Will Scotland Become Independent?

Will the modern iteration of Braveheart win in the referendum?

In just under a year, Scotland will hold a referendum on whether to become an independent country. The issue is already so divisive that the comedian Susan Calman had to call for an end to the “name-calling, swearing and death threats” she received after making jokes about it on a radio show. It’s so controversial that it would be bad manners to bring it up with anyone who doesn’t agree with you already.

Without unpacking any of the issues of nationhood, belonging or identity, we’re stuck in a rut and things are getting nasty. Each side blames the other. Fervor has enormous social currency. The capacity to listen to people we disagree with is framed as indecision.

via Does Scotland Want Independence? – NYTimes.com.


11 thoughts on “Will Scotland Become Independent?”

  1. At the Scottish Parliament I asked someone what they thought of the idea of separation. She laughed and indicated that there really isn’t a chance of that happening. It sounded like there were some Scots up in the countryside who thought this was a good idea, but the general consensus was otherwise. It seems to me that the idea of separating from the United Kingdom would be generally poor for their economy. The costs of creating borders, dividing the military, establishing independent government would be enormous. Not to mention the economic effect of the costs of trade flowing through a newly established border. And why do it really? Is there actually any benefit to the Scottish people beyond 500 extra pounds a year? Not to mention that the effect of spreading an equal amount of money across the entire economy would probably only lead to minor inflation and would not legitimately make anyone wealthier (if they established their own currency).

  2. I completely agree with Madeleine. I do not see the point or benefit of an independent Scotland. Ever since I first heard about a serious move for independence I have been trying to figure out what Scotland would support itself with, trade-wise, as an independent country and honestly I really can’t figure it out. I’m sure Scotland has trade and what not but I do not realistically see them being able to support themselves without Britain. I also wonder what their relationship would be with England if they declare independence? Will they try to separate themselves from England as much as possible or will they maintain strong ties? The former would be foolish to the first degree and the latter would in many ways defeat the whole point of independence to begin with. Scotland should take a step back from this impassioned movement and really think ahead 10, 20, and even 50 years, because Scotland will be affected forever if they become independent.

  3. “Each side blames the other. Fervor has enormous social currency. The capacity to listen to people we disagree with is framed as indecision.”

    Sound familiar, congress?

    This actually seems to echo the complaints and desires of nearly half the residents of Quebec, who voted on the same issue of becoming a sovereign nation, and to my surprise the vote was very, very close. It makes me wonder what these hopeful sovereigns really want – control of regional political policy? National currency? Localized immigration reform?

    It sounds to me more like the naive comments of crazies who support “the people’s republic of Texas,” or those who comment every four years that they will leave the country of so and so wins the presidency. Scotland needs to take a serious look at the economic and political implications of attempting a breakoff with England in an already wounded EU.

  4. I agree with what has been said, and add that the author’s comments about similar devolution movements in Spain and Belgium were particularly insightful. Though Britain as a whole would not suffer much from the loss of Scotland, what would happen to Spain if it were to lose Barcelona and the Basque region? Spain has a violent history of putting down separatist movements in those regions because it recognizes the strategic and economic value of having those regions as a taxable resource. There is a lot of tension building between the Catalonian region and Madrid; Catalonia’s economic prosperity is taxed heavily and then reinvested in the poorer southern regions of Spain by the Spanish national government. Setting a precedent in Scotland for devolution could make things much uglier on the Iberian peninsula.

  5. I am having a hard time understanding the reasons and benefits for Scotland to separate from the United Kingdom. As I have read the opinions and arguments I can only find that separation will cause more harm than good to their economies, both Britain’s and Scotland’s. Like it was mentioned in the article, separating from the U.K. would bring an extra 500 pounds a year for every Scottish citizen, the article also mentions however that Scotland will have a hard time sustaining itself with energy and resources. Moreover, it also says that separation could cause a spillover across Europe for regions to want to separate from their respective countries. It all just sounds ridiculous now and I do not see anything good coming out of this for anyone.

  6. I agree with Caroline about Scotland not being able to support itself if it was independent from Great Britain. Recently the British Parliament has moved toward devolution of power to local scottish governments. Apparently that isn’t enough for Scotland to want to separate from British control. Separating from Great Britain would not benefit Scotland economically. Their economy currently depends on Great Britain and when they separate they will not be able to support themselves. If they decide to separate they will have to fully develop their economy and reevaluate their political system. Ultimately it would not be a wise decision for Scotland to separate from Great Britain and they will suffer economically and politically.

  7. While I’m not going to choose a side (I’m normally pro-nationalistic determination but I have reasons to be less friendly toward Scottish independence) I do have a point or two to add. Won’t Scotland be getting (most of) the North Sea Oil? Even if that supply is running out, it definitely would bolster Scotland’s economy in the beginning while significantly affecting the rest of the UK.

    Looking at Catalonia and other separatist movements in Europe, I believe an independent Scotland will definitely bolster their efforts, especially in the attempt to win international. My response to that is bring it. I can’t wait for a free Euskal Herria.

  8. Well, the Scottish do have a reputation for being proud, strong-willed, and independent, which they often live up to. I have heard many of them joke about being independent from the UK, but never heard about an actual legitimate motion to do so. It does not really seem that Scotland has the resources, human or natural, to have the same impact on the global scale as it would as a part of the United Kingdom. I think this is a short term movement, perhaps just a little bit of the Scottish nationalist flair coming out. Most sound-minded people in Scotland probably see the economic and political benefits of staying a member of the United Kingdom.

  9. I completely support an independent Scotland. Last year when I visited Edinburgh, I visited the Scottish Parliament and realized how culturally different Scotland is from England. Scotland has its own issues that do not receive adequate representation in the British Parliament, however, Scottish people are taxed highly, despite their lack of representation. While the article did not fully outline how important Scottish independence would be, taxes would be reduced and the country as a whole could function independently. Economically, Scotland might suffer after initial independence. However, tourism is booming in the country and thus would probably survive the break.

  10. Last I heard, polls indicated that most Scotsmen were against secession. From a nationalistic point of view, secession would be a great a idea. However, economically it would not make sense; not now, at least. Diplomatically, upon separation, Scotland would have to renegotiate every single international treaty (in the order of thousands). It would also have to leave the EU and apply for accession like all other applicants, after which it would have to go through the entire EU accession process.

    British dynamics are different from US dynamics. For instance, the UK does not have a soccer team (except for the Olympics, which is a new thing) and I wonder if there will ever be one. This is not because no one has thought to make a UK soccer team before. It is because nationalism (English, Scottish, Northern Irish, and Welsh) is still prevailing. England and Scotland are quite the soccer rivals.

    If the Scottish do secede, and everything goes well with a newly independent Scotland, I will be curious to see how this will affect Northern Irishmen, Catalans, the Quebecois etc. A positive, functioning precedent in the UK will definitely influence other independence-seeking nations. The biggest obstacle to secession for any of these would likely be the economic factor. However, given the effects of increased globalization, they should be able to pull it off.

  11. What interests me about this article isn’t so much whether Scotland should become an independent ate, but the fact that no one is sure what the Scottish people want. The issue is so divisive that you literally can’t bring it up unless you know the people you’re discussing it with already agree with you.
    What’s the point in that? If people can’t sit down to have a rational conversation about something how are we ever going to come to a satisfactory conclusion?…wow this sounds familiar…US government shut down anyone?
    I’m tired of hearing about how people (political leaders specifically) will not negotiate. Though I have my political beliefs, at this point, I’m not above compromising a few things to come to an agreement with people I otherwise wouldn’t agree with in order to move on with life. Some politicians and people try to get their own perfect confusion; the problem is no one’s opinion of perfect is the same as the next. Compromise—it sucks, but it’s better than anything else.

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