Scottish Parliament, Holyrood, Edinburg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Riyadh: Monday 18th June 2012
In my last post, I posed the proposition that Britain was undergoing a prolonged period of collective introspection and suggested three manifestations of this. The first of these, which I termed, ‘The Foreign Invader Threat’ is currently experienced as an ongoing re-evaluation of British interaction and engagement with the European Union. The second manifestation of this Introspective phase, I termed ‘The Fifth Columnist Threat,’ essentially a fear that, at large, within the society, are a number of groups and individuals who harbour malign intent towards the nation and her inhabitants and that, crucially, they are, either through greater cunning or sheer weight of numbers, reaching a critical mass, wherby society cannot effectively counter the threat. Finally, in the third manifestation, identified, ‘The Effete Leadership Threat,’ I suggested that there exists a general lack of faith in the ruling class to guide the country effectively or defend her against the threats, perceived to exist.
Of course, at the crux of these manifestations of introspective debate are perceptions of threat. At its heart, my argument assumes a fundamental loss of confidence by the British people in Britain and her institutions. That is not to say that Britain does not still evoke love and pride, loyalty and sacrifice, as a State needs to do in order that it continue to survive. But the more the combined perceptions of threat take root, the more people begin to look at alternative polities as solutions to their plight.
This is not unique to the United Kingdom. We can see similar developments across the Western World in the growth of radical parties offering apparently new solutions, across the western world. In France, the terms of debate during much of the recent presidential election was dictated by the far lefts Jean-Luc Melenchon and the far right’s, Marine Le Pen, while in the United States, much of the current Presidential term of office has been characterised by the paralysing of both legislatures by an increasingly partisan strand of the Republican Party, whose zeal for free market liberalisation and dismantling of the State, have polarised much of American political discourse. I intend to look at this phenomenon in the run up to the Presidential Election in November.
Yet, while it is inevitable that nations look inwardly when they come to suspect that their ideals are not working, and while it is not uncommon for nations to enter periods of readjustment and internal prioritization, it is the contention of this Blog that the current British internalisation is complicated in a nation that has essentially lost sight of its role and function in the world. No one truly fears for the medium term future of the United States, because Americans, despite their loss of confidence and certainty, still fundamentally believe themselves to be a force for good in the world. It is far from clear that a majority of Britons still feel that Britain remains an idea worth fighting for, let alone an international force for good. True, most Britons still believe in British values, but no longer to the extent that these should be exported around the world, as was once the case.
It is tempting to see this as a symptom of post-imperial decline, and it is certainly true that Britain has had to come to terms with its imperial legacy over a prolonged period. But it has generally managed this relatively painlessly, population following the lead set by the state in narrowing its global focus over the last half century. Newspapers have progressively become more domestic in orientation since the Suez crisis as the majority of Britons have come to view the world in decidedly domestic terms. Plenty of Britons travel abroad for work or pleasure and many never come back, but very few now do so in the service of the State or with the civilizing intentions carried by missionaries, school teachers or academics, setting up to study Sanskrit or Egyptology or the anthropology of Tahitian marriage ceremonials. Abroad is now a place to enjoy the sun or to make money. There is little of Britain we need to take with us when our intentions are not morally improving. Correspondingly, there is little need to read of what happens abroad.
These are subtle distinctions. The world has become smaller, and Britain is widely respected around the world as a mid-ranking power; part of the global club of elite nations. But the British, on the whole, no longer feel the need to export a distinctly British view of the world. Instead, they are content to inject those customs and habits from other places which enrich their own culture. In a country which no longer exports very much we appear to have lost interest in exporting our values.
Quite how British people have approached this introspective phase depends, in many respects upon where they live within the British island archipelago as different areas play host to altogether different collective relationships and memories of British Overseas projection and British values.
A visitor to London can walk along the north bank of the Thames and pass through a small ornamental garden outside the Ministry of Defence Building, in which are placed a number of statues of long forgotten military heroes, before passing Cleopatra’s Needle, a red granite obylisk (one of a pair, the other standing in New York), pilfered from the African Desert, its 3000 year old hieroglyphics now exposed to London rain and chill Thames wind. Or they can travel to the British Library and see yet more symbols, icons and period pieces of Empire.
Most of these are not intended to be about Empire at all, and are only really emblematic of Empire because of where they are. For you can never forget, when looking at these wonderful historical riches, that you are in Britain, and that these artefacts have been brought here, sometimes as a result of glorified theft. I say this, not in criticism. What are museums of not centres of gravity for historical artifacts? There are plenty of arguments that preservation, research and accessablity are all enhansed; that humanity is advanced through the collecting of history in this way.
What is perhaps remarkable, however, is that you do not need to travel to London to see these artefacts. You can see them in Highclere Castle (better known to millions as Downton Abbey), and the ancestral home of the Earls of Carnarvon, from among whom we draw the discoverer of Tutankhamen’s tomb. A visit to Highclere Castle will reward you artefacts taken from that very tomb. Or you can see the riches of the world in Britain’s provincial cities and towns. Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery or Glasgow’s Burrell Collection, offer the visitor, internationally renowned art collections; a different sort of imperial legacy here, these fine displays the result of massive private wealth leading to personal collections by tobacco merchants, shipping tycoons and slave traders. Throughout Britain, the legacy of Empire is there for all to see. Indeed our extraordinary cultural diversity, not just of artefacts or architecture, but of people is a direct result of our imperial adventure. Modern Britain often plays on this ethnic and cultural diversity as symbolising a country, no longer bound by the stuffy image of Britain with which we are often associated. But it is a legacy of empire as much as The Elgin Marbles, not merely a counterpoint to them.
Of course, Britons, did not just travel abroad and return with plunder. Nor did they only travel to bring civilization. The majority travelled either because they saw an opportunity of a better life or because they had exhausted their options back home. And in some parts of Britain, this economic migration was a forced and brutal affair; and their ancestors have never forgotten it.
So profound an affect had the “Highland Clearances” (a process by which the Highland regions of Scotland were systematically cleared of their inhabitants by landlords who largely replaced them with sheep), that the collective memory and associated feeling of victimization can still be felt in the largely depopulated Highland communities of today. Many Highlanders, forced to leave in the 18th and 19th Centuries went on to be successful, playing the cards dealt them with great ingenuity in the New World. And whereopportunities arose, plenty took advantage of the culture of the time, enjoying the opportunity to buy and sell slaves and make a living at the expense of other human beings, whose presence in North America was equally enforced but manifestly less rewarding.
Even today, there are Scots who find it difficult to acknowledge collusion with Empire preferring to see Scotland as a place colonized by English rule. This view is gradually changing, but it is understandably difficult to acknowledge collusion when your national myths tell of injustice and victimhood. And this persistent strain of sad, melancholic impotence, at the perceived, lost nationhood of Scotland, feeds one emotional strand of the modern phenomenon of Scottish Nationalism.
I use the word ‘modern’ because, while Scottish pride and patriotism are renouned, and long pre-date the ‘Union of the Crowns’ in 1603, the overt seperatism of today’s Scottish National Party must be seen as distinct from nationalist voices which existed at the time of the Royal or Parliamentary Act’s of Union. While it is rewarding for a modern nationalist to draw upon history and seek continuity, it is distinctly bad history, to suppose that the nation which voted itself out of existance in the time of Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, is the same as that which Alex Salmond wishes to inherrit in 2014.
The Nationalist narrative of failed Union
But percieved injustice or victimhood not alone in influencing the idea of an independent Scotland. To look at the grand nationalist narrative is to see a myriad of opportunistic references to cultural separateness. Nationalists can invoke a Scotland which is simultaneously more socialistic and collectivist than the rest of Britain while in the same breath, invoke the idea that through Scottish innovation, entrepreneurialism and hard work, (and in no small part down to Scottish oil), Scotland contributes above her fair share to the Union but enjoys a lesser share of the rewards.
Nationalists often see no irony in invoking the clearances and the Scottish Military regiments, whose glorious battle colours tell of imperial exploits from Khartoum to Korea. In other words, Scottish Nationalists, as with nationalists everywhere, instinctively plug into national myths, prejudices, aspirations, insecurities and opportunities at will and are profoundly pragmatic when it comes to which of these to emphasize, to which audience and in which context.
The Modern Scottish Nationalist Party is reflective of the electorate at large by occupying the Centre and Centre left of the political spectrum. Yet, in its earliest days, one of its two component founding parties was essentially right of centre, reflecting the fact that in the 1930’s, Scottish political discourse and voting intentions were fundamentally different to those of today and reflective of Europe as a whole, polarizing widely between facistic tendencies and socialist or communist sympathies. This was the era of ‘Red Clydeside and The ‘National Party of Scotland’ can be seen as a reaction to the overt socialism and internationalism of the working classes. To the national Party of Scotland, with a small and largely intillectual or aristocratic support, socialism was essentially unscottish. Images of the canny, frugal Scot, leading an austere existence in an imperial backwater, rigorously protestant, carefully managing the accounts of empire have an archaic ring about them, now. The modern image of the Scot is more likely to be one championed by the “Tartan Army” of football supporters whose passionate avowal of the national team’s exploits across European capitals can often be in directly inverse proportion the team’s successes.
Thus the Scot is a hardened drinker, yet unlikely to cause trouble. The Scot is passionate about his nation, exhibiting almost Mediterranean emotive gestures, quite at odds with the traditional view of the Scot as dour and soberly protestant. Most of all, the Scot is identified by his national dress, the supporters cheerfully posing next to tourists in Highland regalia, including Glengarry Bunnet and kilt, offset by the outdoorsiness of the Timberland Boot and the urban street, fashion embodied by the nylon soccer jersey. If this seems an unlikely mixture it is because it is, and is reflective of a decidedly haphazard approach to national identity, giving corporeal form to those parts of Scottish culture which appeal to outsiders and discarding those with less appealing connotations.
For the Tartan Army, read the Scottish Nationalist Party, whose leader, Alex Salmond, has presided over a rapid rise to the pinnacle of Scottish Parliamentary politics. At the time of writing, the nationalists hold an outright majority in the Scottish Parliament under a Proportional Representational system designed to prevent any party gaining such a majority. The nationalists have launched a referendum campaign with the day of destiny pencilled in for 2014, on the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn (an auspicious day in the history of Scotland, when a much larger English force was defeated, effectively ending a generation of wars designed to bring Scotland under English Rule – although for reasons of historical accuracy, I should point out that these wars in fact continued for a further generation, spreading by proxy as far a field as Ireland).
Never, since its inception, can the United Kingdom have been so close to its nemesis. Even in 1940, with invasion a likelyhood, there was no suggestion that Hitler would have broken a defeated Britain up into its historic componants.
We are then, perhaps, just two short years away from ending 300 years of British history. Or are we? Perhaps not. For the referendum on Scottish independence represents a historic opportunity for Unionism, should its exponents wish to grasp it.
For it represents, once and for all, the singular opportunity to provide the Union with an outright democratic mandate for participation in the Union. When the Act of Union was passed, in 1707, it was carried by a parliamentary institution known as The Estates. This was in no way a democracy, drawing its members from the three great estates of Scottish gentry. The Scottish people themselves had no say in the matter whatsoever. This has given rise to one of the most powerful strands in the nationalist narrative, that the people of Scotland were betrayed by (as Robert Burns would have it) “a parcel of Rogues” under whose duplicity, Scotland was “bought and sold for English Gold.” As a native Scot, myself, I can testify to the sheer power of this narrative, and the feelings of injustice it can raise.
Flags outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland. Left to right: British flag, Scottish flag, European Union flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Unionist Narrative
Yet, now, here is an opportunity to preach the merits of Union and seek an outright democratic mandate for it. Surely, Unionists on both sides of the border must be ringing their hands in glee at the prospect. Well that does not appear to be the case. Why not? There, are, to my mind, two reasons why the Scottish Nationalists appear to be dictating both the terms of the debate on this crucial question, and the lacklustre Unionist response.
- The Nationalists have taken advantage of the deeply unequal Devolution Settlement finalized in 1999, which granted Scotland a parliament and simultaneous voting rights in the UK parliament. On one level this is unimportant. It is highly unlikely that the English legislative book would have looked substantially different with only English MP’s casting votes. But it gives rise to a complicating myth of English victimhood which has slowly blossomed. Thus, we see the emergence of competing nationalisms, each arguing that one country would be better off without the other. Far from enthusiastically championing Union, many Englishmen view with relish, the prospect of disposing of Scotland, a country which is often perceived and portrayed as being one of subsidy junkies and inefficient public sector closed shops.
- The British collective loss of self-esteem. In a Britain in which national identity is most commonly expressed in the infantilizing arena of football stadia, and where British collective history has been either poorly taught or not taught at all in schools for a generation, there exists enormous scope for opportunist to hijack the political agenda in Britain. Efforts have been made at reform of the British teaching of History both in terms of school curriculum’s and in the wider context of cataloguing a less Anglo-centric British historical narrative, which began to take shape in the 1990’s. But these developments are long-term in effect and will have next to no impact in the short-term. Critically, at a time, when the nationalist narrative needs to be called into question and an alternative, British Narrative, inclusive of Scots and English contribution and reward put forward, the will to expound this narrative appears missing on both sides of the border.
Yet neither of these is insurmountable. There exists in Scotland, often unreported and unrecognized, in England, a deep-rooted loyalty to Britain which is demonstrative in an understated way which is absent from flag waving Nationalist rhetoric. In supporting the British Armed forces and taking pride in Scotland’s historic contribution to them, and in celebrating Scottish contributions to the British Empire, Scots, often without consciously thinking about it, are celebrating their Britishness. Moreover, Scots have historically reserved a place of sentiment for Scotland, while inhabiting a profoundly unsentimental British reality of social movement in and around Britain and abroad. This is often referred to, somewhat clumsily, by politicians, as “inhabiting duel Identities,” an expression of such crass two dimentionalism as to wholly fail in communicating the lived experience of british people. Finally, if a referendum were to be held tomorrow, let us not forget that a majority of Scots suggest that they would vote to retain the Union. It seems to me therefore that if the will exists, the United Kingdom can see off the nationalists in the long-term. That is, if the English still want to.
The English Narrative
Until recently, there was no such thing as an overtly English narrrative, or, if their was, it was one of continuity, unequivocally unionist, in as much as it saw no reason to question the status quo. To some nationalists, this is emblematic of English cultural arrogance. Yet this suggestion is in itself a somewhat adolescent response, taking for granted, that the English treat Scotland with contempt when lived expirience is often somewhat different.
Over the years, I have met many Englishmen who have displayed great sensitivity to the Scots and to Scotland. It is often noted, ruefully, that they have either never been to Scotland or that they have not been as often as they would like. That they keep meaning to go. Most Englishmen and women I have spoken to about Scotland display a mixture of fondness and respect for her people. Scots are usually seen as down to earth, hard-working, direct and good fun. I should note that these positive images are even more commonly applied to the Irish than they are to Scots. But it is clear from this that when the English and Scots encounter one another, they tend to find much to enjoy in the interaction.
Moreover, throughout England, I have come across the same narrative when referring to New Zealanders, Canadians, Americans, Germans and Italians. it seems that wherever the English meet people, they find that they like and respect them. Far from being the chauvinistic, imperialists of nationalist imagination, the English positively revel in difference and a fresh perspective.
And so it is that with heavy heart that the English have come to see Scottish Nationalism as deeply insulting and hurtful. They had grown up thinking we were all in it together. “If they want out, hate us that much, good riddance. Let them leave.” It is the response of the spurned lover, reeking of hurt feelings and incomprehension. Sometimes, divorce is necessary to let both parties move on.
Yet, as we shall see, this is directly and conspicuously against English geopolitical imperative dating back to the formation of England.
The Geopolitical Narrative
The Union of Scotland and England in 1707, was no accident, but was the culmination of an English strategic objective pursued by various means since the dawn of the English state. It is perhaps not really surprising that since the Union, the English have forgotten the importance to England of this Union, but that does not lessen it’s actuality or remove the likelyhood that in the event that the Union comes to an end, it will not be long before the English State begins once more to covet control over the Island of Great Britain. For, as long as there is an England, there will be a need to protect English borders and English Maritime interests.
Since the Nation of England began to emerge out of the dark ages, through the union of Wessex, Mercia and Northumberland in the wake of successive invasions by Germanic and Scandinavian tribes, the Geopolitical imperatives of the nation have essentially remained unchanged.
- Preserve the Central English Heartland: The key to English wealth is her fertile and unified landscape of rolling hills and green valleys, making transport of produce to market easy, and guaranteeing good yields in most years. For English kings therefore, protection of this breadbasket is the first imperative. Control it and you have power.
- Control the Island archipeligo as a whole: Control of England is the main prize, but it soon becomes clear that there is a substantial danger to the fertile lands from the less fertile areas. Even in the time of the Romans, this problem was real enough for them to build a wall across northern Britain to protect the edge of its empire and as an aid to economic development by providing security to its fertile conquests. For Post-Roman Kings, faced with a myriad of nation states on the continent the need to subdue the hilly areas of Cornwall, Wales and Scotland, as well as the ‘back-door’ of Ireland has posed an even greater imperative. Successive English Kings in the Middle Ages found themselves hampered in their efforts to fight the French, or Spanish by the perpetual risk posed by invasion from these areas, either independently or as a result of alliance with a continental power.
- Control of the seas around Britain: It is astonishing to think that Britain has only ever been a single unitary State for slightly over 100 years. Between 1805 and 1922 England, Wales Scotland and Ireland were ruled from London. Only for this period, have England’s geopolitical aspirations been able to be solely and securely about power projection abroad. The rest of the time, one or more of the countries to the west or north of England has exercised legislative sovereignty and as such poses a threat to England’s security. If this seems far-fetched, consider the legitimate fears of U-boats being housed in the Irish Free State during WWII. In the absence of being able to control the whole island, England has had to ensure it controlled the seas. This imperative has been cemented in history; the nameless Navy of Drake and Frobisher which scattered the Armada, The Royal Navy of Nelson, Jallico’s Grand Fleet, Sandy Woodward’s Task Force. The need to control the high seas and in particular the coast around Britain, has been an imperative of English Kings since 1066. For England, and later, Britain, the Navy was the first and last line of defence in the event of diplomacies failure. Indeed, thanks to Trident, this remains as true today as it was when Napoleon stood looking at the cliffs of Dover.
- Divide and Conquer in Europe: In the Hundred Years War, England fought to control France, gradually expanding her power to dominate much of that country. And it seemed for a long while that this was a successful strategy. Yet the short career of Joan of Arc and the rapid unravelling of English control over two-thirds of France, demonstrated that England lacked the population and centrality to the European continent to ever dominate it. However, England was safe from existential threat unless one of the continental rival powers were able to achieve continental supremacy. Subsequently, England (Then Britain) has sought, through diplomatic and military means to undermine any efforts to unify the continent under either Spanish, French, Papal, Russian or German domination. By ensuring the ongoing division of Europe, England (Then Britain) has secured her sovereignty, allowing her to take advantage of her position as Europe’s principal Atlantic Breakwater and control access to the worlds trade routes.
- Preserve a strong but essentially devolved State: Historically, England has been drawn abroad to trade and fight. It needs to be engaged, almost full-time, in foreign policy in order to counter the threats posed by European strength and the existential threat that this poses to English Sovereignty. England, unlike America, can never really be isolationist. Whenever it tries to do this, it ends in tipping the balance of power in Europe, a rival power becoming dominant on the continent and a war being necessary. England therefore needs taxes to fund its navy, protect its coast, feed its army’s and project its power and free trade aspirations. Britain, therefore, unlike America has always needed a robust state infrastructure, capable of running itself while the countries attentions are drawn elsewhere. Essential to the countries ability to prosecute its interests efficiently has been a robust and self regulating taxation system and a diciplined and patriotic population.
- Global power projection and the imposition of free trade: Only very, very seldom in the history of England has this been possible. Indeed as a stand alone nation, England herself has never been able to accomplish this. While England was able to utilise her navy, wealth and geographic position on the Atlantic coast to develop colonies in North America, she was never able before Union to defeat her major rivals or secure trade routes. Yet ultimately, it is Free Trade that makes Britain wealthy as it can never dominate Europe enough to dominate a customs union as Germany and France have managed to do. Yet, England has used its geographical advantages well to achieve more of its existential strategic objectives than all but a tiny handfull of nation states in history. Note, while England could not have achieved this on her own, as part of the United Kingdom, she is part of one of only two nations ever to achieve global pre-eminence, the other being the United States.
And so we see the six priorities of England. These priorities never change and nor will they until the next ice age, when the water levels will recede and England will once more be joined to the continent. It is worth noting that there are plenty in Britain who favour a much smaller state as holding the key to greater wealth or who see England as a smaller, more efficient geographical entity, better able to addapt to triumph in the capitalised global economy. However, these priorities, regardless of their theoretical merits, fly in the face of English historical priorities, and it is the contention of this blog that these priorities evolved for good reasons.
The unchanging political imperatives of England are dictated to by her geography; the fact that she is simultaneously removed from and close to the European continent. This cannot change and human self interest flows from there.
During the 13th 14th and 15th Centuries, England attempted to exert military power to achieve it’s initial geopolitical objectives, by seeking to iradicate notions of Scotland, Wales and Ireland and be seeking to obtain the continental land, wealth and population that would allow it to consider dominating Europe through the Hundred Years War. The catasrophic failure of this policy to sustainably achieve any of these objectives save the perminant occupation of Wales (achieved at the ruinous cost of a network of castles and garrissons across the country), led England to a fundimental re-evaluation of its geopolitical strategy. The geopolitical end werew the same, secure the home island and secure England from the threat of a dominant power emerging in Europe, but the means now chjanged. England has by-and-large sought these goals through diplomacy, ever since.
And central to England’s Geopolitical Priorities are Union’s with the other countries sharing her island. England historically derives little wealth from these areas, directly, although the highly educated Scottish workforce she inherited in 1707 went on to run much of her empire. But union protects her domestic interests and secures her borders, prevents smuggling and invasion and secures a larger domestic market for her products. Union is one of the critical national priorities of England.
And, whether this is currently realised or not. Union always will be.
Scottish geopolitical narrative
Scottish nationalists argue that their country will be better off from divorce, able to exercise its sovereignty better and in is own exclusive interest. But the Geopolitical imperatives of a Scottish Nation are, at best, equivocal on this issue.
- Secure Sovereignty from the dominant power to the South: Since the time of the Romans, no tribal leader has been able to contemplate uniting the geographic entity of Scotland unless the Southern neighbour is temporarily distracted or beaten. As we have seen, this can only ever be temporary as it is in the direct interest of the Southern polity to control (or at least Unify with Scotland in order to secure her integrity as a nation.
- Secure the Highlands and Islands: These regions historically produce little wealth but failure to control them leads to a weakening of the State overall and a greater vulnerability to invasion in the future. Historically difficult to penetrate, it has always been a place where people went to hide, rebuild their strength and begin to pose a threat. Therefore, the ability to control the highlands, either by military force or patronage, is essential to controlling Scotland.
- Seek unilateral alliances with major rival powers to deter potential invasion: Scotland has traditionally sought the protection of rival powers, particularly the French. Notably the Scottish Nationalist would do exactly the same thing upon obtaining independence, seeking entry to the EU the following day. Note, however, that the price for doing so would be a surrender of much of Scotland newly won sovereignty.
- Preservation of distinctive National Infrastructure and State Bodies: This sounds self-evident but picture Scotland without its own judiciary or church. In the Union of 1707, with England, Scotland lost her executive and legislature, as well as her direct control over her own currency. What was left of the Scottish State was her legal system and church. Without these there would be virtually no difference between Scotland and England today. it is a geopolitical imperative in a country which has periodically lost one or more element of its state independence to English control, that it preserve what remains.
Worryingly for a Nationalist, viewed from this context, an independent Scotland would actually be a very vulnerable state. Required to be an enthusiastic European country, it would surrender, in perpetuity much of its state sovereignty to Brussels. In this context the 1707 Union with England looks like good business, preserving several crucial aspects of State infrastructure, and with it, the very idea of the state itself, for future use in the event that the pre-eminent southern neighbour no longer exercised sufficient wealth and power to make union worthy of continuation.
Note that you do not need to be either a Unionist or a Eurosceptic to see that surrender of the primacy of your Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, is a significantly worse deal for a Nation State to make than to surrender the primacy of your Executive and Legislature alone. This is even more the case when you consider that under devolution, the Executive and Legislature were substantially restored to Scotland in 1999.
At first it seems apparent that the union is falling apart. English loss of self-confidence and increasing introspection couples with economic decline have furnished Scots with renewed nationalism and the English with a feeling that Scotland is a burden, not worth holding onto.
National divorce seems inevitable, perhaps desirable.
But the reality is that geopolitical imperatives do not change, or rather, change incredibly rarely. It will continue to remain necessary for the English polity to seek to dominate or ally itself to its western and northern neighbours in order to allow it access to their markets, manpower and national security form smuggling or invasion. Similarly, Scotland will always seek to preserve aspects of its state sovereignty but will never feel safe isolating herself from a larger partner. As such the question is whether to remain British and retain a degree of legislative independence from Europe or to sever this British link and surrender in the process, greater levels of sovereignty to Brussels. You should note that this is not merely a question for Scotland. For a future Scotland could sign up to the Schengen Agreement (to give one example of how this greater European integration could operate). In this scenario, is it feasible to suppose that England would be able to maintain any meaningful border controls without substantially inconvencing herself in the process? The experience of Switzerland and Norway suggest that she would not.
The conclusion you are invited to draw here is that the Union may be the lesser of two evils for both states.
However, this all depend on the future of Britain within Europe and it is this that we look at in part 4.