Scottish Independence

31
Earlier this year the political map of Scotland was flooded yellow as the SNP swept to power with a landslide victory of the type which our system of proportional representation aims to all but preclude. Even the Lib Dem stronghold of North East Fife couldn’t resist the wave of national spirit which engulfed our wee bit hill and glen.

However, in its international diversity, cosmopolitanism and … let’s just say it, either unionism or plain apoliticism, St Andrews remains immune to the historical events currently unfolding,  and ignorant to the case for Scottish Independence.

Indeed any declaration of pro-independence is generally met with the same abhorrence as if one had announced a Faustian pact with the devil in St Salvator’s Chapel.

Yet the call for Scottish independence is not a violent battle cry or an unreasonable demand for superior status. We desire only the freedom to make our own decisions in the same way that other countries do – the ability to control our own affairs and address our own priorities.

As individuals we value our own independence. We accept that it is entirely natural to make our own decisions, to earn and spend our own money, and to take responsibility for our own lives.

Why should we settle for anything less for our country? We do not think it strange that the people of France and Germany run their own affairs. We would not expect the people of Sweden to ask another nation to make decisions for them. Why should the people of Scotland be any different?

Independence would create a better relationship with the rest of  the UK, a partnership of equals in a social union to replace the unfair political union governed from London, in which the interests of Scotland are neglected in favour of those of the UK as a whole, in which England constitutes the most dominant part.

The priorities of Scotland are likewise misrepresented in the EU, where we are recognised merely as a region of the UK. Issues like fishing and agriculture, which are of vital importance to Scotland even if not to the UK as a whole, are currently subject to EU agreements in which Scotland has no say.

Where independent countries of a similar size have 13 MEPs, Scotland has only 6 and no automatic right to send ministers to important EU Council of Ministers meetings.

The Scottish Government passed world-leading climate change legislation in 2009, yet was unqualified as an independent nation to send an official delegation to the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen that year.

To ensure that the interests of Scotland are represented in Europe and that we have a voice and a vote in the all-important Council of Ministers, we must become a normal, independent nation again.

Responsibility for currently reserved matters like Foreign Affairs and Defence would allow us to take our own place in the global community of nations and play a constructive role in the world.

We would function as a full member of international bodies like the UN and the EU, working together on equal terms with other nations to tackle problems like climate change, war and poverty and decide how we want to interact with the world around us.

It would mean avoiding being dragged into costly and misguided wars by the UK government, and choosing not to pay for the UK’s expensive Trident nuclear weapon system.

Nobody is better placed to address the priorities of Scotland than the Scottish people themselves. The dynamic approach of our SNP government has made maximum use of the limited powers available with devolution, for example, ensuring that everyone can afford to pursue Higher Education by footing the bill for University tuition fees.

Completion of this home-rule through full independence is necessary to ensure that our government can continue to make and finance such decisions in the interests of the Scottish people, instead of being dictated to by an ever-decreasing Westminster-allocated budget.

No discussion of independence can ignore the scornful claims of Scotland’s inability to afford independence, a move which would doom the financial security and prosperity enjoyed as part of UK, by whom our existence is kindly subsidised.

This myth is enthusiastically propagated by those parties who repeatedly claim that we are somehow uniquely incapable of running our own country.

The reality is quite the contrary. A study last year – in which the Department of Economics here at the University of St Andrews was involved – proved that full fiscal responsibility would see the Scottish economy grow faster each year, and a quick glance at GERS reports (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland) demonstrates how our national accounts are even now in better shape than those of the UK as a whole. 2008/9 figures saw Scotland with a surplus of £1.3 billion, compared to a UK-wide deficit of £48.9 billion.

Scotland has won the natural lottery twice over, boasting oil and gas reserves together with huge potential in renewable energy, with as much as a quarter of Europe’s offshore tidal and wind resource.

Scotland is also home to a highly skilled population, world class universities and a modern diverse economy. These are solid foundations on which to foster a stable and prosperous economy.

That Scotland is too small to survive as an independent nation is an equally deluded statement; almost half of the countries represented in the UN have a population smaller than that of Scotland, including some of the wealthiest in the world.

Independence is not a new idea. Scotland is today, and always has been, a distinct community and nation.

Roman territorial expansion never did succeed in conquering Caledonia, with Hadrian giving up in northern England and the later Antonine Wall of 142 AD being built not as an attempt to claim Scotland, but rather as a defense against the “barbarians” of the north.

The later English threat to the individuality and liberty of the Scots was met with the passionate assertion of national spirit in the Scottish Wars of Independence, which saw the emergence of heroes like Wallace and Bruce, who dedicated their lives to ensuring that Scotland remain free from English rule.

Unsurprisingly then, the loathsome prospect of subjugation to England which was to result a few centuries later was never the will of the Scottish people.

Rather, the dynastic dilemma that unified the crowns under James VI of Scotland was swiftly followed by the economically disastrous Darien Scheme, subsequent to which the political class of Scotland were financially bribed into selling their soul to the devil in ratifying the Treaty of Union.

In 1603 and 1707, the Scottish people had no voice with which to express their opposition to English-dominated rule as part of the UK. Today they do, and they have spoken.

The Devolution Referendum of 1997 led to the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 and the SNP has emerged victorious in the most recent elections of 2007 and 2011.

Scotland is striding powerfully towards the restoration of the sovereignty which was never rightfully taken from it.

Far from an unfounded patriotic pipe-dream, the student population of St Andrews needs to acknowledge the case for Scottish Independence as one of resounding historical and contemporary significance.

After all, ‘it is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone…’

31 COMMENTS

  1. Might want to check your historical facts there..
    In the Wars of Independence, men such as Wallace and other noblemen fought so as not to be forced to pay annual tax (The Scottish crown having never asked for tax in peacetime), that was a huge incentive to fight Edward. Independence for independence’s sake would not have been on the cards. There was no resistance on the grounds of “passionate assertion of national spirit”.
    Also, the Union of the Parliaments was signed first by the Scottish Parliament and resentfully by the English. It was in my opinion it was economic sanctions that led the Scottish Parliament into the union but still, at that time, they wanted it more than England.

  2. Fergus, did you really just state categorically that the Wars of Scottish Independence had nothing to do with, forgive me as I attempt to supress my incredulity…Scottish Independence? I don’t think that your ignorant and misguided comment requires much further disproving. I would however query as to whether you are familiar with the Declaration of Arbroath (or indeed any book on Scottish history, read a chapter on Wallace), the most famous document in Scottish history, from which the final line of my article is taken, ‘freedom’ of course synonymous with ‘independence’ in this case. ‘it is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for not being forced to pay annual tax’ doesn’t quite have the same gravitas. Secondly, I did not dispute that the Union was not of huge financial benefit to Scotland, due to repurcussion of the Darien Scheme, however my point was that the people never wanted it (‘needed’ it at the time is a different point). If England so resented it, then they should by all means promote the pro-Independence campaign too, free them from their reluctant ratifying of the Treaty too. I think however that they were more than keen to have Scotland under their power.

  3. Fergus, did you really just state categorically that the Scottish Wars of Independence had absolutely nothing to do with, forgive me as I attempt to supress my incredulity, Scottish Independence? I don’t think that your ignorant and misguided comment requires any further disproving. I would however query as to whether you are familiar with the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath (or indeed any book on Scottish history, read a chapter on Wallace), from which the final line of my article is taken, ‘freedom’ of course synonymous with ‘independence’ in this case. ‘It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for not being forced to pay annual tax – for that alone…’ doesn’t have quite the same gravitas. Secondly, I did not dispute that the Union was of huge financial benefit to Scotland at the time, due to the repurcussions of the Darien Scheme. My point was that the Scottish people never WANTED it, NEEDED financial assistance (the only option of which was the Union) is a different point. If England so resented it, then they should be all means join the Pro-Independence campaign too, free themselves from the reluctant ratifying of the Treaty of Union too. I think however that they were more than keen to use it as a convenient pretext to bring Scotland under their power.

  4. @Fergus H…take a tip from an old man and take a Scottish History course at the university. Have an open mind on what you read and what your tutor tells you. Your views will change if you do not already have a biased opinion.
    If you see an old man of 77 years in the Main Library, then there is every chance that it will be me. Come and talk to me if you like.

  5. My heart is truly warmed to find out that there are Scots, and Nationalist Scots, at St.Andrews. The town is one of my favourite places, but I tend to avoid it during term time, as one could be forgiven for believing that one was not in Scotland.Perhaps Fergus should take the time to find out that when the Act of Union was being passed, the populace of Edinburgh was trying to break down the door of Parliament to stop it, and if we were such a basket case, why was the then , or now for that matter, Govt. so keen on the idea?

  6. Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom is ultimately a mythical figure (she is Elizabeth the I of Scotland, II only to England, thus I of the UK), so ‘Elizabeth II of the UK’ can live as long as she wants. Katie S, thank you also for highlighting the antiquated attitude of the English in favour of hereditary monarchy, in stark contrast to the democracy, pro-equality and progressiveness of the Scots who champion the sovereignty of the people.

  7. In further support of Morag’s comment, in any debate about the Treaty of Union in 1707 there are certain inconvenient truths that British Unionists prefer to omit, namely :that in the three months that the Articles of Union were being debated by the Scottish parliament there were riots throughout Scotland,that, during the same period, English troops had been moved to the Scotland/England border,that the majority of the Scottish commissioners appointed to negotiate the Articles of the proposed Treaty of Union were chosen because they were in favour of an incorporating union.

  8. Not to exclude Wales, I must add that Elizabeth II applies to Wales also. Also, check out the blowing up of post boxes early 1950’s.

  9. Ashley, your point is invalid because I’m actually Scottish. To suggest that I am English merely because of my beliefs proves that you yourself do not have an open mind-not every Scot wants independence.

  10. Dudes, I have taken 2 Scottish History courses at the university.
    The Declaration of Arbroath is giving legitimacy to Robert the Bruce after his murder debacle. Bruce propaganda to the highest degree.
    Also of course the wars were about independence, I just said that national pride was not a massive factor in men such as Bruce and Wallace’s mind. They were nobles who didn’t want to be taxed regularly so England can stay out of their lands north of the border.
    And geezo Ashley, calm your pants.
    I never claimed to be the alpha and omega of scottish history, I just felt that the author of the article hadn’t done his homework.

  11. Also Morag, I said the parliament supported it – not that the general public did! As far as I recall the act of union was something never expected to happen at all. It was a sudden turn of events which surprised even the Scottish Parliament.
    Ashley, I would dearly love to know your nationality. It might help me understand your curious bias and subjectivity. You stun my by assuming that all Scots are nationalists and Katie must be English. No doubt you can supply me with the percentage of nationalist scots in Scotland?
    I also spot that you are assuming I’m a unionist through my words on the treaty of union, well, guess again. And I am not a nationalist on grounds of any historical significance. On forward looking political idealism I might add.
    Taking Scottish nationalism and giving it an historical bent as you have done Ashley is bad, perpetuates stereotypes of anglophobia and destructive to the cause of scottish nationalism.

  12. I would like to point out that whereas my article endeavoured to present the case for independence in a diplomatic and objective manner (Fergus I would really appreciate a clarification of the ‘historical bend’ and ‘stereotypes of anglophobia?), my subsequent comments are very much my own personal views, and any Scot who doesn’t want independence both baffles and bitterly disappoints me, for many many reasons which I only touched upon in the article. The point I made about the difference in English and Scottish mentality is not invalidated by you being Scottish, just saddening that it happened to be highlighted by a Scot. I am extremely proud of our democratic values and championing of the sovereignity of the people. On the other hand, I find the contrasting English values embedded in the hereditary monarchy (whereby the right to govern is determined by one factor – in whose womb one happened to be conceived) undemocratic and tyrannical. Anyone who makes a statement such as ‘God save the Queen’ and who is happy to be ruled in such a manner -that is unjustified deference to those of unearned and talentless, not to mention the inequality and injustice this breeds and condones -is therefore a a lot more narrow minded than a Scottish nationalist. Fergus,did you attend lectures and classes and do the reading for the relevant modules? Your attempt to disregard The Declaration of Arbroath as mere Bruce propaganda is prepostorous, when I read your comments I am overcome with incredulity. I would like to quote part of an email from a fellow SNP member ‘When I read the first comment to your post my initial reaction was – ‘What planet is this guy on?’. I urge you to read The Declaration of Arbroath carefully, did you conveniently overlook the part which says (translated from the Latin) ‘ Yet if he(Robert the Bruce) should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King…’, both contradicting your analysis thereof as ‘Bruce propaganda’ and highlighting the popular sovereignty so valued by the Scottish people – although evidently not Katie. That national pride was not a massive factor in the minds of Bruce and Wallace is a fair point, I would rather use the singular definite article and say that it was THE factor, and perhaps a stronger qualifying adjective too, say ‘colossal’, or ‘monumental’. Your ignorant attempt to again diminish the national hero status of figures like Wallace and Bruce again leaves me in a state of disbelief and frustration. As for your comment ‘Also Morag I said the parliament supported it – not that the general public did’, I would like to thank you for your explicit supprt of the point contained within the last few paragraphs of my article, namely ‘In 1603 and 1707, the Scottish people had no voice with which to express their opposition to English-dominated rule as part of the UK. Today they do, and they have spoken…’ If you haven’t already guessed Fergus, I am Scottish. As for the percentage of nationalist Scots, please take a look at the political map of Scotland after the 2011 elections – the yellow is SNP – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Scottish_Parliament_election_2011_map.svg

    Lastly, the ‘geezo, calm your pants’ comment was just immature, if you want to have a heated debate about Scottish Independence then by all means let us have one. It is a topic about which I am very passionate, and very strong in my views, on which I have ‘done my homework’ – despite not being a student of Scottish history I may add…

  13. Ashley, all I see is SNP this, SNP that. Read between the lines with the Declaration of Arbroath. An extreme version I will point you to Colm McNamee, The Wars of the Bruces p235/6. While it is propaganda laden its importance regarding the nature of Scottish kingship is further reaching than just Robert I. But in today’s modern age the monarchy holds such little power I find you picking on Elizabeth as cruel, and an easy target.
    As for the percentage of nationalists you’ve been mistaken, that’s the number of people who voted SNP, not nationalists. Many SNP say they are not pro-independence but they support the SNP’s policies. Please read this very recent survey first before making vague comments about nationalists.
    http://www.scotcen.org.uk/study/scottish-social-attitudes-2011#2
    I was not after a heated debate, I never realised that TheSaint online was a discussion forum. If you would like to meet up and have a discussion in person I am all for it, although I feel I’ll just have SNP propaganda waved in my face somehow…

  14. @Fergus.

    What you say is entirely true regarding being a nationalist and a ‘nationalist’. A Nationalist supporter is simply a supporter of the SNP but being a ‘nationalist’ in the broader tense is of being a supporter of independence.

    Now you are right in saying that voting for the SNP is not necessarily a vote for independence. However, you fail to acknowledge that the Greens also support independence and gain some support and the fundamental support for the SNP is in abject rejection of the Unionist parties opposing them.

    I would stress that there is a far greater correlation that you wish to believe. Although you cite a poll to backup your claim, I would of course remind you how errant polling data can be, swinging upwards of 10 percentage-points either way simply on the question asked.

    The clear data that is available is how the Scottish voter does not adhere to traditional voting practises seen elsewhere in the UK. The practise of partisan dealignment has very much moved from the dated claim that ‘everything else is embellishment and detail’. Your ideal that SNP supporters don’t support independence is in stark contrast the electoral results in Scotland at Holyrood and Westminster elections. The support for the Labour Party has fallen consistently since 1999 in both local and Scottish elections, yet they have retained a remarkably stable number of seats at Westminster over the same time period.

    What can be seen is that Scottish voters are willing to vote Labour in UK elections to minimise where possible the influences of the Tories, but don’t see Labour as an option in Scotland, prefering the SNP to deal with ‘Scottish solutions to Scottish Issues’. A quick check of the Scottish Election Study (http://www.scottishelectionstudy.org.uk/) will highlight to you the issues i have mentioned.

    This issue will continue, and the support for independence, devolution max, and the SNP at large until the Unionist Parties, particularly Labour can sever their elitist central control from Westminster. I for one won’t be surprised when the Labour Party haemmorage yet more support at the next local elections to be held next year.

  15. @Fergus. If you never realised that The Saint online was a discussion forum, then why on earth would you have written a comment, presumably intending to provoke discussion…? Again, you leave me dumbfounded. I cannot answer your question as to the percentage of ‘nationalists’ in Scotland as I am not a mind reader. I direct you to Elliott’s comment above, which clearly states how the figures speak for themselves, regardless of what your survey may indicate. Lastly, I did not ‘pick on Elizabeth’ or indeed the monarchy of the UK, rather it is the abstract concept of monarchy to which I am opposed, in any country and with any particular monarch as its figurehead. Instead of immature and ignorant comments on the monarchy, the Declaration of Arbroath, Bruce, Wallace and the historical Wars of Scottish Independence(which you have pretty much exhausted yourself on and been countered on all fronts – and could continue to be ,but I am quite frankly bored of your discussion now), if you have any profound counter argument to the current case for Scottish Independence, I’d love to hear it.

  16. Ashley, you have me dumbfounded this time around. I have not and have never in this thread of posts opposed nationalism. I support Nationalism whoheartedly. I see I cannot change your mind as you are deeply embedded in party politics. I have listened to your arguments, provided sources for my historical interpretation but I see I cannot release you from the SNP’s grip. My views on Wallace etc are not ignorant and immature and are those held by eminent scholars including lecturers at our own fine establishment such as Bill Knox and Michael Brown. You have not listened to me. I have been saying that Nationalism is forward looking and not concerned with the past, you do not see marches in Scotland on historically significant days in the same fashion as Irish nationalism for example. You are projecting modern day though processes on a world that has not existed for 700 years. Please read my thought this time and give them the heed I’ve given yours before calling me ignorant and immature, as I say, I would love to meet with you in person so I can better understand your point of view. I’m in St Andrews all week.

  17. Before you pin a label on me, yes I am a unionist and thus a ‘disappointment’ as a Scot. For all her talk of England being backward for holding onto the rich tradition of monarchy and Scotland being progressive and democratic, there seems to be little room in Ashley’s mind for Scots who have the cheek to disagree with her point of view.

    I am not a unionist because I think Scotland is better off as part of the UK, nor because of what happened in 1320 and 1707. Nationalists need to find a more relevant and pressing argument for independence than ‘because Wallace and Bruce did this’. If nationalists are looking to a messy Mediaeval war to prove their case, they have lost the present-day argument.

    No, I am a unionist because it gives me identity. I am Scottish, but I have strong roots in Northern Ireland and England. Using ‘British’ allows me to reflect the heritage of my family. You may say this is too personal a reason, selfish even. But identity is important to everyone, and this is mine.

    If Scots have a right to ‘fight’ for their identity, is it not fair that I be allowed to identify myself as British?

  18. @Richard. Of course it is fair that you are allowed to identify yourself as British, at no point whatsoever was it suggested otherwise.(Why on earth you would want to is a different question altogether). However,should the majority of the population champion Scottish identity in the impending referendum, be that through Devolution Max or full independence, then you will have to accept that. I extremely resent your comment that ‘Nationalists need to find a more relevant and pressing argument for independence’ than events which occured in the Middle Ages. Indeed the main body of my article outlines the many incontrovertible and compelling contemporary arguments, with the historical background provided towards the end of the article to highlight two -albeit equally important – points, namely ; that independence is by no means a new idea ,and that the Scottish people had then no means by which to oppose English dominated rule as part of the UK. I don’t think the argument gets more ‘relevant’ or ‘pressing’ than is demonstrated through the very recent actions of one David Cameron. SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie said: “David Cameron failed to consult his own coalition partners before vetoing European treaty changes, let alone involving the Scottish Government and other devolved administrations. In so doing, the Prime Minister has effectively torn-up the terms of his own concordat with the devolved administrations in order to pander to the Little Englander attitude on the Tory back-benches.

    “The Prime Minister has sold Scotland short without any consultation about the veto, or apparently any assessment of the likely impact of his actions.” `

    @Fergus. I’ll be here until the end of the week too, feel free to contact me through Saintmail.

  19. To avoid doubt, I will tell you all now that I am a firm believer in Scottish independence (indeed, the acting president of StAUSNA) as well as a member of the SNP – a ‘nationalist’ in both senses. I agree that it is important to highlight/reiterate that the two are not mutually exclusive and yet often discussed as though they were one in the same. One should remember while reading this article that Ashley is, likewise, a nationalist in both senses and her arguments reflect her party affiliation – this does not weaken her argument for independence one little bit.

    To address Mr Browne, above, I would first of all have to agree that being a nationalist or unionist in no way makes one more or less Scottish, respectively. It is very fair to defend one’s sense of British identity (something which I personally feel very little of, having purely Scottish heritage) but, for whatever reason, ‘Britishness’ is not something that flies with many Scots, be they Nats or not. If anything, yours is perhaps one of the best reasons I have heard for being a unionist and, given that is is (probably) a minority view, that is possibly why so many are unconvinced by other arguments akin to ‘Scotland couldn’t make it on its own’.

    Now, I’m certainly no expert at Scottish history and so I’m not going to enter into the above debate about Wallace and the Acts of Union and all that. As far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty irrelevant and I’m surprised that something which played only a minor role in Ashley’s article (a mere fifteen lines) has been the fuel for this discussion. The fact is, we’re in this union whether we like it or not. What supporters of independence must do, and what Ashley did do, is focus on our motives for becoming a self-governing nation now and looking at how it will help us in the future. We’ll never win a referendum if we continuously bang on about Bruce and Wallace. I believe Ashley’s brief reference was simply to give a little context and show that nationalism is nothing new – it never went away, in fact.

    The main point of the article, in my humble opinion, was about how St Andrews remains a peculiar anomaly in Scotland’s political landscape even at this time of dynamic shifts in political history. We Nats are often met with real ignorance and/or apathy about Scottish politics in this, Scotland’s first university. Independence is a real issue and it’s being debated NOW. There will be a referendum; the campaign has started. It would just be nice if a few more students here were aware of this.

  20. Richard, Ashley’s views on modern independence do not represent those of party lines on independence. Especially those of her own dear party. I’d point her to pages 28-9 of their 2011 manifesto, there is no reference to anything historical as having argument for modern independence, it’s forward looking based on political practicalities and ideologies. That Scotland has a longer history of being independent than not isn’t an argument for independence simply because that world in which Scotland was was at least 300 years old, the world has massively changed since then..! Indeed Independence for Scotland after the war would have been very bad politically and economically. It was only after Thatcher and the close of mining communities and the like that had built a fully British political community with the same views and needs geographically all across Britain that has begun this divergence of political beliefs. So that was 30 years ago, not 300, and it now isn’t relevant. What is relevant is the present and the future. Perhaps Scotland will go back to the extremely conservative days of the recent past, perhaps the divergence will continue. Who knows, but tending towards very left wing ideals I hope the trend of increasing liberalism will continue and without the South following suit then I believe in Independence. That is my view, and darn close to most (and official party) nationalist viewpoints. There is no talk of 1314, no jabbering about Burns or Bruce or Johnny Cope. That’s all rhetoric, not politics, and is dangerous in brainwashing those who do not understand. If you resent Richard’s comments about arguments for independence based on the actions of minor noblemen and Kings in 1297, then, well, I honestly have no words as to how you think that those men’s actions are relevant. They were barely even relevant in the Union of Great Britain, why now? Scotland now is another country than Scotland then. Any historian can tell you not to found political beliefs on the distant past because then was then, now is now. Your party doesn’t found political beliefs on the distant past. Take note Ashley. This is our argument with you, we need to look at the present and the future to form worthwhile arguments.

  21. @Fergus. As Callum CLEARLY stated above, the BRIEF historical references at the VERY END of the article were MERELY to provide historical context for those unfamiliar with the case for and history surrounding Scottish independence (You will find that any definition of ‘nationhood’ will require that ‘shared history and ancestry’ is a criteria which requires to be fulfilled) . Whilst they by no means form the core of the current case for independence, they remain of incontrovertible relevance in any discussion thereof! The VAST MAJORITY of the article concerns itself with the ‘party line’ and the present and the future implications of union/independence – I suggest you re-read the article before continously criticizing it for not having done this! Furthermore, at no point whatsoever did the article intend or proclaim to be a reiteration of the SNP manifesto and I am confused as to why you appear to be under that impression?

  22. If anything, the incessant talk of Scotland not being able to pay its way is an argument for independence rather than against it. What is it that many small European countries have that Scotland essentially doesn’t? Probably independence. If Scots turn down the offer of independence due to fear of an economic disadvantage, then they are buying into an idea of Scottishness as being an inferior serf nation, dependent on the generous gratuities of a superior neighbour.

  23. Dear Ashley,
    You give the impression that Scottish Unionists are somehow beyond reason and you are “bitterly disappoint” ed by Scots Unionists. I am a Unionist, I can trace my family way back (one of those things I did as a young teenager) so am as pure Scottish as it gets, (something I could not care less about). I found your attack on ‘English’ values (aka subservience to the monarchy) misplaced. I think you would do well to read Tom Devine’s book on the Diaspora before you become too misty eyed about what a noble people we are. You also selectively ignore many of the major steps forward in democracy that England and subsequently UK, followed by the US made. (rights of man, magna carta, ‘glorious revolution’, declaration of independence, Welfare state, NHS, separation of powers).

    I agree with you that the debate has to happen. I am not bitterly disappointed in you, I disagree with you which is quite different.

    However, excuse my fear of you, you sound very intolerant and your “you will have to accept that” sounds like I won’t be allowed to disagree in Scotland. Your logic suggests we can’t have a debate after general elections or oppose government policy? Or are raising the notion that us unionists will arm ourselves to overthrow the democratic process? Highly unlikely. I would no more say if you lose the vote, then you have to ‘accept it’, I presume you would not advocate disbanding the SNP if the vote is lost.

    History is a mass of ingredients, equally economics is what one makes of it. Neither to me are reliable grounds to decide for or against Union. One can ask whether Orkney and Shetland, handed over by treaty, should be allowed to debate their independence or how about the kingdom of Fife? History and economics are double edged swords.

    For me, the Union is acknowledging that some things are best decided by bigger groups, however democracy requires a demos (as they say).
    You don’t say whether you would pull out of Europe, if not why not?. As EU members there are contraints on sovereignty, this is a feature of any Union.
    So what is the demos? For me some decisions are best made in St Andrews by St Andreans, some in a larger region (Fife), some bigger Scotland, some bigger UK , some bigger still EU and a few the UN. I find enough in common with people from Manchester or Birmingham or Newcastle or York or Cardiff to feel that together we can take major decisions on welfare, taxation, economics, foreign policy together. For me unity is strength and shared interest.

  24. I was born in Scotland, so were my parents etc etc. I remain absolutely committed to the Union.
    I find the comments by Ashley intolerant, I will have to accept the majority will. What do you mean by this? Does this mean if fellow Scots vote for independence I should shut up or leave? I assume if we don’t vote for independence, the SNP would not feel bound to disband? I do not like policies of other political parties but I do not feel constrained the day after a losing election to stop trying to win the next one.

    “highlighting the antiquated attitude of the English in favour of hereditary monarchy, in stark contrast to the democracy, pro-equality and progressiveness of the Scots who champion the sovereignty of the people”
    Where on earth do you get this from? No major political party in the UK stands on anything other than the will of the people as manifested through elected representatives. To class a nation of 48M as a homogenous crowd of divine right of king followers is nonsense. So far as republican vs monarchist preference, I have not seen a poll which shows a massive Scotland English divergence on the issue. In fact in England the issue of Europe and the compromise of sovereignty is a major issue. Scotland as the people’s democracy, again show me the evidence that this is anything other than a myth. The various Stewarts spent most of the reign subduing their potentates. The king in parliament was a phrase, not some sort of national hobby.

    Are you prepared to have a referendum on being “a full member of international bodies like the UN and the EU”. I notice you withdraw from NATO without any referendum.

    “many incontrovertible and compelling contemporary arguments” ‘you can’t understand unionist Scots’ I read as nothing we can say matters we are ‘mad or bad or dangerous’. Your comments to me say unionists are flat earthers and unworthy of debate.

    In your criticism of England, you ignore Magna Carter, Lollards, tolpuddle martyrs, rights of man, glorious revolution, supremacy of parliament, common law, US declaration of independence and many other truly inspiration achievements. Why did you highlight only those things you dislike?

    People should be free to make their own decisions. Some decisions are best made as groups where various conflicts between individuals can be judged. Any groups requires loss of autonomy. Some decisions are best made by the town council, some by a devolved parliament, given we live on a small island speak the same language, are intermarried some decisions are best made as an island. Other decisions are best made as a continent and yet (a few) others as a world.
    My values or education or my cultural take on things or my likes I find find reflected in people across this island. I feel sense of shared purpose and identity. The only thing I have in common with all Scots is I live in Scotland. Independence to me is saying that as a people on small island we cannot make joint decisions and that some notion of ‘identity’ trumps all other ties or interests. Nationalism is like patriotism not enough.

  25. @Bruce You have summed up everything which is wrong with the Independence campaign.
    I am a Scot, I am British and I do not support Scottish Independence.
    However I am very open to peoples’ arguments and am more than willing to change my view.

    “What is it that many small European countries have that Scotland essentially doesn’t? Probably independence. ”

    Why probably? what evidence do you have? Maybe it is down to different resources, different industry or even different work culture?
    The Independence campaign is the most important Scottish issue right now, yet you give me no evidence, no research not even strong thought out policies.
    All you give me is probably – I can not support probably. We need the freedom to choose our own policy? We have that freedom already (I accept to a lesser extent).

    I would happily vote YES if it was the right choice. But right now we are part of a strong country, with its’ problems, and we are fairly prosperous. If you can show me strong thought out policy rather than babbling about freedom I will listen but right now all I can hear and see is rhetoric and “probably”.

    Scottish Independence is a huge event for Scotland, show us it will be for good reasons not bad before we go to the polls PLEASE!

  26. Ashley,

    It is disingenuous to claim that Scots are not represented in the world because the UK exists. Scotland is part of the UK and as such has considerably more clout internationally than were the country separate. The concept that Scotland cannot govern itself because it is part of a greater whole is ludicrous; you may as well argue that Fife should revert to being a separate Kingdom.

    Scots people (as well as the English, Welsh and Irish) are afforded considerably more opportunity by the structure of the UK, our shared laws, trade and taxes. A nation of 5 million people, as brilliant as we are, is never going to be as successful as a nation of 60 million. Were Scotland to be independent it would certainly operate, but would also be significantly economically, politically, culturally and socially diminished. You can try a run a slide rule over the benefits as you have (although I do not agree with your assessment that Scotland would be richer; just add in the costs of supporting RBS and HBOS to start with), but really this issue goes well beyond economics.

    As a British Scot separation from the UK is all about narrowing my identity and the opportunities that being part of the UK offers. My only concern is that the Unionist parties in the UK are so hopeless at making any argument challenging the absurd claims of the SNP that independence may happen.

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