Scotland: Not Your Ordinary Secessionists

Separatist and nationalist movements are gaining steam across Europe these days, and Scotland is listed among those nations seeking secession. Despite voting down secession in 2014, the Scottish National Party (currently headed by Nicola Sturgeon, the first woman to lead the SNP) won 50 seats in the 2015 parliamentary elections, leaving one Scottish parliamentary seat to the Labour party. Separation is increasing as powers devolve, with some votes in parliament only being voted on by the MPs from the country affected by that law (“English Votes for English Laws”). Something is up indeed in Scotland.
Once a Labour stronghold, now Scotland is just one big block o’ SNP.
But political sentiment in Scotland is rather different than the typical zealous patriotism and xenophobia often characteristic in nationalist movements. While the UK (particularly many English) are threatening to leave the EU, the Scottish staunchly want to stay. Muslims in Scotland are very likely to identify as Scottish, while those in England are much more likely to identify as British (rather than English). Scotland has taken in 1/3 of the refugees David Cameron pledged the UK would take, even though Scotland has less than 10% of the UK’s population. Indeed, the Scottish have set up many support systems in order to welcome the refugees and make the transition as smooth as one could hope, given the circumstances. Of course, I don’t want to claim all Scots have been welcoming and open-minded (there are certainly exceptions), but though attention is around secession in Scotland, Scotland has been cultivating a much broader European identity than increasingly jingoistic England.
The Scottish Parliament viewed from the Radical Road (that’s the name, I kid you not)
Other recent developments in Scotland are interesting in light of the America 2016 presidential campaigns. Much like Bernie Sanders’ proposition, Scotland has had free college for years. It’s a cornerstone to the Scots’ deep dedication to equality, but economically it seems to help the opposite people you’d think it would — it resulted in a net transfer in wealth from the poor to the wealthy. This doesn’t mean “free” college doesn’t work, but the way the policy is done matters. America would be wise to learn from the unintended consequences of policies in places like Scotland, so that we can make a truly equal opportunity higher education system.
Imagine going here…for FREE. The perks of being Scottish.

On the other side of the spectrum, the antics of one familiar (half-)Scot have not been confined to the US: Donald Trump (whose mother is Scottish) built a huge development in Scotland, but, according to one Scotsman, “He promises the earth, delivers nothing. As far as that goes, he’s in a good position to be a politician. But as far as the real world goes, no, do not trust this man with anything.” Trump also sued to stop the building of off-shore wind in Scotland because it would disrupt the view from his golf courses. Apparently, Trump just runs around insulting and threatening his neighbors. In fact, the petition to ban Trump from Britain originated in Aberdeen, Scotland.  Alex Salmond, former head of the SNP, has Trump about figured out: “I wish somebody had said no to him when he was a wee boy, because I think he would’ve turned out better.”


If this Scot could see her son now…

Victoria Mooers is a fourth-year in the College. She is from Edmond, OK.

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