How Would you Vote on Independence for Scotland?

 

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Today’s Wall Street Journal editorial page:

Should the Scottish leave the U.K., it would fulfill an ancient quest for national self-determination. But they would also wind up with a state that is weaker, less wealthy and far less influential on the world stage. It would jettison 307 years of shared history that produced the Scottish Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and a vital and prosperous pillar of the Atlantic community today. History isn’t everything, and there are times when hard circumstances make separation unavoidable. But no such circumstances exist today.

Pat Buchanan’s latest column:

The call of blood, history, faith, culture and memory is winning the struggle against Economism, the Western materialist ideology that holds that the desire for money and things is what ultimately motivates mankind.

Economics uber alles. Here is Niall Ferguson in the New York Times wondering how these crazy Scots could think of seceding from England:

“The economic risks are so glaring that even Paul Krugman and I agree it’s a terrible idea. What currency will Scotland use? The pound? The euro? No one knows. What share of North Sea oil revenues will go to Edinburgh? What about Scotland’s share of Britain’s enormous national debt?”

A Scottish vote for independence, Ferguson wails, “would have grave economic consequences, and not just for Scotland. Investment has already stalled. Big companies based in Scotland, notably the pensions giant Standard Life, have warned of relocating to England. Jobs would definitely be lost. The recent steep decline in the pound shows that the financial world hates the whole idea.”

Niall Ferguson is not the kind of fellow who would have been out there at midnight dumping the King’s tea into Boston harbor in 1773.

And he would surely have admonished those stupid farmers on the Concord Bridge that if they didn’t put those muskets down, they could wind up ruining the colonies’ trade with the Mother Country.

“What currency will we use?” Ferguson would have demanded of Jefferson in Independence Hall in 1776.

The referendum will take place on Thursday. My own tentative reasoning–I speak here as someone with a few drops of Scottish blood, but only that–is that if I were a resident of Glasgow or Kirkcady or Edinburgh, I would most certainly vote “nae.” The so-called Scots independence movement doesn’t want independence at all. What it wants is a population still more dependent on the central government (albeit a new central government in Edinburgh instead of the old one in London) and a nation that will quickly beginning handing over its sovereignty to Brussels, becoming more dependent on the EU.

But that’s me. Good people of Ricochet, what about you?

If you were a resident of Scotland, how would you cast your ballot?

There are 76 comments.

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  1. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    If the “yes” side was made up of reasonable, common sense folk with any experience running anything of greater consequence than a lemonade stand, I’d say give it a shot.

    They aren’t. They really, really aren’t.

    Trying to draw parallels between these clowns and the men who governed the 13 colonies is madness.

    • #1
  2. user_259843 Inactive
    user_259843
    @JefferyShepherd

    My instincts tell me I would be for independence. Scotland, as I understand it, is a net beneficiary of central government largesse so I am not sure they will vote for independence. If they do and after some chaos Scotland will likely be better for it but GB will not be. It would be nice to do the “better for it” bit while still a member of GB. That said, Mississippi is also a net beneficiary of central government largesse and I’m sure they would vote for independence. Largesse be damned.

    • #2
  3. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    They should vote “yes” because it would be good for Britain if they did.

    • #3
  4. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    I would vote Aye. I am in favor of more culture oriented states, over states that seem to be arbitrary administrative domains.

    • #4
  5. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    My thinking is much the same as anonymous’s on this. Limited, local government is ideal for all peoples. For greater challenges, cooperation is sufficient.

    Even if the Scots begin with socialist goals, the realities of terrible debts and scarce resources could renew the Scottish culture. If the Scots are generally foolish and unprepared for independence, then they may be like so many young adults who only discover their own resourcefulness and practical potentials after being kicked from the nest.

    Their secession can be a revolution, in the old-fashioned sense of returning to a foundation of old wisdom with the boon of greater experience. All nations must be refreshed from time to time, or else fester. If the eventual need for revolution was not merely anticipated but designed for during the institution of governments, then perhaps (just perhaps) revolutions wouldn’t always involve so much tragedy.

    • #5
  6. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    A “yes” vote is a vote for optimism. As an American I like optimism as a conservative I know not to trust too much in it. To me it seems Scotland is unsatisfied with the level of socialism in the UK and they think they can have more of it for themselves by being independent. I think that is incredibly foolish, because I think Socialism is incredibly foolish. The only people I saw advocating independence were all of the wrong political persuasion for my taste and based on that I would find it hard to side with them. But, you can’t keep people from being fools and the beauty of democracy isn’t that you get things right, but that you can change things when you realize how wrong they have gone. So if Scotland votes yes I hope they come to their economic senses. If they do they could be great again.

    • #6
  7. user_986247 Inactive
    user_986247
    @luly

    Yes. anonymous says it best.

    • #7
  8. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    The call of blood, history, faith, culture and memory is winning the struggle against Economism, the Western materialist ideology that holds that the desire for money and things is what ultimately motivates mankind.

    Not so. Buchanan has not been paying attention. The “Yes” argument has been based on economic self-interest, on the grounds that England is to blame for all Scotland’s current problems and that without England in the way North Sea oil would bring prosperity for all — at least for now. Blood, culture, and memory are emotive but only slightly useful, and faith has had virtually nothing to do with it at all.

    Not to mention that such arguments could be made for the union as well. If there is a true, abiding demand for independence, the opportunity will come again. I don’t think there is, at least not yet, and I would vote “no.”

    It is an insult to the Founding Fathers to compare them to Alex Salmond. He is a clever, dishonest demagogue who has brought his campaign to this point by turning favorable events to his advantage and by making promises he cannot keep, fudging awkward questions like EU membership, stirring up anti-English sentiment, and just enough of a hint of intimidation (particularly of business) to leave a particularly unpleasant taste.

    Leadership matters at all times, but especially at such formative periods. All other factors aside, I would vote “no” to giving Alex Salmond the power independence would bring him.

    • #8
  9. x Inactive
    x
    @CatoRand

    At the risk of being uninteresting, I think you nailed it. I understand the historical memory and the inchoate yearnings but if it were up to me, they’d remain inchoate. Looked at with a cold eye, there is simply no “long trail of usurpations” justifying all the problems this will cause.

    • #9
  10. user_129539 Member
    user_129539
    @BrianClendinen

    If I were a member of parliament, I would vote against secession even if the Scottish vote is yes. Using a simple majority for throwing out a whole system of government to replace it with a new one is merely governance by a mob and a recipe for extremism. It reaks of the same mentality, that “one person, one vote, one time” also demonstrates.

    • #10
  11. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    Well, you know, they may take your life, but they’ll never take your welfare check.

    • #11
  12. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Also: consider the difficulty of amending our Constitution, which requires an unequivocal, well-established majority. Then consider Scotland debating independence on a 50% plus one basis, with 16-year-olds voting, polls wavering, and candidates arguing about economics in a manner that resembles a parliamentary election campaign more than a debate about the constitutional future of the nation. If this is the best the SNP can show with all circumstances have done to favor them, there is no unequivocal, established majority. This is no way to make a change that will last for centuries, no way to decide the future of your great-great-grandchildren.

    • #12
  13. Peter Robinson Contributor
    Peter Robinson
    @PeterRobinson

    A question for anonymous and Aaron Miller:

    I’m with you on your support for subsidiarity, and of course I grant the very happy example of Switzerland. But what do you do with all the little countries in which independence seems to have made no difference?

    Slovakia broke off from the Czech Republic to pursue a bigger welfare state–and as far as I can tell has learned nothing from the error of its ways, instead remaining an underperforming little place of no account. Has Croatia experienced any sort of rebirth after the breakup of Yugoslavia? Has Bosnia? Has Montenegro? Being ruled by the people you live with is a good thing–if they’re as sensible and inherently conservative as the Swiss. But the Scots?

    I don’t know quite where they went wrong between the Scottish Enlightenment of Adam Smith and the welfare state loving Scotland of Alex Salmond, but jeepers. Would you really rather find yourself governed by left-wing Scots than by the much more centrist subjects of the United Kingdom as a whole?

    • #13
  14. x Inactive
    x
    @CatoRand

    Brian Clendinen:If I were a member of parliament, I would vote against secession even if the Scottish vote is yes. Using a simple majority for throwing out a whole system of government to replace it with a new one is merely governance by a mob and a recipe for extremism. It reaks of the same mentality, that “one person, one vote, one time” also demonstrates.

    On top of that, they’re letting 16 year olds — well known for their maturity and judgment — vote. I’d like to meet the guy who came up with that idea.

    • #14
  15. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Peter,

    I think your answer is going to lie in the massive depopulation of Scotland during WW1.

    • #15
  16. x Inactive
    x
    @CatoRand

    Peter Robinson:A question for anonymous and Aaron Miller:

    I’m with you on your support for subsidiarity, and of course I grant the very happy example of Switzerland. But what do you do with all the little countries in which independence seems to have made no difference?

    Slovakia broke off from the Czech Republic to pursue a bigger welfare state–and as far as I can tell has learned nothing from the error of its ways, instead remaining an underperforming little place of no account. Has Croatia experienced any sort of rebirth after the breakup of Yugoslavia? Has Bosnia? Has Montenegro? Being ruled by the people you live with is a good thing–if they’re as sensible and inherently conservative as the Swiss. But the Scots?

    I don’t know quite where they went wrong between the Scottish Enlightenment of Adam Smith and the welfare state loving Scotland of Alex Salmond, but jeepers. Would you really rather find yourself governed by left-wing Scots than by the much more centrist subjects of the United Kingdom as a whole?

    I’ll let him speak for himself, but I think John might have answered that question when he moved to Switzerland. :)

    • #16
  17. x Inactive
    x
    @CatoRand

    By the way — I just successfully edited my post. Is the problem solved, or is that a privilege reserved for people posting on founder’s threads?

    • #17
  18. The Lost Dutchman Member
    The Lost Dutchman
    @TheLostDutchman

    Piers Morgan is coming back to the USA if the referendum fails, so I hope it succeeds.

    Although I’m afraid Texas will start getting ideas…

    • #18
  19. dittoheadadt Inactive
    dittoheadadt
    @dittoheadadt

    “Niall Ferguson is not the kind of fellow who would have been out there at midnight dumping the King’s tea into Boston harbor in 1773.

    And he would surely have admonished those stupid farmers on the Concord Bridge that if they didn’t put those muskets down, they could wind up ruining the colonies’ trade with the Mother Country.

    “What currency will we use?” Ferguson would have demanded of Jefferson in Independence Hall in 1776.”

    But…history has proved the hypothetical Ferguson wrong. Is that Buchanan’s argument now, against Ferguson’s dire warnings? Or is he pointing out Ferguson’s change of heart? No, neither. So what was his point in transporting Ferguson back in time? To confuse matters? Mission accomplished.

    (Or am I missing something abundantly obvious? Always a distinct possibility.)

    • #19
  20. 3rd angle projection Member
    3rd angle projection
    @

    I agree with anonymous’s subsidiarity approach. We could use more of that here. However, I worry that the Scots don’t have all their bag pipes in a row. Independence has a large amount of emotional appeal, however, once voted for, the details will need to be looked after. And we all know who resides in the details. That’s right. Liberals.

    • #20
  21. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Cato Rand:

    Brian Clendinen:If I were a member of parliament, I would vote against secession even if the Scottish vote is yes. Using a simple majority for throwing out a whole system of government to replace it with a new one is merely governance by a mob and a recipe for extremism. It reaks of the same mentality, that “one person, one vote, one time” also demonstrates.

    On top of that, they’re letting 16 year olds — well known for their maturity and judgment — vote. I’d like to meet the guy who came up with that idea.

    Alex Salmond?

    • #21
  22. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    I’m sympathetic to the objection about secession by a simple majority vote. But I’m not sure there’s any way around that problem. Unless a genocidal dictator is involved, I doubt secession is ever confidently embraced by a strong majority in any nation. It is human nature to prefer the status quo to an uncertain future, whatever that might be.

    Peter, that’s a great question. Subsidiarity is a path to freedom, not to prosperity. Freedom is only opportunity. And national freedom is not the same as individual freedom.

    A people might not prize individual liberty to near the degree that we do. And political strategies to achieve freedom can vary. One might prefer a local aristocracy to a distant bureaucracy. Also, freedom is realized through more than political and legal arrangements. It requires cultural incentives, disincentives, norms, and traditions as well.

    I admit ignorance on the specifics of those nations’ histories. But if it is so difficult to explain to satisfaction why events happen as they do between any dozen persons (say, a family or a work environment), how can we be more confident in the reasons that millions of people interact as they do? We have enough trouble explaining our own national economy and politics, let alone foreign arrangements.

    • #22
  23. The Mugwump Inactive
    The Mugwump
    @TheMugwump

    I don’t know which way I’d vote, but it seems to me that succession on the basis of a mere 5o% + 1 vote is madness. Shouldn’t something with such historic and potentially profound consequences require a 2/3’s majority? As a practicing Mugwump I’m wondering which politician already has his hand deep in the till should the Scots vote aye.

    • #23
  24. x Inactive
    x
    @CatoRand

    Misthiocracy:

    Cato Rand:

    Brian Clendinen:If I were a member of parliament, I would vote against secession even if the Scottish vote is yes. Using a simple majority for throwing out a whole system of government to replace it with a new one is merely governance by a mob and a recipe for extremism. It reaks of the same mentality, that “one person, one vote, one time” also demonstrates.

    On top of that, they’re letting 16 year olds — well known for their maturity and judgment — vote. I’d like to meet the guy who came up with that idea.

    Alex Salmond?

    Was it? I don’t know. It seems like the kind of thing it should take more than one person to decide.

    • #24
  25. user_1938 Member
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Peter, though this doesn’t directly answer your question, let me address it by another way.

    Personal independence isn’t about improving one’s life, financially. It’s about owning one’s life. Typically, when a young adult strikes out on his own, he does so at the cost of “living conditions” such as time for amusements, a variety of delicious food options, ample space, readily available guidance for tough decisions, and so on. Possibly, such delights will never be regained. And yet, despite this sudden poverty, might we say that he has improved his quality of life?

    Though he does not possess as much, though he worries more, though he struggles daily, he is yet living more fully than he did as a child. As Henry David Thoreau says in Walden, “I [chose a harder life] because I wished to live deliberately.”

    So might a nation benefit from independence even without gaining economic strength or political clarity. The future of an independent British highlands might not be strong or sensible, but it would certainly be Scottish. They might not find good fortune, but they will find themselves.

    • #25
  26. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Cato Rand:

    Misthiocracy:

    Cato Rand:

    Brian Clendinen:If I were a member of parliament, I would vote against secession even if the Scottish vote is yes. Using a simple majority for throwing out a whole system of government to replace it with a new one is merely governance by a mob and a recipe for extremism. It reaks of the same mentality, that “one person, one vote, one time” also demonstrates.

    On top of that, they’re letting 16 year olds — well known for their maturity and judgment — vote. I’d like to meet the guy who came up with that idea.

    Alex Salmond?

    Was it? I don’t know. It seems like the kind of thing it should take more than one person to decide.

    He called for it because he wrongly assumed that they were a favorable demographic for him. Westminster agreed to it because they’d polled the question. It was one of the great political own goals of modern times, and is quite likely to be the deciding factor.

    • #26
  27. Charles Mark Member
    Charles Mark
    @CharlesMark

    If I were a Scot I would vote “Yes” as I believe most Irish people would- in spite of our own recent economic travails. If it comes to pass there will be agonies and contortions for a year or so but the sky won’t fall and the rest of the island won’t topple over into the sea. The current members of the Anglophone club all get along pretty well in international terms and Scotland won’t be any different. The contemporary prevalence of loony lefties in the country is painful but what country doesn’t suffer that blight to some degree at least. So good luck to them either way. I’ll sing “Flower of Scotland” as lustily as anyone if my Celtic cousins take the plunge on Thursday ( which I’m afraid I don’t really expect).

    • #27
  28. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Leigh:Not so. Buchanan has not been paying attention. The “Yes” argument has been based on economic self-interest, on the grounds that England is to blame for all Scotland’s current problems and that without England in the way North Sea oil would bring prosperity for all — at least for now. Blood, culture, and memory are emotive but only slightly useful, and faith has had virtually nothing to do with it at all.

    Not to mention that such arguments could be made for the union as well. If there is a true, abiding demand for independence, the opportunity will come again. I don’t think there is, at least not yet, and I would vote “no.”

    It is an insult to the Founding Fathers to compare them to Alex Salmond. He is a clever, dishonest demagogue who has brought his campaign to this point by turning favorable events to his advantage and by making promises he cannot keep, fudging awkward questions like EU membership, stirring up anti-English sentiment, and just enough of a hint of intimidation (particularly of business) to leave a particularly unpleasant taste.

    Leadership matters at all times, but especially at such formative periods. All other factors aside, I would vote “no” to giving Alex Salmond the power independence would bring him.

    I agree. I’ve seen Buchanan be wrong on issues most times I’ve seen Buchanan (his Putin loving, economics 101 hating ways make it seem odd that he’d get as much Ricochet love as he does), but I’ve rarely seen him be quite as delusional as this.

    Go to the Yes campaign site.

    You’ll be greeted by an ad that does use the word “free”, but to describe not having to pay for healthcare rather using than the Braveheart sense of the word. It’ll repeatedly describe income inequality, but it will at no point address any of the “blood, history, faith, culture and memory” that Buchanan thinks this election is about. I mean, there is a little memory, in that they show Blair being friendly to Bush as a reason not to be part of the UK, claiming that Scots got sent to war by governments they didn’t vote for (although they did, actually, vote for Blair, overwhelmingly). Perhaps Buchanan’s shared aversion to Bush made him interpret the message as “conservative”. Still, there’s no image related to anything older than Bush.

    Once you’re done, click through to the website and go to the “reasons” for independence. You’ll see that they are all about the government programs that will either be expanded or retained in the event of a yes vote, about fairness and income inequality, more environmental regulations, more integration with Europe, and general approval for the talents of contemporary Scottish politicians.

    Move on to the No Campaign and you’ll start to see more references to patriotism, but they don’t go further than the word. They almost suggest that Scots aren’t pacifists in defending defense spending, but it’s just on the basis that the military provides jobs.

    Buchanan’s article would work just fine for Quebec independence, Timorean, Puerto Rican, Basque, Catalan, Texan, or any number of other issues, but you could only write it about Scotland if your familiarity with the debate there stopped short well of being superficial.

    • #28
  29. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Aaron Miller:Peter, though this doesn’t directly answer your question, let me address it by another way.

    Personal independence isn’t about improving one’s life, financially. It’s about owning one’s life. Typically, when a young adult strikes out on his own, he does so at the cost of “living conditions” such as time for amusements, a variety of delicious food options, ample space, readily available guidance for tough decisions, and so on. Possibly, such delights will never be regained. And yet, despite this sudden poverty, might we say that he has improved his quality of life?

    Though he does not possess as much, though he worries more, though he struggles daily, he is yet living more fully than he did as a child. As Henry David Thoreau says in Walden, “I [chose a harder life] because I wished to live deliberately.”

    So might a nation benefit from independence even without gaining economic strength or political clarity. The future of an independent British highlands might not be strong or sensible, but it would certainly be Scottish. They might not find good fortune, but they will find themselves.

    Do you think that if Texas became independent, Texans would not own their lives, but rather self actualization would require Texas to subdivide further? How small does a country have to be before its citizens can feel confident that they can find themselves?

    • #29
  30. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Charles Mark:If I were a ScotI would vote “Yes” as I believe most Irish people would-in spite of our own recent economic travails. If it comes to pass there will be agonies and contortions for a year or so but the sky won’t fall and the rest of the island won’t topple over into the sea. The current members of the Anglophone club all get along pretty well ininternational terms and Scotland won’t be any different. The contemporary prevalence of loony lefties in the country is painful but what country doesn’t suffer that blight to some degree at least. So good luck to them either way. I’ll sing “Flower of Scotland” as lustily as anyone if my Celtic cousins take the plunge on Thursday ( which I’m afraid Idon’treally expect).

    I’d prefer a Yes outcome, but that outcome would be emotionally devastating for Mrs. of England’s region (South West Scotland). Either outcome will produce misery and anger, but my immediate response will have to be focused on her. Once the shouting is done, in the unlikely event of a Yes vote, I’ll gladly sing along. Back in the day, Salmond used to talk about emulating Ireland, and it’s not completely impossible that they’ll slash corporate tax rates and use the increased revenue (from stealing financial business from London) to pay for their super welfare state. I’d certainly hope and pray for a strong Scottish future, although the real benefit to the world will always be from a liberated United Kingdom able to act in a moral and generous manner on the global stage.

    • #30

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