The Widdershins

Remain Calm, Etc: So, Will It Be “Aye” or “Naw”?

Posted on: September 18, 2014

The problem with Scotland… Is that it’s full of Scots! – King Edward I, from Braveheart.

Greetings, Widdershins.  An’ hous aw wi ye?  (How’s everything with you?)  Today, Scots of 16 years and over will go to the polls and cast a vote on the question of independence.  This is more important than you know, on so many levels, so try to bear with me as we work our way through the bonnie wee dustup that is the Scottish-English alliance.

Scotland is historically divided into the highlands, and the lowlands.   The Highlands are above Glasgow, historically Celtic in nature, and the prototypical Scottish clans such as Dunbar, MacAllister, Gunn, Campbell, Southerland and MacKay are from this area. The Highlands make up roughly 60% of Scotland.  The Lowlands are located at the border with England, and are home to some of the other British lap dogs clans such as MacDowell and MacDuff. Your clan is your family – nuclear, in-laws, and old friends form the familial (and frequently numerous) septs  of the great clans. Please understand that this is a vast oversimplification, but it is a starting point for those unfamiliar with our culture

The Scots were and are stout warriors.  England and Scotland battled for at least four centuries, with the Scots generally getting the worst of it.   During numerous occupations, England forbade the wearing of the tartan, wearing kilts (yes, some might say that was doing us a favor but we just don’t see it that way), and declared our pipes to be an instrument of war.  Then in 1707, an alliance was forged.  All my life I heard that our country was wrested from us by the bloody Limies,but it seems like there was a 2-1 vote in favor of it, and so we became part of Britannia.  The early part of the 19th century brought great change to the lowland area, while the highlands remained less developed and more traditional in process and custom. So her young men did what many young men do when they cannot find a job – they joined the military.

Later in the 19th century, Queen Victoria fell in love with the Highlands.  Balmoral castle was built, and she became such a sucker for tartan that she commissioned one in her own name,  Also at that time, she decided to better utilize the land, so had people thrown from their crofts (homes), hustled aboard coffin ships with only the clothes on their backs, and sailed off to the Americas.  The crofts and contents were then burned to the ground so that animals might graze on the land  for enhanced profits to the Crown.  Nope, no resentment……..even though that’s how most of my paternal ancestors arrived…… resentment whatsoever…… was a long time ago………..

Skipping ahead 100+ years, Scotland now has its own Parliament created in 1999, some say courtesy of the “Braveheart Effect”, but its powers are limited.  Think of it as more of a state legislature, but less powerful.  Over the years, Scotland has veered left while England (courtesy of the “Margaret Thatcher Effect”) has lurched right.  The Scots are most unhappy with the cuts to education and healthcare, as universities in Scotland are free and National Health Care is considerably enhanced.  They are not at all pleased by the fact that they are suffering from cuts made by a Tory Parliament in London. while their overwhelmingly (all but one) Labour Parliament cannot undo them. The “Aye” Scots want a Scottish Parliament to make the decisions that are in the interest of the Scottish people.  The “Naw” Scots are concerned about the economic impact that will follow independence – banks swear that they will move their offices to England, celebrities are begging them to stay, the Queen wished that they “think carefully” prior to the vote. And lord knows, we cannot under any circumstances discomfit the banking industry – perhaps that’s why so many famous people have joined the “Naws”.  ( I doubt sincerely that any of the 1%-ers exhorted us to not bail out our banks.)  The problem is that in Scotland, as it is here, any number of canny folks have noted that the current policies are not doing them a bit of good while others have done quite handsomely.  I have to believe that J.K. Rowling and Sir Paul have not suffered under the current system any more than Jamie Dimon has here.  The Scots have had many years to watch our “recovery” process and have thereby arrived at their own conclusions.

To be fair, both the current President and Bill Clinton have also begged the Scots to stay put.  I fully believe that they are motivated by the effects both immediate and long-term that secession will have on a prime ally.  The English are beside themselves for any number of good reasons.  The Scots are by and large vehemently anti-nuclear, and I’m pretty certain they will want England to clear the nukes off the River Clyde area.  I’m also pretty certain that England won’t want the nukes on their side of the border, either, so brace yourselves, Wales and Northern Ireland:  Incoming!  The military is another factor, as there are all sorts of Scottish Regiments contained within the British army.  Their sheer numbers, strength of reputation as fighting units, and battle honors will be nearly impossible to replace.  Further, Scotland is pro-EU (since the 14th century, Scotland and France have been allies), while England is considering an exit.  And then there is all of that lovely. lovely oil in the North Sea………

The amusing thing is that Prime Minister Cameron set this election up with only the two choices, yet now wants the Scots to vote no with the promise of more autonomy, which was the third option that he personally nixed and refused to allow on the ballot.  Apparently Cameron felt that faced with a up or down choice, Scotland would overwhelmingly vote to stay with GB and all would be well.  Some of his offers such as more self-determination and input into taxation are attractive, but Cameron’s biggest problem will be to convince the Scots both of his sincerity and drive to follow through.  History has given the Scots a bit of a jaundiced approach to the British bearing gifts.  HBO’s John Oliver compared the relationship to trying to salvage a dead marriage,  The video is hilarious, and well worth your time to watch.

I would not be surprised either way with this vote,  and I would even tell you that I think that a vote to stay with England might be temporary at best.  Further, the decision to remain with GB but receive additional autonomy over Scotland’s taxation and welfare will most certainly resonate with other member of Great Britain.  However, should the vote be to secede, it might well touch off the Catalans, the Basques, the French Canadians, the Northern Irish, the Kurds, and others to numerous to mention who feel that they are governed by people who really do not care what they think.  Just imagine what that could start – the Arab Spring may have been a dress rehearsal.

This is an open thread.  Cheerio the nou. (‘Bye for now.)


33 Responses to "Remain Calm, Etc: So, Will It Be “Aye” or “Naw”?"

A vote “yes” is really a “no” to the Conservative government of Cameron, the Chuckie-esque progeny of Thatcher. Cameron through his ill-advised and counter-productive austerity (the U.K. is just now coming to parity on GDP with pre-2008 levels) is the 2X4 that broke the proverbial camel’s back.

It is interesting though, Scotland is rabidly progressive. Of the 59 MPs elected from Scotland, 58 are not Tories. If the Labour and Liberal Democrats elected from Scotland are now out of Parliament, the Tories become more dominant. Of course Cameron takes the fall, elections will be declared, and then a perfunctory election will be held to produce another Conservative government that will give them more of the same.

I wonder if we should start calling Conservatives “Zombies” — their toxicity just won’t die.

I heard that the ratio of Giant Pandas to Tory MSPs is 2:1,
Cameron;s problem with the Scots is that there stands a man with an old Scottish name and an English accent – not endearing. He may be finished either way.

since the 14th century, Scotland and France have been allies

I’m tellin’ ya, if it’s a Yes that wins, those tricky Scots will lure Liz to Balmoral and then seek revenge for what her namesake did to Mary!

@2, undoubtedly Cameron was exhibiting the cheeky hubris only a Zombie Conservative can muster.

When he called the yes/no election, the polls were only showing 30% yes. His pollster should have asked some follow-up questions or better yet, his poll interpreters should have mentioned “snapshots don’t always catch all the favorable light.”

Maybe Cameron employed the sane pollsters that predicted a Romney landslide.

@5, and the same economic advisers who helped the one Romney “success story” — Staples rocket to the bottom.

I was in a Staples the other day for the first time in years — it was like going into a close out sale at a K-Mart for bankrupt people who had stolen office supplies. And to think, that was the one and only “success story” of magical Mitt.

Fabulous simile.

Here ya go chat:

Hello, Widdershins, I hope all have been relatively well, I’m so happy Chat posted today. I am following on BBC Breaking News on my computer. It does appear that the vote is leaning toward independence. In the meantime, as any true child of the isles, I will go downstairs to pour myself a wee dram of the greatest liquor ever brewed while awaiting the results.

@8: Well said!
@9: Slainte, Mary Luke. Sadly at this moment the “naws” are ahead by 3000+ votes.

@10 Really! I’m surprised, Chat. Well, it’s been a bit more than a wee dram, but at this rate I’ll be happy whichever way the vote goes! I looked up the “Buist” sept after you explained septs to me last year and yes, they are a sept, I forget of which clan (a cardinal sin, I know)!

But anyway, I am part Scotch on my maternal grandfather’s side, as my mother always told me.

@ Fredster: good one! I do like the flag in it’s present design though.

Rachel is covering it. I would think it would appeal to her wonkiness.

@11: You are a member of Clan Watson. (Elementary, my dear.)

They’re telling Scots jokes over on another blog so I’ll paste some in.

An American, and Indian, and a Scotsman are all having dinner together at a fancy restaurant. They all decide to order salmon. The maitre’d tells them “I apologize, but there’s a shortage of salmon at the moment. If you like, we’ll substitute in steak instead, and if you do not wish to tip after this error, I understand.”

The American goes red-faced and yells “Shortage!?” The Indian, equally angry, yells “Steak?!” The Scotsman is the angriest of all, grabbing the maitre’d by the lapels and going “Tip?!

A vehicle containing recon troops in the run to Baghdad was captured by the Republican Guard. A Scotsman, an Englishman and an Australian were all brought in handcuffs to Saddam Hussein himself, who told them, “You are all prisoners of war but before we lock you up you’ll each receive fifty lashes for being imperial dogs. But I’m not a cruel man, so you may each chose to wear whatever you want on your back to defend against the blows.”

The Australian is first and asks for the finest kangaroo hide to cover his back. This is granted and he receives his fifty lashes. He’s bloodied and his hide is in tatters, but he survives the flogging.

Next up is the Englishman who says in his most haughty manner, “I will take it as it comes as an Englishman never asks for quarter.” His wish is granted and he receives his lashings, leaving his back a mangled, bloody horror with bits of backbone poking through the mess. He doesn’t look to make it.

The Scots is the final victim and is asked what he chooses to put on his back to mitigate the punishment. Without a moment’s hesitation the Scotsman says, “I’ll have the Englishman.”

So this American is vacationing in Scotland. He goes into the local pub and says “I hear you Scots know how to hold your liquor. Well, I’ve got a hundred American dollars for the first man who can do ten shots of whisky back to back.”

No one takes him up on his offer. One man even gets up and leaves. About ten minutes later, he returns and says “Is your bet still good?”

The American says yes. The bartender sets up the shot glasses and the Scot downs them all back to back. The whole bar cheers and the American sheepishly hands over the money. “If you don’t mind me asking, where’d you go for those ten minutes?”

The Scotsman says “Ach, I went to the pub down the street to make sure I could do it, first.”

Thanks for the great post, chat. Appreciate all this insight, as everything else I’ve read is of the pro UK vein.

LMAO! Funny jokes Fredster! I dated a Scot for 5 years (my first serious boyfriend) and yes, he was super cheap. I mean frugal. I bet he’s a millionaire now.

Glad you like them annie. I’m watching two *boring* football games on tv.

OMG. The Atlanta-TB game is more like a biblical smiting.

@17: The US is much happier with a true UK. I’m not kidding when I tell you that the English military would not do well without the Scottish regiments and the Irish guards, My father, though somewhat prejudiced, has little good to say about the English soldiers in WWII. He thought both the Guards and the Highlanders to be somewhat insane, but extolled their bravery in the North African theater.

@20: They need to just call it quits now. Poor Lovie Smith!!

I have given up on the game and am watching a movie.

@13 Watson? That’s Scotch-who knew? Thank you, Chat!

{{{{Sigh}}}} Ach, it is not to be. Here’s hoping that the English keep their word and something good comes of it.

Chat, this is almost a private note:

Here I am in the lovely hills of Western NC, among all these lovely (natural, no less!) redheads watching this monumental vote, thinking how if you fast forward a couple hundred years an x mark on a piece of paper replaces the claymore.

Your comments are very welcome for giving this a historical yet living perspective.

Where in western NC? I’m from Clayton Ga which is a stone’s throw from Franklin, and I have (or had, in my younger days) naturally auburn hair. Lots of Scots in those hills.

That is a close vote. Sorry Chat! I think you’re right about America in general wanting the UK to stay put. Ah well. I’m surprised it went this way actually. I wonder what made people vote no. Keeping the pound as currency?

I wonder what made people vote no

Probably something as simple as more people with moneyed interests in keeping the status quo.


At present in Asheville, but in the past several years, Franklin, and also points north as far as the English-esque landscape of Allegheny county.

It was while I was in Boone a couple of years ago that I was struck by the above average number of students with red hair and the pale completion that is the mark of the true redhead. AppState has some wonderful contemporaneous books on the history of the area that includes a lot of the Scots heritage.

I am what is called Black Irish myself, but am fascinated by the history and present culture of this spine of mountains. Romantic (in the artistic sense of the word) doesn’t begin to cover it.

@32: My mother was true black Irish (A McCarthy, no less), but lots of red hair in her family as well,

@30: Old Celtic saying – Is it the devil ya know or the devil ya don;t know?

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