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The Scottish Question

It won’t be long now before people living in Scotland go to the polls and make a decision with far-reaching implications. It looks likely that the result will be a close one. Those campaigning for independence may triumph, engendering a massive and expensive set of changes both for their nation and the rest of the former United Kingdom, leaving a significant chunk of the population disgruntled and potentially dangerously angry if things don’t run smoothly. Alterneratively, they may stay in the Union, leaving a significant chunk of the population disgruntled and potentially dangerously angry especially if Westminster doesn’t make good on its promises. Two radically different paths but not dissimilar troubles.

I’m not Scottish but I’ve a wee feeling I wouldnae have to dig too far back to ken a link and there are certainly connections. I can see why I don’t qualify to vote on the strictest terms but, given that an independent Scotland rends the rest of the Union, perhaps there should have been a parallel vote. Independence if both parties clearly say yes, increased devolution and a re-run in a reasonable time frame if only Scotland wants to break free and putting the issue to bed for a long time if both choose no.

It also puzzles me that those who clearly are Scottish but currently living as expatriates, even in other parts of the United Kingdom, don’t get a say in things. There are many people who contribute to the wider economy, living in the UK but still retain significant ties to their homeland. How is that going to work out?

Earlier this year, Tom Shakespeare published a fascinating point of view on the BBC website, Taking England Back to the Dark Ages. In it, he explored the idea that, if the benefit Scotland breaking away is that it can run as a smaller, more agile independent state (with aspirations to the model of the Nordic nations), perhaps the rest of the UK could look back in history and break into the heptarchy of kingdoms that governed these islands 1,000 years ago. A few years later than he was at Cambridge I failed to get a place on the Anglo Saxon, Norse and Celtic Tripos but I do find the idea fascinating; furthermore though, I agree with his conclusion that while regional identity can be good, the issues facing governments are increasingly global and so we could do with less borders rather than more.

Perhaps the Scottish independence leaders truly believe they can pick up a memory of a nation that hasn’t existed independently for centuries and make something great of it that will benefit themselves, their neighbours and the world. Or perhaps they are just small fish who want a smaller pond so that they feel bigger, which is less quixotic but even less appealing.

People of Scotland, it would fine to see you having even more devolved powers and better still to see you contributing vital spirit to the United Kingdom as a whole, which is is yours as much as mine. Be canny as you cast your votes and may it be that we avoid the worst scenarios, such as the growth of a national socialist enclave or you becoming well and truly former United Kingdom dependent despite your desire to be “free”.

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