As something of a student of the American Civil War, I cannot help viewing talk of Scottish ‘independence’ as a possible misnomer.
In early 1861, several southern states announced their secession from the rest of the United States. The presenting issues were, one way and another, related to slavery, but in the eyes of those in favour of secession, there was also the matter of self-determination.
As far as they were concerned, the United States of America was exactly what it said on the tin — a union of states. And therefore the fundamental unit of government was the particular state, not the federal nation as a whole. To secede was therefore a right. They belonged to the United States voluntarily, and therefore if they so chose they could leave voluntarily.
Now consider the case of Scotland. The ‘Braveheart Myth’ depicts Scotland as brave ‘David’ resisting the English ‘Goliath’. But in fact, of course, for much of the early history of these two nations, the order of the day was banditry across the borders and hostility between the nations. And let us not forget the ‘Auld Alliance’ — the agreement of mutual support between Scotland and France if the English attacked the territory of either.
Scotland has never been a nation of farmer poets just wanting to get on with raising their herds and their children, eating their porridge and playing the pipes. In the days when warfare was the norm between nations the Scots gave — or attempted to give — as good as they got.
Thus the union between Scotland and England was, on a national basis, more like the birth of the European Union at the end of the Second World War, insofar as part of that project was to bring about lasting peace on a continent formerly riven by habitual war.
The union was good for Scotland and England, in removing a former mutual threat. Moreover, it was a balanced relationship of powers, evident when James the VI of Scotland became James I of England.
What Alex Salmond and his ilk have done, in my view, is little short of playing on the cultural equivalent of racism. From where I sit, Scottish Nationalism seems to rely for its energy as much on anti-Englishness as it does on a truly ‘Scottish’ spirit. After all, why does being fully Scottish require not being part of the United Kingdom?
This is why I would rather call the campaign now being run a campaign for Scottish secession, for that is what it truly represents. Scotland is not a vassal state of England now, and never has been so let’s not use language that suggests it was. And if Salmond has its way, the Scots will not be ‘free’. They will still be part of the EU, and they will still be run by politicians.
It may be that states ought to be allowed to be self-determining, but in that case the American Civil War was wrong in principle (as indeed many in the Souther states believe it was). However, as with the threat of the breakup of the United States in 1861, so I believe the break up of the United Kingdom not only affects us all, but ought to be resisted by all for the good of all.Please give a full name and location when posting. Comments without this information may be deleted. Recommend: