Correspondence

Answering the Scottish Question

The people of Scotland have spoken.  Scotland has voted not to secede from the United Kingdom and to remain in her long-standing union with England and Wales.  Over two million Scots—more than 55 percent of the 3.6 million who went to the polls—voted against independence.  Nearly all the electorate had registered to vote, and there was a turnout of 85 percent, the highest ever in a Scottish election.  The result was decisive, and Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National Party, accepted defeat with dignity, agreeing that the referendum had shown democracy at its best.

An analysis of the results by region confirms my hypothesis that the referendum was not so much about the assertion of a traditional Scottish identity as about an ideological clash between left and right, and the differing economic interests of regions and classes within Scotland.  The rural areas, the most Scottish parts of Scotland, voted strongly against independence, including those districts that had returned a Scottish National Party lawmaker to the Parliament in London.  Besides Dundee, Mr. Salmond’s lone successes were in Glasgow and west-central Scotland, the rust belt of Caledonia, which has suffered severely from the decline of traditional heavy industry—coal, iron and steel, heavy engineering, and shipbuilding.  The Glasgow region is not in the same sad condition as Detroit, but it has some...

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