Wednesday, 25 January 2012

After Independence - civil war?

Let's assume that Scotland does get independence from UK within the next few years.  That would be great from the English perspective.  Would it be good for Scotland?

It all boils down to the question of whether Scotland is a single nation.  Having lived there for 4 years and enjoyed the friendship of many Scots, some of whom probably read my ramblings here, I notice divisions in Scotland that are at least as strong as those throughout UK as a whole.

All of my Scottish friends are moderate people with moderate views - possibly leaning towards supporting independence.  But we must face the fact that the majority of people in any country in the world do not think through the big political issues on an everyday basis.  They vote the way they vote because they always did.  In just the same way, they tend to follow the religious views of their parents and the people they grew up with.

Scotland is clearly made up of a collection of different secular communities on a geographical basis.  The Highlands and the Lowlands tend to despise each other, partly because of the cultural differences between the urban and rural lifestyles.  The Highlands and Islands tend to be lumped together - in opposition to the Lowlands, but the islanders are fiercely independent when you speak with them.  However, the Hebridean Islands seem to lean slightly more towards an association with the mainland than, say, Orkney.

All in all there are big differences to be found in the views of this one 'race' of 'the Scots'.

On top of that Scottish sectarianism is rife.  It is not by accident that people in Glasgow joke about what answer to give if you are stopped in the street by a gang of men, and asked whether you support Celtic (fiercely Catholic) or Rangers (fiercely Protestant).  One of the 'smart' answers is to say that you support Partick Thistle, and while they are rolling around the floor laughing at you, you make a run for your life!  You have to realise that this question is about MUCH more than two soccer teams.

One way or another, Scotland is a divided country.  I support the campaign for independence (as you might have noticed) but I fear that the fall-out from independence might not be quite what the Scots are expecting.


Dr John Sutherland said...

Not quite a true perspective. I have no such worries. What seems to bind Scots together is common sense of fairness and community that England and the UK lacks. This is not some kind of dewy-eyed view like a Gibson movie, nor some kind of anti-English attack.

The Scots don't vote right-wing, generally, because there is a selfishness that is missing to an extent. We feel it is unfair that one lot prosper while another not do not, even when we live in posh houses. We think it is quite fair that a Pakistani emigrant who arrived with zip should end up living in Bearsden and sending his kids to GU to study Medicine.

My eldest son lives in England, and there the divisions date back to 1066. Like Canada and America, Scotland and England are genetically very similar, but America had a civil war and had to fight for her independance. Similarly England was invaded and is still to a considerable degree run by those who arrived with the Conquerer. Scotland simply collapsed into a common poverty and was bailed out by the Union.

Scotland has the ability to absorb people that England does not. All tht big-bears and burka stuff is hot in Yorkshire and beyond, but looks rather silly in Glasgow. People are excluded in England and so feel the need to emphasise their smaller community. In Scotland (apart from tribal villages-ness in E Scotland!) if you are here, then you are Scottish by default.

This has caused a continuance of the anti-English simmer that hampers the Scots. Our mindset has too much don't-mention-1745/1966 about it. This is played on by Unionist politicians with there Scotland-is-a-dum-and-poor-and-always-will-be such as in the recent Economist article.

Anyhoo. In summary. I disagree. Scotland will flourish as an independent nation, I am sure. I just don't think it needs to be independent to do that.

Derby Sceptic said...

You think that Scotland will flourish as an independant nation, but are happy to remain part of the union for the financial support from England. Hmmmm.

Alex B said...

I was born in Scotland, lived there for the first 4 years of my life, then moved back in my mid 20s and was there for another 7 years. To be fair, outside of football team rivalries, I saw no major divisions.