I totally forgot to post this, but it has been an ongoing topic for years anyway: Scotland’s wish (or at least the wish of a varying number of Scots) to become a fully independent nation again. On 22 September, about 10, 000 people marched on a pro-independence rally in Edinburgh:
Opinion polls over the years have shown differing degrees of support for this ambitious political goal. As far as I can remember, about 50% of all Scots supported the idea of full independence (not only devo-max) in 2007, while now it’s about a third. And while the march was a positive experience with a wide variety of groups attending, many good speakers, great music and brilliant weather (!) 10,000 people (or maybe even less, if you take the official numbers) are not that many – compared to for example 1,5 million who marched for the same goal in Catalonia.
I can imagine that with the current economic downturn, the end of Nulabor’s credit-fuelled “endless boom” and the ongoing Euro/EU crisis with growing tension between the countries, many Scots are not so sure anymore as to where their place in a future Europe will be once they have become independent. A few years ago, the path for the independence camp seemed to be clear: Break away from England and the dictates from Westminster and go for stronger ties with the EU/maybe even Euro membership (probably not only hoping for more freedom, but maybe also more money …).
But with the current situation on the continent, things have started to look very different. Would an independent Scotland qualify for the Euro at all? Would it still make sense to join it anyway? Once in the Euro, the Scots would maybe have to help finance the “lazy Southerners”, like Greece and Spain … as has happened to the small and not rich Estonia. Or given the quite disastrous state of the Scottish economy, they would be counted as another “PIIGS” country and receive support from Brussels/Berlin, but including dictates, austerity measures and an EU-approved (Goldman Sachs) technocrat to rule their country – as has happened in Greece and Italy. Would it really make sense to break free from Westminster, as many put it, only to be then bossed around by the EU, ending up like the Irish?
I think none of the above is really appealing to a majority of Scots, so they may just want to go on with the Union, at least knowing how that is like, knowing what they get, what they can expect and not having to jump into completely unknown territory.
The other option would be to break free from London rule, become independent and go it all alone, being a brave pioneer and showing the world that it is possible to exist as a small country with a proper democracy that makes its own rules, sells its own resources and is not bossed around by anyone. Other European countries may follow and break away from Brussels in the same way (how much I wish Germany would do this, for example! How much I wish I would see a march as the one in Edinburgh last week in German cities every week!).
In the end it all comes down to a lot of courage, determination and a clear vision. It is not enough to say, hey, we’ll become independent. Scotland will have to produce a clear idea of how it would be like after independence and maybe completely re-invent itself. For the moment, the great idol is Norway (which I think is one of the best idols you can have as a country), but that is still a long way to go. A way that would have to be mapped very well. If you look at the current issues in Scotland: a high unemployment rate, no sustainable economy (too much “banking” and “service”), alcoholism, poverty, obesity problems and mental health issues that affect about 1 in 4 Scots you know what I mean. It’s not enough to wear a kilt, wave a flag and dream of William Wallace. Those days are long gone …
On the other hand, independence could be a bit like shock therapy, like jumping into cold water and just having to swim. In that way, the Scots may be able to break free from their underdog psyche and gain back national self-confidence in a way that will benefit them, not just in a flag-waving way. They may find their their old strength again, their inventiveness and sense of business so that they will be able to solve their problems little by little.
We should not forget the great Scottish scientific and intellectual achievements of the Enlightenment era in the 18th century: Adam Smith basically invented modern economics and James Watt built the first steam engine – both have not only contributed to the development of Western society, but greatly revolutionised the whole world.
The referendum in 2014 will show what the Scottish nation thinks and how it truly feels about itself and its strength. And anyway, by 2014 the whole of Europe may be so bankrupt and chaotic and unfree (including England, of course) that independence could finally come as a relief, even to those who still feel unsure and insecure now. And then, Scotland will have already done at least the groundwork. At least they would mentally be quite well prepared for independence.
PS In case they should break free in 2014, I would give them one piece of advice: Do not throw away your nuclear weapons all at once! You might find more oil and then the USA could decide to “democratise” your country a little bit. In particular after independence, they might want to “help you bring about true freedom and democracy”.