Tag Archives: Secession

Failing to face up to the logic of independence

There’s an interesting undercurrent to the debate about whether an independent Scotland would automatically be a part of the European Union. Unionists are generally delighted by the idea that Scotland would have to apply for membership, while nationalists either deny vehemently that such a scenario could occur, or are dismayed when European politicians appear to suggest that indeed an independent Scotland would have to apply to join the club. Yet in the last two or three years, since the crisis in the Eurozone began, the EU has become less and less popular in the UK as a whole and in Scotland as well. Something quite strange is going on in this debate. Huge numbers of unionists are also Eurosceptics. I imagine quite a large number of nationalists are too. Why then do unionists react with delight at the idea that an independent Scotland would have to leave the EU, when it is is exactly this that they would like the UK to do? Why do nationalists react with fury to the idea that Scotland would have to leave the EU, when this is exactly the policy of the other independence party in Britain, UKIP? Scotland would certainly be more independent if it was both independent from the rest of the UK (rUK) and from the EU. Why then does the prospect not delight nationalists?

 

The two sides of this debate have tended to concern themselves with involved and complex ideas about international law, treaties about the succession of states, secession theory, EU law and other arcane matters such as the Treaty of Union of 1707. None of this really matters. The possible scenarios are as follows. Both rUK and Scotland would have to apply for membership. rUK would retain membership, but Scotland would not. Both rUK and Scotland would retain membership. Each of these scenarios is perfectly possible and the one that occurs will be the one which the rest of the EU deems to be in its best interest. The EU clearly makes the rules up as it goes along. If it were to want to retain rUK in the EU there is zero chance that it would make rUK reapply for membership, as under that scenario there is zero chance of rUK voting to join. If, on the other hand, rUK were still part of the EU and an independent Scotland were outside, there is a great likelihood that an independent Scotland would want to join the EU as quickly as possible. Why the difference when Euroscepticism is probably as strong in Scotland as in rUK? This is where we come to the undercurrent in the debate.

 

The debate is not really about the EU at all. The reason that membership of the EU is so vital to nationalists is not because they love the EU, its because this membership guarantees Scots the same rights that they have at present in rUK. If it could be shown that Scottish independence would mean that Scots would need a passport or visa to live and work in England, there would be very few Scots who would vote for independence. It is for this reason that nationalists react with fury when unionists point out the possible disadvantages of independence, accusing unionists of scaremongering at the least suggestion that Scots would lose something if we became independent. The logic of this position is to make unionism as a political position impossible. If unionists are not allowed to point out what they consider to be disadvantages, if the suggestion that Scots would lose anything at all is to be dismissed as scaremongering, then any unionist argument is ruled out from the start as illegitimate. This is to accuse unionists of suffering from some sort of false consciousness and is the tactic of someone who does not wish to debate, but to assert.

 

Fundamentally nationalists are unwilling to face up to the logic of independence. They want freedom from England, but want to retain all the rights of being a citizen there. This means that logically they want to be both independent and not independent. Nationalists react with rage if it is suggested that England would treat Scots as foreigners. But what is a foreigner other than someone who lives in an independent state. Independent states have the right to treat foreign citizens differently from their own citizens, so why do nationalists react with such anger at the suggestion that England could treat them differently post independence?

 

What is it to be dependent? My right to live and work in England depends on my being a citizen there. If I renounce my citizenship in England, I have become independent of England. Being an independent Scot requires that I no longer retain the rights, which depended on my being a citizen of the UK. To expect to retain such rights, while being independent is to wish to be both dependent and independent. Nationalists, when they accuse unionists of scaremongering, really show they they want to have the rights of a Scot who has achieved independence, while retaining the same rights as an Englishman. What they want is to be both Scottish and English.

 

This really is a classic example of what Sartre called “mauvaise foi” (bad faith). Unless nationalists are willing to give up the rights they have at present as UK citizens they have no right to demand independence from the UK. To do so would be craven, dishonest and selfish.

 

This is then the undercurrent of the debate about the EU. The reason for the SNP developing the slogan “Independence in Europe” was not so much so that Scots could live and work in France, Germany or Poland. Few of us do. The reason was so that Scots could continue to live, work and receive all manner of benefits in rUK. Hundreds of thousands of us do.

 

When Eurosceptics say that they want UK independence from the EU, they accept that this may entail losing certain rights. It may afterwards be no longer possible for them to live and work in France or Germany and to receive free healthcare and other benefits there. However, they think this loss of rights would be worth it. Imagine however, if the debate was phrased in such a way that the UK expected to be able to leave the EU, but to retain all the rights of a citizen of a state which was still a member? The EU could rightly respond if you wish to retain these rights, it is only fair that you remain in the club. To wish to leave the EU, while being unwilling to lose any rights of membership, is to be a hypocrite. What nationalists show when they react with annoyance to suggestions that Scots would lose the rights of membership of the UK if we became independent, is exactly this same sort of hypocrisy. If they are so concerned about their rights in the rest of the UK, they should not vote for independence.

 

The UK can be likened to a marriage. If a husband leaves his wife and gets a divorce, he cannot very well expect to retain the right to sleep with her. But this is exactly what nationalists expect if Scotland divorces England. Nationalists are unwilling to face up to the logic of independence and they are treating the rest of the UK with contempt. At present we are members of a club called the UK. This gives us certain rights and responsibilities. To expect to leave the club, to give up the responsibilities of being a member, while retaining all the rights of membership is to behave without honour. The SNP would make Scots behave like someone who leaves a golf club, but still expects to play there. They would make us all scoundrels.

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The unfulfilled promises of independence

One of the most important things to realise about the referendum on independence is that no one really knows what would happen if Scotland chose to secede from the UK. Both unionists and nationalists speculate, each striving to gain some advantage from these speculations, but in the absence of a working crystal ball, everyone must finally accept that the future is unknown. The past, on the other hand, at least the recent past, is both known and well documented. History is an imperfect guide to the future, but however flawed, it is the only guide we have. It is worthwhile therefore looking at recent instances of independence in Europe and, as it were, ask ourselves how did secession work out for these countries.

 

The boundaries of European countries had changed hardly at all from the post-war settlement until 1990, but this all began to change with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. This was probably the most dangerous moment of the Cold War. It has always struck me as something of a miracle that the collapse of the USSR did not lead to World War 3, but it did lead to a number of quite serious conflicts and territorial disputes. Armenia and Azerbaijan fought each other over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. This conflict is as yet unresolved. Georgia seceded from the USSR and then fought two wars when the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia chose to secede from Georgia. Moldova fought a war with separatists in Transnistria, who succeeded in setting up a tiny strip of a country, which is de facto independent even if unrecognised by the rest of the world. Russia, of course, fought two very bloody wars with separatists in Chechnya.

 

Even when there have not been wars there have been conflicts. Ukraine is a potential future flash point owing to the fact that there are Russian majorities in the eastern and southern parts of the country, some of whom would prefer to be part of Russia now. The Baltic states likewise have sizable Russian minorities, many of whom are denied the rights of citizenship owing to the various nationality tests administered in these states.

 

During the Olympics, I came across a nationalist MSP writing about how glad he was to see all the former Soviet Republics competing on their own. No doubt, he could plead ignorance as the reason for this remark, but he not only showed ignorance of history, he also showed ignorance of the present. How has independence in Europe worked out for all these newly formed states? According to the well respected Democracy Index 2011, not one former Soviet Republic is a full democracy. Some are categorized as flawed democracies, some as hybrid regimes and a number as authoritarian regimes.

 

http://www.sida.se/Global/About%20Sida/S%C3%A5%20arbetar%20vi/EIU_Democracy_I…

 

Prior to independence in each of these countries there were nationalists, who promised the people living there that all manner of good things would be theirs if only their country was independent. Such nationalists promised their supporters that they would gain freedom. But this promise turned out to be an illusion. No doubt, many people now who expected freedom wonder if these nationalists were lying.

 

Not only are these countries lacking in political freedom, they are also corrupt. According to the well respected Corruption index, each former Soviet Republic remains highly corrupt.

 

http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2011/results/

 

What about wealth? Well, according to the following index, each of the former Soviet Republics remains by western standards poor. Sometimes extremely so.  

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28PPP%29_per_capita

 

The reason for this is that each of these countries remains fundamentally uncompetitive.

 

http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GlobalCompetitivenessReport_2012-13.pdf

 

Separatists in all these countries promised the people living there, that if only they could achieve independence they would soon be living in a wealthy, honest and economically competitive society. But again this all turned out to be an illusion. So how is independence in Europe working out for these former Soviet states? They gained war, partition, lack of political rights and freedom, corruption, poverty and uncompetitiveness. They also gained independence.

 

Perhaps, this is all the fault of the Soviet Union. Perhaps, there are other examples of European independence movements, which have been more successful.

 

Take the example of Yugoslavia. The growth of Serbian Nationalism was answered by nationalisms in each of the republics which made up that country. The result was war, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, partition and where once there had been one small country now there are eight tiny ones. Not one of these countries is a full democracy, each is highly corrupt and each by western standards is poor and uncompetitive. So how did independence in Europe work out for Serbs and Croats?

 

One last example of a recent European independence movement remains. It could be described as poster child of secession movements. Scottish nationalists frequently cite the breakup of Czechoslovakia as a favourable example for Scotland. Soon after the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia, known as the Velvet Revolution, nationalists in Slovakia began to seek independence and soon there followed the Velvet Divorce. One reason why Scottish Nationalists see this as such an ideal example an independence movement is that Czechs and Slovaks get on very well and the two states have excellent relations. Why couldn’t the same sort of Velvet Divorce occur in the UK?

 

But let’s look at how independence in Europe has worked out for Slovaks. While the Czech Republic is a full democracy, Slovakia is a flawed democracy. Both the Czech Republic and Slovakia are corrupt, but Slovakia is somewhat more corrupt. Both countries are poor by Western European standards, but Slovakia is poorer the Czech Republic, probably for the reason that it is much less competitive. Worst of all however, while the Czech Republic retained its own currency, Slovakia had the misfortune to join the Euro. This  means that it is liable for a share of  the debts of countries richer than it, such as Greece. No doubt, the separatists in Slovakia promised their people that if only they would vote for independence they would soon be rich and free. Nationalists tend to promise that independence will turn a country into something resembling the promised land. People who are foolish enough to believe these promises however, quickly find they did not get what was promised. A nationalist’s promise is at best a pipe dream, at worst a lie.

 

Scotland is very different from all these European countries, which recently gained independence. The point to take however, from these examples of independence movements, is that nationalism frequently promises much, but delivers little. As an ideology, which appeals to the selfish side of human nature, emphasising the differences between peoples, it frequently leads to unintended and unplanned consequences and conflicts. What really matters to most people is their standard of living and the fact that they live in a free, fair and honest society. Scotland already is a full democracy, because we are part of one one of the oldest and most democratic countries in the world. Neither Scotland nor England were especially democratic countries when we joined together to create the Union. Rather, through a gradual political process, we became the democracy that we are today. It is the UK which created our democratic traditions and which granted us the rights, which we now enjoy. Scotland is lucky enough  to be part of a very wealthy country. We are free and we don’t have to fear corruption in our daily lives. The UK is the 8th most competitive country in the world, which means that we have a much better chance than many countries to retain our living standards in the face of the present economic depression. We should rejoice that we live in such a country. The majority of the world’s population lack what we have. Nationalists everywhere promise the earth, but it is obvious from a glance at recent history, that such promises amount to very little. They don’t amount to what we in Scotland already have. If Scotland were part of an undemocratic, corrupt, poor and uncompetitive Great Britain, it might just be possible to argue that independence would bring vast improvements. Such promises, would probably turn out to be false, for these fundamentals change slowly if at all. But when a country is already close to the peak of democracy, freedom, wealth, lack of corruption and competitiveness, the idea that nationalists can suddenly massively change everything for the better by waving a magic wand called independence is scarcely credible. The UK has given us peace, freedom, wealth, honesty and competitiveness. Why would we exchange that for an uncertain future leading in who knows what direction?

Why I’m not a nationalist

Most people in Scotland have little or no experience of what happens when nationalism develops and independence is achieved. It might therefore be worthwhile to describe a modern example of a split, which has turned out to be less than amicable. It is one the main reasons why I am not a nationalist.

 

Growing up in Scotland under the shadow of the Cold war, we all kept hearing of the Soviet Union, but few of us had really heard of the republics, which made up this union. If a Scot had heard of Kiev and if he were asked where it was, he would have replied in the Soviet Union or often simply in Russia. We all used the word Russia to refer to the whole country. Incidentally this is exactly how Russians describe the UK. In common Russian usage, someone from Edinburgh is from England and he is English. Russians are aware of something called Scotland, though they are frequently hazy about just quite where it is, but they find it strange and pedantic if a person insists on being called Scottish.

 

Ukraine had been part of the Russian Empire for centuries. At times various parts of Ukraine had been part of Poland or part of the Austro-Hungarian or Ottoman Empires, but despite shifting boundaries no one much thought of Ukraine as anything other than a part of Russia. Up until the end of the 19th century it was often known in Russian as  Little Russia. There were some differences between Ukrainians and Russians and there was a branch of the East Slavic language, which had developed in parts of the Ukraine, spoken usually by peasants, partly owing to the fact that in these regions there had been foreign rule.

 

This Ukrainian language has much in common with Scots. Indeed one of the best parallels between Scots and English is that of the parallel between Ukrainian and Russian. When growing up in rural Aberdeenshire I spoke Doric, the local form of Scots, and this language really was very different from English, so much so that at times people even in Aberdeen would struggle to understand what I said, let alone in other parts of Scotland. English people, of course, could barely understand Doric at all. In growing up I learned really three languages. Doric which I used exclusively with people from Aberdeenshire, Scots, which was really English with an accent and a few extra words and slight grammar changes, which I used with other Scots and English, which I used in writing and in communicating with anyone who might struggle with Scots.

 

This situation is very similar to what happened in the Ukraine. People in the western parts of the Ukraine often spoke pure Ukrainian, while they nearly all could  speak pure Russian as well, people in the east of Ukraine spoke mainly Russian with a Ukrainian accent with a few extra words and slight changes in grammar, some others spoke a sort of mixture of Russian and Ukrainian. Everyone adapted to the linguistic environment they were in modifying their speech so as to be understood.

 

Russians can understand Ukrainian, about as well as someone from southern England can understand very broad Scots, like Doric. Until relatively recently Ukrainian was rarely written. The greatest writer born in what is now Ukraine, Gogol’,  for instance, wrote in Russian while using some Ukrainian words, rather like Walter Scott wrote in English, but allowed characters to use Scots words.  

 

During the Soviet Union Russians and Ukrainians would travel to each others’ republics, without particularly thinking that they were going anywhere foreign. There had been historical tensions between these peoples, but no one much thought of each other as being particularly different. This all changed in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed and Ukraine unilaterally declared independence.

 

What happened next is an object lesson for Scotland. During the Soviet Union, no one ever expected that the three core republics of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus’ would ever split. These places had been united for centuries. They were known as “Brother peoples” to all Soviet citizens. Everyone could speak Russian in all three of these republics, yet suddenly a Muscovite found himself in a foreign country when he visited Minsk or Kiev.

 

In Ukraine, Ukrainian nationalism began to be felt very strongly. One result of this was a change in education policy so that Ukrainian history was emphasised, and with it came the development of a brand of history which tended to blame Russia for everything. Tragic events  that occurred in the Soviet Union, were blamed on Russia. It was forgotten that there were Ukrainians who had been enthusiastic about the Soviet Union, it was forgotten that Ukrainians had fulfilled the orders of the party, it was forgotten that everyone suffered under the Soviet regime including Russians. Naturally this retelling of history by Ukrainians angered Russians, leading to Russians emphasising  history in such a way that it was negative about Ukrainians, remembering, for example how many Ukrainians fought as allies with the Germans during World War II.

 

The Ukrainian language was made the national language of Ukraine, even though it is spoken exclusively only really in the west of the Ukraine and that in vast areas east of the Dnepr river and in the south and in Crimea, Russian is almost exclusively spoken. This meant that huge numbers of Russian speakers living in the Ukraine found, that their children were being sent to schools where only Ukrainian would be taught, found that jobs and promotions depended on knowledge of a language they barely knew.

 

The consequence of these divisive nationalistic policies, was enmity between Ukraine and Russia, which led to Russia deciding not to treat Ukraine as a friend, thus deciding not to give friends’ rates for gas and oil supplies. Moreover, when Ukraine sided with Georgia in the short war, which happened in 2008, Ukraine found itself isolated, its friends in Western Europe deserting it, and for one horrible moment it looked as if Russia and Ukraine might go to war. Many Ukrainians and Russians now look at each other with contempt. Russians are often made to feel unwelcome in Ukraine. It is not unknown for some Ukrainians to demand that a Russian speaks Ukrainian, or that Ukrainians carry on speaking Ukrainian even if a Russian is struggling to understand. Ukrainians are now treated as foreigners in Russia, and vice versa, having to obtain a work permit and residence permit to live and work there.

 

Worst of all within Ukraine there is something akin to civil war. The eastern half of Ukraine is the blue side, Russian speaking and largely with a Russian identity. The western half is the orange side, largely Ukrainian speaking and looking westwards, hoping to be a part of Europe and the EU. The Orange Revolution of 2004/2005 was really a sort of civil war between these parts. It still continues with the blue half now in the ascendancy, the leader of the orange half in prison.

 

Ukrainian independence, did not bring what the nationalists promised. Ukraine is impoverished, and isolated diplomatically. It is divided amongst itself and its nationalism has led to a deterioration of its relationship with Russia, to such an extent that many Russians refuse to visit some parts of the Ukraine for fear of what might happen if their accents are heard there.

 

Scotland is not Ukraine of course, but it would not be hard to imagine a new curriculum being introduced which emphasised Scottish history and did so by blaming England for everything. Indeed this is already happening. It would not be difficult to imagine an independent Scotland making Gaelic and Scots the national languages of Scotland, teaching them in schools, teaching the literature at the expense of the foreign English literature. Indeed, this is already beginning to happen. It is not difficult under these circumstances to imagine relations between England and Scotland deteriorating as those between Russia and Ukraine have deteriorated. Indeed, this is already happening, with English people showing increased enmity to Scots.

 

The reason why I’m not a nationalist is that I have seen what it has done to Russia and the Ukraine. It is because I believe that all nationalisms sow seeds of division and discord and because, as someone who feels both Scottish and British, I don’t want the same sort of strife to happen here.

Salmond wants independence in the UK

I’ve been trying to make sense of the ever changing models of independence put forward by the SNP and have come to the conclusion that what they want amounts to “Independence in the UK”. Of course they’re not using that slogan, but it pretty much equates to the vision they are putting forward of an independent Scotland.
 
The SNP want to maintain a currency union with the rest of the UK post independence. They want the Bank of England to act as Scotland’s central bank and lender of last resort. They want to maintain many of the UK national institutions, such as the DVLA, and they want to maintain a “Social union” of the the countries, which make up the UK. Most important of all they want to maintain the monarchy, the union of the crowns, which has existed since 1603. Logically this would mean they would maintain the Union Flag introduced by James VI.

 

I’ve been trying to come up with an example of an analogous relationship between countries. The closest I can get is the relationship between Denmark and the Faeroe Islands, but that does not work as the Faeroe islands are autonomous, but are not independent.

 

Perhaps a model might be the relationship that Puerto Rico has to the United States. It too has autonomy, as an unincorporated part of the United States, but likewise it is not independent.

 

The more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that what Alex Salmond is offering the Scottish people is not independence at all, but rather autonomy within the UK.

 

The condition for being in a currency union with the rest of the UK would certainly be that the rest of the UK’s chancellor would have a say and in the end a veto over the Scottish budget. Scotland would raise all of its own taxes, would receive a greater share of oil revenues, but would lose the money from the Barnett formula. It would be regulated both by London and by Brussels, assuming Scotland would remain an EU member, not least because London and Brussels are going to exact a price for cooperating so fully with Mr Salmond’s dream.

 

For the life of me I can’t see the advantage. At the moment  we in Scotland have representation   both in Edinburgh and in London. Being “Independent in the UK” means we would only have representation in Edinburgh, but would still be regulated on financial matters by London.

Moreover we know that currency unions have a tendency  to bring their members into an ever closer fiscal and political union. Scotland would  still have elastic bands tying it to London, but would no longer  have the parliamentary representation to have its say there.

 

Alternatively if Scotland strove  to maintain real independence in this currency union with the rest of the UK, the likelihood is that eventually the tensions would be so great that Scotland would be forced out, leading to a messy exist and devaluation on the lines that looks likely for Greece.

 

Salmond’s is offering a vision of independence, which is as close as is possible to remaining in the union so that he can gain as much support as possible from those Scots who otherwise would be scared of independence. But it is not clear that this model of independence is something he is really able to offer. The reason is that the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK post independence, would not be a matter solely for Mr Salmond, but would also be a matter for whoever at that time led the rest of the UK. What would they gain from having a semi-detached autonomous/independent Scotland? We know the difficulties in the Eurozone of having independent countries who are in a monetary, but not a fiscal, nor political union. Why would the rest of the UK put itself in the position of Germany in relation to Scotland’s Greece. What if the rest of the UK reacts to Scotland’s independence by saying goodbye, but don’t expect any cooperation from us. The trouble with “Social Unions” is that they require that both sides want to cooperate. I doubt there would be much goodwill towards Scotland if there really were a divorce.

 

Independence within the UK is the latest  attempt by the SNP to kid the Scottish public that independence would only amount to nice things, like a UN seat and some extra flag waving, but we really need to hear from the leaders of the rest of the UK before we can be sure what a post independent Scotland, in a currency union with  the rest of the UK, would be like, for the nature of such a relationship would not  solely be up to Mr Salmond no matter how much he likes to dictate.

 

In the meantime might not supporters of independence reflect on what they are being offered. Does it not seem just a bit faint hearted. Even tiny Latvia and Lithuania set up their own currencies post independence. Can Scotland really not manage its own currency, set up its own central bank? Is the desire for independence so shallow, so lacking in courage that we can’t even emulate far away countries of which we know nothing. It all seems slightly humiliating when you put  it like that.

How the SNP uses Anglophobia to split the union

Imagine if the English national anthem were about Flodden, the battle which took place in 1513, when James IV’s army invaded England, while Henry VIII was away fighting in France. It could go something like this:

 

Oh flower of England,
When will we see
your like again,
that fought and died for
your field at fair Flodden
and stood against him
proud James’ army
and sent him homeward
in his own coffin.

 

Can you imagine how the SNP would react if such a song were sung at rugby matches? Can you imagine how they would cry about bias if the anniversary of Flodden were to be used for political purposes 400 years later? Yet they wish to do exactly this with regard to the anniversary of a battle which took place in 1314.

 

Any Scot, who is not in self denial, knows that there is widespread anti-Englishness in our country. If someone were to go into a Scottish pub, when England were playing football, wearing an England shirt, he would at the very least receive unpleasant comments, assuming he could hear them over and above the abuse directed at the television screen.

 

Ordinary kind, decent Scots, including nearly all of us at one time or another, unthinkingly say things things about England and the English that we simply would not dream of saying about any other country or people. At times this is just banter and is the sort of humour that everyone enjoys including the English, who equally crack jokes about the French, while remaining very Francophile. But we Scots know of many instances when anti-English comments are not just banter, when such comments and actions really have the power to wound and hurt, when someone is made to feel unwelcome and insulted because of his accent and the place he comes from.

 

The one thing that this is not, of course, is racism. White English people are the same race as white Scottish people. The experience of racism, which black and Asian people feel in both England and Scotland is qualitatively different from Anglophobia and far more severe. Few Scots would be unwilling to be friends with, or fall in love with, someone from England. English people are not discriminated against in employment. But many English people do find the common, everyday instances of anti-Englishness, which occur in Scotland, unpleasant and distasteful. Even if these experiences should not be confused with racism, they make the English person feel as if he does not belong.

 

Let’s look at an English person in Scotland. Can someone born in England, of English parents and with an English accent, can such a person be a Scot? I would contend that the vast majority of Scots make it quite clear that such a person can not be a Scot, no matter how long he has lived here. What counts as being a Scot is that you are born and bred here and that your accent fits. The key criteria looks very much like family lineage and this is confirmed when we come to that piece of Scottish national dress called  the kilt.

 

Until recently almost no one in Scotland wore a kilt apart from soldiers and deer stalkers, but now at weddings they are becoming universal. Many Scots don’t have a particularly Scottish name. Such Scots might pick a kilt they like and wear it with pride, but there’s always someone who wants to ask what clan are you from, and are you entitled to wear that kilt. It’s as if, unless you can trace your lineage to Culloden, you’re not quite entitled to be a Scot at all. But if someone with a name like Walker or Robinson is not entitled, how is someone with a name like Khan or a name like Kowalski going to gain his entitlement?

 

To their credit the SNP maintain that they are civic nationalists and not ethnic nationalists. Therefore if asked can someone born in Pakistan, India or Jamaica be a Scot, they would answer yes. But does anyone really believe this? If the English can’t be Scots how can the Poles or the Pakistanis? The SNP’s civic nationalism is founded on their ethnic nationalism and would collapse without the ethnic nationalism. But this is really the case with all nationalisms. Why do many people in Quebec want independence? Because they speak French, have French names and are descended from people who came from France. Quebec nationalism is almost exclusively felt by these people. Those people living in Quebec who speak English or who are descended from places other than France do not want independence. They want to be Canadians. Quebec nationalists are also civic nationalists, but the foundation of their nationalism like all nationalisms including Scottish nationalism is ethnic nationalism. It is based on membership of a clan, opposed to those who do not belong to the clan.

 

Of course anti-Englishness is not exclusive to nationalists. Many unionists, unconscious of the contradiction, will express anti-English sentiments such as the commonly expressed idea that when I go on holiday the French or Germans or Italians don’t much like the British, but when I point out that I’m Scottish, they are much more pleasant. Anyone who thinks like this, who is willing to drop their Britishness when it is convenient, should be voting for Alex Salmond. The strength of the union is that we are all in it together, that no matter where we come from we’re all fundamentally the same. We’re all British. Without that feeling, the union begins to creak and will inevitably fall apart. When Scots express Anglophobia they are saying that those people are not the same as me, they are foreigners.  Furthermore this gives rise to ever increasing levels of anti-Scottish sentiments among the English, and so in turn with the Welsh and the Northern Irish. It is for this reason that Mr Salmond seeks to subtly stir up anti-Englishness by continually complaining about rule from London, code for England, saying such people have no right to have a say about what goes on in Scotland. He is saying that such people are not us, they are foreign. When every country in the union hates those who live in every other country, there will no longer be a union, there will just be a small island full of enmity. And that will be a fine legacy for Mr Salmond.

 

The great thing about Britain is that it enables us to be both Scottish and British. Britishness is inclusive and it is something anyone can feel no matter where their parents came from. It is for this reason that people in Scotland, who were not born and bred here, overwhelmingly support the union. They know that in an independent Scotland, they will not be Scots, not really and neither will they be British. Civic nationalism will allow them to remain, will give them a passport, but the ethnic nationalism which underpins that civic nationalism, will mean that incomers will forever feel like foreigners in their own country. They will live here, but without an identity. They will not really be Scots, they will not quite be entitled. They’ll not get to wear the kilt as they have no clan.

 

Anglophobia is not a nationalist ideology, but it is the foundation of nationalism. Why else choose an anti-English song as an anthem? Why else go on and on about how the English did this and that to us, about how the English oppressed us, how the English say British when we win, Scottish when we lose? Why the chip on our shoulder about the English going on about 1966 when we go on about 1314? In the end the reason that nationalists want to reject Britain is because they can’t bear to be associated with the English. The reason they hate the Union Jack is because it contains the cross of Saint George.

 

Naturally nationalists frequently claim never to have met an SNP member, who is anti-English, but this is like claiming never to have met anti-Englishness in Scotland. A case of self-denial.  The virulence and hatred of the cybernats, resembles very closely that Anglophobia, which many English people, to our shame, meet in Scotland, for it springs from the same source. Scots who are willing to abuse someone because of his accent or his parentage, are just as liable to abuse someone who is opposed to the one thing the cybernat wants above all others an independent Scotland free from England, a Scotland where the English have been sent homeward to think again.

 

Without anti-Englishness, Scottish nationalism would wither. We Scottish unionists should therefore think carefully when we express anti-English sentiments, as really we are undermining the union and helping to develop the narrow ethnic nationalism, which Mr Salmond needs to win his cause.

Why “devo-max” is the greatest threat to the union

It’s looking good for unionists; with pollsters and bookmakers agreeing that Mr Salmond has little chance of winning a straight yes/no referendum on independence.

 

http://yougov.co.uk/news/2012/05/28/independence-salmonds-mountain/

 

http://www7.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2012/05/29/why-arent-snp-…

 

I don’t think it matters much, how long he waits, whether he holds the referendum on the anniversary of Bannockburn or how biased the question. As long as the question is a clear yes/no on independence, he will lose. The majority of Scots simply do not want independence.

 

But pollsters suggest Mr Salmond has a chance to win a poll on devo max. A recent poll gave the following result:

 

“33% preferred the status-quo, 36% devo-max and 24% independence”

 

Scots like most people like having their cake and eating it too. They want more power for Scotland, but they want to remain in the union. The problem is that they can’t have it. Devo-max is a Trojan horse and will inevitably lead to independence.

 

In a three way referendum Mr Salmond has two chances of winning. Not only does he split the unionist vote, giving his preferred option of independence a better chance of winning, even if it only gains around a third of the vote, he also gets independence eventually if devo-max wins. The choice then is between status quo, independence now, or independence later.  

 

Even in a straight yes/no poll with a subsidiary question on devo-max, Salmond knows he will get independence if devo-max gains majority support, even if on the independence question he is decisively defeated.

 

How can this be? The reason is that devolution in general and devo-max in particular is acting as a destabilising factor on the union, a centrifugal force pushing us all apart.

 

Many Conservatives and unionists recognised from the start that the devolution settlement was ill thought out and fundamentally unfair.

 

Whereas before devolution, everyone in the UK had the same degree of representation, now Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own parliaments, while England only has the parliament of the United Kingdom. This is self evidently unfair, but would not in itself matter so much if the devolved parliaments had not set about creating division.

 

Gradually people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been gaining rights to free this, and free that, while their burden of taxation has remained the same. Sounds wonderful, what’s not to like? The problem is that the English are getting thoroughly sick of it.

 

Britain is a single country with a monetary and fiscal union. Money is transferred around the country, from richer regions to poorer regions and nobody much complains, as we are all in it together.  But that arrangement only works, if everyone has the same rights no matter where they live. If Scots have rights to free this and that by virtue of living in Scotland, they cannot very well expect Londoners to continue to transfer their money from London to Scotland.

 

Personally I think Scotland contributes about as much to the UK as it receives, but this is not the point I’m trying to make. When Cameron’s government arrived in Westminster and found that the cupboard was bare and that cuts would have to be made for the sake of the country, it was reasonable to expect that we were all in it together. Imagine then how the English feel, when they find that many of these cuts apply only to them. This is why issues such as tuition fees are so divisive and why they are breaking up the union.

 

The greatest danger to the union is not Scotland voting for independence, but England voting for divorce.

 

I’ve always been aware of anti-English sentiment in Scotland. Most Scots are aware of it and to our shame; many unionists contribute to it or go along with it. A bit of banter is fine of course and is enjoyed by all sides, but when it turns nasty it’s not much fun. Visiting England years ago, I noticed something that was quite strange. There was almost no anti-Scottish sentiment there. If Scotland were playing football against another country, the English were liable to cheer them on. There would be the odd comment about Jocks and some ignorance about Scotland, but I never noticed anything approaching anti-Scottishness until the arrival of devolution.

 

Now look at the situation. The English are beginning to really loathe Scotland. On the message boards there are insults, bitterness and hatred. The situation has got so bad that it may be that the majority of English people now favour independence for England.

 

What’s caused all this division? Partly it’s a matter of Mr Salmond and his SNP followers stirring up ill feeling as a deliberate tactic, but really the whole cause and the thing that this destabilising the union is devolution.

 

Now if limited devolution should give rise to English nationalism and calls for English independence, what will be the result of devo-max? The answer is obvious. Devo-max will break the union.

 

What’s the solution? The whole devolution settlement must be rethought out. I’m in favour of devolving powers to local government, but this devolving of powers must be equal across the UK. There are many models for devolving powers, from Germany’s Länder to Switzerland’s cantons, to states in the U.S.A. There needs to be a strong central government at the UK level with control of matters, which affect everybody, but matters which can be decided locally should be determined locally, thus bringing politicians within reach of those who elect them. But just as it would be unfair to devolve powers to Vermont, but not to Texas, clearly it is unfair to devolve powers only to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Whatever way power is devolved, it must be devolved equally.   

 

Scottish unionists are rightly happy that support for independence in Scotland looks week, but unless we address the legitimate concerns of the English, our union will not last another 300 years, it may not last another 30. Devo-max is designed to further destabilise the union, leading inevitably to independence by default, not least because it will cause the English to divorce us.

 

Devo-max is the only thing that worries me.

Counter Arguments to YesScotland

I believe that it is fundamentally better for us all, if decisions about Scotland’s future are taken by the people who care most about Scotland, that is, by the people of Scotland.

 

Answer

 

The people of Scotland already decide about the future of Scotland because we live in a democracy. In the United States, the people of Vermont and Texas decide about their future as they vote in elections, elect representatives and have their say. To suggest that the Scottish people do not take the decision about Scotland’s future, because they are in the UK is to imply that neither do the people of any state in the USA. I wonder if the first minister would like to explain that reasoning next time he has a conversation with the US president.The same can be said of many countries in the EU, which are made up of countries which formerly were independent, such as Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

 

Being independent means Scotland’s future will be in Scotland’s hands.

 

Answer

 

See above. But do you really think that independence guarantees freedom of action. Greece is an independent state, as is the Republic of Ireland as is Portugal, but each of these countries has constraints on their government, owing to their membership of the Eurozone and to their receipt of bailouts. The fact that they were small independent nations meant that they could not weather the storm of economic crisis alone.

 

An independent Scotland would, Mr Salmond hopes, be a member of the EU and would retain the pound. We know that the EU already constrains the British state, and so it would also constrain a new Scottish state, perhaps more so as the new Scottish state would have less influence and less voting rights. Being in a monetary union with the rest of the UK would entail a degree of cooperation, perhaps even a rUK chancellor having the right to oversee the Scottish budget. No one really knows, but the likelihood is that Scotland would end up in an ever closer union with both the UK and the EU. Not much real independence there I’m afraid. At least now we have a say in the UK parliament, two Scots have recently been chancellors.  

 

There is no doubt that Scotland has great potential. We are blessed with talent, resources and creativity. We have the opportunity to make our nation a better place to live, for this and future generations. We can build a greener, fairer and more prosperous society that is stronger and more successful than it is today.

 

Answer

 

This is mostly fluff that any political organisation will put forward as reasons to vote for them. But anyway all of these things could be achieved, insofar as they are possible,  without independence. Scottish people who have had talent have flourished in the union for centuries. Scotland is already a part of one of the wealthiest, freest and most democratic countries in the world. We would all like to be more wealthy than we are, we would all like all manner of nice things. But most of us don’t believe politicians when they make these sorts of promises.

 

I want a Scotland that speaks with her own voice and makes her own unique contribution to the world: a Scotland that stands alongside the other nations on these isles, as an independent nation.

Answer

 

Scotland already can speak with its own voice and many Scots already do so. We have our own parliament, with wide and extensive powers. Some of there have barely been used hitherto. The contribution that Scotland makes to the world, largely depends on individual Scots. Great writers such as Robert Burns or Walter Scott, great thinkers, like David Hume and Adam Smith. These great Scots achieved what they achieved within the union, some would say because of the union. The union has not hindered Scotland’s contribution to the world, why should it prevent us making further contributions in the future.

 

Scotland will not stand alongside the other nations in the UK, it will stand apart. Divorces are rarely amicable, frequently bitter and Scotland has much to lose if it rejects a union which has lasted for centuries and brought benefit to all. If Scotland rejects our friends and relations in the rest of the UK, don’t expect them to welcome us the next time we need their help. Look at what happened when Ukraine seceded from Russia. There is now a large degree of mutual loathing and minimal cooperation, where formerly people barely thought of each other as being different at all.

 

Scots are some of the luckiest people in the world. We live in a land, which is prosperous, democratic and free, it’s called the UK. Together we have achieved so much, the world really needed our union in 1940. The UK needs Scotland, just as Scotland needs the UK. We are all family, so closely related that everyone feels these ties. Why would a Scot want to be made a foreigner, next time he were to visit London, Belfast or Cardiff? Neither would a Londoner want to feel a foreigner if he were to work in Edinburgh. The ties of kinship and common history are what makes Britain work so well as a currency union, a fiscal union and a political union. If we break these ties, do not expect anything to work quite as well again in our lifetimes.

Self-determination and the Union

Scottish nationalists may have hoped that Scotland would be the next independent country in Europe, but another independence movement has recently come to prominence, threatening to beat them to it. While in Edinburgh five thousand people turned out for a march for independence, reports suggest that one and half million Catalans marched in Barcelona seeking secession from Spain. It may surprise nationalists, but this unionist has a certain amount of sympathy with the Catalans, for the simple reason that I have always believed in the right to self-determination.

 

Throughout history there have been places where groups of people have struggled for independence. The American colonists fought a war of independence in order to become the United States. I don’t believe that Britain had any right to hold onto a country, which no longer desired British rule. Still less did Britain have the right to try to force the Americans to remain under that rule by force of arms. But then again when the United States faced its own secession crisis in 1861, the North had no right to force an unwilling South to remain in the union. If a group of people, any people, wish to leave a state, they have the right to do so.

 

But having the right to do something does not mean that I ought to do it. In a marriage between two people, it is no doubt a good thing for both the man and the woman that each has the right to divorce the other, but this does not mean that they ought to divorce, or that it would be a good thing if they did divorce. The reason that I sympathise with the Catalans is that the government in Madrid is saying that Catalonia does not have the right to secede from Spain, that any referendum on independence would be illegitimate. There is even some loose and senseless talk that Spain would fight to prevent the secession of Catalonia. This really is an example of an abusive marriage.

Compare and contrast the situation in Scotland. For as long as I can remember the UK government has held the view that if a majority of Scots wish Scotland to leave the UK, then they have the right to do so. No one wishes to hold Scotland and the Scots against our will. This is right and proper. I too have always supported the right of Scotland to secede, for I support the right to self-determination. But I do not wish to exercise that right by leaving, rather I wish to exercise the right to self-determination by electing to stay.

 

I regret that Ireland chose to secede from the UK. I think it was historically a disastrous decision. But I fully accept that they had a right to leave, if the majority of the people living in Ireland considered that leaving was what they ought to do. However, I also think that the people of Northern Ireland, were within their rights, to exercise their right to self-determination in choosing to remain with the UK. So long as the majority of the population in Northern Ireland want to remain in the UK, they ought to be allowed to do so. For this reason the IRA were always guilty of self-contradiction. They objected to the British trying to prevent Ireland seceding from the UK, but were willing to use force of arms to try to make Northern Ireland secede from the UK. The reason for this is that they saw the nation of Ireland as something that overrode the rights of its constituent parts. Irish nationalism therefore trumped the rights of a group within Ireland to exercise its right to self-determination. Nationalists, who frequently see preserving the unity of the nation as being more important than the rights of secession, often turn out to be the real opponents of the the right to self-determination.

 

Just as Spain is unwilling to take into account the rights of Gibraltarians, just as Argentina is unwilling to take into account the rights of Falkland Islanders, so Catalans are finding that they don’t have the right to determine how they are ruled. It would seem that the Spanish speaking form of nationalism is such that there is not much choice as to whether someone will be Spanish or not. No wonder a million and a half Catalans were on the streets of Barcelona. No wonder likewise that only five thousand were on the streets of Edinburgh. The fact that Scots have the right to leave the UK if we wish, means that there are no bonds holding us. We simply have to show that we wish to leave and we will be free to go. But the fact that we are free to go, that we have the right to determine our future, means that we have no need to go. The bonds that join us in the UK are gentle bonds, there is therefore no need to struggle against them.

 

While I sympathise with the Catalans and absolutely think that they have the right to determine their own future, in the end I think their secession from Spain would be a mistake of the same order as Ireland’s secession from the UK. The main reason why Catalan nationalism has sprung into life recently is the economic catastrophe, which at present engulfs Spain. The reason for this crisis however, can be put simply and the solution is equally simple. Spain made a huge mistake when it chose to join the Eurozone. Membership of the Eurozone is the fundamental cause of the meltdown of the Spanish economy and the potential loss of Spanish sovereignty, which would be required if it were to receive a full bailout. Catalan independence, within the Eurozone would be no independence at all. The Catalans would exchange rule from Madrid, for rule from Brussels. What Catalonia needs is not so much Catalan independence as Spanish independence.

 

The same can equally well be said of Scotland. Thankfully we are not in the Eurozone, but anyone who follows EU affairs, knows that our sovereignty is constrained by Brussels. The Scottish parliament just as much as the parliament in Westminster frequently can not follow the democratic wishes of the electorate, because EU law overrides all.  We have to a great extent lost our right to self-determination. Scottish independence would not change this, we would still be part of that ever closer union,  the EU, which makes laws we cannot change, no matter the will of the people. Scotland does not need Scottish independence. We don’t need to be independent from the parliament in Westminster, we need to be independent from the rulers in Brussels. What we need is a truly independent Great Britain, offering even to welcome back our cousins in Ireland, giving them a route out of Eurozone servility, so that the English speaking people of the British Isles could be united once more.

How the SNP uses Anglophobia to split the union

Imagine if the English national anthem were about Flodden, the battle which took place in 1513, when James IV’s army invaded England, while Henry VIII was away fighting in France. It could go something like this:

Oh flower of England,
When will we see
your like again,
that fought and died for
your field at fair Flodden
and stood against him
proud James’ army
and sent him homeward
in his own coffin.

Can you imagine how the SNP would react if such a song were sung at rugby matches? Can you imagine how they would cry about bias if the anniversary of Flodden were to be used for political purposes 400 years later? Yet they wish to do exactly this with regard to the anniversary of a battle which took place in 1314.

Any Scot, who is not in self denial, knows that there is widespread anti-Englishness in our country. If someone were to go into a Scottish pub, when England were playing football, wearing an England shirt, he would at the very least receive unpleasant comments, assuming he could hear them over and above the abuse directed at the television screen.

Ordinary kind, decent Scots, including nearly all of us at one time or another, unthinkingly say things things about England and the English that we simply would not dream of saying about any other country or people. At times this is just banter and is the sort of humour that everyone enjoys including the English, who equally crack jokes about the French, while remaining very Francophile. But we Scots know of many instances when anti-English comments are not just banter, when such comments and actions really have the power to wound and hurt, when someone is made to feel unwelcome and insulted because of his accent and the place he comes from.

The one thing that this is not, of course, is racism. White English people are the same race as white Scottish people. The experience of racism, which black and Asian people feel in both England and Scotland is qualitatively different from Anglophobia and far more severe. Few Scots would be unwilling to be friends with, or fall in love with, someone from England. English people are not discriminated against in employment. But many English people do find the common, everyday instances of anti-Englishness, which occur in Scotland, unpleasant and distasteful. Even if these experiences should not be confused with racism, they make the English person feel as if he does not belong.

Let’s look at an English person in Scotland. Can someone born in England, of English parents and with an English accent, can such a person be a Scot? I would contend that the vast majority of Scots make it quite clear that such a person can not be a Scot, no matter how long he has lived here. What counts as being a Scot is that you are born and bred here and that your accent fits. The key criteria looks very much like family lineage and this is confirmed when we come to that piece of Scottish national dress called  the kilt.

Until recently almost no one in Scotland wore a kilt apart from soldiers and deer stalkers, but now at weddings they are becoming universal. Many Scots don’t have a particularly Scottish name. Such Scots might pick a kilt they like and wear it with pride, but there’s always someone who wants to ask what clan are you from, and are you entitled to wear that kilt. It’s as if, unless you can trace your lineage to Culloden, you’re not quite entitled to be a Scot at all. But if someone with a name like Walker or Robinson is not entitled, how is someone with a name like Khan or a name like Kowalski going to gain his entitlement?

To their credit the SNP maintain that they are civic nationalists and not ethnic nationalists. Therefore if asked can someone born in Pakistan, India or Jamaica be a Scot, they would answer yes. But does anyone really believe this? If the English can’t be Scots how can the Poles or the Pakistanis? The SNP’s civic nationalism is founded on their ethnic nationalism and would collapse without the ethnic nationalism. But this is really the case with all nationalisms. Why do many people in Quebec want independence? Because they speak French, have French names and are descended from people who came from France. Quebec nationalism is almost exclusively felt by these people. Those people living in Quebec who speak English or who are descended from places other than France do not want independence. They want to be Canadians. Quebec nationalists are also civic nationalists, but the foundation of their nationalism like all nationalisms including Scottish nationalism is ethnic nationalism. It is based on membership of a clan, opposed to those who do not belong to the clan.

Of course anti-Englishness is not exclusive to nationalists. Many unionists, unconscious of the contradiction, will express anti-English sentiments such as the commonly expressed idea that when I go on holiday the French or Germans or Italians don’t much like the British, but when I point out that I’m Scottish, they are much more pleasant. Anyone who thinks like this, who is willing to drop their Britishness when it is convenient, should be voting for Alex Salmond. The strength of the union is that we are all in it together, that no matter where we come from we’re all fundamentally the same. We’re all British. Without that feeling, the union begins to creak and will inevitably fall apart. When Scots express Anglophobia they are saying that those people are not the same as me, they are foreigners.  Furthermore this gives rise to ever increasing levels of anti-Scottish sentiments among the English, and so in turn with the Welsh and the Northern Irish. It is for this reason that Mr Salmond seeks to subtly stir up anti-Englishness by continually complaining about rule from London, code for England, saying such people have no right to have a say about what goes on in Scotland. He is saying that such people are not us, they are foreign. When every country in the union hates those who live in every other country, there will no longer be a union, there will just be a small island full of enmity. And that will be a fine legacy for Mr Salmond.

The great thing about Britain is that it enables us to be both Scottish and British. Britishness is inclusive and it is something anyone can feel no matter where their parents came from. It is for this reason that people in Scotland, who were not born and bred here, overwhelmingly support the union. They know that in an independent Scotland, they will not be Scots, not really and neither will they be British. Civic nationalism will allow them to remain, will give them a passport, but the ethnic nationalism which underpins that civic nationalism, will mean that incomers will forever feel like foreigners in their own country. They will live here, but without an identity. They will not really be Scots, they will not quite be entitled. They’ll not get to wear the kilt as they have no clan.

Anglophobia is not a nationalist ideology, but it is the foundation of nationalism. Why else choose an anti-English song as an anthem? Why else go on and on about how the English did this and that to us, about how the English oppressed us, how the English say British when we win, Scottish when we lose? Why the chip on our shoulder about the English going on about 1966 when we go on about 1314? In the end the reason that nationalists want to reject Britain is because they can’t bear to be associated with the English. The reason they hate the Union Jack is because it contains the cross of Saint George.

Naturally nationalists frequently claim never to have met an SNP member, who is anti-English, but this is like claiming never to have met anti-Englishness in Scotland. A case of self-denial.  The virulence and hatred of the cybernats, resembles very closely that Anglophobia, which many English people, to our shame, meet in Scotland, for it springs from the same source. Scots who are willing to abuse someone because of his accent or his parentage, are just as liable to abuse someone who is opposed to the one thing the cybernat wants above all others an independent Scotland free from England, a Scotland where the English have been sent homeward to think again.

Without anti-Englishness, Scottish nationalism would wither. We Scottish unionists should therefore think carefully when we express anti-English sentiments, as really we are undermining the union and helping to develop the narrow ethnic nationalism, which Mr Salmond needs to win his cause.