…The Brave

Heather at the Battlefield of Culloden. July 2004, taken during my first sojourn in Scotland.

…The Brave

I received an interesting comment earlier today from a Scot living in Portugal. He expressed that he had never considered Scotland’s independence from the United Kingdom until recently, but that now he was increasingly in favour of it. As evidenced by the Scottish flag in the topmost position on my sidebar to your right, my stance on Scotland’s independence is neither private nor ambiguous.


This gentleman brought up an interesting facet of the debate when he mentioned Scotland’s massive oil reserves (estimated to be approximately 20-25% of the EU’s total). But what makes a clearer case for Scotland’s success is not necessarily North Sea oil — it’s her renewables.

Scotland leads the UK in the progress toward renewable energy sources. She outstripped her target of 31% in 2011 by four percentage points, and each year Scotland cultivates more of her vast natural resources to provide renewable and sustainable energy sources for her people that will extend into the future.

Wind, hydro, wave, biofuels — those are just a small sampling of Scotland’s arsenal. And Scotland last year provided over 40% of the UK’s total renewable energy.

While Scotland still uses oil and gas to power the country, the disparity between the figures is a swiftly closing gap — one that will provide opportunity, job growth, and a cleaner, more beautiful nation when she achieves her independence.

Scotland’s devotion to clean energy is not only remarkable in Europe — it’s world class.


With the referendum growing closer and strong feelings on each side, I want to hear more opinions. From Scots. From the English. From the Welsh and the Northern Irish and the Irish. From Europeans in general and anyone who cares enough to learn about this decision.

I’ve said it before, but I think when that ballot arrives and Scots have the opportunity to cast their votes for Scotland’s future, it won’t necessarily be about the facts and figures. It probably won’t be about North Sea oil or offshore wind and wave farms. It won’t be about what currency they’ll use or if they’ll join the Schengen territory of the EU. It won’t be about William Wallace, and it won’t be about Edward Longshanks.

It will be about Scotland. It will be about Scots. It will be about the future of their nation, their land. And I believe it will be about a feeling.

When I lived in Scotland, I can’t count the number of times I heard a Scottish person refute someone’s claim that they were “British.” While it’s merely anecdotal, in my experience both Scots and Welsh are far less likely to say they’re from the UK  or self-identify as British.

That self-held portion of identity will play a large role in the upcoming referendum, something I think has come into play during this Olympic games as proud Scot Andy Murray was forbidden to wear his trademark saltire wristbands as he earned the gold medal — and while unionists have crowed over his draping the Union Jack over his shoulders, it’s important to remember that he would not have been allowed to do so with the Scottish saltire.

Though the Guardian has gleefully taken the stance that the Olympic Games have birthed a new British patriotism — a stance that to me seems contingent on the lack of Scottish flags, which are banned — I see the opposite. I’d love to hear more voices on this.

What I’ve seen is many phenomenal Scottish athletes like Andy Murray and Chris Hoy subsumed into “England.” Not to mention the slew of jokes that occurred at Wimbledon at Murray’s expense, “He’s British if he wins, Scottish if he loses.” I’ve even heard commentators refer to Team GB as the English team on multiple occasions, and I believe that in the Opening Ceremonies, the pro-unionist movement missed a vital opportunity to showcase the diversity of the union in favour of anglocentrism.

This choice is a reflection of a wider belief, I think. There is a wealth of discrete history and culture in the “fringe states” of the United Kingdom, but none of it seems to matter. Will it have an effect on the referendum? No idea. More telling might be the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in which Scotland is competing separately — incidentally the summer before the scheduled vote.

My Question For You

I would love to hear more opinions from English people on the subject of Scottish independence. What do you feel Scotland brings to the table? Do you believe Scotland should be an independent nation? Why or why not? Have the Olympics and Team GB affected your thoughts on the subject?

And from Scots, what benefit do you see in staying within the UK? Do you feel that inclusion in the United Kingdom continues to look out for the best interests of Scotland? Do you feel that the wider UK government accurately and consistently addresses your needs and beliefs?

And if the answer to the above questions are no, the most important question is: do you believe you have the power to improve the state of Scottish affairs within the United Kingdom, specifically in regards to immigration, public services, education, and foreign policy? For those powers that are not devolved to Scotland already (all foreign affairs, immigration, etc.), do you feel that your best interests and the best interests of Scotland are represented by the Conservative government in Westminster?

I know what my answers to those questions are. But I want to hear from people who will have the power to make this decision — and those upon whom it will have a direct effect. (While I might be included in that down the line, for now I have no say but this blog.)


Scotland Beats 2011 Green Energy Target, scotland.gov

Andy Murray Beats Federer, Guardian.co.uk


About Emmie Mears

Saving the world from brooding, one self-actualized vampire at a time.

Posted on August 9, 2012, in Contest Entries, Contests, EOW, Scotland, Scottish Culture. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. i checked this am and didn’t see my story posted for a vote ? too bad i did not update my facebook page :<

    • I tweeted last night that the post would go up a bit late today (it went up about noon), and I shared the link several times throughout the day today on Twitter and Facebook. Sorry!

  2. I haven’t been following the Olympics ’cause I don’t like tv much, and I felt sore when I read this post. I’d expected there would be some sort of pro-Scot public performance, but apparently there isn’t. I expected the Brits would try and dilute it, but they’re simply repressing it. Are there any other Celtic Nations flags present? I only Scots flag’s missing it’s a shame….
    I don’t think Scot athletes’ behaviour will be too embarrasing for the SNP and Alex, ’cause I bet as you know about that cultural repression lots of folks in Scotland too, and also Alex is an old fox, I’ll know how to deal with the uneasy post-Olympic feelings. Besides, if there’s no reaction against that repression from the Scots in London, athletes and viewers, I think it’s the sign that Scots are “ok, let’s put on with this bastards a wee bit more, let them do what they want and fuck’em all!”

    • As far as I’m aware, the only flags Team GB members are permitted to wave (or fans and spectators) are Union Jacks, so there are no Celtic Nation flags to be found. I am pretty sure that Andy Murray only draped a Union Jack on his shoulders because he was disallowed the saltire — he’s known for his trademark saltire sweatbands and Scottish patriotism, while Chris Hoy is publicly a lot more subdued about the subject.

      I’m not sure how people are feeling about that within Scotland, though I’ve seen some talk on the Twitterverse about it. I think in the long run, the Olympics will have little bearing. It’s a two week stretch, and ultimately I think normality will resume shortly thereafter.

      I think a couple things will and should influence the outcome of the referendum. First of all, if the Tories continue to do bugger all for the economy, it will be a reminder of the fact that only 15% of Scots voted for this government that is prancing about in London making asses of themselves. For me that would be a huge factor, knowing that a landslide majority of my country did NOT vote for the current government whose stance is so different on issues I care about. To me it would be like…well. George W. Bush all over again. Stuck with a government markedly more conservative than I and most of my fellows want, but knowing I and my country have little to no say over what they do. That’s maddening.

      Secondly, it will be a question of cultural identity. People who say Scotland is incapable of ruling herself are simply being prejudiced — there are heaps of precedents for a country of Scotland’s size having self-determination, and many EU member states are comparable. Scotland could do it. It might not be easy or perfect out of the gates, but nothing worthwhile ever is. So I think that all those questions will have little bearing when it comes down to putting an X on the ballot one way or another. What will matter is what Scots think of themselves and of Scotland. Do they self identify as British or Scottish? Do they WANT to self-identify as British? Do they want to continue to risk their foreign affairs being handled by people with diametrically opposing political views? Or do they want to ensure they have control over vital aspects of government like immigration, foreign policy, warfare, and nuclear weapons? The only way to achieve that kind of unilateral governing ability will be to secede from the Union.

      A few years ago, I looked into immigrating to Scotland under the Fresh Talent Initiative. Though my family is Scottish, my parents were not born there, so I have no ability to get an ancestral visa to return. The Fresh Talent Initiative sought to entice bright, motivated people to come to Scotland (which has been suffering a brain drain for some time now). So what happened? London changed the entire Tier system when the Tories got elected, effectively barring any immigrants under the Fresh Talent Initiative and making it much more difficult for educated, entrepreneurial immigrants to move to the UK from outside the EU. And from what I read, the immigration of people from the less wealthy EU countries is something that is a hot topic. So instead of enticing academics, creatives, doctors, teachers, dentists, and other highly educated professionals to enter the UK, they’ve shut them off almost entirely. It’s a dual-edged problem, and the Tories are trying to fight the influx of poorer, uneducated migrants by stomping on those with proven earning potential who could fill gaps where needed.

      Eek. Very long comment! Thanks again for stopping by, Pedro — I very much appreciate your input and hearing your thoughts.

  3. Hi Emily,

    I have to admit that I do not read all your posts. But, as you want to know what Europeans think about the Scotish independence, here I come.

    First of all, I already apologize for any english mistake. That might happenned.

    So, I can easily say it : right now, no one cares about the Scotish Independence in Europe, except the Scots. But at the same time, this issue brings us to the question of what we want to do with the EU in the near future. Basically, I see few points.

    1/ Is the UK going to stay in the EU ? As the world knows, the eurozone is facing it harder crisis since it creation. The only way to get out of it, without destroying our common currency and our democracy, is to go toward a deeper EU integration, with more federal powers.

    The UK (I mean, London) does not want such thing. Cameron’s party is becoming more and more eurosceptic and some politicians are asking for a referendum on EU membership. If anything like this is organised, we all know the answer. A big NO.

    Some Scotish’ Members of the European Parliament have already said that if the UK leaves the EU, Scotland will leave the UK. This is getting complicated…

    But it shows us (very quickly) that the UK and Scotland do not necessary see their future in the same way (I am not talking about identity right now). So why not organizing a referendum.

    Nota bene: if Scotland leaves the UK and if the UK stays in the EU, Scotland will need to join the EU and for this, the UK will have to say “yes”. When it comes to enlargment, you need unanimity within the members states.

    2/ When you say that Scotland has a good enough economy to be independent, you are right but the actual events happening in Europe are showing us that it might changed very quickly. In the 2000′, Catalonia had been using this argue a lot, saying that they represent 25% of the Spanish GDP, etc (blablabla). Right. But ten years later, they are asking the central government to bail out them…They are not able to pay their bills anymore, hospital are closing.

    I do not say that Scotland will be like this in ten years, but you can not base your independence on an economical situation that might changed.

    3/ What about identity ? This is true that the Scots are not English. But does it mean that they need their own state and their own foreign policy ? For the last two centuries, Europeans have lived within the notion of Nation State, especially France and Germany.

    60 years after the WWII, we see a rise of nationalism, a bit everywhere on our continent. Hungary is turning shit, Belgium is close to split every four years, Northern Italy does not want to pay anymore for the South, etc, and extrem right wings parties are getting more and more votes.

    So, the question for us: if Scotland gets it independence, who will be next ? When Europe plays with its borders, it is never good.

    And what is the point for Scotland to get the right of having its own foreign policy when we are trying (without real success, we have to admit it) to built one at the European level ? On the international level, former big powers like the UK, France, Germany are getting marginalized by new players (China, Brazil, India, etc). What could a small Scotland do ?

    In order to conclude this already too long comment, I would say, as a European, that the question of the Scotish independence is only relevent if the UK decides for real to leave the EU.

    The new challenge for European people is to build a new political system where the citizenship is splitted from the nationality, where we organize a shared-sovereignty in order to give a new perspective to our identities, democratic system and freedom (and economy if we manage to save it…).

    Buziaki from Paris,


    • Thank you so much for your thoughts, Jean-Seb! I miss you tremendously, and I’m so glad you chose to weigh in on this subject.

      I think one of the big differences between an Independent Scotland in the EU and a Scotland within the UK is that it would be Scotland’s choice to join the EU, whereas the decision to form the United Kingdom was not a democratic one, and Scotland’s people were not consulted. At the time, there were riots and violent rebellions against a union with England and most Scots saw joining the union as a venture that would leave them the junior partner, if not a subsidiary of the English parliament. To be fair, much of the blame for that belongs with the Scottish parliament at the time, who made the decision based on lining their own pockets rather than the good of their people. It was a shameful thing all around. England wanted to make sure Scotland wouldn’t choose a different king and challenge the sovereignty of the shared crown, and Scotland herself got rather pushed into the union.

      The key difference to me is that Scotland’s values align much more with EU values than do England’s. Scotland is much more liberal, and an independent Scotland might well be content to participate more fully in the EU than their more vocal neighbours to the south. Of course, the reverse may also be true, because one big factor in the debate about the referendum is the subject of currency. It’s hard to entice nations to convert to the euro when the currency is struggling so. That said, the economy always comes round again.

      About Scottish nationalism, I very much want to draw a line of distinction between the nationalism I’ve seen in Scotland and the extreme nationalism I’ve seen elsewhere. For instance, the Oboz Narodowy-Radykalno (the Radical Nationalist Camp) I saw march in Poland several years ago — they walked and performed the Nazi salute, bowed to Hitler (oh, the irony) and changed slogans like “Polska dla Polakow!” (That’s “Poland is for Poles!” for all of you who don’t speak the language.) as well as antisemitic sayings and general nastiness. Oh yeah, they also threw eggs at the march for equality and tried to block the streets. Ah, when I was a Polish activist. Funsies.

      Anyway, that’s not the kind of nationalism that exists in Scotland. It’s not fascist or particularly ethnocentric — in fact many of the loud voices in support of the referendum aren’t ethnic Scots at all. That in itself makes it a very different type of nationalism when compared with the ethno-nationalist movements in other regions around Europe and around the world. If there’s such a thing of inclusive nationalism, the Scots have found it. Or made it up. Scottish nationalism is concerned in some ways with national culture and identity (mostly in regards of its differences with England), but what it isn’t is a movement meant to alienate, ostracise, or in other ways attack citizens of Scotland who don’t share that culture.

      As for borders, Scotland’s borders would likely stay the same as they are now, and it’s unlikely that any form of intense border checks would happen along the Scottish-English border. While secession from the UK would mean a long list of complications, I view Scottish independence in a very different light from say, Catalan or the Basque region. I’m always, of course, open to hearing other points of view on that note.

      Thank you again for stopping by and giving an EU perspective, Jean-Seb. I welcome your input on this subject, and I know how much the EU means to you.

      Buziaki, mon chere!


  4. If you wish to know about the reasons for Scottish Independence then read here:


    And bookmark the site. We have lots of articles on the subject. Its what the site was set up for.

    P.S Chris Hoy didnt win the Tour de France. That was the englishman Bradley Wiggins. But all bar one of the Scottish Olympians had to move from Scotland due to lack of investment in infrastructure. As I understand it they all had to either go abroad or to SE England

    • Thanks for the link — I’ll check it out. Also, thank you for stopping by!

      I fully support Scottish independence and hope to return my family to Scotland one day soon.

      RE: Chris Hoy — thanks for clearing that up. I shouldn’t trust NBC’s commentary…ever. They said that he won the Tour de France and that’s why he got to be the flag bearer. That’s a pretty big…mistake. Duly noted!

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