Scottish Nationalism Shines

The Scottish National Party just made huge gains in the regional elections this week in the UK.

The SNP are the party which wants Scotland secede from the United Kingdom, and gain full independence. Now it appears that they have the support of a majority of the Scottish people for the first time. I doubt that the majority of the Scottish would vote yes on a independence referendum, but I think the SNP’s election results certainly show a wish for more autonomy.

For those American readers all confused, thinking “isn’t Scotland, in England?”:

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the country that is often referred to as Britain, the UK, or sometimes just England. The UK consists of four constituent states or kingdoms: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each of these states is equal to the other in law, although England is often incorrectly assumed to be dominant – mainly due to historical reasons, population size, bad Mel Gibson movies, and the fact that the UK’s capital is London, England.

In 1997 after Tony Blair’s Labour party won in the UK general election, there started a process of develotion whereby Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were given their own parliaments or assembly’s, and degree of autonomy was granted to run their own affairs. England has no national parliament or government; it is ruled directly by the UK government. As the UK parliament has members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland this has created a problem known as the “West Lothian Question” where Scottish MP’s, for example, can vote on English Issues such as Education, but the English MP’s have no say on issues based in Scotland. But I digress….

Now the Scottish have voted in the SNP to lead their Parliament, what does this mean?

Well, I have to admit, when I lived in Scotland in the late 1990’s I too voted for the SNP. My attitude was, if the Scots want independence, who am I to deny it to them? Unfortunately I believe my attitude was tarnished by the fact that being English, living in Scotland, I was subjected to some rather hateful words of abuse at times. Some Scots find the thought of an Englishman living among them to be utterly despicable. I suffered broken windows, verbal and occasionally physical abuse, and a distinct feeling I was not welcome in Scotland. This was not the behavior of the majority, but as ever the minority who did behave in such a way tarnished the good will other did indeed show me.

I lived in Scotland when Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart” came out, which, besides from not being entirely historically accurate, did not help me endear myself to my chosen fellows. I am not saying the English were not absolutely barbaric to the Scots once upon a time, but I felt it was a little unfair to blame me for these events.

Anyway, if the SNP can bring about Scottish independence, and the country is allowed to cecede, then I truly wish them success. They have a great country and some amazing people. Scotland has created a disproportionate number of fantastic engineers.

I will leave this entry with a classic joke that my Scottish friends love to share with me at every opportunity:

When God was creating the earth he said to St Peter: “Okay next on the list, Scotland. I think I’ll give it beautiful mountains and glens, idyllic views, the ingredients for a great drink called whiskey, lovely wildlife…”
Then St. Peter interrupts him and says
“That’s all very good, but why do they get all this?” And God replies “Wait till you see the neighbors I give them!”


  1. Martin Said,

    May 6, 2007 @ 3:20 pm

    Hey, cool write up!

    To be honest I would disagree with you that England is not dominant in rule of the UK, and I feel that is probably why the SNP performed so well in the elections! At present Scotland is ruled in Westminster, England, with small work done in Holyrood (the Scots Parliament), so while I think you could argue that England are dominant over Scotland, it would certainly be hard to argue the opposite!

    Just my 2-cents after reading, but overall I agree with you article!

  2. Stuart Said,

    May 6, 2007 @ 7:33 pm

    Martin is correct in that currently most decisions regarding Scotland are indeed made in London. I think the point I was trying to make was the the parliament in London is for the whole of the UK (i.e. It is not solely an English parliament), and additionally Scotland has its own parliament. The English are not so well represented, although there are movements afoot to bring back a devolved English Parliament, although I personally doubt this will happen soon.

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