By Robert A. Vella
Yesterday, the Scottish referendum for independence failed by a 10 point margin. Voter turnout was unusually high at nearly 85 percent. The result is rather surprising considering the closeness of the pre-election polls which had showed a virtual dead-heat contest. So, the 307 year-old United Kingdom survived. So too does its 47 year-old Prime Minister David Cameron, at least for now.
It appears that Scotland began having second-thoughts about the referendum as the election drew near. This would suggest a cautious, contemplative mood among the populace which contradicts the country’s proudly defiant image as portrayed in pop-culture by films such as Braveheart.
The people that have inhabited what is now Scotland have faced many aggressors despite the fact that their land was poor and their climate harsh. Not until the discovery of North Sea oil did Scotland possess anything of value which other peoples would covet. But, that didn’t stop the invaders. The Britons, Romans, Saxons, Vikings, Normans, and English all waged aggressive war against them. It made the Scots a protective and nationalistic people. It gave them a strong cultural identity and a wariness of outside authority which persisted throughout the centuries. To the progressive Scots, Margaret Thatcher’s conservative Tories (now headed by Cameron) were such a disliked outside authority – running roughshod over their country and not at all sharing in their values.
But, the world has changed. It is now a global community where big business rules and the borders between nations has become less significant. The Scots, for all their blustery heritage and history, are a wise and pragmatic people. They probably made the right choice. Although, at least from this observer’s perspective, it would have been grand to see them shout out in a unified voice… “FREEDOM!”
Further reading: UK remains united after Scotland referendum