by Randle Aubrey
You might have heard that Scotland recently held a referendum on voting for its independence from the UK, a move that “threatened to rip the United Kingdom apart, sow financial turmoil and diminish Britain’s remaining global clout,” according to a recent Reuters report, leaving little doubt as to where they stand. No matter your opinion on the issue, it was a huge deal for the people of Scotland; voter turnout clocked in at an unprecedented eighty-five percent, with a mere ten point split between those in favor of independence and those against. Clearly, the nation is still deeply divided on the issue, but the people have spoken and the matter is more or less settled, for the time being, at least.
I’ve been really hesitant to weigh in on this issue, as there are so many dimensions to it that I don’t fully understand, and a number of incredibly compelling arguments were made both for and against independence. (For a great breakdown of the whole affair, check out Sam Seder’s recent interview with John Nichols of The Nation by clicking here.) The future of Scotland was unclear no matter which direction the people decided to take it it, but my gut tells me that what appears to be the final motivation of the “no” vote – a pledge by UK leaders David Cameron, Ed Miliband, and Nick Clegg of unprecedented autonomy, authority, and concessions for Scotland’s Parliament and her people in exchange for remaining members of the kingdom - smells like so much rotten haggis.
The pledge was hastily penned in the final days before the vote was cast in an effort to placate the public, when the tide suddenly shifted overwhelmingly in favor of independence. It was a reactionary maneuver, and one that will be difficult for UK leaders to live up to, if they’re even willing to try. With the kingdom preserved and the referendum over for another generation, there’s little to no compelling interest in honoring the pledge, and if we know anything about politics at all, we know that magnanimity almost always takes a backseat to pragmatism when the rubber meets the road. Once the nationalist fever subsides and the media loses interest in this story, chances are the UK will go back to business as usual, with the Scots having provided a powerfully tragic example of “nothing ventured, nothing gained” on the world stage. So much for caber tossing in the 2016 Olympics.