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Because of my interests in history I've always been aware of the dominance of English language and culture in the British Isles, and cringed at the confusion of England with Britain in the minds of Little Englanders as well as many of those from abroad; and this has only been heightened after a move to Wales in the last few years. But while regionalism is understandable (and an increasing number of Cornish have a sense of distinction when confronted by insensitive outsiders, for example) I can't help feeling that to emphasise distinctiveness at the cost of shared culture, language and experiences is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. (This is a mood that I understand is in parts of Spain, and we have seen it happen, to Europe's bloody cost, in the Balkan peninsula. Though it can't have been a totally bad thing in the former USSR.)
At the moment, evolution through the processes of devolved power and law-making is allowing that distinctiveness within the 'family' of the United Kingdom, but I worry that revolution through enforced separation may increasingly be on the agenda for public debate.
Ok so I do feel some people on all sides exagerate the problems. Nationlism leaves a bad taste in my mouth usually and I like UK on the whole and would be sad to see everything dissolve into smaller countries.
What I do have a problem with is devolution max, seems over complicated that can hide a lot of unfair laws. I guess the devils the in the detail, it might be a good 1st step but it might having their cake and eating it ( hmm that is a rather silly expression!)
* funny how that doesn't apply to Norn-iron politicians - I suppose they have squabbles enough in their island to keep them out of mischief.
ETA I was slowly composing this while >5 abbottthomas: was posted - I've left the silly cake expression in: it's little less silly if you say, as nobody ever does, have your cake and eat it too
What I find interesting is how this Anglocentrism has occurred. Look at the Labour years. Blair was educated in Scotland (but obviously positioned himself to appeal to middle England), but we have also had Brown. Also of course both Labour only had Scots as Chancellor of the Exchequer for their 13 year run.
I don't think that it is necessarily Anglo-centrism but a move towards trying to attract the votes of a fairly small subset of middle class voters in a few places (most of which are in England) and a trust in the market above all else has left a lot of people disillusioned and not just in Scotland.
On the whole I think that there will have to be more planned devolution - but not just to Scotland. To Wales and the regions too. It will probably require a change to how Westminster works too. However those kind of changes are very hard. At times it will require the people in power voting against their own personal interests. I'm not sure we can get from here to there without tears.
6 Good point, north/south divide for example. My gut feeling don't think breaking down into smaller and smaller areas works all that well as much as I feel Bristol should break away into its own state and become a tax haven :)
The map of the UK has been changed out of all recognition over the last 30 years with the result that the most dramatic contrast between 'countries' within the UK is between London and the rest of us. The borders of the constituent countries are a historical issue that has little relevance in the London-centric country we now live in.
I suppose I'd apply for dual nationality on the basis of my mother being Scottish (I've lived in England all my life though). Not that I'd get the benefit of more progressive social care unless I actually moved there of course.
I rather suspect that where exactly they draw the line in the north sea, i.e. who gets to keep the oil, is a sufficiently sticky problem that it'll never happen.
I think most people in Scotland want more devolution, the Calman commission supports it. I think that is better for that to be a planned devolution over time in conjunction with changes across the UK rather than a power-grab by the SNP.
Personally I believe that decisions are best made at the lowest possible level. That doesn't mean that there isn't space for a UK level governance - there will be, or country level governance - there will be, just that some decisions are better made on a regional basis. The difficult task is to do that without adding extra layers of bureaucracy (and extra elections) and maintain accountability.
'Difficult', if not impossible. I think that even after recent events in the UK we don't have half such a sceptical attitude towards politicians as we should have. All power corrupts and they need to be constantly held to account, to be the focus of attention. The media has an essential function, even if it often seems to fall down in the performance. When I consider what national-level politicians have been found to have been getting away with in recent years, I have to wonder what more localised politicians, mostly below the radar of the national media, may be getting away with. Adding extra layers of politicians (and their supporting bureaucracies) in between seems to me to be bound to lead to increases in waste, corruption and injustice (which all undoubtedly already happen - nobody lives in a perfect society). I can't imagine we'd see any increase in investigative newspapers or TV channels financing investigative programmes to keep pace.
I would ask whether anyone has really thought through the implications, but since it was all started by someone called Blair, I think the answer is obvious.
By the way, I enjoyed my haggis last evening (Burns Night)!
Although I don't know a lot about the economical ramifications for seperation for either Scotland or the rest of the UK I can't help but think this is not a great time for such a massive upheaval. Being Welsh myself I completely support the call for more devolved power in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In fact I think a lot of things could do with being decentralised away from London and the South-east. It has long been a problem that the different individual needs of communities around Britain are misunderstood or just ignored in favour of policies that work well in L&SE. If we had a better, less centralised system I don't think there would be half the support for Scottish indipendance that there is now. I know the government has been making noises about giving more powers to Scotland in order to convince them to stay, I hope they are going to see this through.
The smaller you are, the less power you have. Tossed around on a financial millpond, with no control.
Salmond is a raving lunatic, with his own agenda.
Someone told me that Scottish politicians are low grade because there is not a large enough the gene pool to select them from. Not that the English are much better!
I do agree with the low grade of Scottish politicians though but only for the main UK parties - Labour, Liberal and Conservative members with ambition want to get into Westminster, with the SNP they aim for Holyrood. The is creating a problem though, Salmond and the SNP can now run rings round the weak opposition.
>22 MyopicBookworm: - it hasn't worked in Westminster (and they produce much more hot air) so I doubt that would work in Holyrood. It's a good idea though, if we could get it to work we could save all the money about to be spent on nuclear power (and with no side-effects except a little spittle).
Yes ... I do find the 'game' supremely irritating, in case that wasn't obvious. For me, 'the beautiful game' is a brace of pheasants.
Personally, I find the whole thing deeply frustrating. To me, Scottish nationalism really is of the basest kind: it ranges all the way from 'We don't like England' to 'We are not England'. Yes, ours is a United Kingdom, formed by a Union between Scotland and England but its as if Salmond and co can see no further than that. It is the essence of the whole independence movement: everything else - all the economic arguments, the political arguments, the flimsy cultural arguments - are merely rationalising, padding the core perception that is nothing more than 'We are not England'. If they were even remotely clear sighted it would be obvious that in fact the only difference between Scotland and England is geography (and the fact that many Scots seem to hang on to this sense of separateness, which really is nothing more): we share the same language, culturally we are exactly the same (kilts, btw, do not make you a unique culture); economically there is essentially no difference between Scotland and the whole (regional inequality in the UK is between London and the rest, as has been mentioned); you can't make argument that Scotland is in any way oppressed that extends any further than 'England is bigger'. At least Wales, where I'm from, retains its own language (albeit among a minority), yet we aren't gunning for independence because we don't see ourselves as a separate entity in the same way, because it isn't recorded in history - and so no-one is blinded by the notion - that ours is a country simply involved in a political union with another.
I always call myself British above Welsh, I vote against devolution why the opportunity is there (as far as I can tell, these sub-national parliaments mostly act only to justify their existence), in my mind the Union is the country; we are a family and Scotland is a brother - but whereas before he was merely mildly irritating, admittedly now he only inspires contempt. Sometimes I feel I'm torn between wanting Scotland out, saying 'screw them, rebuild the wall', or holding Union together, the more general recognition that simple-minded people like Salmond and his ilk are everywhere in various forms and that it's simply historical bad fortune that here, in this case, they are coming together, triumphantly raising something so parochial above everything else which is worth so much more, and will break apart something many of us love as a result. Ultimately, if they vote 'Yes' it really would be a tragedy.
This says a lot about the opportunism of the insularists, perhaps even about their intelligence, since a voter who wants to preserve the union is bound to explain why any change might be damaging, and thereby sound negative.
The more perfect the union is, the less opportunity exists to suggest improvements and sound positive. On the other hand, those who press for change can claim anything, since their proposals are untestable.
It annoys me that a change to independence, however disastrous it might prove to be, will result in a flow of 'Scots' southwards, and the remainder of the UK will be morally obliged to provide the funds to correct the errors, however gross.
That's sound thinking. I haven't noticed much discussion about post-independence emigration/immigration. If the Scots go, and stay in the EU, all their jobless could hop on a bus over the border without hindrance. If the EU wouldn't have them, I'm sure that they would expect to be treated as the Irish always have been and have free access to England. The English/Scottish border would be more or less uncontrollable anyway.
I'm sadly starting to sound like a UKIP or even BNP supporter! My first thoughts were to wish the Scottish separatists good luck and look forward to a weakend Labour Party - maybe I need to think again.
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