Scottish Independence Vote: Tartan Panic?

Scottish Guard's National Dress (Picture by Loretto Leary)

Scottish Guard’s National Dress (Picture by Loretto Leary)

In 10 days time Scotland will vote yes or no for independence from England. It is an interesting time, historic even, because what the need for a vote for independence demonstrates is that geographical proximity is not enough to create a sense of unity, and neither is a shared history.

From the days of William Wallace onward, there have been mixed feelings about shared government between Scotland and England. If Scotland does vote yes, what does it mean for other areas tied geographically to England, but culturally different? Areas like Wales, Cornwall and even though not part of the same land mass, Northern Ireland, all culturally different, but part of the family known as the United Kingdom.

Map of the United Kingdom (Picture Via BBC News)

Map of the United Kingdom (Picture Via BBC News)

Scotland and England are, after all, part of the same land mass. You’d think that they’d have so much in common. That’s what you’d think. But I was shocked that there was such a strong sense of cultural identity and difference between the two.

It will be interesting to see how things go. I think myself that if Scotland votes Yes to independence from the UK it could put a huge tax burden on the citizens of Scotland. Being reduced from 60 million taxpayers to 6 million is a big decrease in tax income for government operations. Or maybe, as a Scottish taxi driver told me, “that’s just scare tactics,” from London.

On my July trip to Scotland, I discovered in passing conversations with retailers and taxi drivers and hotel staff that the majority of older citizens want independence from the UK. Their argument being that tax money went straight to London and not enough of a return was visible in Scotland. The younger people however seemed indifferent to independence.

If Scottish Independence does happen, I think London Government might  pull industry to their side of the border, lack of government subsidies could be enough to sway votes. Investors as of today have turned on Scotland, causing a loss in the value of shares for Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group, according to UK’s paper The Independent.

Prominent names like Annie Lennox, Sean Connery and Alan Cumming, Billy Bragg, all Scottish by birth, have publicly announced a yes vote for Scottish Independence.

Lennox said that Scottish Independence is, “an opportunity for something innovative and visionary. Scotland could have some kind of new, ethical, visionary stance and it could take on some fresh ideas.”

Connery has said, “the opportunity of independence is too good to miss.”

Alan Cumming says, “”The evidence is clear – in the past 15 years we have become stronger economically, socially, culturally and globally. The world is waiting for us and I know Scotland is ready.”

Edinburgh born actor Iain Glen said when he was young and living in Scotland he didn’t feel Scottish, and added that now he feels, “entirely Scottish.” Glen said, “I’m not for independence. It feels a bit churlish to live in London and say we should be independent.”

Two other well known Scots, Craig Ferguson and Gerard Butler, kept their feelings to themselves in a recent interview, but they will be voting in the referendum they said.

Will Scotland vote yes? If the recent figures of a 51% yes to a 49% no can cause £750 million slashed from share prices of Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group, and “Market Mayhem,” and that’s just a  small lead of 2%, well maybe that’s the “scare tactic” needed to get a majority no vote.

Why is it important to the rest of the world? Because in a globally shrinking world the need for borders and cultural identity seems to be on the rise. A border is as good as a wall. It keeps foreign people out and keeps native people in. And depending on who you talk to, this can be a good or a bad thing.

On September the 18th, or shortly thereafter, we’ll know how the majority of Scottish citizens feel about the matter. Others may follow their example.


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