Friday, September 19, 2014

Scotland votes NO to independence.

A YES vote would have been one of the biggest stories of the century, but not necessarily a happy story.  (And this story would have major constitutional and legal implications on both sides of the Atlantic.)  For those of us across the pond who enjoyed Braveheart, this referendum had little romance of something mystically Scottish.  In the end, the decision came to utilitarian issues:

  • Could an independent Scotland under current demographic trends sustain the levels of pensions and benefits its people receive as subjects of the United Kingdom?  Because Scotland's numbers of retirees are growing faster than its working population, the most romantic fancy of the YES promoters was that increasing the entitled number of days of government childcare would draw enough mothers into the work force to pay for it.  
  • The YES promoters claimed that the removal of the Royal Navy's main forces from Scotland would not result in a loss of jobs, though the unions which form the core of the Labour Party expressed doubts about the benefits of a smaller "green" Scottish navy.
  • The NO promoters noted that the withdrawal of Scotland's parliamentary delegation, almost all from the Labour Party, from Westminster would leave Great Britain with a Conservative majority controlling its political economy.  Thus, Scottish independence would lead to a weak socialist nation of Scandinavian political tendencies being dominated by a larger and more capitalistic neighbor.
Much of the debate, nonetheless, was of a broader nature of, e.g., What is Scotland?  What is the United Kingdom?  What is a nation-state?  Is Scottish nationalism healthy?  Are nuclear weapons moral?  Should there be an independent Scottish foreign policy?  And what might an independent Scotland offer for the good of the world?  The crux of contradiction was whether the promise of socialism could be fulfilled better in Scotland alone rather than in Great Britain, thereby creating a debate about whether centralized government is good for socialism.  But where would socialism be without the forced participation of non-socialists?

Here are the election results in each of 32 Scottish councils.
Here is a collage of television commercials for and against.

It is a very good thing that 85 percent of the Scottish voters turned out.  We Americans take this privilege of voting, won by generations of blood, for granted.

We wish our Scottish allies, neighbors, and relatives well.

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