, and act surprised when their system blows up, every time. Ever wonder where they got their ‘ideas’ for higher education, keeping the masses in check, calling it democracy?

    The executive controls the countryside, grants ‘conservation’ easements to bedfellows, the forest burns and all the water is used to put out the fire. Thinned out rural communities are like matches, herding the critters into MSA import/export debt slavery, surprise. Ever examine the physicians in the Sierra Club? Ever stitch together those global trusts in the data? Where do you suppose the Queen and her physician fit into the picture?

    How much water have the firefighters/medicinal pot growers/conservation groups/townies sucked from the Eel River, to empire, based upon the research of Scholars, educated for the purpose? Obviously, you can replace labor, and any old c-clamp will do. America is looking more like Orick every day, dying from the root out.

    Far more arbitrary, capricious and malicious, the 4th branch of government is really millions of heads, the highly ‘educated’ gatekeepers at the regulation toll booths, left unchecked for the purpose, to take advantage of stupid. Labor isn’t showing up because American Government, like the rest of the empire, is a sunk cost. You are beyond constitutional crisis. Print all the toilet paper you like, in any denomination you like.

    This too shall pass.

    So, did you see that flag for offensive language? My wife’s a Bear fan, and loves Chicago. Nobody’s perfect. “People are beautiful and wonderfully made,” she says, but likes animals more. Gotta give her credit there. Montana and crew visited her neck of the woods often, but she told them she was a Bear fan. Gotta give her credit for that too. I don’t have much use for grown adults playing a kid’s game to collect toys when so many are kids are living in poverty, so adults can spend their time watching, but she’s fun to watch, and life is about getting up one more time than you get knocked down.

    You stand up to a bear in the woods, in case you were wondering, but you are better off respecting its habitat in the first place.

  16. DJG

    Great observations. I’m not sure what result I favor, not being intimate with British politics. Yet I am pleased that the Scots are in a full-blown rebellion against the Anglo-Americano-Germano consensus of deflation, surveillance, impoverishment of the middle classes (we’re the new crofters), endless war, and promulgation of ignorance (religion solves problems, eh). All to honor the work of a Scot, Adam Smith, who supposedly was in favor of these very things. I’m not sure what application the Scottish rebellion has elsewhere: France, unlikely. Catalunya, maybe. Northern Italy, oh, Dio mio, spare me Bossi’s dream of a suburb of Austria. Texas (please, please, and take South Carolina with you). But let’s see what the Scots have to say, and I’m thinking that what they may get is Devo Max.

  17. The Dork of Cork

    “We needed the money but wanted to burn it more”

    Notice how limited the questions that come from both the interviewer and audience.
    This was the Ireland of the 1990s – these poor peoples minds have a limited grasp of the current reality.

    It took a Scotsman to try (and fail) and entice the audience into a logical rather then emotional reaction.

  18. paul

    That was indeed one Art’s finest moments of the twentieth century.
    Hirst’s Swarofski skulls?
    You can stuff them up your jacksie.

  19. Andy Monniker

    I’ve pointed out previously that Scotland is larger in most things than sovereign New Zealand, (apart from geography, but that’s just because we have our Highlands writ large) and we’re doing very nicely thank you selling plasticised milk to the Chinese and coloured water wrapped in fruity verbiage and hints of hobbit to the wine drinkers of the world.

    If the Scots wanted Scotland I have little doubt they could make it work. However if they want someone to give them a nice safe Scotland different only from the one they have by the colour of its trams and passport covers they had better vote no.

  20. Jeremy Grimm

    This post is such beautiful writing. I wish I could find a tongue so expressive in my American argot.

    Big banks may flee a free Scotland but I would wonder at any ex-patriot Scot or Scot through blood relations unwilling to risk a little bit of savings on Scotish Enterprise. A free Scotland could be the place I’ve looked for as a safe haven from collapse of this American Empire — a collapse that looks increasingly destined to be long and bloody.

  21. ChrisPacific

    As an outside observer it is a little difficult to figure out what the whole thing is about. Ultimately I guess it’s up to the individuals voting. Braveheart nationalism does seem to be a factor, as do snide English remarks about Braveheart nationalism (which would piss me right off if I was a Scot) but the main thing seems to be that Scots have, by and large, lost faith in the UK government to represent their interests. That problem is widespread across the Eurozone and in North America, and I’m not confident that independence would fix it, since the same forces that contribute to the problem in the Eurozone would be vying for influence over Scotland’s fledgling government as well.

    I think the UK government does deserve some credit in allowing the issue to come to a vote, if you overlook the ways in which they contributed to the vote becoming necessary in the first place. Putin would probably have rolled tanks long ago, and Obama would quite possibly have done the same.

    1. leroguetradeur

      Its not about ‘Scotland’. Its about deep divisions in Scottish society. You have to remember that two Finance ministers, two Prime Ministers, three recent leaders of the UK Labour Party have been Scottish. Scots are well represented at Westminster in the cabinet and in both political parties. The former Foreign Secretary, Malcom Rifkind. Two former leaders of the Liberal Democrats. Macmillan, as the writer of the article points out, the former Prime Minister.

      What is it about then? The division has existed for a long time. It expresses itself at the moment in terms of hostility to ‘the Tories’, who have virtually no presence in Scotland, and have been in power only for one term lately. Whatever its about its not about that. The SNP is not in the least left wing or socialist or liberal either. Its actually about authoritarian nationalism. There is a substantial movement in Scotland and in the diaspora in England which is basically anti English authoritarian racist, and while it does not think about it in these terms, basically far right wing in attitude. Then there is a liberal and non-nationalistic section which is not really interested but in any case does not want to be dominated by the window smashers who Salmond tacitly encourages.

      Whichever way it goes, strife will result. The right will not give up. The desperate desire is to have a little country that can be totally dominated. The liberal tendency will not give up either. Meanwhile, English nationalism will rise. The silliest possible thing Cameron could have done is to promise to continue the absurd over funding of Scotland. This is going to give UKIP a real lift. It was fatal.

      Its is very different on the ground from the way it looks in the US. Good luck figuring it out. One would like to say come over for a few months and see. But in the present environment, you’d be moving into something close to Northern Ireland. Don’t bother.

  22. JTFaraday

    “The Scottish aristocracy is nervous. Change is afoot. ‘As one whose family was involved in the 1707 Act of Union, I can’t really comment on the referendum,’ barks one of the country’s pre-eminent dukes. ‘But the buggers are out to get us!'”

    That’s great. Very entertaining.

  23. leroguetradeur

    Scotland is not what many of you think it is. Its deeply divided, very combative and vituperative. Potentially very violent. Also the SNP is not what you think it is – it is not the BNP, but that is its direction.

    It has been well said that if Salmond is very lucky he will get a no vote by a narrow maargin. If he gets what he wishes, it will end in tears and civil discord of the kind seen in Northern Ireland.

    What is worse, he has aroused the sleeping monster of British nationalism. UKIP is serious. If Scotland goes, UKIP will profit, Labour will wither.

    My own view is that the Scots will vote narrowly to remain in the Union. Part of their reason will be that they have seen the blackshirts of the SNP in action in the last week or two. You all may think this is liberal socialism and social welfare and so on. No, it is not.

    And as Jean Chretien said when campaigning in Quebec in his broad Quebecois, you may think that independence will be great, and you may think it will be good for you, but I will tell you who will profit, it will be the bourgeoisie on (in this case) Morningside. That is who will make out like bandits.

    Or as Yeats put it:

    Parnell came down the road, he said to a cheering man
    Ireland shall get her freedom and you still break stone.

  24. leroguetradeur

    Janet Daly has a somewhat different and quite interesting take on it – she connects the movement to Old Labour. Its a point of view worth considering.

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