Thursday, July 31, 2014

Internationalist? Globalist? Don't like borders?

I've been seeing more and more people making the argument against the independence of Scotland based upon the idea that we should be tearing borders down, not putting them up. This is very agreeable statement, but if we stop to think about Scotland's current status versus what status Scotland will have as an independent country, then I'm sure most people will agree with what I'm about to say.

First of all, in the 21st century world, it's important to note that the vast majority of the world is made up from a collection of nation-states. Sometimes called Sovereign States, Independent Nations states or simply 'country' for short.

Scotland is not one of these.

With regards to the global community, Scotland is currently a region of a nation state, or a member of a member, not really any different from a Canadian province or US state, although Scotland has far less independent governing power than either of those.[A

Just let that sink in. Scotland a supposed 'country' has LESS powers than a Canadian Province.

If, as it is often suggested that Scotland should seek to become more inclusive in the world rather than 'separate' as the opponents of independence often like to suggest, then how on earth can Scotland remaining a region of the UK with such a tiny democratic influence possibly serve to further that goal?

Currently, Scotland is a member of a member (UK) of the global community. With independence, Scotland will become a member, full stop.

If we are to follow the logic of the Better Together campaign, that Scotland remaining a member of the UK will help to promote world unity by not erecting more borders, this clearly means the model they favour is one where a large centralised nation state controls the vast majority of the power. Would France be willing to cede power to London? if this truly is a noble and moral method of achieving unity, then clearly the French would jump at the chance, or would they be more happy to remain in the EU, where despite its flaws, each member at least has their own voice?

I'm quite certain that this model of togetherness only applies to Scotland.

I saw this quote from Billy Connolly on the subject "Do they need another layer of government, and how it’s going to affect the average person, the average Joe?" [1]  I thought it would be quite obvious to even the least observant of us, that Scottish independence will actually remove an entire layer of government! Without Westminster and the House of Lords, Scotland will have the ability (like any normal nation) to actually participate in the global community of it's own accord, like all other nation-states enjoy.

So tell me, in what way can that course of action possibly hinder the goal of becoming more included in the world community?

If you truly believe that Scotland should be closer to others in the world, and if your ambition for Scotland lies beyond the status of being a region, then you absolutely must vote Yes.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why you should not blame foreigners for mixing up England, Britain and UK.

For years it was just an annoyance, then it got worse. As I traveled to various countries over the last 12
years, I found that England was the nation I was from. Except it isn't, I'm from Scotland.

"Hey, do you remember back in England when..." was the start to many a conversation around the common table at hostels all throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia. I'd sometimes respond to such questions with "well, it was actually the UK I think, not just England, but yes I...." and so on. But admittedly, often I didn't even bother.

This is nothing new of course. Many of us are all too aware that people often consider England to be the same thing as Britain and the UK. So that means these are just ignorant foreigners right? Wrong.

Good ol England seems to have grown somewhat...
We like to make fun of Americans and their challenges with geography, but why do Americans never fail to call Canada anything other than, Canada? Why do they never refer to Australia as anything other than by it's name, Australia? What about South Africans, Japanese, Chinese? Have you ever heard them refer to Germany as anything other than Germany? You'd think that if this mistake frequently happens with the UK, that someone would have accidentally called Germany 'Bavaria' perhaps. I've never heard anyone refer to Germany as anything other than by it's actual name, either in English or German.

Ok I know what you're thinking, most of those are single countries and the UK is not. The UK is FOUR countries, so it's different. Well, I mostly dispute that. Bavaria was a country in its own right, just like Scotland and England were long ago. Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland like Bavaria or Ontario, are just components of a single nation state. In this case, the UK.

So, given that the UK has diplomatic representation across the entire world and via the worlds largest empire had great influence upon the globe, you'd think that people from the UK would be quite adept at 'recognising' the UK as a whole right? That's what I thought too.

English Exports?
You see, the UK has a bit of a challenge on its hands, a challenge it has never actually bothered to take on. That challenge is to promote the UK, not just England, not just Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, but the UK as a whole.

So what's the problem here?

The problem is, it's just too damn difficult. You see the majority of people in the UK are English, and for whatever reason, many of them go overseas and refer to their home, their government and even sometimes their passport as 'English'. So when just about every other English person you meet talks about the UK England this way, how can you expect a Kiwi, Aussie, Canadian, American or anyone else to decipher it all? It's a convention, it's just normal, forget the UK, it's just England.

This person needs a wee bit help to renew their English Passport
"Your passport does NOT have the word 'England' written on it, unless you wrote it in there yourself" I once exclaimed to a dear English friend of mine that I met backpacking in Sydney. She actually had to run upstairs to her dorm room and check the document herself before she believed me.

I have never, ever experienced this type of thing with a person from ANY other country. I was going to label this behaviour as quite bizarre, but it's just not.

So we are talking about mislabeling a country and of course that is not a terribly awful thing to do. But I am of the firm belief that perception equals reality. If so many millions of people perceive the UK itself to be England and English and they heavily outnumber the rest, that will inform their opinions, their politics, their actions and in recent years their anger and frustration towards a country which might vote to leave the UK England in the next few months. Their perception is that the UK equals England. The so called 'union' doesn't really exist, no matter how much the Better Together campaign try to say so.

I hear all too often, even here in NZ, that the Scots will likely never survive without funds from the English taxpayer. And so round and round we go. Hardly a week goes by where I don't hear someone mixing up England, Britain and UK. It's just normal even among learned and educated people.

I will admit, that over the last few years, there's been an attempt to address some of these issues, but that's surely no coincidence that it's happened at a time when there's a serious threat to the fabric of the UK.
Mark my words, if and when there's a 'No' vote, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will soon return to it's traditional worldwide name. England.

So next time you're about to give the stink eye to some stupid foreigner who just referred to the UK as England, stop for a second and ask yourself, how could they have possibly got that impression?

England confused with UK / Britain / Is Scotland a part of England? / UK and England the same thing.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

British Unionism: An exercise in 'cringe'.

So I came across this little gem on my Facebook feed the other day and I'm happy to report that my computer monitor is still intact, but only just.

My keyboard on the other hand took a little while to reassemble after my fist pounded so violently upon it, sending an impressive fountain of of letters spiraling into the air.

Satire it may be, but having seen a lot of these clips before, there's no doubting that these things were actually said.

I wrote about this topic a while ago, explaining why, as a unionist I changed my mind in the first place from supporting union to independence. This video serves to confirm, in the most cingeworthy way, just how futile my exercise in unionism was, and how embarrassed I am to have once been a part of it.



Link to video.