First of all, I am not Scottish and would therefore not take it upon myself to pass judgement on the country’s right to self sovereignty. As abrasive as he can be, Alex Sammond is an unquestionably adept and savvy politician. He leads a government that won a majority under devolution, despite having to campaign under proportional representation, a system implemented with the express intention of preventing such an outcome from ever happening. The political mandate, legality and moral prerogative of the Scottish nation to decide its own destiny seems assured.
However, there are glaring unanswered questions as to how independence would actually work. Prominently, what currency would Scotland use? With the Euro becoming increasingly unattractive, perhaps they would stick with the pound, but that would leave their monetary policies dominated by the Bank of England, significantly diminishing their ability to actually be independent.
The historic and geographical reasons for a separation from England are understandable and deep-rooted. Large areas of Scotland are far closer to Scandinavia than they are to Westminster, and the cultural similarities between someone from Hackney and the Highlands are tenuous to say the least. That is without considering Scottish history, which shows the disgraceful oppression of Scottish culture and society, with the profits of Scottish labourers being sent down to the south. The legacy of this is still blindingly obvious as vast swathes of the country are still cordoned off as holiday homes or private estates for English owners.
It must also be disheartening for Scots to read reports like: “Men born in Glasgow’s deprived eastend will die nine years earlier than men born in India”, meaning a life expectancy of 54 years. This must be even more demoralising when they are paying taxes to Westminster MPs who consider moat maintenance a legitimate reason for claiming expenses, drag the UK into expensive and illegal wars and then expect people who live hundreds of miles away to be excited about the London Olympics.
Scotland is not unique in its history of systematic deprivation and underrepresentation by a London-based political elite. Again, history shows us that the forced displacement of Scotland’s crofters (Highland clearances in the late 18th and early 19th centuries) can be seen as a merciless effort by the British establishment to harness Scottish labour and land for the Industrial Revolution, a process which resulted in human fatalities and the loss of communities. Simultaneously however, millions of English people were being economically coerced out of their agrarian communities and into the overcrowded slums of industrial England, which stretched from the Midlands to Scotland. Lest we forget, Engels based his observations of squalid working class deprivation and injustice not on Moscow but Manchester. For a more contemporary example, it recently emerged that Margaret Thatcher was advised by the then Chancellor Lord Howe, that it would be too costly to attempt to regenerate Merseyside and that Liverpool of the 1980s was best suited to “managed decline.
The north-south divide is not concerned with boarders or flags. The people of Glasgow, like the people of Liverpool and countless other cities in the UK, used to line the pockets of the few as money filtered back to London. When times changes, they were abandoned. The destruction of unionism and Labour’s failed attempt to engage with the public and respond to the economic crisis has opened the door to the SNP. As an Englishman, from a selfish point of view, the most worrying aspect of the idea of Scottish independence is the departure of the Scottish left-wing vote from British general elections (Labour would lose 41 MPs , the Conservatives only one), ironically condemning us to indefinite Conservative government.
To flippantly surmise, Scotland, know your enemy. It’s not England, it’s Westminster. Let’s cut London loose, move the parliament up north and to stay together for the kids.