Scotland - What Else?

Sagaform Great Britain Serving Bowl

It is literally all that anyone has been talking about. But what else is left to discuss?

Scotland. That is all anyone is talking about. In the halls of the European Parliament this morning, I could catch snatches of varying opinion left, right and centre. While before Scotland was never of any interest to anyone, it has now become a major talking point, and a major player. Today's referendum, whatever its result, will have massive ramifications for other separatist and national liberation movements around the world- many parallels have been drawn between this vote and the inevitability of a similar one in the not-too distant future for Northern Ireland. Palestinians have come out in favour off a "Yes" vote, as have Catalans, Kashmiris and Quebecker. But is this nationalistic discourse a dangerous emotional fancy?

Having lived for many years in the Irish Republic, and being a supporter of the ideal of a unified 32 county Ireland as most in the Republic are, my emotional reaction to the Scottish vote is that they should vote yes- they have a different culture, native language, music and traditions to the English. they are, indeed, a different people, and their culture is in a way stifled by being part of this one institution called the United Kingdom. Scotland is not seen as a great culture in its own right, but rather as part of something else- a result of the greater colonial past of the UK. However, this being said, is a yes vote best for the people of Scotland? Will their lives be bettered by breaking away from the union? I doubt it. Economically, staying in the Union makes more sense. Scotland's natural resources, already greatly depleted, will run out. Then what? What about the healthcare system? The education system? The welfare system? Everything will have to be made from scratch, and of course financial impetus will be required to kick-start the new Scottish machine. What about keeping the pound? In light of Westminster's opposition, it seems likely that this will be possible. Similarly in Northern Ireland, if there were to be a referendum tomorrow on whether the North should join the Republic, it is unlikely that a majority would vote yes- simply as the Republic can barely afford itself, not to mention the North as well. There appears to be a rift between those thinking with their heads and their hearts. Those with a sound economic understanding and a vision of a prosperous Scotland will vote no. Those with an idealistic image of the remote Scottish highlands against a backdrop of Celtic music and Braveheart striding forth will vote yes. The race looks tight. Should the Yes side win, the future will not be easy. Scotland may become prouder, and people more culturally aware of its rich heritage, traditions and beauty, but risks financial struggle and hardship for its people. Is a nationalistic ideal worth it?