The Scottish Independence Referendum Blues

Saltire and union flag

Not all national stereotypes are invidious. The flip side of the Scots reputation for extreme frugality is a reputation for practicality and good common sense. That is why I think there will be a NO vote in the independence referendum on September, 18th. This momentous vote has received very little attention here in the United States of Amnesia. We’ve been too busy wetting our pants over ISIS/ISIL, immigrant children, and Jennifer Lawrence’s admittedly fabulous tatas.

Most Americans have no idea that Scotland was granted its own parliament during the last Labour government or that it has a large measure of autonomy right now. The YES side *may* have picked up a bit of momentum after a second debate between Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and the former Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling. The latter is no media darling, and as is about as scintillating on the stump as former President Gerald Ford. Darling still has a pulse, at least I think so…

Salmond is quite shrewdly running against the Posh Boys (PM Cameron and Chancellor Osborne) and their austerity government. The Tories were essentially wiped off the Scottish parliamentary map in the 1997 Labour landslide. They remain about as popular in Scotland as the Ebola virus, which is why the YES forces are running against the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government and the NO forces are dominated by Labour party figures. Btw, I keep expecting Chris Squire and Steve (Mr. Burns) Howe to inject themselves into the campaign in a  roundabout way…

Now that I’ve made the inevitable puny-n-punny prog joke, back to the referendum. Salmond is appealing to the romantic side of the Scots soul, you know, the side that eats haggis at Burns suppers and wears kilts and sporrans. I love the word sporran, it brings out the beastie in me. Damn, another prog rock joke; at least Ian Anderson is Scottish.

The NO side is focusing on pesky details like currency, oil, national defense, and EU membership. Salmond is a natural storyteller, sort of a Reagan of the left, and keeps insisting that EU membership will be automatic since they’re technically already kinda sorta in. The Spanish government has made it clear that’s not going to happen since they have their own separatist issues with the Basques and the Catalans. Imagine Spanish cuisine without Catalunya: unthinkable. And unlike many Tory Eurosceptics, Salmond’s Scottish National Party wants to stay in the EU. Damn, this is getting more complicated by the second. My brain hurts…

As much as it pains me to say this, the Conservative party is behaving much better about this referendum than our Republicans would if, say, New England wanted to secede. Scottish independence would guarantee Tory governments for the foreseeable future, but would also vitiate the whole unionist part of the Conservative party’s traditional ideology: pip pip Empire and all that rot, eh wot? Jeez, now I sound like Bertie Wooster’s dim chum, Gussie Fink-Nottle…

As you may have gathered in between puns and Wodehouse references, I very much hope that Scotland stays in the United Kingdom. The complexities of complete separation should give sensible Scots pause and cause them to vote NO on September 18th. Additionally, as a Labour supporter in British politics, I would hate to see the Tories stay in power purt near in perpetuity because the hardheaded Scots got all mushy over statehood. Independence isn’t all its cracked up to be, just ask the folks in the former Soviet Union. Besides, Salmond can make like the Parti Quebecois in Canada and gin up a referendum from time-to-time to try and stay in power.

For better, and much less silly, coverage of this important issue, here’s a link to the Guardian’s Scottish independence coverage. I’ll give the last word to one of my favorite Scottish bands who have recently regrouped after residing in Splitsville lo these many years:

8 thoughts on “The Scottish Independence Referendum Blues

  1. I, for one, look forward to the newly independent Scots joining with newly independent Quebecois and Greenlanders, in a North Atlantic Union.

  2. I think you are mistaken. Doing the math means independence is a good idea. Certainly telling women that they are just too stupid to know what is good for them so they should vote no cuz better the abuser you know than the abuser you don’t know did not help their case.

  3. Then again, we are all too stupid and self absorbed to know they have an independence vote to cast, so there is that.

  4. I don’t think there’s going to be any lopsided win in favor of independence, but I do think the referendum will win. One has to remember that it was not a Labour win in 1997, but a New Labour win, and Tony Blair and his crew pretty much shit the bed. Scots probably resent the huge increases in defense spending, not to mention seeing the new domestic security laws as intrusive, and they likely see the City’s influence (and Blair’s laissez faire attitude toward the City) as having considerable effect on the travails of RBS–that certainly hasn’t been forgotten.

    National defense? The only natural enemy of the Scots in eight hundred years has been the Brits. And I would think that the Scots are not very happy with the MoD’s insistence on having joint UK-US bases on Scottish territory. Economy? The Brits and the City have done an admirable job of ruining it, and Scotland, unlike the rest of the UK, is going balls to the wall with renewables, and the rest of the UK is going to be a severe drag on Scotland in that regard. Plus, there are a number of oil refineries in Scotland, and I suspect that they would much rather have those under their sovereign control than the UK’s. In fact, North Sea oil rights–and taxation of North Sea oil making land in Scotland might just turn out to be very large legal and economic questions that can’t be answered until Scottish sovereignty is established. UK rights to North Sea oil were established based on the proximity of UK territory to the North Sea. So, what if it’s not UK territory any longer? True, North Sea oil is a declining resource, but, it’s still revenue.

    I’m sure the Scots are pondering all those things, and not mostly whether or not they can help keep the Tories out of 10 Downing St. (something they did not manage to do at last election).

  5. We’ve been too busy wetting our pants over ISIS/ISIL, immigrant children, and the sex crimes perpetrated against Jennifer Lawrence and a number of other celebrity women.


    On the actual topic of the post, I had a college friend who threw a Halloween party with a Braveheart theme. Everybody in kilts, doing kegstands, screaming about Scottish independence. It was awesome. If actual Scottish independence would produce anything like that I’m all about it.


  6. Don’t know much about Scottish politics, but I do know that Del Amitri’s “Waking Hours” album is top notch.

  7. @Montag: Scotland did VERY WELL under New Labour. That was when they got their own parliament and considerable autonomy. Plus, Gordon Brown steered lots of money their way. Ironically, autonomy was so popular that Labour lost in Scottish elections to the SNP. I expect a NO vote because of the practical details involving money. Also, there’s still a romantic irrational attachment to the Labour party among many Scots that New Labour didn’t eradicate.

    @Dcdirewolf: Change Everything is my favorite album by the Dels.

  8. When you export the oil and the whiskey from Scotland through English ports so you can claim them as English exports you prolly don’t have much of a chance of convincing the Scots that it is in their economic interest to continue to be exploited, Also too and besides they will finally be shut of the nukes.

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