Two interesting votes are taking place in Scotland today.
First, the members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews are voting on whether to admit women …. Not to the dining room and bars, but to the club itself! Times do change.
Which leads to …. Second ……
Residents of Scotland over the age of 16 are voting in the IndyRef. It has been fascinating to observe from afar the various campaigns. The question and possible answers are disarmingly simple, while the debate has been anything but. I briefly want to focus on the question the Scots are considering today. Here it is; short, clear, unambiguous:
Should Scotland be an independent country?
To grasp the test in the question, substitute “England” for Scotland and ask it of yourself. No Englishman in his right mind would consider voting “No”, a fact the UKIP party led by the indomitable Nigel Farage makes very clear in the context of EU membership. And yet, many Englishman have openly suggested the Scots should vote No. How odd.
Or substitute “Canada.” Canadian nationalism and sense of being itself are overwhelmingly strong. Goodness, Canadian passion for being an independent country extends to legal limits on non-Canadian pop music content on the radio and in magazines.
Or Ireland. Or Denmark. Or Iceland. Or Nepal. Or … their name is legion.
I hear you object. “But they are independent countries.” You miss the point. Their present state is not the issue. If that were the case there would be no IndyRef. That argument is self-defeating and entirely misses the point. They are countries, yes, in the sense that being nations they are also states.
The real issue is: Should a nation be a state? Answer: if it wants to be. Ergo, the IndyRef.
A better example than those I listed above is, say, Kurdistan. The Kurds are clearly a nation, but long since have had no state, although I think they were independent more recently than Scotland. This accounts for the lack of parallel with, say, Texas about which there are whisperings and even rumblings of secession from the United States.
I admit there are vexing ambiguities. Québec, for example. But the parallel in this case with Scotland is not so clear. Read here from the Toronto Star for a brilliant analysis of the differences. More similar, as the Star piece outlines, is the separation of Slovakia and the Czech Republic. I grew up with Czechoslovakia, but it is gone. (Hockey fans knew what a potent combo that was!)
No, the IndyRef question is fair, reasonable, and clear. It is also needed.
Some would dismiss the Yes campaign as a xenophobic madhouse. Odd how they do not say the same thing of, say, the Ukrainians, or the English, or the Canadians, or the Angolans, or ……….
It is going to be an interesting day. I am simultaneously hopeful and anxious, expectant and resigned.