Scotland Says NO

UNLESS you were hiding under a rock this past week, then you know the results of a historic referendum in Scotland.  The Scottish people have decisively voted to remain united with the United Kingdom of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and now, Scotland – by choice – on Thursday, September 18, 2014.


31 out of the 32 councils of Scotland made their choice clear with a “no” vote – sealing the fate of the Scottish independence movement and settling the age old debate, for now.


Scotland is not a country new to the ideas of separation and “leave us damn well enough alone” attitude.  In fact, they have been struggling with the concept since the conception of a Scottish nation and people.


Gone are the fantasies of a vocal Scottish minority who venerate the ideas and feats of William Wallace and his drive for Scottish independence and freedom from England in the late–13th Century.  This brings to mind the epic film Braveheart (1995) when Wallace charged the well-equipped English Longbowmen of Edward I Longshanks of England at the Battle of Sterling Bridge (Sept. 11, 1297).  Clearly, in today’s globalized world the idea of a separate nation and people is far too much of a logistical and economic nightmare than the idea of freedom itself!


Of course, to be fair, England has treated Scotland with a great deal of reverence and respect compared to the other conquered nation of Wales since that time.  This, however, may be due to the fact that Scotland actually “conquered England” in 1603, by default.  When Queen Elizabeth I died without issue on March 24, 1603 there was no heir to continue her Tudor Lineage.  Thus, the crown went to her first cousin, King James (Stuart) VI of Scotland.  He then became Kind James I of England.  From Whitehall Palace, he ruled England and Scotland jointly, thus was established the Union of Crowns (Aonadh nan Crùintean in Gaelic).  Then, his great-granddaughter Queen Anne, oversaw the formalization of the United Kingdom following the Act of Union in 1707.  Queen Anne died 7 years later and with 17 pregnancies without issue, the Hanoverian Succession was in place by 1714 with the line of Georges (George I-IV) of the United Kingdom.  However, the issue of Scottish independence at the time was never questioned since the Scots settled the issue on their own terms after 1603 and certainly, by a Scottish monarch in 1707.


Then, fast–forward into the 21st century and the world economic collapse of 2008 caused primarily by the real-estate bubble and an increase in sub-prime mortgage rates in the US; the economic fallout throughout the Western World sent ripples – especially into isolated communities like the Isle of Skye and the Shetland Isles in Scotland.  UK Government subsidies were withdrawn; welfare benefits revoked and retirement pensions rescinded following the collapse leading to outright frustration and many questioning why the fates of Scottish pensioners were tied to risk-taking and gluttonous English banks.  This English economic culture contrasted greatly with the fiscally conservative and independently–minded Scottish people.


The resource rich land of Scotland and its relatively few citizens could be likened to Norway – which has a very high per–capita GDP.  However, the UK’s population and open immigration policy (leading to even greater population) has caused consternation among Scottish independence advocates.  They have voiced concerns as to why Scotland should be raided of its resources at the detriment of its people to support a socialist minded social program favoring immigrants and refugees who are looked on as UK welfare dependents.


Interestingly, referendum voters were not required to be UK citizens.  In fact, any Scottish residents (including Commonwealth, Irish and EU citizens) who were also registered to vote were eligible to cast a ballot regarding the separation question.  But, Scots living outside of the country did not have the ability to cast an absentee ballot.


So, now the alternative history – what if Scotland had voted “yes” to independence?  Well, if that happened, Scotland would have officially separated on March 24, 2016.  Why that specific date?  Because, that was the date that James I of England, a Scottish monarch, ascended the English throne in 1603 – an important date for Scots.  Firstly, negotiations would have been lengthy and onerous concerning which currency to use — keep the British pound, adopt the Euro, or even create a new Scottish pound?  Secondly, where would UK nuclear weapons stored in Scotland go — to the UK or be kept with Scotland?  Finally, how would North Sea oil revenues be apportioned amongst the UK and Scotland?  These would have been fiercely debated questions.


Crucially, Reserves of oil and gas would be split, possibly along the so-called median line, already used to allocate fishing rights. The division would hand the Scots about 96 percent of annual oil production and 47 percent of the gas, according to estimates for 2012 by the University of Aberdeen’s Alex Kemp and Linda Stephen cited by the Scottish government.


No doubt, if anything, Scotland showed the “Powers That Be” in London one important thing — don’t mess with Scotland.  Because it can (and will) separate at any time it wishes, and they have the cojones to go all the way.  In essence, that is a lesson the Great State of Texas is probably watching very closely.  Even though Scotland reaffirmed its loyalty and allegiance to the UK, it certainly has gotten more power than before the referendum.  All in all, Scotland owned this referendum and got a lot of respect in return.


-Mike Barrett