In a very close call, Scotland made a decisive choice, which is almost bittersweet
It almost seemed inevitable. As the days of the Scottish referendum inched closer, a plausible Yes vote seemed certain. And imagine if Scotland had voted Yes, what would have happened? The soul and body of this collection of UK would have crumbled, leading to major political ramifications not only within the UK but in the whole of Europe. The Queen would have lost a slice of her land. David Cameron would have become history forever, and the sterling would have gone kaput. Worldwide, as the international relations pundits and theorists had been proclaiming, it would have resulted in an eruption of the separatist demands in other nations. Oh, and for many of us, another visa requite would have become mandatory.
But all this seems far-fetched, now. Scotland delivered an extraordinary verdict, which was clear and decisive. And everybody around has breathed a sigh of relief. The loudest sigh comes from Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street. After deep agonizing few months, the fear and the furore ended with 55% of the Scots penciling NO. In democratically choosing the choice of dependency over independence, Scotland has joined the league of Australia, Quebec and the Northern Territory.
Undoubtedly, the Scots understood the danger of going independent at a time of rapid and fierce globalization. They understood the danger that decoupling carried with it. Though First Minister Alex Salmond and his ardent Yes campaigners had presented a very rosy, nationalistic independent Scotland, they were unable to paint a convincing, economically stable picture for the morning after the Independence. The Scots therefore, voted with a clear mind, keeping in consideration the future of the coming generations. The Scots understood the risk, the consequences and the difficulties and maybe even the failure that going alone would pose.
During the run up to the referendum, many commentators were comparing the Scottish- English divide to the Soviet disintegration. But the times of 20th century are very different from those of the 21st century. The hyperbole then was based on force. The birth of identity was a result of forced ideological impositions – the knot was ideological. But when time outdated ideology, the Soviet was almost forced to disintegrate. That was not, nor is the case between Scotland and England.
It is important to remember that Scotland has never been an occupied territory or a colony. There may exist a difference in accent, the food and the tradition with a legacy of 14th-century clan warfare. But time has proven that they have prospered together collectively and democratically with the Union. Henceforth, in the 21st century when the Scots were belied by the choice of independence against England, the Scots thought what good will it do?
Since inception the debate was cast as twofold– black and white, a matter of the head vs the heart. After all, the debate was not really about the secession but actually about the dissolution of the political union. The 55% of the Scots who thus voted in favor of ‘Better together’ with the Union, literally felt that it is better to stick together with the Union and move forward. Thinking from the head and not from the heart, the mood today in Scotland might oddly be subdued and mindful of the historic event that just passed away, yet the reality for many was always more nuanced. Having independence like Latvia or Moldavia they might get the prestigious label of ‘independent Scotland’ but they would lose the sheen and the influence in the international arena. The naysayers might have felt for a very long time- 307 years- ignored and exploited by London. Yet, the 55% of the Ayes have voted for a safety of the union with further powers to Scotland. They know that in the terrorising world of 21st century, they cannot survive single and alone. And instead of losing the prestige and power that comes under the umbrella of the Great Britain, the Union, that of being the Super power, they concluded that having more devolution power will serve both the nations well.
The most profound and significant impact of the No vote has been on Europe. At a delicate time when Europe is battling the Ukraine crisis, ailing economy and various separatist movements in Spain, France, Italy and Belgium awaiting to erupt, the Scottish NO comes as a huge sigh of relief for the whole of Europe. The EU official, who had been hinting that an independent Scotland will not be allowed in, will be happy that a collective united Britain will serve as an example to other smaller countries that are being stubborn for national sovereignty. There has been constant worry that EU might fall apart. But the reality or the truth is that EU and the Union has become a necessity in the 21st century.
And as the sighs of relief subside, it now feels that the verdict delivered was likely. In a very close call, Scotland made a decisive choice, which is almost bittersweet. But one cannot overlook the passion and emotion that has been evoked, bringing the bonny nation to the cusp of independence, almost!