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.

What We’re Reading: Sixth Week

Hopefully you’ve survived the onslaught of midterms and have a reprieve for at least a couple weeks. If you find yourself with some time, here are some great reads from the past week:

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What We’re Reading: Fourth Week

It might be the height of midterms, but this past week had some great reads that you should check out during your next study break:

  • In case you missed anything, here’s the full transcript of the Democratic Debate. But if you don’t want to read through the whole transcript, the New York Times compiled some highlights of the Democratic Debate.
  • Jeb Bush is scaling way back on his campaign spending — his campaign claims they’re just trying to be more efficient, but many suspect this is indicative of his weakening chances as the Trump and Carson campaigns get stronger.
  • We’ve all been focused on November 2016, but what about 2015? Just a week and a half away (November 3rd) a lot of important elections will be decided. Here’s the top 10 elections to watch this election day.
  • Anne-Marie Slaughter explains that the real issue is that we devalue people who care for others: that we claim that women are only equal when they are doing what is traditionally men’s work, and we don’t value the contributions of those who care for others. “If you’re really going to have equality, you’ve got to value both kinds of work…What’s really going on here is we are discriminating against people who have to care for others, which is a role that society needs people to play.”
  • Bernie’s support stretches to very different groups than you might expect, thanks to his platform of economic populism. He’s got some support even among conservatives from states like Texas and Indiana, who think he’s “middle of the road“: “Data-driven analysis is only as good as the categories by which you sift the information. If you’ve already decided that ‘liberals’ are the people who prefer locally sourced arugula to eating at McDonald’s, or are the people who don’t watch Fox News, it is a reasonable conclusion that there aren’t enough ‘liberals’ out there to elect Bernie Sanders. Yet political categories shift.” Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders went on the offensive against Hillary: “Bernie Sanders is giving Hillary Clinton a pass on her ‘damn emails,’ but he’s giving her hell on just about everything else.”