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Scotland Needs a Cultural Revolution

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Turning and turning in the widening gyre | The falcon cannot hear the falconer | Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold | Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world | The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere | The ceremony of innocence is drowned | The best lack all conviction, while the worst | Are full of passionate intensity. — W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming
Scotland Needs a Cultural Revolution




Loyalist supporters of union with the UK


The Queen of England has welcomed the Scottish referendum results from her castle in Balmoral, and Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, has resigned. Violent clashes have already occured on the streets between Unionists and Nationalists. London media organs, such as the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express have been refused entry to Yes Campaign press conferences, video evidence of vote rigging is being posted on You Tube, and London politicians are already back tracking on promises made. By all accounts, Scottish Independence, while defeated at the polls, is a story that’s far from over.


But where to for Scotland’s independence movement? The Scottish Nationalist Party, the largest party in Scotland’s devolved national assembly, had orignally asked London for a referendum on what it called Maximum Devolution (popularly called Devo Max). At present, the Scottish Assembly has control over only 7% of Scotland’s national revenue. Devo Max would have transferred almost 100% of revenues to Hollyrood (the seat of Scotland’s assembly). Devo Max was almost certain to win any referendum, so British Prime Minister, David Cameron, decided on an all or nothing gamble. The referendum would be on full Scottish independence, or nothing. On the surface, this looks to have been a good call on Cameron’s part, however, in the final weeks of the campaign, with the Yes side pushing ahead in the polls, the London establishment lost its nerve. In the second week of September, the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats agreed to suspend Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons, and the three party leaders travelled to Scotland to, in effect, promise the Scottish people to legislate for Devo Max, if they rejected Scottish Independence. This was actually an illegal move, as postal ballots had already been caste, and they were effectively changing the terms of the referendum (but, when has the British ruling elite ever regarded the law as applying to them?).


In the end, 55% of voters rejected full independence and 45% voted for. Hardly a resounding endorsement of the Union, and hardly a disaster for a Nationalist movement, which had never really felt itself ready for this outing. Even without changing their strategy and tactics in any way, the Nationalists can look on this as a battle that has brought them considerable advantage. They had originally asked for Devo Max, and now it has been promised to them. If they get it, they can use Devo Max to further loosen London control on Scottish life, and normalize the idea of independence among the doubters. If London defaults on the promises it made in the final days of the referendum campaign (as Cameron has already indicated he intends to do), then it opens a collossal gulf of trust with not only the ordinary Yes voter, but with many of those who voted to continue London rule. In effect, the Nationalists stand to gain in either scenario.


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