James Melville explains why the Brexit vote and now a Johnson victory has propelled him away from the Union to Scottish Independence.
I have spent a lot of time wrestling with my own conclusions on Scottish independence as I will always consider myself both British and Scottish. But, since 2013, I have pivoted from being a unionist to a wholehearted supporter of Scottish independence.
For myself and many others, independence is not about some sort of Braveheart-tinged dislike of the English. I absolutely adore England and the English. It’s not about a desire for passports, anthems or sovereignty either. It’s about my homeland self determining a set of political values that are diametrically opposite to what has been happening at Westminster for many years now.
What’s driving so many Scots to consider saying ‘yes’ to independence has less to do with their view of Scotland and more to do with what they believe has happened to British politics and governance at Westminster. Since 1979, Britain has been breaking away from what used to be called the post-war settlement. And since the EU Referendum in 2016, 62% of Scottish voters have had their will ignored and face the prospect of being dragged out of the EU against their majority vote.
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British politics has been tugged towards right-wing extremism. Yet, Scotland (like many parts of the UK) does not buy into this reactionary ideology. The prevailing political ethos of the past decade has been one of increased xenophobia, austerity and isolationism. And Scotland wants no part of it.
There is an ever-increasing desire in Scotland to “take back control” and obtain a civic nationalism based on self-determination, inclusivity and liberal internationalism rather than being attached to a completely different ethnic-nationalism displayed by many key political influencers around Brexit. The SNP, for instance, has an outward-looking policy on immigrants: it welcomes them.
Two out of three Scottish voters voted to stay in the EU and the UK Government should be recognising that fact. Scotland is supposed to be one of four “equal partners” with constitutional rights in a Union and, as such, it should be treated as an equal. The will of the Scottish voters must be taken into account over the EU rather than being ignored. Another independence referendum gives Scottish voters the right to reply over self-determination triggered by an undemocratic and unconstitutional framework within the Act of Union over the EU Referendum.
Consider this: Scotland is a ‘democracy’ which is governed by a party that only won 25% of the vote at the General Election and which hasn’t won a national election in Scotland in 64 years and which is about to deliver a Brexit that 62% of Scotland’s voters rejected.
All of this, then, is driving so many Scots to consider making the break: an increasing acknowledgement that Britain will never again return to the kind of progressive, social democratic and liberal values that still have a majority consensus in Scotland. It’s not that progressive Scots want to leave Britain, it’s that progressiveness in Britain has left them.
For this reason, the case for Scottish Independence is now greater than ever before.