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The Scottish referendum: where is Cicero?

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In a week’s time, the residents of Scotland (not the Scottish people: Scots resident south of the border are ineligible to vote) will decide whether or not to destroy the UK as currently constituted. The polls are on a knife edge; and Alex Salmond, the leader of the separatists, has a track record as a strong finisher. If he gets his way, the UK will lose 8% of its citizens and a third of its land mass; and Scotland, cut off, at least initially, from every international body (the UN Security Council, NATO, the EU) and every UK institution (the Bank of England, the pound sterling, the BBC, the security services), will face a bleak and uncertain future. 

 

In the first century BC, the Roman republic was collapsing as a result of its systemic inability to curb the ambitions of powerful politicians. Everyone could see that the end was nigh; no one could predict what would follow. The conditions were ideal for the development of political oratory, and Cicero emerged as Rome’s greatest orator, determined to save his country even at the cost of his own life. During his consulship, he suppressed the conspiracy of Catiline, denouncing that man and his deluded supporters in his four Catilinarian Speeches. He pulled no punches: he did not hold back, like the supporters of the Union today, for fear of appearing too “negative”. So he informed the senate....

 

...continue at the OUP Blog

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This seems very odd to an American...well...maybe not so odd.   I seem to recall that some misguided Americans once...well, twice.. tried something similar, if more radical, and caused a HUGE problem.  At least that's not at stake here.  But WHY do the Scots want to be independent of the UK? Outside of "Nationalism" and emotional historic memories, are there advantages to independence commensurate with the inevitable costs? Are they feeling somehow oppressed by the English? What happens relative to defense, trade, tariffs, banking, social services etc?  Surely people have thought this thru and made a rational Argument for independence. (?)

Edited by Pompieus

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In Europe countries change shapes and forms bascially all the time. I say good for Scotland if they want to be on their own, they have more people than Finland for example and the Fins are doing just fine.

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This seems very odd to an American...well...maybe not so odd.   I seem to recall that some misguided Americans once...well, twice.. tried something similar, if more radical, and caused a HUGE problem.  At least that's not at stake here.  But WHY do the Scots want to be independent of the UK? Outside of "Nationalism" and emotional historic memories, are there advantages to independence commensurate with the inevitable costs? Are they feeling somehow oppressed by the English? What happens relative to defense, trade, tariffs, banking, social services etc?  Surely people have thought this thru and made a rational Argument for independence. (?)

 

The Scots have a seperate identity from the English despite being part of the United Kingdom (which ironically ws set up by a scottish king). It's a manifestation of the Roman vs Barbarian inheritance which has coloured european politics since ancient times. I'm not saying the modern scots are barbarians (they're quite a cultured people when they stay off the booze) but they descend from tribes the Romans never conquered. Of course the earlier history of England and Scotland is one of extended conflict, and whilst it may seem strange that this isn't something that's forgotten, these old hostilities can survive in the folk memory for exceedingly long periofds of time.

 

As with any people that have a regional identity, there will be those who want to establish indepenence on the assumption that life will be more suitable for them - the same motives drive hostiltiies in the middle east and africa for instance (it was also part of the issue in the American Civil War - slavery was something used as a moral rationale by Lincoln). Nationalism can be a heady brew thus many Scots might vote in favour despite any sensible argument against it. Personally I think the only reason this has come about is Alex Salmond wants his name in the history books. What ultimately might happen to the Scots is not really what he wants to hear right now.

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Are there any Scots amongst us?

 

 

guy also known as gaius

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I wonder what will come after Scotland (especially if the majority votes "yes" to independence). Catalonia? South Tyrol? Flanders? 

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Groundskeeper Willie has a few things to say prior to the Sept 18 Scottish election:

 

 

 

 

guy also known as gaius

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I watched an interview with Alex Salmond, the First minister of Scotland and leader of the Independence campaign.  He seemed to avoid all of the major questions being put, especially about the economy, which is slightly worrying.

Edited by sonic

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I'm still rooting for the Republic of Ireland to try and settle old scores against Scotland prior to any attempt for the Scots to rejoun NATO. Norway or Denmark can snag some islands back.

Edited by Onasander

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I was reading some opinion pieces in the British media about the Scottish referendum this weekend. Many comments from Scottish independence supporters were understandably bitter but I was struck by how some people really took it personally. One guy said he cut contact with friends and family whom he knew had voted no to independence - he unfriended them on Facebook and literally stopped talking to them. I understand the disappointment but to allow differences of opinion to destroy personal relationships is kinda scary. It's almost tribal.

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Here's what I wrote at another site about the expected election results.

 

A view from a distant land from an American (albeit of Scottish descent) whose opinion really does not matter.

Well, the results were not too surprising.

The world needs a confident and secure United Kingdom to provide a bulwark and leadership against many of the crazies in the world. (One can't depend on my Italian cousins for much of anything...except, of course, good cheese, wine, and pasta.) This is, for me, the most important reason why a successful UK is important.

I must say, however, that many of my father's ancestral relatives were Scottish Whigs, both Nonconformist and republican in inclination. (This is possibly why they were "invited" to leave Glasgow soon after the Forty-five.) My inner-Scottish heart smiled when Glasgow (almost alone, except for Dundee and two other council areas) reported a majority for the "Yes" vote.

I enjoyed watching several hours of the BBC on the American C-SPAN that carried the live results as they were announced. I chuckled when one of the areas announced their results in Scottish Gaelic and none of the British commentators could understand a word.

Most poignant for me was one humble voter I saw on election night who quietly expressed his views on the referendum. Through his thick Scottish accent, he said something like, "I am not a well-educated man, only a worker. But I don't accept the Utopian paradise that the SNP is promising. How do we pay for all these promises?" These simple words had more wisdom than the innumerable speeches with their endless and unrealistic promises from politicians of both sides of the debate.

Both this modern effort for Scottish independence and the tragic Jacobite uprisings of long ago are similar. Both may have been idealistic movements, poorly planned and poorly executed. They were both energized by Quixotic dreams and intoxicating mythologies. Both ended in the harsh realities that an independent spirit and a righteous cause are not enough. But both came from the undying Scottish spirit of self-determination and an unwillingness to truckle to oppressors, both real and imagined.

When asked whether I support Scottish independence, I would reply, "Yes, just not this one."

May a free and proud Scotland live forever.


guy

__________________
Namque pauci libertatem, pars magna iustos dominos volunt
Only a few prefer liberty, the majority seek nothing more than fair masters.
Sallust (Roman Historian 86-35 BCE)

 

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