Tuesday September 16, 2014 12:05 pm Leave a comment
Holding a rally in Trafalgar Square to demonstrate England’s passionate desire to keep the Scots on board would have been a brilliant idea, if the passionate desire had actually been on show. Had a million people shown up, screaming in support of the Union, it’s possible that such a powerful demonstration of emotional support for our Caledonian Cousins would have swung a few percent of teary eyed waverers in the direction of voting against Independence.
In the event a derisory 5,000 showed up and politely applauded a few of the usual celebrity suspects. How would you read that tepid reaction from north of the border? If I were Scottish, I’d be taking that as confirmation of English indifference and make me more inclined to think “well fuck you too”.
I wish I’d placed a large bet on a Pro-Independence vote a couple of years ago when the odds were more favourable. Still, I have just managed to get odds of 11-4 on a small bet which, given the obvious momentum in the “Yes” camp, actually looks pretty generous to me.
It’s taken me almost as long as a large lump of the Scottish electorate to make up my mind but my excuse is that I don’t have a vote. Nevertheless, I’ve finally come down in favour of Scottish Independence. The turning point for me was actually a throwaway line from Dara O Briain on last week’s “Mock The Week”.
As he implies, we can’t imagine the fathers of the Irish Free State, gearing themselves up for a run-in with the world’s then biggest Empire, being deterred by the mundane issue of what currency they might be stuck with after their victory!
That hits the nail on the head. What has been going on up in Scotland for the last couple of years – and reaches its conclusion in just a couple of days time – is vastly more important than Money.
For the UK, it is the first opportunity for genuine democracy (where “We The People” decide the Issue rather than elect dictators to make decisions on our behalf) since the 1975 referendum on continued membership of the Common Market – as we used to call it when that’s all it was.
One of the major consequences of this prime democratic exercise is likely to be a demand for more of the same. The Scots have been truly “engaged”, on a completely unprecedented scale and it is widely agreed that, as a result, the politicians have paled into the insignificance they deserve. If and when this revolution takes place, Alex Salmond and the SNP can rightly claim a considerable degree of credit for starting the ball rolling and keeping it on course despite some forgivable wobbles; but the credit for putting the ball in the back of the net will belong entirely to the people of Scotland.
That’s a high they’re likely to develop a taste for.
And, if the prospective Scottish democratic revolution “works”, it could drag the rump of the UK along with it. With a thriving democratic and independent Scotland it will be much easier to make the wider case for Democracy. Why on earth (citizens will increasingly ask) should we continue to tolerate elective dictatorship when our immediate neighbours are so obviously benefitting from the practice of putting politicians in their place (advisors, campaign starters, critics, drafters) and “We The People” in our place (Decision Makers) .
And it won’t stop there. Successful secession from such a globally elite Union will embolden those with similar ambitions elsewhere. Which is why, for example, Spain is already so hostile to the notion of Scottish Independence. After all, if it works for the Scots, why not for the Basques? But have you any idea how many separatist movements there are in Europe alone? I gave up counting after 50…
Moving farther afield, have you seen how many American secessionist groups there are? That page lists a couple of dozen. And, as we learn here, some of them are already watching the Scottish experience with considerable interest.
And, famously, north of the US border, we’ve had the long running Québécois campaign. But they’re not unique even in Canada. There are another 8 Canadian campaigns in various states of array – which most of us have never heard of.
Not to mention more than 50 in China, Indonesia, India and elsewhere in Asia, most recent of which are the universally loathed Islamic State, who, like history’s long chain of extreme authoritarians, have convinced themselves they can bully people into long-term compliance with their brutal regime. They’ll learn. Eventually. After another couple of hundred thousand martyrs have fallen to their cause.
We have to hope, for the sake of that extreme example, amongst others, that Scottish Independence will be a Triumph for Democracy and demonstrate to the world at large that really significant change can take place through peaceful means. The worst possible outcome is that they vote themselves free of the United Kingdom and, ten years down the line, have nothing to show for it. That would send exactly the message we don’t want the authoritarians to be able to retweet.
And Dara highlighted the significance of that too:
Scotland has to prove, to all the doubters and doom-merchants that Secession can be Sexy and Democracy can displace Violence. So bugger the Currency, that’s a dream worth voting for.