September 13, 2014

“Ach, the Sassenachs (English) be greet’in and gurn’in (moaning, groaning, wailing) most mightily.”

Every so often, the Scots like to rise up and give the Sassenachs a big scare. Next week, they are threatening to break their union with England and Wales which has been in effect since 1707. The United Kingdom may be no more.

Good for those rambunctious Scots! If Scotland goes independent, Britain will be left a shadow of its former shrunken self, deprived of oil, imperial pretensions, and much of its arrogance. Egad, the hated French will be stronger than England.

The British used to specialize in breaking up countries: Burma, China, India, South Africa, Nigeria, Sudan, Quebec, the Ottoman Empire, Iran, and many others.

If Scots decamp from the United Kingdom, many of these nations will savor sweet revenge. The Irish, who suffered centuries under the boot of British domination,
will finally have their revenge.

Scotland has only 5 million people, but what a remarkable people they are, and what a history. First in war, the fierce highland regiments were covered in military honors. First in industry, science, economics and the Enlightenment. Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh was rightly called “the Athens of the North.” Scots brought commerce and culture to North America, the West Indies, and Australia. Their soldiers served the French kings.

Still, why would a notoriously practical, clear-thinking people like the Scots leave the United Kingdom and embark on an uncertain future that could bring financial crises and political isolation? Britain says it won’t allow the Scots to use sterling as their currency; subsidies from London will be withdrawn. Scotland’s offshore oil has peaked and may be in decline. Its share of Britain’s bloated debt is an estimated 143 billion pounds.

Nearly half of Scots will likely vote to stay in the United Kingdom. But Scots are an intensely proud people whose history goes back to Roman times. Their courage in fighting off British attempts to subjugate Scotland is legendary.

In 1707, Scotland’s ruling elite opted for union with Great Britain against the wishes of most citizens. The reason was truly sordid: the Scot’s elite had invested much of their wealth in a daring scheme to turn Panama’s narrow Darien gap between the Pacific and Atlantic into a nexus of trade. The scheme went bust, as did the first Panama Canal attempt by France in 1881. Financial loses in Scotland were huge.

Along came the British and cleverly offered to reimburse the losses of Scotland’s ruling class if it would vote for union with Britain. London also promised the Scots trade access to its rich colonies. And so the deal was done.

Robert Burns, Scotland’s poet laureate, wrote: “We’re bought and sold for English gold.”

Ordinary Scotts bear a deep, historic grudge against London’s ruling class which, like its colleagues in Washington, has lost all touch with the common man and local issues. Proud Scots are sick of being lorded over, or plain ignored, by Britain’s distant elite, which they see as insufferably arrogant and incompetent.

“Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven,” wrote John Milton in Paradise Lost. Many Scots agree.

Traditionally to the left, Scots have never forgiven PM Margaret Thatcher for wiping out much of their nation’s old heavy industry and mines that while inefficient provided large number of good jobs. Many want revenge.

Interestingly, an independent Scotland would not, as Britons warn, float away to nothingness. The Scots might join the European Union and resume their close historic ties to France. Britain would loses its nuclear submarine bases in Scotland and be forced to relocate them further south.

The United States is not at all happy seeing its faithful British satrap laid low by the Scots. If the Scots hit new oil or gas deposits in the North Sea, the Brits will be livid.

Independence for Scotland is more an emotional than a practical issue. To the devil with the bean counters and toff politicians in London. Sharpen the broadswords and break out the whisky. The spirits of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace are rising.
copyright Eric S. Margolis 2014

This post is in: England, Great Britain, Scotland


  1. The referendum has passed. The ‘Yes’ vote was 1,600,000 and the ‘No’ vote was 2,000,000; this was a very impressive result for the ‘Yes’ vote… the next one will be more definitive. The people of Scotland have missed an excellent opportunity and one for adventure.
    The problem has not gone away. The ‘Old Boys Club’ in Westminster will not change; they may throw a few crumbs, but little will change. The Scots will be more aware of how the United Kingdom is ruled for the benefit of England. To reiterate, it is unlikely that Westminster will change.
    Will there be reprisals… I don’t know, but the Scots have been ‘put in their place’. I suspect that there will be legislation to secure the North Sea oil for England, and, there will be little that Scotland can do.
    Salmon, the Scots leader, has resigned; he should be greatly saddened at the outcome. A free Scotland may not occur in his lifetime. Twenty years of his lifetime wasted. He has an integrity, sorely lacking in many of the ‘old boys’.
    My sincerest condolences to Scotland.

  2. One thought just occurred to me about this: “Surely at sometime it must have to occurred to England it really isn’t a good idea to mess with a country whose national sport is tossing telephone poles.”

  3. I couldn’t help but wonder how the gradual decline of the famed British Empire would seem to the colonial masters of only a century ago, who would be hard pressed to believe this reality. The power baton gets passed around and the cycle repeats itself. Britain was only an empire in name at the end of the second war, losing all of her colonial territories and a gradual economic decline. The breakup of the United Kingdom would mean the sun has finally set on the British Empire. Where will the modern super-powers of today be in 50 years?

  4. Not to mention the effect it is having on Europe, like the Catalans in Spain and the Spanish government is scared of them leaving.

  5. Would it not be ironic, if England and Wales end up having to ask the Scots for help and be forced to eat some humble pie, that over the centuries they loved to shove down the throats of others?
    Russia tried to rule over a lot of countries and failed. Germany tried the same and failed. Most European countries have used colonization for self-enrichment and they all failed. They are trying to hang onto their ill gotten riches from the plunder of other countries, mainly Asian and African. After the second world war the US built its empire on the rubble of others and they are now in a steep decline. Just like the laws of nature not allowing mountains to rise higher than gravity allows them. The gravitational forces of culture, race, geography and topography set a natural limit to the desirable size. Just like children move away from home, so should societies be allowed if desired. It is better to negotiate trade with other countries, than to try and steal their resources by force, which so far has been the favorite modus operandi of the white man over many centuries. The UN came into being with the supposed aim to unite all peoples under one umbrella, but it was doomed from the start by a severe imbalance, where some countries managed to give themselves more rights than others and that causes tension, especially when those special rights are constantly being abused to the point, that the entire UN body has no semblance to even the most loosely defined form of democracy.
    If England is so great, then why do they object to the Scots separating? The same goes for Quebec in Canada or the Basques in Spain and there are a myriad other examples of the same. The United States was united with the force of revolution and its demise will probably have the same cause. The United States of Europe was a grandiose idea, but in practice it is an unmanageable behemoth. The USSR is another example. You can`t spread a lasting civilization and democracy by means of barbarism.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.