Break the yoke of English oppression
We will pay any price
Endure any conflict and any hardship
Join us in our struggle for FREEDOM
For readers who think I’ve gone over to the dark side, fret not.
Following the comprehensive trashing of the SNP’s economic case for independence by academics and business people during the referendum, confirmed by the crash in the oil price, I was trying to think of an answer to the question
What is the honest case for independence?
And I think that statement is it.
I wrote the words without knowing if any nationalist had used them in precisely that form recently.
But even if they haven’t, isn’t that the traditional case for a separate Scottish state?
You have first the clarion call to ‘Scots.’ I accept that for many nationalists that is an inclusive word they can apply to everyone who lives in Scotland. No problem with that, although like my two Scottish brothers-in-law who have lived in England for many years, part of my identity will always be associated with where I was born (the difference from nationalists of course is that all three of us also see ourselves as British).
‘The yoke of English oppression’ may be a florid phrase but no more so than ‘the sovereign will of the Scottish people’ that Alex Salmond was so keen to use before the referendum. And it does actually reflect what many nationalists think about Scotland’s current situation – their country dominated by England as the largest part of the UK; foreign, defence and social policies forced on Scotland that they don’t want; and so on.
‘We will pay any price’ is not much used these days to stimulate demand for separation, but again it is the honest position. The promise of wealth from day one of independence has been shown to be false and honest nationalists should be willing to make sacrifices in their standard of living to achieve their over-riding aim. This is precisely what the peoples of Ireland (Irish Free State, then Republic) and Norway were willing to endure when they broke away from the UK and Sweden respectively. They both suffered decades of stagnation until, for very different reasons, their economies began to improve.
Enduring ‘any conflict and any hardship’ is merely a reinforcement of being willing to pay the price for independence. The potential hardship is obvious. The conflict (I don’t of course mean armed conflict) might come from many sources, whether it’s the new, much larger neighbour to the south, or the conflict that would be likely to attend attempts to join international groupings like the EU and NATO.
Finally we have the ‘struggle for freedom.’ What’s controversial about that? ‘Freedom’ is what nationalists believe independence will at last bring and, however cast, it’s certainly not going to be achieved without a struggle.
Do I like the call to arms I’ve conjured up? Of course not. It embodies what I believe are false values and false assumptions. But its elements are indisputably what lie at the heart of much of the case made by many nationalists for an independent Scotland. What would they not agree with and what would they add or substitute? Not a lot, I suspect, if they are being honest.
Since the then first minister himself described the referendum as a once in a generation opportunity, the honest case for independence will remain for many years as a distant aspiration for a minority. That minority even now would be somewhat less than the 37% of the population that voted Yes in 2014. Let’s hope that it’s a minority that gets smaller all the time. Because it’s the only case for independence they have.