On the 18th, there’s kind of a big thing going on in Scotland. If I were voting, I’d be voting “yes” — Yes for Scotland, Yes to Europe, Yes to Social Justice.
From all accounts, it’s clear that Independence is not going down to a yawning defeat as suggested mere weeks ago.
Certainly, Scottish independence is not without pitfalls. The most troublesome problems Scotland faces are economic — forced by British intransigence to choose between sharing a currency and travel area with Britain or with wider Europe.
Scotland must also decide the fate of revenues from its oil production — production that won’t go on forever, but money that perhaps can if properly managed. Like Alberta and North Dakota, Scotland is a subnational entity buoyed by a valuable but ultimately unlasting resource.
Before the Canadian Alliance put an end to western alienation, Alberta once talked of secession. Heck, there’s been a loon or two promoting independence for North Dakota. What makes Scotland different is that it had, and never lost, a sense of nationality. To be a Scot is to be someone unique and recognizable in the world. The United Kingdom, even after hundreds of years, is still a union of crowns, unlike the vague and impersonal ties that bind other federations.
The values dissonance between England and Scotland was perhaps best expressed in the most recent elections, where the victorious Conservative Party won exactly zero seats. The government interacts with Scotland through the coalition participation of the centre-left-centre Liberal Democrats, who despite breakthrough success in the campaign ended up forced to lackey an agenda they barely tolerate.
David Cameron’s government has had the distinct privilege of making its own coalition partner irrelevant, and soon, perhaps, of breaking up the country itself. Getting the UK into yet another messy war is probably exactly the excuse Scotland needs to say “No thanks” to the status quo.
You might ask, why do I support Scottish Independence when I would hardly be euphoric about, say, independence for Québec? The simple answer is Europe. The European Union is a place where nations can pursue individual identity and still participate in economic federalism. One need only look at the slow breakup of Belgium to see that the EU has made small unions of dissimilar peoples in Europe obsolete. Yeah, Europe has problems too. Bigger problems. Bigger solutions.
By contrast, une République Québecoise would look almost exactly like the province of Québec looks today, but tangibly worse for individual freedom and welfare. In a best case scenario, Québec would lose its equalization payments and freedom of movement, to say nothing of the effect on the rest of Canada (say, losing French-language radio in cities like Regina). Plus you can’t wear poutine like a kilt.