A Still United Kingdom

scotland-referendumWe still have a United Kingdom.  For the last month, the talk around the lunch table would usually make its way to the topic of Scottish Independence.  An American would ask the Scot, “Are you going to vote yes?”  Then the English at the table would chime in.  That would be followed by the Welsh who would shake their heads and try to get in the last word before it was time to go back to class.

I tried to stay out of the discussion.  I had no right to voice an opinion.  I’m American.  The vote had no direct effect on me.  But I have to say, I did enjoy the drama that the vote created.  To think, after all these years, Scotland would break away and form their own independent country.

The American colonists never got to vote on a referendum for independence.  They were angry that for years they had been given no say in the laws that governed them.  They were frustrated with the ridiculous taxes placed on them to pay for Britain’s wars around the world.

After the Boston Massacre in 1770, there may have been talk of revolution, but only a few crazy Patriots were crying for a break from the Mother country.

At the 1st Continental Congress in 1774, the delegates from 12 colonies (Georgia chose to stay home) met to discuss the current crisis of the Intolerable Acts.  The Conservatives showed up to discuss how to mend the broken relationship with Britain.

The moderates were looking for a way to retain their rights as British citizens and force the crown to allow them to be represented in Parliament.  They wanted to be able to consent to the laws that ruled them.

Even though the Radical Patriots were looking to become a self-governed country, they still intended to remain British.  They wanted to retain the protection of the British crown.

By 1775, things were getting a bit more violent.  British troops were occupying key ports.  The colonists had seized military stores of weapons.  The Battle of Bunker Hill and the Battle of Lexington-Concord showed the British that the colonists were serious about wanting their rights.

When the 2nd Continental Congress convened the American Revolution had begun.  The 13 Colonies all had their own provisional governments in place.  Yet statistics show that only 40 per cent of the public wanted their independence from Great Britain.  20 per cent were Loyalists and the rest were probably trying to remain neutral.  Or it is possible that they did not want to voice their opinion for fear of being ostracized by their neighbors.

If the colonists were allowed to vote on a referendum, would the United States still be British?  It is difficult to say.  But by July 1776, the Continental Congress had given up on diplomacy.  They risked their lives, placed their names on the dotted line, and declared the United States an independent country.

What does the failed referendum mean for Scotland?  Will they rise up in a massive revolt?  Probably not.  Hopefully it means that the British Parliament will start to  hear the voices of all of its members, and not just the ones that live in London.

What did you think of the vote?

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3 replies

  1. Your comment is interesting. I am an Anglo Scot Brit, hence my surname McKenzie, who lives in England. On one level I think it was very stimulating and exciting to see the Scots have their referendum. It was also very painful as it appeared that the Scottish Nationalists were trying to force a divorce through without really discussing the issue with the English, Welsh and Northern Irish. However it is their right and I was happy to support that, even if a Yes vote would have had a cataclysmic effect on the rest of the UK.

    Whilst I understand where you are coming from in most of your post, I do however take strong issue with your final comment. It appears to show a lack of understanding of the way a Parliamentary documentary rather than a federal system works. (I may have misunderstood this and am happy to be corrected.)

    Your comment buys the argument that the Scots voice was not heard in Westminster, setting aside the fact that the SNP tried to follow the fascist discourse of creating an “other” which they can kick out against, Scotland’s voice has always been over represented in Parliament. In the United Kingdom each MP has a vote and voice in Parliament. In the Blair/Brown years Scotland voted Labour and had a Labour government, in 2010 they voted Labour/SNP and got a Coalition. This is the same as everyone else who voted against the Tories in 2010, yours truly included. The Westminster Parliament has had a system whereby for the last 20 years or more English MPs have not voted on Scots affairs, whereas the Scottish MPs have always been able to vote on English affairs. This is iniquitous in the extreme yet has been tolerated in order to support the Union. The Scots, through the Barnet formula have received higher funding per head than the rest of the Union, again to support the Union. The argument that Scotland has been ruled by a distant govt may hold water if it wasn’t the case that it can be made from where I now live which is only 40 mins from the centre of London. I wonder how connected the citizens of Hessen feel to either Berlin or Wiesbaden for that matter?

    The upshot of the vote, ironically, will be the creation of some sort of devolved powers for the English and the development of a federal nation. This will be interesting as the UK does not have a history of federalism and will involve a lot of political upheaval. The problem will always remain for the Scots and the other celtic parts of the nation, in that the English make up 80-85% of the Union by population, We will always be in the majority. In order to overcome this England will have to be subdivided in an unnatural and strange regional manner which will probably resurrect names which have been lost for 1,000 years, the state of Mercia anyone?

    The other unintended consequence will be that the Scots and the SNP has by creating the English as an “other” to kick against used up much of the fund of goodwill that existed before and during the campaign. The English feel as if we have been vilified by the Scots leaders and accused of many things which appear not to be founded. Personally I fear that the accommodation which has been shown before the referendum will have been lost and that the Scots and their leaders might discover a reduction in the leeway that they have been granted hitherto.

    • See we Americans always listen to the voice of the little guy, the one we think is being kicked or not listened to. I stated the phrase…”maybe their voice will be heard” because that seemed to be the battle cry of my friends who were on the “yes” side. Even the Welsh seemed to be concerned that if Scotland leaves…what will happen to the Welsh voice? I appreciate your perspective. Thanks for your comments.

    • The result is too even…but then, a yes or no vote is way too limited. I guess Scotland has to figure out a model which falls somewhere in the middle.
      I wonder though…isn’t there already some sort of federal system? I mean, there is a Scottish parliament which can decide in certain areas independently, right?

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