Now that the votes have been cast and (I hope) some of the disappointment has abated, I guess I can more safely express my own opinion about Scottish Independence.
I’m not Scottish, so I’ve never had a direct say in the matter, but many of my sympathies have been with those Scots who wanted independence. Scotland has, undeniably, been better managed by the SNP than has Britain as a whole under the Tories (though that’s not especially difficult) and many of the causes around which the Scots have been rallying are ones that most clear-thinking individuals, whether north of south of the border, can only agree with. And Scotland has a richer heritage with many more years of history of being an independent sovereign nation than most of those nations throughout the world that now have independent statehood. Who can’t help but be inspired by the myths and legends of Scottish history and its struggle against the foreign oppressor which has been (as much as it has been for the Republic of Ireland) none other than perfidious Albion?
The truth, however, is that I didn’t want the Scots to vote for independence and I’m pretty pleased they didn’t. My own view is that Scotland would not benefit at all from being independent from its larger neighbour and the advantages of economic and political muscle it retains by being part of a much larger United Kingdom. Scots can continue to watch Eastenders and send Scottish airmen to bomb Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq. England can continue to benefit from the disproportionately high quality of educated Scots, sensible examples of practical government policies and preferential access to North Sea Oil over other countries in the European Union.
Furthermore, and more radically, I’m not a supporter of the general tendency over the last century for there to be greater and greater fragmentation of political units at a time when the challenges of environmental change and cultural upheaval threaten the future of our very existence. From the disintegration of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires onwards, there has been a tendency towards smaller and smaller molecular units of statehood, only partially resolved by larger inter-state organisations such as the European Union, the United Nations and the like.
But there’s also another more selfish reason for my opposition to Scottish Independence. My near future dystopian novel No Future predicts that Scotland doesn’t leave the UK until the 2050s: a prediction that seemed fairly secure until a few weeks ago when a poll showed the Yes campaign momentarily ahead.
So, if nothing else, I’ve been spared having to either rewrite certain chapters of the novel to retain its plausibility (beware the future creeping up on you faster than you anticipated if you should ever write a story set in the near future) or having to accept that the novel (like 1984 and 2001: A Space Odyssey) is one doomed to being an untrue vision of the future long before that future taking place.
So, that’s yet another reason to celebrate Scotland having chosen to remain part of the same nation as England, Wales and Northern Ireland.