Current Affairs Politics

A Referendum Ten Years Too Early?

Post-referendum poll in Scotland, 2014
Post-referendum poll in Scotland, 2014 (Íomhá: Conservative Home / Lord Ashcroft)

Probably way too early for this, and I know many Scots are genuinely heart-broken at the moment, but above is a breakdown of how people voted in Scotland’s referendum on independence. It comes with several caveats given the British nationalist and Tory-leaning source but it provides a useful overview of what might have happened until better emerges. Several questions spring to mind. Given the significantly higher “Yes” preference amongst younger voters did the SNP and others go to the polls ten years too early? How will that demographic react to the bitter disappointment of the outcome so many had committed too? Will the SNP reap the rewards of a potential push-back against the “No” vote in the Holyrood and Westminster polls? Will some “No” voters follow the Québec-model of the 1980s and ‘90s by voting “federalist” in referendums but nationalist in elections? Conceivably will the SNP itself face electoral-trouble as the disaffected pro-sovereignty voters fall away or abandon politics altogether?

A dreadfully uncertain time lies ahead for our Gaelic cousins. And that nagging doubt will always remain: if the “Yes” campaign had dealt with the currency issue differently could it have all been different?

12 comments on “A Referendum Ten Years Too Early?

  1. Alex Salmond has to bear some responsibility for lack of clarification on certain issues like Defence, EU membership and currency the ‘project fear’ campaign tapped into this very well and succeeded.


  2. Very disappointing and heartbreaking outcome. But it is not an ending, just a beginning. Can the Scots really only vote on this every ten years? Learn from the mistakes and be all the more vigilant and involved. Another opportunity for independence will come in the future. My heart goes out though especially to the young people hoping for an autonomy they don’t yet have at least as a nation. But what you find within yourself, you can help create around you. There’s still hope for later change I think.


    • Judging by comments on the Scottish blogs etc. the kids will emigrate to properly democratic countries first chance they get. Salmond was a skillful negotiator but sometimes a bit too clever for the general public to follow his cunning schemes. He ended up getting a good deal in the Edinburgh Agreement, complete indy on a single simple majority vote, almost too good to be true, but in the event when the consequences were unravelled, it proved to be just too high a hurdle for many people to jump, especially after they’d been battered by endless demoralising state propaganda playing on the Celtic cringe (which you know all about).

      OTOH would they really have let us get away with it, maybe when they realised Yes might actually win they felt obliged to force a No by whatever means necessary? Who can really say. They had AS’s pledge that *he* would not call another referendum within a generation, but now he’s resigning so another leader might go for it much sooner, who knows? Don’t really know why he’s bowing out, having said he would carry on as First Minister, but he was starting to look pretty grey on the last day or two of campaigning. If the Yes movement goes on then it looks like it may be bigger than the SNP, but everyone is so up and down just now it’s hard to say what will happen. Y’know we really thought this one was too big to fail …


      • OTOH would they really have let us get away with it, maybe when they realised Yes might actually win they felt obliged to force a No by whatever means necessary?
        Are you sure?
        They have already let all these countries go:

        I doubt that they would not let Scotland to leave.


        • Hopefully you’re right.

          However it’s not so much the loss of a bit of physical geography but the knock-on effect it would have on the English/British self-perception. There are so many things which English people believe without thinking, things they just soaked up when they were young and have never really thought about. “We won the war”, “Ours is the best health service”, “the Mother of Parliaments”, “Punching above our weight”, “Europeans are the Enemy”, “Never trust a foreigner”, and all the rest. And it must be true because they’ve got nukes and a permanent place on the UN Security Council and overseas territories, like the Falklands and Gibraltar and Malta (oops!) and brought civilisation and law to half the world … and most of this is all bollocks of course.

          Losing Scotland would be the end of the UK of GB. Much more symbolic that losing a faraway island or piece of desert or jungle, and they might even have to change the flag. No more ‘butchers apron’ how would they survive? And the nukes would go back to the US in all likelihood, and without them no seat at the UN top table. And basically they’d just have to realise that they’re a just another biggish, overcentralised, post-imperial European country, like France or Germany, nothing special, nothing much to shout about, unfair, unequal, heavily in debt …

          Plus it would bring on a re-evaluation of the unbalanced devolution within England, Wales and NI, (indeed that may already be kicking off now), along with the dominance of London, and that’s a whole load of trouble they could do without.

          So once they’d begun to think through what a Scottish Yes might lead to, and that it could be a reality, the result was sheer panic. As it happened a few threats and promises worked, and now they think it’s all over their arrogance had returned and they’re backtracking so fast it’s unbelievable. Perhaps they’ll just forget it ever happened, like a bad dream, or perhaps they’ll make future referendums illegal like in Spain, or find other ways to frustrate Scots ambitions.

          I admire the way the Baltic peoples stood up to the Soviet tanks. But that was at least a very visible threat that could be opposed. The UK are more subtle these days than they were 100 years ago, they will probably use more underhand methods to subdue the Scots.


          • and most of this is all bollocks of course.
            Most of that is somewhat true like that or not.
            The Brits of course were not angels but other colonial empires were much worse – especially the Russian Empire.

            There is a reason why most of the former British empire still clings to the English language, common law and so on while former territories of the Russian empire want nothing to do with Russia.
            No way in hell I would teach my kids Russian as their first and native language.


            • There are broadly two types of former British territories. 1. Those that were colonies, i.e. heavily settled by Europeans with the original inhabitants pushed aside, killed off by diseases etc. They usually had a low level of technology and low population density so the incomers saw an “empty land”. In these case the settlers still speak English on the whole and the native languages have only survived because their speakers were excluded from mainstream society and often herded into reservations. Most of these languages are threatened. Thus Canada, USA (except parts of the SW?), Australia, Southern tip of Africa. 2. Places with relatively advanced native civilisations, dense population. Here the Brits set themselves up as a ruling caste often on top of the existing native system. Native languages are still strong although English is used in education and business as an international language. India, Malaya, Most of Africa, Cyprus, Aden, Somaliland, Pacific island like Samoa, Fiji …. One place that doesn’t fit, it comes somewhere between 1 & 2, is New Zealand with a relatively large Māori population and fairly viable language & culture.

              I’ve become aware how strong the ‘Celtic Cringe’ is in all our nations, also in Brittany. It seems you don’t have a ‘Baltic Cringe’ and I’d love to understand why. I began to discuss this on another thread here, but got distracted by the Referendum. IIRC you saw nothing unusual in the Livonians getting assimilated, but I find it strange that Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian escaped being ‘assimilated’ in just the same way by surrounding ‘big’ language, German, Swedish, Polish, Russian, in exactly the same way the Irish was mostly assimilated by English, beginning in the Pale around Dublin, and other trading ports hundreds of years ago. Was Latvian always the everyday language of Rīga or did it have to be restored in a burst of nineteenth century nationalism? Irish for example became associated with rural poverty and backwardness, especially after the industrial revolution created better paid jobs in the English-speaking towns. English was the was to ‘get on in the world’. The odd thing is that people at this time didn’t seem to understand that their kids could have both languages, it was widely believed that bringing them up in Irish (or Welsh etc) would prevent them speaking good English, and this attitude is still around amongst older people and hard to shift.


              • For a language to survive – there has to be a “critical mass” of speakers – both as a share of population and in absolute numbers too.
                Livonian had neither + as they were fewer in numbers all the bad events of the XX century affected them more – both world wars, soviet occupation, deportations and so on.

                The Soviet occupiers also made their native land “the Livonian coast” into “closed border area” and forcibly relocated most of its inhabitants.
                So it’s a miracle that there are still some speakers left.
                Livonian and other Finno-Ugric languages also left an impact on the Latvian language.
                We have many Livonian loanwords and it also has heavily affected the way we speak.

                The odd thing is that people at this time didn’t seem to understand that their kids could have both languages
                I also find that very odd. It’s natural for us to speak more than one language. I don’t know any Latvian monoglots who are older than 5 🙂
                Was Latvian always the everyday language of Rīga or did it have to be restored in a burst of nineteenth century nationalism
                Rīga has always been a multicultural city. Latvian is spoken by less than 50% of Rīga’s population right now.
                That’s why mayor of Rīga is an ethnic Russian and a pathetic Putin’s ass licker.

                It seems you don’t have a ‘Baltic Cringe’ and I’d love to understand why.
                We’re not entirely immune 🙂

                There always have been some Latvians who licked asses of foreign occupiers.
                In the XIX century we had “shrub Germans” – Latvians who tried to speak and act like Germans – they were subjects to ridicule of course.
                In the XX century we also had a fair share of Soviet collaborators.

                The most likely reason is that the invading Russians had lower levels of education and culture – so we did not want to become like them.
                Unlike the Brits in India and Pakistan (that shithole should have been civilised more thoroughly – honour killings are just horrible) – the Russians brought nothing positive to our land – just suffering and misery.

                They, however, managed to impose only one part of their language upon us – the swear words 😀
                That’s the area where the Russian language is truly ahead of everyone else 😀


          • Good analysis. I wonder how the Scots will feel if the Catalans vote to secede? I know it depends on what happens with the current Westminster farrago but even the 55% would surely feel a twinge of regret.


      • Emigration has been the “safety valve” of Irish politics for two centuries. When the opportunities dried up, when young people had nowhere else to go, “coincidentally” we had a full-scale political and military revolution. There is a lesson there that Irish politicians learned long ago which is why emigration causes them so little concern (and more than a little relief).


  3. ar an sliabh

    Alex Salmond could have said an done everything that you say and the result would not have been different. The elder generation simply was too afraid to cut the ties and there were too darn many of them. They were who the unionists targeted with their fear-mongering, and it worked. There were not too many like my aunt who, in her late seventies, actively campaigned for the split.
    As for the “benevolence” of the British empire over that of the Russians, the Russians just didn’t feel like they had to cover anything up. The reason why those territories occupied by the British still speak English (that did not before) is because the British were more brutal and efficient in wiping out the local language and did not have “heart” many of the Russians did (it was Russian ladies who threw bread to my relatives incarcerated in German camps at the risk of their life). The Brits are the ones who invented the concentration camp. They were and are very eloquent in changing history after the fact as well. See Ireland (or South Africa). The only “disappeared” any one ever talks about are the victims of the IRA. No one mentions genocide by starvation, terrorism by regular troops, side-by-side patrols of the English Army with radial terrorists and what happened during those patrols. The British were capable of committing atrocity in the light of day all the way into the late eighties without anyone as much as raising an eyebrow. No one thinks of them as much of a monster as the Russians. I do not wish to diminish anyone’s suffering, I know many, many, have suffered under Russian rule, but I do not like seeing that of those suppressed by the British be diminished either, only because they are viewed, for what ever reason, to be more “civilised,” because they print some nicely put together history books.


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