Scottish independence vote tomorrow

From George Monbiot, I learn that all but one (Sunday) newspaper in the UK opposed separation by Scotland, so the fact that the vote is so close at the moment is quite remarkable since my sense is that newspaper reading is much more widespread in the UK than in the US and thus likely to be more influential in swaying public opinion.

But the problem may be the condescension with which the England-dominated papers apparently talked about the Scots.

In the coverage of the referendum we see most of the pathologies of the corporate media. Here, for instance, you will find the unfounded generalisations with which less enlightened souls are characterised. In the Spectator, Simon Heffer maintains that: “addicted to welfare … Scots embraced the something for nothing society”, objecting to the poll tax “because many of them felt that paying taxes ought to be the responsibility of someone else”.

Here is the condescension with which the dominant classes have always treated those they regard as inferior: their serfs, the poor, the Irish, Africans, anyone with whom they disagree. “What spoilt, selfish, childlike fools those Scots are … They simply don’t have a clue how lucky they are,” sneered Melanie Reid in the Times.

That so many Scots, lambasted from all quarters as fools, frauds and ingrates, have refused to be bullied is itself a political triumph. If they vote for independence, they will do so in defiance not only of the Westminster consensus but also of its enforcers: the detached, complacent people who claim to speak on their behalf.

While there has been some quibbling over how wealthy Scotland actually is compared to the other OECD countries, its economy holds it own compared to England. No wonder so many Scots are ticked off at being portrayed as moochers.

Stephen Colbert gave his take on this issue. I don’t understand the English threat to not ‘allow’ the Scots to use the pound as currency if they vote for independence. Why does England think they own the pound since both countries have used it for so long?

He also talked to an assistant editor of the Guardian who was very pro-independence.

(These clips aired on September 15, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)


  1. AsqJames says

    Just as an another illustration of exactly how biased the media has been in this campaign, the Scotland Editor of the Telegraph is due to receive a £10,000 bonus if the No camp wins, jumping to £20,000 if they get over 60%. Just imagine how impartial his coverage has been!

  2. David Jones says

    The legal position, if Scotland were to leave, would be that the remainder would still be the UK (not England – it would include Wales and Northern Ireland) and the new country would be the independent Scotland. Legally, Scotland would be leaving the UK. That’s why the question of Scotland having to negotiate entry in the EU comes up – and of course, new accessions to the EU have to adopt the Euro.

    An independent Scotland, outside the EU or with a very unlikely special deal with the EU, could of course use the pound – but the Bank of England would still be the central bank, setting interest rates and so on. That wouldn’t be much in the way of ‘independence’.

    You might like to watch Gordon Brown (Scottish, Labour) making a speech:

  3. says

    Yeah – the reason I used “rump UK” in the other thread is that I’m not sure I understand what kingdoms are being united, if Scotland leaves? Wales is a Principality, and Northern Ireland is what, a province? What’s a group of counties called?

    It’s a bit pointless and pedantic, but hey, that’s how I roll, baby.

  4. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    Why do the English think we own the pound? Because we’re English, of course. Why is this a question?

    Exactly, Caitie Cat. Take a look at a British bank note. It probably says it is issued by the Bank of England. If it doesn’t- some Scottish and Northern Irish banks also issue notes- the bank concerned has to deposit money with the Bank of England to a value equal to the notes it issues. Of course an independent Scotland could use the pound. It just wouldn’t have any say in interest rates, money supply or economic policy.

    The legal position, if Scotland were to leave, would be that the remainder would still be the UK

    Would it?
    England & Wales have been completely united since Henry VIII’s time, David Jones, but the UK was formed by the Acts of Union between England & Wales and Scotland. That was in 1707 and dissolution of those would mean the dissolution of everything that’ happened since- for example, Northern Ireland could reasonably be handed over to Scotland.

  5. Chiroptera says

    Why does England think they own the pound since both countries have used it for so long?

    Maybe the Scots can claim they aren’t withdrawing from the UK but kicking England out?

  6. says

    Granted that Cymru is its own country, it’s not a kingdom, which was my point, in that there is no separate king of Wales with which to make a united kingdom. Nor is NI. My contention is thus that without Scotland, it’s just a kingdom, not a united one.

    It’s a trivial thing, honestly, and I really was just sort of kidding in bringing it up; it’s on the level of being annoyed because someone uses ‘ATM machine’ or ‘SIN number’. 🙂

  7. bigwhale says

    I don’t know enough about the economics and politics. But this American would be pleased to hear more from a liberal Scotland on the world stage.

  8. lorn says

    IMHO the more interesting question is not what happens to Scotland if it becomes independent but rather what happens to England. Scotland is mainly a liberal nation. One of the main complaints of Scots is that hey keep getting stepped on by the conservative party in England. So what happens when, with Scotland separation, the effect is that 3 million liberal voting Scots are no longer represented in England. This is going to shift England deeper into the conservative swamp where anti-immigrant racist and anti-welfare state supply-side monsters lurk in the shadows.

    Are we going to see more Thacherite budget austerity? Will the white nationalists come to power? Should I invest in Permira, owner of R. Griggs Group Limited, the maker of Doc Martin boots to make a profit on the extra stomping? Is that moral? Will anti-foreign sentiment mean that England pulls out of the EU? Should I sell Euros and buy Dollars, or perhaps Yuan? If all that comes to pass will we see a mass migration of ethnic minorities toward Scotland where liberal sentiment and easier budgets are to be found?

    This whole change thing can get scary.

  9. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    This is going to shift England deeper into the conservative swamp where anti-immigrant racist … monsters lurk in the shadows.

    The interrsting thing is that where there is Scottish rhetoric about welcoming immigrants, immigrants are much more enthusiastic about actually going to England. About 13% of the population of England were foreign born, whereas they are about 7% of the population of Scotland. Similarly, there are about 2.7 million muslims- 5.2% of the population- in England and less than 80,000- 1.4% of the population in Scotland. As nearly all the muslims in the UK are immigrants or descended from immigrants who came after 1945, it serves as a rough guide.

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