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Scotland's Referendum

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Scotland's Referendum

Post by Redfern on Sun 21 Sep 2014, 4:23 am

I don’t know if anyone’s interested in Scotland’s little piece of history, but a referendum on independence from the United Kingdom was held on Thursday 18th. Voter participation exceeded 84% - the highest level ever. By a majority of 55.3% to 44.7%, Scots decided to maintain the status quo in which England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland form an alliance with key decisions made in London. The smaller countries (England has 85% of the overall population) have a measure of devolved government. Arguably, a key factor in the success of the ‘No’ vote was a promise made by panicking mainstream party leaders last week-end to devolve yet more governmental powers to Scotland.

The forces against Scottish independence were very powerful: all mainstream London-based political parties, nearly all large businesses, all banks and all except one newspaper. Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, David Bowie and J.K. Rowling all spoke out against independence. The European Union also hinted that Scotland would not gain automatic entry and indeed would face obstacles due to the reluctance of nation states to encourage the secession of regions. Spain is particularly worried that Catalonia and the Basque region may break away.

Most economists (including Paul Krugman) thought the Scottish National Party’s plan for independence was fatally flawed. This would have involved negotiating a currency union with the rest of the UK, an idea that was dismissed in London. Failure to continue using the pound with agreement from the rest of the UK would have led to grave financial problems. Politically, reliance on those Scotland had separated from would have been very awkward because London would still have dictated Scottish economic policy.

The SNP supposedly organised itself along similar lines to the Obama presidential campaign in 2008. The key feature of the campaign was their success in reaching out to poorer areas and younger people through the use of the internet and social media. There is little doubt that this tactic boosted the ‘Yes’ vote to a much higher level than most expected.  My view is that social media was responsible for much misinformation and dumbing-down political debate. Valid points concerning a bleak future in the short- to medium-term were routinely ridiculed as ‘scaremongering’ and ‘negative’.  Newspapers had relatively little impact and the BBC was accused by nationalists of being biased.

Nationalism is a peculiar political phenomenon. It appeals more to emotions than intellect. However, Scottish nationalists succeeded in exploiting disillusionment over the outcome of what they claimed were the neoliberal policies pursued by the London government. It should be mentioned that the SNP leader Alex Salmond who resigned yesterday counted Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump among his friends. Murdoch was rumoured to be considering backing Salmond but apparently took cold feet because he thought the ‘Yes’ campaign was too left-wing in nature.

I voted ‘No’ primarily because I view myself as British more than Scottish, although I am in a minority in that respect.

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Re: Scotland's Referendum

Post by Paul Francisco Paso on Sun 21 Sep 2014, 6:27 am

Leaving home for the first time when you're only a young 300 year old can be daunting. You worry about whether you'll be able to find secure work and pay the rent on your own out in the big bad world. It becomes even more stressful when your selfish and mean parents say that, once you leave, you're not welcomed back to the family home and they are not going to help you out.

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Re: Scotland's Referendum

Post by greg parker on Sun 21 Sep 2014, 9:27 pm

To really understand how Scotland feels, you have to look at the plight of young Emily Onthemoon.


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I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses
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Re: Scotland's Referendum

Post by Terry W. Martin on Sun 21 Sep 2014, 10:49 pm

During my only visit to the British isles some forty-five years ago, I was amazed by the anger some Scots still carried about battles that had happened hundreds of years ago. It helped understand a little more about the strong feelings some Southerners here have about the much more recent Civil War.

I thought they were going to vote for independence but I heard there were too many British nationals residing in Scotland for that ever to occur. Seems the deck was stacked against the freedom movement from the start.

Here in America, we often have states who make noise about seceding but nothing very seriously is ever done about it.

I guess, like Emily, many long for independence.

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Re: Scotland's Referendum

Post by dwdunn(akaDan) on Mon 22 Sep 2014, 5:26 am

Redfern wrote:It should be mentioned that the SNP leader Alex Salmond who resigned yesterday counted Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump among his friends. Murdoch was rumoured to be considering backing Salmond but apparently took cold feet because he thought the ‘Yes’ campaign was too left-wing in nature.
Presumably meaning too "moderate," too "middle-of-the-road" -- "not right-wing enough"?

In other words, too close to being European.

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Re: Scotland's Referendum

Post by Goban Saor on Mon 22 Sep 2014, 8:43 am

Being an Irish republican I’m going to say some things here that are not going to endear me to Scottish naysayers.
 
The Irish fought for independence from the British for hundreds of years at a cost of great suffering and loss of life. We eventually gained it in 1922. Despite the great many flaws of the Irish Republic I’m proud of its independence.
 
The fact that the Scots turned down independence when it was offered to them indicates that the majority of Scots have been institutionalized to the extent of lacking faith in their ability to stand on their own two feet. They can forget about singing ‘Scotland the Brave’ for at least the foreseeable future.
 
The UK government offered the Scots more independence if they voted against independence. That’s like offering someone 500 pounds if they forfeit 1,000 pounds. And the Scots fell for it!
 
Scotland was once a stronghold of the Enlightenment and scientific progress. It looks like 300 years of being under the Saxon yoke has not only unmanned the Scots but it has impaired their ability to perform simple calculations.

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Re: Scotland's Referendum

Post by Paul Francisco Paso on Mon 22 Sep 2014, 9:05 am

Goban Saor wrote:Being an Irish republican I’m going to say some things here that are not going to endear me to Scottish naysayers.
 
The Irish fought for independence from the British for hundreds of years at a cost of great suffering and loss of life. We eventually gained it in 1922. Despite the great many flaws of the Irish Republic I’m proud of its independence.
 
The fact that the Scots turned down independence when it was offered to them indicates that the majority of Scots have been institutionalized to the extent of lacking faith in their ability to stand on their own two feet. They can forget about singing ‘Scotland the Brave’ for at least the foreseeable future.
 
The UK government offered the Scots more independence if they voted against independence. That’s like offering someone 500 pounds if they forfeit 1,000 pounds. And the Scots fell for it!
 
Scotland was once a stronghold of the Enlightenment and scientific progress. It looks like 300 years of being under the Saxon yoke has not only unmanned the Scots but it has impaired their ability to perform simple calculations.
It amazes me that all my so called Scottish friends here in NZ were in fact British all along. I thought I was good at picking up on accents.
I agree that renditions of "Scotland the Brave" at Rugby matches won't be so stirring from here on.

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Re: Scotland's Referendum

Post by Redfern on Tue 23 Sep 2014, 4:44 am

Terry W. Martin wrote:During my only visit to the British isles some forty-five years ago, I was amazed by the anger some Scots still carried about battles that had happened hundreds of years ago. It helped understand a little more about the strong feelings some Southerners here have about the much more recent Civil War.

I thought they were going to vote for independence but I heard there were too many British nationals residing in Scotland for that ever to occur. Seems the deck was stacked against the freedom movement from the start.

Here in America, we often have states who make noise about seceding but nothing very seriously is ever done about it.

I guess, like Emily, many long for independence.

I would contest the idea that this referendum was about 'freedom'. Scots have always had the political power to claim independence.

There have been calls for some kind of self-government for quite some time. After the Second World War, some Scots sought 'Dominion' status, whereby Scotland would have the same relationship with London and the rest of the UK as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

By this time, though, the British empire was in decline and the UK had its eyes set on European co-operation.

The last battle between Scotland and England was fought 501 years ago. The Jacobite rebellions in the 18th century which pitched some Scots (mainly Highlanders) against the English (but also against Lowland Scots) were really dynastic struggles aimed at re-establishing the Stuarts as monarchs of the entire British Isles.

Other UK residents in Scotland comprise about 10% of the population, so they had some role in the outcome, although by no means all voted 'No'. However, Scots living in England were denied a say and they would have voted heavily to maintain the status quo.

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Re: Scotland's Referendum

Post by Redfern on Tue 23 Sep 2014, 5:31 am

Goban Saor wrote:Being an Irish republican I’m going to say some things here that are not going to endear me to Scottish naysayers.
 
The Irish fought for independence from the British for hundreds of years at a cost of great suffering and loss of life. We eventually gained it in 1922. Despite the great many flaws of the Irish Republic I’m proud of its independence.
 
The fact that the Scots turned down independence when it was offered to them indicates that the majority of Scots have been institutionalized to the extent of lacking faith in their ability to stand on their own two feet. They can forget about singing ‘Scotland the Brave’ for at least the foreseeable future.
 
The UK government offered the Scots more independence if they voted against independence. That’s like offering someone 500 pounds if they forfeit 1,000 pounds. And the Scots fell for it!
 
Scotland was once a stronghold of the Enlightenment and scientific progress. It looks like 300 years of being under the Saxon yoke has not only unmanned the Scots but it has impaired their ability to perform simple calculations.

The relationship between Scotland and England has always been different from that between Ireland and England. There were not such distinct cultural or religious schisms (Scotland was far more fundamentally 'Protestant' than England) and, with the exception of the 'Highland clearances' (which did not affect the Lowlands in any case), Scotland could not claim to be oppressed.

Should Scotland attain independence, it would not come as the result of a bitter armed struggle but through the ballot box.

After the Union with England, Scotland preserved its legal and education systems. It both gained from and participated in the advance of the British empire to a greater degree in relation to its population than England.

The impact of two World Wars, the advent of the National Health Service and the welfare state, greatly improved transport and communication links and the UK-wide character of the broadcast and print media brought Scotland ever closer to the rest of the UK.

The recent drive for independence stems largely from the view that Scotland has increasingly voted for Labour (the party of the left) but has been faced with  either the Conservatives (the party of the right) or what is seen as a wishy-washy version of Labour personified by Tony Blair. The SNP has capitalised on this frustration by moving sharply to the left and gaining much ground.

I don't believe the matter of Scottish independence is finished by a long chalk. The narrow majority was largely the result of votes from the over-60s - people who have stronger feelings for Britain than youngsters and who had serious doubts concerning the short- to medium-term economic prospects. It looks like some form of federal system will be established first. Whether this becomes the launch-pad for independence or instead serves to assuage nationalist sentiment is an open question.

My view is that if a country votes for a huge change such as independence, it really must be by a convincing majority. The prospect of a 51-49 'Yes' vote followed by years of negotiations, the inevitable sell-outs and automatic banishment from the EU was not particularly appealing.

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Re: Scotland's Referendum

Post by Goban Saor on Tue 23 Sep 2014, 7:33 am

Thanks for explaining some of the complexities of the situation, Redfern. Religion was indeed a large factor historically in Ireland’s struggle for independence from the British (One of the unfortunate legacies of that is that the Catholic Church still largely controls most primary and secondary schools in Ireland even though they are publicly funded).
 
Nationalism is not the main reason I’m happy about Irish independence. The main reason is the idea that the smaller the political unit is, the more the individual counts and the closer the government is to the people. For instance, I don’t believe the Great Famine in Ireland in the 1840s would have happened – or at least not on the same scale – if Ireland was self governed at that time.
 
Likewise in recent years Iceland with a population of less than one tenth that of Ireland dealt with the financial meltdown much better than Ireland did.
 
But as you say, the Scottish situation is still evolving as is the political pressure for autonomy  in other European Union regions. We might yet see the day when anarchism is resurrected in all its glory in an autonomous Catalonia!

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Re: Scotland's Referendum

Post by Paul Francisco Paso on Tue 23 Sep 2014, 8:01 am

Goban Saor wrote:Thanks for explaining some of the complexities of the situation, Redfern. Religion was indeed a large factor historically in Ireland’s struggle for independence from the British (One of the unfortunate legacies of that is that the Catholic Church still largely controls most primary and secondary schools in Ireland even though they are publicly funded).
 
Nationalism is not the main reason I’m happy about Irish independence. The main reason is the idea that the smaller the political unit is, the more the individual counts and the closer the government is to the people. For instance, I don’t believe the Great Famine in Ireland in the 1840s would have happened – or at least not on the same scale – if Ireland was self governed at that time.
 
Likewise in recent years Iceland with a population of less than one tenth that of Ireland dealt with the financial meltdown much better than Ireland did.
 
But as you say, the Scottish situation is still evolving as is the political pressure for autonomy  in other European Union regions. We might yet see the day when anarchism is resurrected in all its glory in an autonomous Catalonia!
I doubt the independent lot they have in Catalonia at the moment will retreat to those anarchist glory days, Goban. As a Spaniard, I would relocate back there in a jiffy with my kids in tow if there was any chance of that happening. Most people there have forgotten or don't even know about it. For 2 gorgeous years, with a war waging in the background, they worked a system that did away with a governing authority and proved, beyond any doubt, that mutual aid and cooperation is not just a theory. It actually fucking works. And not only that, it works for everyone. A goal that Democracy has failed to achieve for 3000 years with their vulgar majority rules and Nationalist sentiment


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Re: Scotland's Referendum

Post by Terry W. Martin on Tue 23 Sep 2014, 9:59 am

Paul and Goban,

I am also a big fan of localized government. Unfortunately the country in which I reside is moving solidly forward toward empire. Smallish government is going to be a long way off in my neck of the woods.

It's too bad we are no longer united states - thanks to Lincoln and his damned "union must be preserved" crap - but a singularity US.

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Re: Scotland's Referendum

Post by dwdunn(akaDan) on Tue 23 Sep 2014, 10:40 am

Took away our slaves too, the son of a bitch.

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Re: Scotland's Referendum

Post by Terry W. Martin on Tue 23 Sep 2014, 11:40 pm

Dan Wenceslas Dunn wrote:Took away our slaves too, the son of a bitch.

Sorry to hear about your loss, Dan. Collateral damage can be a bear.

It's a good thing my family didn't have any.

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