an argument for scottish independence

(In the Autumn of 2014, the people of Scotland are going to vote in a referendum to decide whether they wish to separate from the UK. There are all kinds of arguments that can be made for and against this separation, I would like to add one of my own.)

Humanity seems unable to focus on doing what would have to be done to head off global warming of 2ºC – and, the way things seem to be going, an increase of 3-4ºC (or more) is a distinct possibility. So the world is going to change, probably beyond recognition. In such circumstances, all the old certainties are likely to fail. Where people live, where our crops are grown, where in the oceans we will find fish – these are all likely to shift. The infrastructure that we have spent centuries constructing: of cities, roads and rail, of trade routes, may no longer be well located. Some places will get wetter than at present, others drier; some warmer, others colder.

Though no one knows the shape that this new world will take in detail, we can make some educated guesses about the broad trends. One of these looks likely to be that the current climactic zones are going to shift towards the poles. Mankind’s ‘centres of gravity’ are likely to follow this shift. In the Northern Hemisphere, this means a general movement northwards. The Arctic, increasingly free of ice, will expose new land for settlement, will contain what fish stocks are left, will carry ever greater tonnages of freight and will expose natural resources hitherto inaccessible.

The UK, with it’s centre of gravity in the south-east, may struggle against the inertia of centuries to turn its gaze away from the heart of ancient Europe, or from the Atlantic and America. As a part of the UK, and tethered to the government in London, Scotland naturally gazes south, and thus, as an island, we tend to turn our back on the north.

It seems to me that the only way the people on these islands are going to be part of this new Arctic world is if we free ourselves to look northwards. Scotland is a region of the British Isles that naturally belongs to the north. Both in numbers, in climate and in landscapes, Scotland could be part of the Scandanavian world, as parts of it were in the past. A fully fledged government in Scotland would give the British Isles a centre of gravity in the north that would naturally concern itself with the north. Scotland’s 5 million would make us a power comparable to Norway (4.5 million), Denmark (5.4 million), Finland (5.2 million) or even Sweden (9 million).

This then is an argument based not on nationality, nor is it a rejection of the English, or of the British community of nations – Scotland has been too closely wed to England and the rest of the UK for political separation to mar our familyhood. Scotland would continue to benefit from England continuing to deal with – as it does now – the heart of Europe, and the greater world: England would benefit from having some part of these islands taking a full part in the Arctic adventure.

Posted by Ricardo

writer and blogger

4 Replies to “an argument for scottish independence”

  1. Just to note that a shift northwards may not be such a simple proposition as it may seem :


    1. Good article… Clathrates have been known as a threat for a while now – and one of the scariest. However, if anything, it only makes a move northwards more likely, don’t you think? And moving people and crops is never going to be simple… I certainly didn’t mean to suggest that it would be…


  2. Admittedly, the political scenario in which England wanted to absorb Scotland: use of Scotland by the French or the Spanish as a route to conquest is now ancient history. It would be a shame, however, if having managed to get the whole of this rock in the North Sea to coalesce politically and socially, such that a quarter of my own relations, for example, are of Scots descent, to then sow division based on a wholly bogus ‘National Identity’ dreamed up in the drawing rooms of the 18th century middle classes and peddled by the media, should prevail. The working and making and producing classes need to unite more and more. All ‘independence’ would do is create another political class full of monstrosities like Alex Salmond and a shrunken economy- do the nationalists really believe they can take markets off the Swiss, the Norwegians etc. They spent over 1000 years trying with no success and now, civilisation prevents them from using the sort of thuggery they used then. A nationalist Scotland would be as socially useful as a bullet-proof tent. We ought to be aiming away from pettiness. It seems an absurdity that Salmond wants to leave the United Kingdom to be an appendage to Europe, where his ‘culture’ will be even more submerged. Nations as he sees them are a product of a monarchic system of government. Divisions created between people for the purpose of rule. A more sensible use of the time wasted on this project would be to create a pan-European republic with no kingdoms – replacing vested interest with democracy.


    1. *grin* not entirely sure that this addresses much of what I said in my post – except, perhaps, that you admit that it has been worthwhile ‘configuring’ the political arrangements on these islands to meet pressing needs of the day. I think it is also important to distinguish between political grouping and the natural life that goes on, not only within those groupings, but between them – across borders.

      I am not interested in the ‘nation state’; seems to me that it has been responsible for a heap of pain and suffering. What I am interested in is that, however we organize our politics, we have decision makers who are focusing on the real problems confronting us, and doing this with courage and – god help us – a smidgen of vision… Some of what you say here smacks to me of a very self-satisfied view of history, and one that I am convinced is a thing of the past. As I say in my post, the world is going to change out of all recognition: old solutions are unlikely to work in the future. Everyone is wandering around obsessed with holding on to something that is patently turning to water in our fingers… I am not interested in ‘nationalism’, but in a practical approach to problems that might easily swallow our civilization…


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