Friday, September 19, 2014

Scotland & independence movements

Can it ever be the same?

The reality of the 55/45 vote overnight in Scotland is a cold shower for independence aspiration in Quebec and Catalonia (among many many others -- looking at you Wales).  The Scots got a very clear question -- do you want to be governed from London or Edinburgh?  The Scots said, no thanks -- better the devil you know!

However pandora's box is now open.  Once talks of divorce start its hard to stop -- my guess is that yesterday's vote solves nothing;  discussions will continue for a long long time, with the Scottish nationalist party finding a new excuse to restart the process. As an example:  "although the question was "clear" it didn't spell-out what was the alternative, what was the ideal of an independent Scotland".  It remains that 45% of Scotland's voting population said "we want things to be run out of Edinburgh", that's 1.5 million people, a not insignificant percentage of the population.

Already, the press is having fun.  In reality, it is the press that loves those kind of plebiscites.  The press will find the unreconstructed separatists that want nothing less than Scotland for Scots!  its not about governance but hurt pride. 

The past 50 years the Scots have wanted self-determination.  The threat of departure has been a huge incentive for London to devolve many of its decisions to local officials; often better equipped to see the problems on the ground, rather than 500 km south.  Those opposing independence don't give enough credit to the independence movement to see its impact on how the Scottish population is now governed.  This has been the real achievement.

The Quebec separatists sent delegations to Scotland -- probably (after too much whiskey) are on their way home deeply demoralized.  If a nation (Scotland) which has been "subjugated" by England cannot free itself from the cold grasp of their invaders -- what hope go Quebecers have; we don't have inspiring movies like Bravehart.  Moreover, the Parti Quebecois has seen slipping polls -- in the 18 to 25 age group they rank 4th in voter intentions!  That lower than the Marxist Leninist "Quebec Solidaire"  which is pretty bad.

Generally the most attractive features of independence movement is that they bring to the forefront the grievances of a nation (Scots like Quebecers are nations -- based on the concept of a shared identity) and act a pressure valve allowing for the central government, over time, to devolve those functions that are better (maybe not) administered locally.  In Quebec, aside from the armed forces, 99% of population governmental interaction is with the Quebec government (except during tax times).  Similarly in Scotland, the London government has started (years ago) a devolution process that it seems to want to accelerate.  Talk of separation has yielded a true reform in how, as nation, we are governed today.

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