Though my last name would indicate otherwise, ethnically I’m at least as much of a Scot as many of the people who actually live in Scotland today. My mother’s maiden name is McKinnon (the spelling was mysteriously changed by an ancestor from the more-traditional MacKinnon in the 19th Century for reasons that are now lost to history) and my grandfather, Hector McKinnon was quite-thoroughly a Scot by blood. Our collective ancestors hail from the Inner Hebrides, specifically the Isles of Skye and Iona. In view of this, I feel entitled to at least weigh in on the present developments in Scotland.
My feelings are mixed. It would be one thing if the Scottish desire for independence was driven by an ambition to achieve national greatness or to assert the liberties of the Scottish people from a tyrannical and oppressive government. If the drive for the independence of Scotland were genuinely about freedom than I would be inclined to cheer every bit as loudly as any of the rowdies on the streets of Glasgow. But, if one listens to the rhetoric of the Scots, this movement is about everything but the liberties of the people. The core argument advanced by the advocates of Scottish independence is socialistic: that is to say that, free of the control of London and the “fucking Tories”, an independent Scotland could be transformed into a standard-issue Scandinavian welfare state where cradle-to-grave benefits are paid thanks to bountiful oil revenues (setting aside the question of whether this is even, given the social condition of Scotland and the questionable long-term future of North Sea oil). Moreover, the advocates of Scottish “independence” do not by any means intend to create a free Scotland: they intend to subject the people of that nation to the control of the European Union, even as the rest of the United Kingdom looks to break free and to reassert its own sovereignty.
Movements for national freedom can be noble endeavours, when they are correctly motivated. But it is quite questionable whether Scotland suffers in any actual respect from its association with the rest of the United Kingdom. The Union has existed for three-hundred and seven years, during which time Great Britain conquered a large portion of the world and made itself one of the most prosperous parts of the planet. Indeed, those Scandinavian welfare states that some Scots so admire are themselves free only thanks, in large part, to the efforts of the British nation. During the years that they have been as one, the peoples of Great Britain have quite literally stood alone against the entire world and won. They have saved the free nations of Europe at least four times. To destroy something of such value, you’d better have a damned good reason. The ambitions of certain politicians is not such a reason nor should a great state be shattered because some people want to spend more on welfare.
To borrow from Thomas Moore, by way of Robert Bolt, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world… But for welfare? Does one really imagine the great heroes of the Scottish past enlisting in such a cause? Do you imagine William Wallace – either the real version or the almost wholly-imaginary one created by Mel Gibson and Randall Wallace – shouting, “you may take our lives, but you will never take our welfare!”
Indeed, as I said my feelings are quite mixed. This is not because I have any sympathy for the cause of Scottish independence per se, but rather because anyone who would vote to destroy one of the great nations of the Earth in order to theoretically spend a little more money on social services under the all-smothering supervision of the European Union is unworthy of claiming to be the citizen of such a nation. Indeed, it may be said that succession by statists is a textbook example of a self-limiting disease. If a majority of the Scottish people are so venal and vain that they would vote to destroy the British nation upon such a flimsy and unworthy basis, then they deserve the banishment that such a secession would entail. Indeed, a positive vote for independence would be a thoroughgoing sign that there is no longer a Scottish people to save in any meaningful sense. That is to say that if the “Scots” are to vote for the destruction of the United Kingdom in such a way it would be a complete demonstration of the fact that Scotland itself is no longer Scottish in much the same way that the Rome of today and the last several thousand years is no longer a place inhabited by Romans but rather by Italians who call themselves “Roman.”
However, there may be an upside in a positive vote: if the “Scots” are to choose amputation, it might well be just enough to save England, Wales, and Ulster as the last free places in Europe. Certainly a positive vote would finish David Cameron’s pitiful tenure at No. 10 and perhaps his successor as the leader of the Conservatives would have enough sense to come to some arrangement with Nigel Farage and Ukip, the true heroes of the English-speaking peoples today, and to take the rest of the United Kingdom out of the European Union and then to restore the traditional links between the United Kingdom and the rest of the British settler nations.
Adam Yoshida is a Vancouver-based author. His most recent book is “Shall Not Perish.”