I was making dinner last night watching as I did an episode of Outlander. In the episode clan Mackenzie toured the Scottish highlands trying to raise money for Bonnie Prince Charlie, and the rebellion that would throw the redcoats out of Scotland and restore a Scottish king to the throne. Most people are at least vaguely familiar with the history of Scottish resistance. We’ve known that they’re a proud, fierce and hardy people unwilling to submit to the yoke of a foreign power. Who can forget Braveheart?
The obvious irony is that about 2 hours before that the vote on Scottish independence from England had been officially decided in the negative. The Scots, given the opportunity to secede from the union, to self-govern and to stand on their own two feet as a grown up nation in their own right had considered it and ultimately said no thanks. How times have changed.
Like most of the world I followed this with keen interest. It’s fair to say that I was very strongly on the ‘yes’ bandwagon. Given I live on the other side of the world I was quite passionate about it. It was an awful day all round yesterday, and this feeble decision was a contributing factor.
As a general rule I’ll always be in favour of independence and self-rule. Philosophically the idea of being anything less than 100% individual is offensive to me. I remain a very firm supporter of Australia becoming a republic for that reason.
As for the Scots it seemed natural to me that they should secede. Scots are a very different people to the English. Every Scot I’ve ever met is proudly so. They’re a vibrant people and culture. I’ve always thought of them as independent types, great friends, stern enemies, good drinkers and vivid characters. I may need to re-consider that stereotype now.
Perhaps it is the Scots of history I have been drawn to, those passionate Highlanders with their incomprehensible accents forever battling to drive the hated Sassenach from their country. Here, finally, they have the democratic option to do so – and decline.
Not brave-hearts, pea-hearts. I tweeted the other day that any Scot who voted no is not worth a caber toss. Watching the ‘no’ voters celebrate – many of them quite young – I was filled with revulsion mixed with wonder. How can you possibly celebrate remaining home when a wild world beckons to you? Where is the joy in maintaining a safe status quo? Why not stand on your feet and proclaim I am Scottish and I’ll manage my own destiny?
Much as I’ve been disappointed with my own country’s flirtation with becoming a republic, this strikes me as many times worse. At least we are our own country. Scotland haven’t really progressed to that stage, and now have knocked back the opportunity. I feel bitter as an Aussie. I imagine there are many angry Scots today waking up up with fierce hangovers.
Ultimately it is fear and complacency which killed this. What happens if we do secede? Don’t we have it good? I think those fears are ill-founded, but we’ll never know now. Had the vote been yes the Scots would have woken today to find themselves part still of mainland Britain, the North Sea oil wells still pumping oil and Europe just to the east of them. And it would have been theirs to govern with and manage. Suddenly the keys to the car fall into your hand. Sure it’s scary, but gee it’s exciting too? Where shall we go?
The highlanders portrayed in Outlander would not have hesitated for a moment, proud and independent by instinct.
I’ll never understand truly why that was refused – no, dad, you keep driving, I don’t need a car. I dinna ken. Pissweak.