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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.