What yesterday's 55-45 vote means....
First, a 10-point margin on 85 percent voter turnout means there will not be a second try anytime soon, as conceded by nationalist leader Alex Salmond. Second, the "no" vote was turned out not by economic or geopolitical arguments, but by last-days emotional appeals for union, proving anew that man--and woman--do not live by bread alone. Third, the United Kingdom, by staying intact, remains able to punch above its weight on the world stage. Fourth, separatists in Wales & Northern Ireland lost critical momentum. Fifth, there is a price for union victory: "devo-max"--home rule for the Great Britain's component parts.
Reviewing the key arguments made provides a tutorial on Scotland & its importance to the United Kingdom--on the latter, why Britain can still call itself Great Britain.
London's dynamic mayor, Boris Johnson, who aims to become prime minister, had warned that a "yes" vote for Scottish independence would sunder the world's greatest union:
We are told that if Scotland votes to cut its ties with England, that will be a disaster on a par with the loss of the American colonies in 1776; but it is far worse than that. Scotland isn’t a colony, for heaven’s sake. It’s a part of our being, of what makes us “us”. This vote isn’t just about saying “yes” to Scotland – as the ballot paper seductively and misleadingly implies. Under any circumstances, Scotland will exist and prosper. Under any circumstances people will wave blue and white Scottish flags and take pride in their Scottish nation and its success. Alex Salmond and his crew aren’t really asking people to say “yes” to Scotland’s success; they are asking them to say “no” to one of the oldest and most successful political unions in history. The Salmond campaign is not a manifesto for creation, but for destruction.
What we are fighting to protect is not so much the Act of Union of 1707, or even the United Kingdom. The Government has decided that in the event of the Scots voting to break away, the “UK” will simply refer in future to England, Wales and Northern Ireland; though no one seems to have a clue exactly what this truncated state will be called. No: the entity under mortal threat next week is Britain itself. You cannot refer to a state called “Britain” unless you include Scotland, because it is a basic fact of geography that Britain comprises everything from Land’s End to John o’Groats.
Look at the map – so often rendered by cartoonists from the 18th century onwards as Britannia sitting down: rump in east Anglia, feet in Cornwall, and topped off with that sweeping Scottish cerebrum and helmet. Chop it off – decapitate Britain at Carlisle and you can no longer call it Britain; and what goes for geography must go for politics, too. Take Scotland away from England and you are losing a critical part of our political nomenclature. There was no British government before the union with Scotland; there was no British electorate; there were no British interests. There was England and Wales, and there was Scotland. Take away Scotland, and we destroy Britain.
At the Daily Telegraph, columnist Janet Daley impaled Scottish separatist Alex Salmond as Scotland's Hugo Chavez. She offers examples of mendacity driving the campaign:
Forget Scottish nationalism. This isn't about historic national identity anymore (if it ever was): it's about historic Labour ideology. The "Save Our NHS" placards were the real giveaway. As many commentators have noted, the "Yes" campaign's threat that Westminister will privatise Scotland's NHS is beyond absurd: it is an outrageous political lie. The Scottish Parliament already controls the country's health service, as it does its education and legal systems.
It will not require separate statehood to "protect" the Scottish health system from being denationalised by Whitehall, because Whitehall has no such power. The "Save Our NHS" slogan has nothing to do with Scottish independence. It is a trade union mantra. What the "Yes" project is really about now is creating Public Sector Union Heaven north of the border: a socialist utopian fantasy which has not been broached as an electoral possibility since the Eighties when Labour boroughs declared themselves nuclear-free zones and Militant Tendency ran Liverpool as a people's republic (and went bankrupt).
Bret Stephens marks the real culprit: former president Woodrow Wilson, who after World War I issued a clarion call for nationalism. His secretary of state, Robert Lansing, was horrified, foreseeing the chaos that was to follow, as recounted by Stephens:
....The creation of these states "would raise hopes which can never be realized," Lansing warned. "It will, I fear, cost thousands of lives. In the end, it is bound to be discredited, to be called the dream of an idealist who failed to realize the danger until too late to check those who attempt to put the principle into force. What a calamity that the phrase was ever uttered!"
In that paragraph is written the history of every thuggish national "liberation" movement that would follow, from Algeria and Vietnam to Zimbabwe and Gaza. Self-determination promises freedom in theory but exclusion in practice. It replaces the right of the individual with the right of the group, the faraway colonial power with the local despot. It substitutes myth for history, identity for individuality, "narratives" for facts. It is a doctrine of convenience for local elites who want to wrest power from distant elites.
Niall Ferguson, Glasgow born, informs us that it was a Scottish king of England, James I, who first coined the term "Great Britain,"; he did so to mollify his English subjects upon succeeding the legendary Elizabeth I in 1603. NF adds that the Scots & Brits united as equals. The Scots have always maintained their own legal & educational systems. In 1999, per the devolution to Edinburgh engineered by then-British PM Tony Blair, Scots gained their own Parliament; in 2007 they set up their own government, run by (alas) the Scottish Nationalist party. Eleven Scots have been UK prime minister. Daniel Hannan explains why Great Britain's ascent to greatness began after the 1707 Act of Union.
Wesley Pruden reminds us of America's rich Scottish heritage: an astonishing 3/4 of presidents--including Washington, Jefferson, Madison & Lincoln--1/2 of treasury secretaries & 1/3 of secretaries of state have been Scots by lineage.
Bottom Line. By pulling back from the brink, Scots, who contributed so much to American independence & union, averted what would have been a geopolitical catastrophe for Great Britain, America and the West.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Foreign Policy, National Security, Conservative Politics