Yes or No: Will the Historic Merger Hold?

The Act of Union of 1707 may have seemed unthinkable to a populace accustomed to the historical rivalry between England and Scotland. Today, it seems just as strange to be contemplating a future where the two nations are no longer bound together in a United Kingdom.

However, if First Minister Alex Salmond has his way, Scotland will become an independent nation once again 2014, when a referendum is now due. Salmond’s nationalism may appeal to some, although currently less than one-third of Scots are planning to vote for independence. It is hardly surprising given that, for most of its history as an independent state, Scotland resided in England’s shadow, prey to its military whims and economic demands.

The determined Salmond has much persuading to do

The Battle of Culloden in 1746 ended the final Jacobite Rising, which attempted to re-create an independent Scottish monarchy before making a decisive move on England. The crushing defeat for Charles Edward Stuart and his Scottish allies reflected a historical reality; the disparate, small and under-equipped tribes of the north were no match for the larger English Army. From the days of Edward I, “the Hammer of the Scots”, through to Culloden, Scotland’s grip on independence was at first tenuous and subsequently non-existent. Of course, some notable Scottish victories occurred over the centuries, including at Bannockburn (1314) and Culblean (1335) and these have helped feed a misconception of equality on the battlefield.

Indeed, more notable Scottish military achievements have come when fighting as part of the British Army during both World Wars and in numerous colonial conflicts which helped Great Britain become the greatest imperial power on the globe. Such shared achievements will no longer be accomplishable should Salmond win his referendum.

Putting aside the military, there are obvious economic and political connotations for independence. Scotland already subsumes a disproportionate amount of national budgets and political appointments. Why forfeit such privileges to rule the roost over a comparatively puny and feeble nation? What happens when North Sea oil and gas runs out and Scotland’s economic lifeline dies?

It is considerations such as these that are likely to doom Salmond’s referendum to failure. He believes Scottish pride and freedom will be restored by independence. But how about the potential economic regression and political inferiority such a move would also entail? Scottish pride would be better served within a United Kingdom, whereby each part contributes to a strong whole. Unfortunately for Mr Salmond, many Scots will be thinking the same.

Author: Stefan Lang

An interested observer of current affairs, researcher and writer

4 thoughts on “Yes or No: Will the Historic Merger Hold?”

  1. Ok Dude here we go again.
    1st. The Kingdom of Scotland’s parliament was amalgamated with the English Parliament (in what could be called one of the worst cases of skullduggery) to create the country called Great Britain in 1707. The Term “united kingdom” doesn’t apply to Scotland in this case as the United Kingdom will still exist if Scotland regains its independence. United Kingdom came into being when the Great British parliament was amalgamated with the Irish parliament in 1801 to become the country called the United kingdom of great britian and Ireland.
    2nd. It doesn’t seem strange that Scotland wants to rid its self of our imperialistic partner. It has been the dream of Scots people for 300 years.
    3rd. Its not Salmonds Nationalism its the Policy of the SNP,
    4th, Yes Scotland has been in the shadow of England in as much as a small child is in the shadow of a bully that takes the kids lunch money!
    5th. The “45” wasn’t an attempt to establish a separate Scottish monarchy, it was as it was in the case of the “15” to place the “rightful” Jacobite ruler on the throne as opposed to William or later the Hanoverian Usurpers. To call it Scotland Vs England is wrong. It could be classed as part of the wars of religion. Whilst most of the Jacobite were Scots there were more than a few English, Irish, French and other Adventurers. Whilst the Hanoverian Side a third of the force was scots with English Hessian and Austrians. To call this a Scottish Independence war is wrong!
    6th. The failcy of scots being uneducated barbarian tribes is wildly spouted crap. Scotland by the 12th Century in the lowlands was just about the same as anywhere in England. Yes the Highlands had the clan system, but i ask you to look at the clan system yourself.
    7th The Scots did manage to achieve military parity with the English (of course the English won more battles) but Scotland as a nation survived and wasn’t swallowed by our larger nation through military conquest. Well apart from the lands of Cumbria and Cumberland and berwick upon tweed. Indeed when English army came and defeated the Scottish army in battle they couldn’t hold the ground because the Scots would be hitting their supply’s and using scorched earth to force the English out.
    8th. Edward the long shanks or Edward the bastard may have held the important towns but the Scots were bleeding him which shows that Scots were not military weak. After a pitched battle and a defeat the Scots would reform and attack the English underbelly, they took the ground but they couldn’t hold it!
    9th. Lets not forget the Scottish contribution to the building of the empire. Where Scots fought on all continents and in famous campaigns such as the battle of minden, the peninsular campaign Waterloo, south africa, the 13 colony, Canada, India, the thin red line in the Crimea. And lets not forget that Due to the economic policy of Great britian at the time the only employment that Scots could get was the army. Making up nearly 30% of the British army, where they were mainly used as fodder for London imperialistic dreams of empire!
    10th. Why would scots today want to share in such glorious shared imperial adventures in unjust wars such as Iraq, Scotland didnt want that war. And just made things worse in Iraq and made Scotland a target (glasgow airport anyone)???

    11th. Ok this is where i have the biggest issue.

    Scotland pays more into the UK Exchequor than it gets back, you are sprouting the same crap that offends me, trying to explain to english people/friends that (even with oil out) Scotland pays more money than it gets back in the barnett formula .

    Add in the Scottish Oil revenue that we have, we would be better off. Oil that has been mismanaged and used to support countless UK wide governments, such as the disablement of UK industry and allowing the government to pay dole.

    12th Are you Scottish? Are you British because you seem to be making a variety of statements which are ambiguous or down right rubbish. You seem to have just read the better together manifesto and re-wrote it. The more i read the more i am pro independence, the amount of political spin and lies from people trying to save their jobs and get knighted and lordships is astounding!

    No offence mate

    1. Right, slightly more incendiary comment this one but here goes:
      1) Great Britain/United Kingdom – yes fair point…shall put that down to a lack of concentration
      2) It might have been a dream for many Scots but certainly not all and next year will be telling. As you note, the Scots contributed to the building of empire and have many noted imperialists themselves. Indeed, several independent Scottish imperial ventures were undertaken in North America during the 17th/18th centuries and there was, of course, the infamous “Darien Project”. So can’t just brand English as imperialists, despite their pre-eminence in this field.
      3) Okay it’s the policy of the SNP but Salmond’s undoubted nationalism, coupled with his ‘oratory’ powers and self-publicisation makes him the personification of Scottish nationalism to many south of the border
      4) So we agree Scotland has been in England’s shadow
      5) I agree that the Jacobite uprisings of the fifteen and the forty-five were trying to restore the Stuart monarchy but there aim was initially to establish themselves in Scotland before a push on England, so rather than an independent Scottish monarchy an independent base from which they could strike south. Certainly there were foreign parties backing each sides feeding into the Protestant/Catholic religious wars which had reached their height in Europe during the 17th century. But its immediacy was in determining the futures of Scotland and England and their inter-relationship.
      6) Yep was being slightly facetious here, trying to spark some kind of debate by playing on the stereotype of uncivilized Scots – I respectfully withdraw this point
      7) The Scots certainly used a great deal of ingenuity to prevent annihilation at the hands of the English but in purely military terms the English were stronger (which is natural given their greater resources and manpower)
      8) Edward I (I shall leave it at that) did much to restrict Scottish military prowess to prevent an encroachment on England as much as the other way around. More importantly, his reign, and the mythology that accompanied it, would largely dictate England’s aggressive policy towards Scotland in subsequent centuries through a belief that his wars were exercising a justified right of the English Crown. I acknowledge that the Scots saw off the English in 1314 and secured recognised independence in 1328, although this was under the reign of the weak Edward II.
      9) I do acknowledge the Scottish contribution to British military history I think and agree with you on this point. But as I point out in comment 2, you cannot ignore that some Scots were equally enthusiastic about empire and imperialism as the English. It is only a condition of our current times that we are obliged to feel guilty for the imperialism of our forebears.
      10) I think we could agree that fighting the world wars was a shared achievement? I agree on your point on Iraq etc. (and don’t mention in the article deliberately). Remember a lot of English people were against that war as well and have been targeted subsequently (and we have Tony Blair to thank for that)
      11) I can understand the contention here because since writing this piece I have red several contradictory articles. These figures inspired my comments:
      • Scotland has 8.4% of UK population, accounts for 8.3% of output and 8.3% of non-oil tax revenues whilst accounting for 9.2% of public spending
      • Total Scottish non-oil tax revenues are £42.7bn whilst total public expenditure attributable to Scotland is £59.2bn.
      • If you agree with Mr Salmond that 90% of UK North Sea oil revenues are Scottish then tax revenues would be £48.1bn and thus accounting for 9.4% of revenues whilst receiving 9.2% of public expenditure, but the 90% is contentious.
      It is not just Scotland that spends more than it gives in revenue, as much of England is the same. However, the reliance on disputed oil revenue to close the gap between revenue and expenditure is important because it will have an impact should the ‘yes’ vote succeed and the process of determining whole controls the oil reserves begins its long path. I also believe that the influence of Scottish politicians (i.e.MPs in Scottish seats) in Westminster in recent years cannot be overlooked, as the English have no say in Holyrood. This might be an entitlement some Scots might not find worth giving up
      12) Finally, I am German although I live in England. As I hope the rest of my blog shows, I am not simply trying to make a case against Scottish independence, and rather comment on newsworthy events which hopefully will provoke the debate that you have brought.


  2. Did you delete my previous comment and did it break any of your posting guidelines. In which case I can post again without the offending comment what ever it was

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