Today, the two former countries of England and Scotland are still combined as one nation, along with the formerly independent states of Wales and Northern Ireland, into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. However, recent devolution moves by Scotland have returned significant powers of self government to Scotland, along with a rebirth of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.
There exists open trade throughout the United Kingdom, with Scots having representation in the Scottish Parliament and in the UK Parliament in London. The UK is headed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and Scottish soldiers serve in the British military and Scottish-born individuals hold British passports.
However, there is still a strong Scottish identity, with Scots such as myself identifying themselves as Scottish, and sometimes British, but never English.
Today, Scotland is more closely aligned with the globalist perspective[i] on international relations, with a primary focus on economic development and the building of business connections worldwide.[ii] The Scottish Parliament can be loosely understood as similar to a state government in the United States, with certain powers that have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament and taken out of the control of the UK Parliament. These areas include health, education, local government, Scottish law, and, in 2012, additional tax and borrowing powers, and control over air guns, drunk driving and speed limits.[iii]
Culturally, Scotland has a distinct global identity from England or even the UK, both globally and in the United States.[iv] Highland Games, Robert Burns Dinners, Scotland Week, Tartan Day and more are events and holidays held in the US and around the world that are solely identified with Scotland. And the influences of those of Scottish descent on the nations of the world are well documented. Many claim the Scottish Declaration of Arbroath, signed in 1320, sowed the seeds of American independence[v] and the list of those of Scottish descent in US leadership roles throughout the US’ short history is impressive.[vi]
And in my personal experiences, because of that cultural identity, and since Scots consider themselves Scottish first, the discussion of independence from England has never been far from people’s lips. And today, with the rise in power of the Scottish National Party (SNP) to where in 2011 they established a majority government with a primary goal of Scottish independence[vii], the Scottish people are now preparing for a formal vote in 2014 to decide whether Scotland will stay part of the United Kingdom, or if it will once again be a free and independent nation while still remaining under the rule of Queen Elizabeth II, similar to how Canada or Australia is currently.[viii]
Next week – A Measuring of Economies
[i] Viotti, Paul R. & Mark V. Kauppi (2007) Chapter 1, “Theory, Images, and International Relations: An Introduction” in International Relations and World Politics: Security, Economy and Identity, p. 10.(Allyn and Bacon)
[vi] Fry, Michael (2004) How the Scots Made America (Thomas Dunne Books)