The Scottish referendum
by Martin Woollacott
“how small the stakes are for the Scots… how large they are for the wider world”
The 306 year old United Kingdom is in mortal danger if in next year’s referendum, Scots electors vote to leave the Union with England, Wales and N.Ireland.
The Union has never before been so much at risk - not from invasion by some overbearing nation or envious neighbour, but from within. It rests on the thoughtfulness – or lack of it, that Scottish voters will democratically bring to bear on this question of breaking up the UK.
Martin Woollacott, formerly Foreign Editor of ‘The Guardian,’ considers here what is at stake if a ‘Yes’ vote to separation, or even a narrow ‘No’ vote prevails, not only on the home nations, but also on treaty partners like the EU, already under threat from reckless English nationalists seeking to take ‘Engerland’ out of Europe, in a referendum yet to come.
He asks readers to look for guidance, not only in terms of the wreckage it would cause in the home islands, but to examine other national separations, specifically the clearly unnecessary ten year old break-up of the two founding nations of Czecho-slovakia, due very largely to the ambitions of individual politicians. A powerful lesson here surely?
What is extraordinary in this context is that not only businesses, but families and institutions have for many generations been so thoroughly integrated, that for centuries the pride in being Scots, English, Welsh, or Ulstermen, has been generally seen as enhancing the concept of being British - and vice versa.