Thursday, 18 September 2014

Scots will likely closely vote No today. However all is not lost. There has to be more power for the Scottish Parliament. In that sense Alex Salmond has won.

Salmond: Och aye, the wurst we can dae is gie yon 
David Cameron a wee scare fur his job and get 
mair devolution concessions frae him!

Scottish independence 3

by Tom Thorne

Today the Scots vote for their independence or to stay in Great Britain. Yesterday I began a review of all polls taken since the start of September concerning this issue. About 4.5 million Scots are voting as I write this article.

The polls indicate that the No side will win this referendum. It will be quite close but they will take it according to 15 polling organizations that I reviewed. The No side up to the present moment expressed anxieties that the referendum would go to the Yes side.

Traditionally the Highlands are voting Yes by a four percent margin coming in about 55 percent. Glasgow with 20 percent of the voters will go Yes. The rest of the country is below 50 percent + 1 to win. Therefore pollsters are calling a close victory for the No side.

Undecided voters through all the polls stay at about 10 percent. It is unlikely that all of these people will go to either camp. If this vote splits like the rest of the country then it will not appreciably change the outcome.

16 year olds are allowed to vote in this referendum. There is not enough of them in Scotland’s aging demographic to appreciably change the results because they will likely split almost evenly. Notions that 16 year olds are more radical than their parents is usually a pipe dream.

97 percent of Scots able to vote (4.5 million out of 5 million population) are registered to vote so if they all turn out there will be a huge vote to tabulate and count. Look to Friday morning for the results.

Will there be a swing one way or the other? Well to this point the polls taken for weeks and months have been increasing slightly for the Yes but not enough to win. When people enter the polling booth they may swing but it is unlikely.

Therefore I am calling a No vote win. The result will be close enough that Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond can claim a better deal for Scotland and hold Prime Minister David Cameron to his devolution promises made this week to stem the Yes vote.

If there is a Yes vote then David Cameron is gone as Prime Minister. No wonder he was out in the final week stumping for the No side.

© Copyright 2014, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Scottish independence is a fight against Westminster's social and economic agendas. Is it too late?

Available from Totally Graphics on

Scottish independence 2

by Tom Thorne

Scotland has a population of 5.5 million people at this time in history. There are more people of Scottish origin living outside of Scotland today than in the auld sod itself. I am one of them. I have distant Munro and Crawford cousins in Australia and still have relatives in Scotland as well. 

One of my correspondents in family history is related to me in the 18th Century Argyll Glenaray and lives in New Zealand. When I think about this diaspora and its influence in the world I can only say that it is very influential throughout the old British Empire. 

In Australia my relatives descend from Neil Crawford who at age 17, in 1839 landed in South Australia and founded a huge Crawford dynasty. Neil is the son of my five times great aunt Grizell Munro (1793-1880) and her husband Alexander Crawford. If Neil had stayed in Scotland he would have always remained a landless tenant farm labourer like his father. In Australia his descendants are now all professionals and farmers with their own land.

In 1890 my great grandmother’s sister Agnes Munro (1855-1945) left Scotland with her husband James Broadfoot. Once they were in Australia, James who was a skilled Mariner became a ship’s captain and started a shipping business. By the 1920’s he had five ships working the Australian East Coast. Today their descendants live throughout Australia. 

In 2001 the book How the Scots Invented  the Modern World by Arthur Herman was published. The subtitle of this book was even more egotistical than its title, it reads “The True Story of How Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything In It”.*

I was naturally delighted in the prospect that the country of my origins could be so influential. This book did not rely on Scotland’s military skills demonstrated so well by Wallace and the Bruce to make its points. It didn’t stress the poverty and wretched conditions of the 18th Century Scots as the Industrial Revolution changed Scottish life. 

Instead this book relied on documenting Scotland’s intellectual skills, inventiveness and in particular how the modern university was given birth in Scotland and exported throughout the English Language World. It is a book that records Scottish innovation, skills and frankly panache.

I think that this disproportional influence of an even smaller population than there is today is profound. Today Scots are looking for a new time in the Information Age when their intellectual skills can experience a renaissance escaping the considerable right wing politics of London and southern England and the poverty that it still generates in larger cities such as Glasgow.

In a London centred universe Scotland has challenged with this referendum the right of “The City” to control their affairs. They have shaken the roots of the United Kingdom and how it has evolved into a business centred meritocracy ruled by a London parliamentary coalition of right wing politics that relies on trickle down economics as the alleged answer to everything. In many ways Britain for the moment is caught in the same right wing notions as we experience in Harper’s Canada.

The Scots have had enough of the effects of this kind of David Cameron politics. The truth is that other less advantaged areas of Britain are also looking to Scotland to innovate and build new more equitable relationships with Westminster. This is not a referendum to separate as much as it is a process to define a new Britain. Again as they did in the 18th Century the Scots are leading the way with their cultural bias which is always to be straight forward and tell it like it is.

© Copyright 2014, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved.

* How The Scots Invented The Modern World, The true story of how Western Europe's poorest nation created our world and everything in it., Arthur Herman, Three Rivers Press, A Division of Random House, New York, ISBN 0-609-80999-7, Published 2001.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Scottish independence is a restoration of nationhood and not a withdrawal from Great Britain.

Scottish independence 

by Tom Thorne

I have made two trips to the auld sod in recent memory. The first one was in 2007 and it was a general tour that took my wife and I to see the Highlands, the ancient stone rings on the Hebrides at Callanish and also the neolithic sites on Orkney.  Then in 2013  I went on a three week research trip to places where my Munro family originated in Argyllshire and later lived in Dumbartonshire. 

On the first trip as we came south to Edinburgh and Glasgow we stopped at Inverness and the nearby site of The Battle of Culloden where in 1746 the Jacobite army of Bonnie Prince Charlie was brutally routed by The Duke of Cumberland’s forces.

The bleak battlefield at Culloden left its mark on me since it is also the burial ground of the carnage unleashed in that battle. Here Scottish attempts at self determination 40 years after union with the rest of Britain were dashed. Here Scots tried to restore the Stuart monarchy for all of Britain.  

The aftermath of the battle was punitive and nothing short of ethnic and cultural cleansing as the defeated were hunted down and killed and their homes burned and pillaged by the victors. They were not allowed the wear kilts or tartans and could not have any arms. Prince Charles Edward Stuart hid for months until his loyal followers managed to get him away to France. Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat was hunted down taken to London and beheaded for his alleged and largely unproved part in the “rebellion”.

Hundreds of rebellion prisoners were transported to Australia and America or rotted literally in prison ships waiting to sail in English ports. Prisoners were also hanged by lot. If you picked a hanging ticket out of a hat you were strung up. One in ten faced this fate. The aftermath of Culloden was horrific and to this day leaves a stain on the history of the United Kingdom. The price of the United Kingdom in the middle 18th Century has a very bloody origin.

Long before the Union in 1707 Scotland was an independent country with its own monarchy. Admittedly the aristocrats of Scotland were widely intermarried with the aristocrats of England and as a result of these unions much of Scotland was property of English lords. The Scots played England against France continually in a bid to remain independent but often when the chips were down Scottish aristocrats sided with England in self interest or played a duplicitous role in the politics of the British Isles.

Scotland, after the reign of Elizabeth I, provided King James the First of England the Sixth of Scotland. His reign was followed by the calamity of Charles I but later his son became Charles II for the restoration after the rule of Cromwell. And so there has been continual links with England and Scotland for centuries and those links have always been tenuous and fragile when faced with the real politic of English-Scottish relations. 

During the late 18th Century and early 19th Century Scots were cleared from their lands held often by aristocrats who lived in England. The land held by the people from their clan chiefs was taken and turned over to mass sheep farming. The people went to new towns to learn how to fish or take up a trade. Many found this impossible to do and without any economic base for their future left Scotland for Canada, United States and Australia in droves.

Now the Scots are to vote on an restoring their independence this week. The links as always with England and the rest of Britain are there as they have always been since the time of William The Conqueror in the 11th Century. During the 12th and 13th Centuries the Scots tried to take back their country from Norman fiefdom status with many uprisings such as Sir William Wallace executed so well followed by Robert Bruce. Ultimately the power in the south prevailed either by warfare or finally by The Act of Union in 1707 which benefitted the landed aristocrats more than the people.

What will change in this relationship if the Scots vote yes?  History tells us that the tight relationships between the English and Scots are still there. Maybe a yes vote will tell the rest of Britain that the Scots want a more equitable deal than they have experienced for many centuries. A no vote is really for the historic status quo brought about by the Act of Union. I suspect that the yes vote will be a close winner because Scots realize that they must assert themselves against a top down Conservative England that has developed under David Cameron. If Scots reflect on their history with England they may vote with their heart to actively get changes and to wake up an England that takes them for granted. 

Quebec separatists who see this referendum as useful for their cause should reflect that Quebec has never been a country with its own government like Scotland. They have only been a colony of France that was abandoned in a treaty after an 18th Century war between Britain and France. Their status is not the same as the Scots. The Scots have a clear claim to nationhood if they are willing to pay the price. 

© Copyright 2014 Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved

British Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond both fight 
off  Excedrin headaches as they contemplate the Scottish Independence vote this Thursday.