#indyref: “the moral sin of separatism”

As a partner to yesterday’s post on the lack of serious reasons why Scotland should secede, here is an extract from a very fine article by Dominic Lawson, in today’s Mail:

As the Canadian former politician Michael Ignatieff recently wrote, recalling how his country was so nearly torn apart by the referendum over independence for Quebec: ‘This is the moral sin of separatism. 

Separatist politicians, desiring to be presidents or prime ministers of little countries, force their fellow citizens to make choices they should not have to make between identities they have combined, each in their own unique way, and now watch being ripped apart — one portion of themselves flung on one side of the border, a damaged remnant on the other.

Historian Lord Sumption  said the Scottish initially agreed to the union to benefit from England’s growing market

‘If Scotland does secede, there will be many torn souls the day after.’

The Scottish case is still more perplexing. The Quebecois at least spoke a different language to the rest of Canada — French.

It is true the most aggressive campaigners in the Scottish referendum campaign — who organised abusive attacks on Labour’s former Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy — are a group called Siol nan Gaidheal (Seed of the Gaels). 

But fewer than 60,000 Scots speak Gaelic. Siol nan Gaidheal present the English as colonial oppressors, a notion that has gained greater currency in Scotland well beyond this small and somewhat poisonous band. Yet Scotland was never like Ireland. It has never been a colony nor treated as one.

As the historian and now Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption pointed out in a magisterial lecture last year: ‘Except for a very short period in the late 13th and early 14th centuries, there has never been a sustained English occupation of Scotland.

‘For Scots, by far the most important reason for agreeing to the union was their desperate need for access to England’s rapidly growing markets.’

Far from being an English takeover, the Union left intact the indigenous institutions closest to the Scottish people: the Kirk, the judiciary, the schools system, the universities. All these continued to be run along distinctively Scottish lines, in many ways superior to those in the rest of the UK.

And as for being ‘oppressed’ by the British Empire, the Scots were pre-eminent in its expansion and in running it.

The key line for many people living in Scotland is:

Separatist politicians, desiring to be presidents or prime ministers of little countries, force their fellow citizens to make choices they should not have to make between identities they have combined, each in their own unique way, and now watch being ripped apart — one portion of themselves flung on one side of the border, a damaged remnant on the other.

Why should families, savings and identities by wrecked for what is essentially a vanity project for separatists who have never known any hardship related to the fact of the Union, which has been a highly successful project. If you’re old or childless,  separatism may have a romantic appeal, a final fling, so to speak, a chance of glory for a limited few.

You don’t have to worry about the future in the same way as everyone else, for whom it is an absurd risk.

The loving couple. Just say No
The loving couple. Just say No

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One thought on “#indyref: “the moral sin of separatism”

  1. The nationalistic Scots are buying a lovely house somewhere in the Highlands.

    It may have one, two, three or four bedrooms
    it may or may not have running water
    It may or may not have some form of heating
    It may or may not have sewage disposal
    It may or may not have access to shops.

    But they are determined to have it, even though they have no idea what the purchase price is.

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