2 voting areas down…30 to go. Although I fully understand and empathize with the YES campaign, I think it is shortsighted and simplistic.
With oil, Scotland has an economy smaller than Connecticut. Without oil, it’s smaller than metropolitan Madrid.
Nationalists argue that other small countries do quite well — for example, Switzerland and Ireland. But the Scots’ neighbors across the western sea are hardly more prosperous, and the Swiss have assets the Scots won’t enjoy — a world class financial sector and competitive manufacturing in pharmaceuticals, chemicals and machinery.
After oil, it’s whiskey and salmon for Scotland. Then things tail off precipitously. Independence supporters note Scotland’s presence in some high-tech activities, but those hardly have the mass to carry the economy in its coming post-petroleum age.
Overall, private-sector productivity lags the UK average by 11% and is particularly weak in manufacturing and R&D.
Three hundred years ago nationalism wasn’t as it is now and populations in general would not have know what state they lived neither would they have cared. Being part of a state is a relatively new phenomena and the British state came into being in stages as did other states in Europe too. It wasn’t until 1871 for example with Bismark that there was a coherent German state.
During the 18th century, before the railway age, the east coast of Ireland and particularly Dublin became very wealthy on the back of British trade with the ‘colonies’ (though I don’t like using this word as I know it upsets some Irish and Scottish people though they were colonisers themselves). Dublin became the second city of the Empire and similarly on the back of the Empire the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow grew and became prosperous.
Neither Scotland nor Ireland were forced into a United Kingdom and I know a lot of you out there will disagree with this but the fact is history is neatly written by the winners. What were the emotions and feelings of real people at the time which were probably just as they are now as we can all read through the passionate comments on this blog. After the Great Famine, which also occurred in other countries particularly in Germany and Scotland, a fact often ignored, there was a rise in nationalism and eventually the Irish Nationalists held the balance of power in the UK with Parnell as leader. This led to many reforms but the Nationalists were content to support Britain’s role in world affairs-they could have voted any legislation down- but as a result Irish and Scottish people took advantage of this and settled elsewhere in the world.
It is true that nothing is forever so it could be that nationalism as we know it will disappear. Britain and England will change but by the same token so will Ireland, Scotland and Wales and relations therein. In my opinion, unlike other countries just yet, the British Isles are politically difficult to understand. For those of you who don’t like the term British Isles I’ll continue by using the term North Atlantic Archipelago. (NAA) Though I myself am Anglo Saxon, it is the Celtic part of the NAA that are British and as such were so named by the Romans. This is just one of many anomalies worth mentioning.
There are many others. England is governed by the English, Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish as well as the EU. The flag is the flag of St George. We are though fairly but not completely independent since we have our own currency. The Welsh have their own governing body with limited powers, have their own flag and language and are governed partly by the rest of us and the EU. If there is a yes vote Scotland will still have the Queen as head of state and if Alex gets his way will maintain the currency union with RUK though it will have only a part of the Union Jack as its flag and will be a country where a few people will speak a different language. As a result this means that Scotland will not be that independent as RUK continues to control the money and the head of state will still be the Queen. Northern Ireland is part of the UK with its own flag and government but uses the pound sterling. The republic of Ireland is geographically part of the NAA and says it is an independent country with a few people speaking Irish in the west of Ireland. It is though a member of the EU and uses the Euro. As many as 30 institutions are still upheld by Royal Charter particularly concerning medicine in general such as The Royal Institute of Surgeons, science, art music and engineering etc as the Irish must feel it is better in these circumstances to part of a bigger organisation. Membership of the Euro renders the country dependant on the vagaries of its chosen currency which is controlled by the European Bank in Frankfurt and by definition the Germans so taking into account all of the above one has to pose the question how independent is Ireland with a population of 4.5 million in a union of 500 million. The same will be true of Scotland if the country becomes a member of the EU.
Furthermore, because England has a large population speaking the same language and has similar institutions it has been easy for Irish, Welsh and Scottish people to come here when times are difficult in their own part of the NAA. Because of the financial crisis Ireland in particular has seen an exodus of its people to find jobs here-a bit better now though I agree as it is in the rest of the UK. The unemployment rate is still stubbornly high though at 11 per cent which is a little less than half the UK’s. Either a state is independent and self sufficient or not yet it seems to me England is perceived to be a pretty good country when the going gets tough. A hundred years of independence has not changed much income differentials and income distribution in Ireland vis a vis the UK today and there is nothing to suppose this will happen in an independent Scotland.
Then, of course we have many smaller NAA islands which are self governing but have the Queen as head of state and are part of the UK and it could be that Orkney and The Shetland Isles look more to Norway than Edinburgh or London and a lot of people in the Boarders feel less nationalistic than others. London is remote from Scotland and by the same token the west of Ireland has grievances with Dublin and some island communities in Scotland feel the same about Edinburgh. To further complicate the issue the NAA has at least 5 international football teams none of which are any good. ROI is one but shares the international rugby team with NI. Northern Irish sports men and women can elect which team they would like to represent and the NAA is represented in the Olympic Games by ROI and Team GB, NI choosing their best option. Everybody in Ireland watches some British television as they will continue to do in the event of YES vote in Scotland and we English will continue to use Ryanair and drink Scotch whisky. The Irish continue to come to England for abortions for legal reasons and medical treatment as their health service is not entirely free. The Scots will do the same since any system they set up, though they deny this, will probably incur some charging. By the same token we will still take holiday within the NAA and buy property there as well as sharing a joke with them and understanding well their humour and traditions. Mrs Browns Boys and Father Ted go down as well here as they do in Ireland as does Scottish humour.
Well where does all that leaves me? Confused and it leaves foreigners even more confused as they just don’t understand and cannot distinguish the differences between the various parts of the NAA. My father in law who is French says ‘vous Brittaniques vous etes tous dans le meme sac’. In other words we’re all in the same bag so I just shrug my shoulders and agree. Any further breaking up of the British Isles will devalue the supposed independence they seek to achieve and in the long term I am of the opinion it will be counterproductive for all of us.
Just for your information I would never vote Tory I am pretty patriotic about Yorkshire which I regard as a region in the EU and I live in the British Isles or NAA if you prefer.
ELMET (the name given to the British Kingdom of West Yorkshire)
Some astounding front pages for today’s papers, marking referendum polling day. Kudos to The Guardian and Daily Record, particularly.
existential spiritual doubt in transcendent musical form…
a damn shame BBC2 isn’t renewing it in it’s original serio-comedy format…a brilliant piece of television (this coming from someone who counts Peep Show as his all-time fave comedy)
it’s a Minnie Riperton type of night…
really enjoyed this…
despite the barrage of cliches, one of those shows that’s a must watch purely because of the intensity of Iain Glen as the title character.