David Hood

Author and speaker, Business Author

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Scottish Independence: confidence, courage and ambition

Scotland, one of the oldest, yet newest, Nations on earth is moving towards an epoch and deciding whether to become Independent. It needs considered reflection to enable it to make this momentous decision, before the Independence Referendum in autumn 2014.

For far too long, and despite the reality of what Scots have given to humanity, our small Nation has been developing a 'cant do' persona. Other Nations have managed to adapt and pursue freedoms and self-respect and progressively moved to a natural, independent state. Its time we did the same.

Strangely, we live within the UK state that is continually discredited. The UK lacks the ability to work on behalf of Scotland and its interests; the UK cannot behave as either a 'good world citizen' or in line with the aspirations of the people of Scotland. Indeed, in the UK, it is arguably the only modern 'democratic' state that tells its own people that they are too stupid, small and impoverished and should not be in charge of their own affairs.

That is not simply the fault of the UK powers-that-be. We allow ourselves to be oppressed into thinking of ourselves as second class citizens within our own 'united' kingdom. We suffer indeed, arguably, from a national 'Stockholm Syndrome' in a captive and dysfunctional UK.

What we need is a real, immediate, and concentrated dose of self-respect, courage, and with it, ambition. Ambition to join the rest of the naturally organised nation-states. Ambition to put right the old wrongs. Ambition to act as a good citizen of the world - and find our age-old guts and determination to make the best of it. We also need friends, family and thinkers from outside of Scotland to stand with us and show us what can be achieved.

For centuries now, many countries have broken free of the 'British' constraints - and none have looked backwards since. Its up to us - and we'd like to hear from you!....

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    Mar 4 2013: I have noticed that feeling oppressed and desire to be independent is frequently associated with feeling inferior. I've seen this on personal and national level.

    I grew up in Ukraine which has not been independent for centuries. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, independence was a buzz-word. However, all post-Soviet political history of Ukraine has been a struggle between two choices - to become an economic satellite of Russia or make alliance with Europe and U.S.A. Ukraine is almost as big as France, abundant natural resources - best soils in Europe, coal, iron, oil; it used to produce buses, automobiles, tanks, airplanes, heavy trucks and bulldozers, and TV sets; it has strategic geographic location, access to Black Sea, etc. Yet, Ukrainian politicians, while boasting with independence, have never had an independent economic and foreign policy. The question for Ukrainian government always is - to join Russia or to join West, with all the political mess that follows.

    Independence starts inside. Declaration of independence does not do much without spiritual transformation. But once this spiritual transformation has taken place, the feeling of inferiority and oppression goes away, and the external attributes of independence don't matter as much. It's better to feel a worthy contributor to a larger whole than to be "independent" on paper and enslaved inside.

    ...I might add that feeling of inferiority is often associated with inflated pride. On a national level, it is often associated with nationalism, derogatory attitude to others, and ethnic strife. On a personal level it seems to cause bullying.
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      Mar 4 2013: Fantastic Arkady.

      I hope that we can have a 'spiritual transformation' before the Referendum!

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    Mar 3 2013: At the risk of sounding pie-in-the-sky, or worse, not being current, do not worry about all of the issues and problems to be worked out. Attain your independence. Watch the film "Gandhi". Study your history. Gaining independence does not mean immediate success. Nor does it negate it. You have every God given right to have your own identity and do not need to be validated by any other entity. Do it. Show the world a new way.
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    Mar 11 2013: (I totally read your conversation description with a Scottish accent in my head lol)

    In Canada, in 1993, when the 85% Inuit population in the Northeast got their dream of self-government (don't know if this is the exact same thing as Independence) everyone was glad that it was going to be a more By-the-People, For-the-People type thing for them...but high unemployment (at least 3x national average), lack of sizable industry and ability to retain crucial talent to build up the state etc. have been problems indeed. 20 years on! Things like, no industry and no jobs mean that everyday products need to be shipped in, causing the cost of living to be very high. In a depressed economy! And I think the Arab Spring revolutions are all realizing similar treacherous sinkholes on the road to new nationhood...

    So, aside from the good traditional / emotional / political reasons for self-determination, poor economic planning will cause a new independent state to have:
    - no viable industry to support itself (who knows what savings had been pooled in admin costs, or wholesale deals there've been from being part of the UK?)
    - a confused and inadequate starting political mandate (whose effects last years)
    - and a dejected populace :(

    I think Scotland needs to rebrand itself as a separate entity from the UK well in advance of the referendum. The world needs to know why they should travel there, do business and set up presences in both London and Edinburgh. I'm not sure that it's beyond a side-trip from London (sorry!), in many minds yet. There needs to be full confidence of business and tourism, regardless of the referendum result. All future Scottish politicians need to be able to prophesy a sequence of economic plans, stimuli and legislation in order to hit the ground running.

    Hire consultants! My boss is a Scottish one, for government! :) He wears kilts and plays rugby etc.
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      Mar 13 2013: Most of the former Soviet republics experienced the same in the early nineties, after Gorbachev has let the Soviet Union rattle and fall into pieces. Soviet Union had "planned economy" where supply chains were mandated from Moscow, not determined by the market. E.g. Lviv in Ukraine assembled buses for the whole country where all components may have come from different republics. Consumers had to buy the buses - not because they were good, but because they were allocated for a certain region by the government. When the Soviet Union disintegrated, people in other republics no longer had to buy buses from Ukraine. They preferred to buy German and French buses. Likewise, bus component manufacturers did not have to sell components to the bus plant in Ukraine, especially as it became bankrupt. The whole economic supply chain broke. Overlay this situation with endemic corruption and widespread stealing and "privatization" (i.e. buying with stolen money or using fraud and corruption) of the property of the former state enterprises, and you will get the picture what Ukrainian "independence" looks like now.

      But the nationalistic hype was very high. People marched with national flags, tore down monuments of Lenin, set monuments to Ukrainian leaders who fought communists in Western Ukraine in the 1940s (often on the side of the Nazis), renamed streets, enacted legislation to restore Ukrainian language in the government system and schools, etc. That's not freedom, really. At least, there is no war. Fortunately, the people have enough civility for that.

      Don't want to rain on your parade, though. Again, I am fairly ignorant of what situation in Scotland is. Just sharing my experience of living in a newly independent state. Independence takes a great national spirit like in the U.S. 200 years ago. When people are not ready and independence "falls on their heads" as it was in Ukraine, people often don't know what to do with it.
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        Mar 13 2013: A planned economy is quite different from economic planning. A circumstance of forced buyers has all kinds of issues--the scope of which I wouldn't even be able to start with here. By economic planning I meant leaders should consciously cultivate / identify viable industries, allocate adequate resources to market them, and ensure that regulations align intelligently with their safe and successful roll out.
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          Mar 13 2013: I did not mean to criticize economic planning. I meant to illustrate the danger of severing established economic ties.
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        Mar 13 2013: Oh I see. Then I think our points are similar in that there needs to be an economic plan alongside political change where necessary.

        It wasn't that the Ukraine went from communism to free-market, in particular, that made it run into trouble because the Bolshevik Revolution from Tsarist rule also had massive supply chain failures as do other historical sudden switches in leadership etc.
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          Mar 14 2013: Yes. I think, China is doing the transition a lot wiser than the Soviet Union. I believe, it was Gorbachev's mistake to loosen the grip so quickly.
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    Mar 5 2013: As I have been living in Scotland for these whole solid 6 years, I believed that it is ready, if the citizens agree to be independent from Uk. But if they go for "stronger together" plan, then I do not feel it's bad either; I do not feel that Scottish is the second class and English is the first class, vise versa.

    If Scotland is going to be apart from UK, I wish that the Scots parliament has good plans for education, economic, public securities, etc. It will be a big step. Problems can happen. I only wish it can be as small as it can be.

    Scotland is my bonnie second home. I only wish her the best :)
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      Apr 3 2013: Great - I like your 'stronger together' sentiment - and think that is exactly what Independence will mean; a stronger and more equitable bond of equal Nations in a respectful relationship on this island.
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    Mar 4 2013: Re: "That is not simply the fault of the UK powers-that-be. We allow ourselves to be oppressed into thinking of ourselves as second class citizens within our own 'united' kingdom."... "What we need is a real, immediate, and concentrated dose of self-respect, courage, and with it, ambition." -- You seem to capture quite well what you need. And it does not seem to be independent state.

    Does Scotland have all parts of the independent body capable to sustain itself or is this ambition like an ambition of legs to be independent from the body, because they carry all the burden and have to go wherever the head tells them?

    My dad used to say, "no matter how many times you say 'sugar, sugar', it won't get any sweeter in your mouth". Is there a way for Scots to make their own political and economic decisions without saying 'independence, independence'?

    I'm fairly ignorant of the history, politics, and economy of Scotland. This can be a very sensitive topic. I'm not trying to offend anyone. I'm trying to learn rather than teach.

    We seem to live in the age of breaking walls, not building them - just a general philosophical consideration.
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    Mar 4 2013: Something that reduces connections to archaic monarchies where political power comes from birth sounds good to me.

    Viva the Scottish republic.

    I hope Australia becomes a republic one day too and dumps a head of state who lives in another country and is head of church and was born into the job.
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      Mar 4 2013: I myself is surprised that the Queen is still considered to be the formal ruler of countries like Australia or Canada. Does it cause any real grief or is it just a matter of principle and formality?
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        Mar 5 2013: It's highly symbolic but of little impact in day to day practicalities. But it wouldn't hurt day to day life to dump the monarchy into the dustbin of history either.

        Also symbolic things are important, like the 1901 Australian constitution still does not recognise the first Australians.

        For me it is firstly a matter of principle, why should unelected people be born into positions of political power. Basic democratic and social equality. Technically I'm a commoner. What a bizarre archaic concept.

        And I strongly disagree with the head of state being the head of a religion.

        Secondly it would be recognising we are no longer a British Dominion. Time to grow up and be a republic. My late Grandfather fought for king and country in WW2 so had a different view. The UK has moved on too, into the EU, no more citizen rights etc.

        Personally, its not causing me a lot of day to day grief, but strongly believe it is the right thing to do on many levels. I was extremely disappointed when a referendum for a republic failed a few years back, mainly because of mixed support for the proposed model. But we had a chance to vote and I accept the majority view at the time is was what it was.

        Hope we get another chance or two in my life time. Personally I believe it is inevitable. I'd like to see it in my lifetime.
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    Mar 11 2013: I believe the time is ripe for a new politics, one disengaged from the capitalist bond to finance. It has been the crooked and unregulated finance dealings that have brought disaster to millions in the world. Iceland has recovered, albiet partially, by regulating its finance industry, so Scotland can do the same. What it needs is a radical new politics based on frugality and strong principles. In Plato's Republic it is argued that the proportion of wages at the higher end of income to the lower should be six to one. Scotland could adopt such a principle. We could tax purchases rather than earnings and we could give artists and health care professionals salaries rather than have them hooked to pleasing sales figures and meeting budget constraints.

    Before we can do anything radical (and I believe we must, otherwise there's no point to Independence) we need to unshackle our economic and political systems from London.

    Unfortunately, the 'Yes' campaign for Independence is a cross-party campaign and therefore not based on any policy or manifesto, making the job of convincing the nation a difficult one.

    There has to be a way to live fairly, however; Scottish politics has always been about fairness.

    That the Scottish nation has always leaned 'left' while those who govern her lean 'right' is the loudest argument for independence. There is also an argument to be made for all of the UK to vote. Indeed, some in the north of England might also want to split from London.

    Be that as it may, the national politics in Scotland is opposite from the politics which govern her from London. Independence would rectify that. Whether or not Scotland makes a success of self-governance, however, is a question for the crystal ball.
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    Mar 11 2013: Scotland is a very rich country, I can give you that.
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    Mar 11 2013: Do you think that independence for Scotland has its roots in an emotional yearning - or for rational reasons - or both?

    If the impetus for independence is predominantly emotional, then it will perhaps give rise either to very high levels of confidence, or very low. It could go either way, depending on how Scots see themselves pre-Referendum as an independent nation on a world stage. Confidence gets easily hurt by cynical stereotyping perpetuated by those who might be disadvantaged is some way by Scotland breaking away - such as bullying UK politicians and the cynical UK media. It is probably in their interests to carry on belittling Scotland, as long as there is any danger of independence becoming a reality and them losing out on the revenues Scotland generates.

    I think Scots need to have absolute solid assurances that independence will have to mean exactly that and be safe in that status, supported by the more rational economic certainty that North Sea oil revenues etc will bolster the original emotional yearning to make the long-awaited break from the UK.

    It is interesting that the year set for the Referendum is the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn...
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      Mar 11 2013: Those arguing against Independence have the media in their pockets. The 'battle', then is as unfair as it was 700 years ago.
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    Mar 5 2013: The principle of self determination seems a fair place to start.
  • Mar 4 2013: Thanks David for this thoughtful piece. As Winnie Ewing once said 'Stop the World we want to get on!". The economic case is barely relevant, even without the proper tools to aid our own economy we still contribute more to the UK. That's not the point. What this comes down to in my mind is our own ambition. Let's be ambitious enough to build a new society, where every child has opportunity, where our old folk don't have to worry and a country that contributes to the world in a positive way instead of the self-seeking grandiose meddling the UK has been involved in. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to have every resident of Scotland to shape there own country as a dynamic 21st century nation.
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    Mar 3 2013: From my research, Scotland generates approximately 40Billion in public spending, but less than 30Billion in revenue.

    Can you explain how Scotland would make up for the loss + requiring its own Military defence?
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      Mar 4 2013: Xavier - at the risk of pulling you and others into the 'should we' debate - and indeed fall foul of the very problem I am raising above - the UK governments own figures have Scotland contributing a net surplus to the UK exchequer. As for defence, all the small nations in Europe manage it quite adequately... and I dont hear much clamour suggesting otherwise, to their governments...

      Im looking for inspiration for our people; not to debate the issue here; that is for another place and happening. What we need is the courage, something lacking that causes us to believe all the claptrap fed to us from London and get off our knees.

      We rely, and look for that inspiration, on others who value and enjoy more freedoms and equality than we currently have in Scotland within the UK, governed by London.
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    Apr 3 2013: Unfortunately, many comments here were posted to support (or otherwise) the notion of Scottish Independence, and somewhat ignored my question! I wanted to know what you thought about how our Confidence, Ambition and Courage could be improved.

    I dont think any personal comments about opinions of self-government for Scotland (that was good enough for North America!!!) is helpful. Anyway, it is now closing and those who did contribute positively and helpfully, I thank you.
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    Mar 30 2013: Hi David,
    If Scotland could be independent that would be one thing, but independence in Europe is an oxymoron, and this appears to be the plan. I am reasonably happy with the British setup, and would much rather be ruled by elected politicians in London than self serving eurocrats in Brussels. Sadly the Tories & UKIP seem to be the only resistance to the total annihilation of our sovereignty.
    I'm sure Scotland could be a successful independent nation, & one that I could get excited about. We have a wealth of resources, innovative people, & a good international reputation. However, for me, the EU shadow blots it out as a possibility. Pity !

  • Mar 28 2013: I think it would be great if Scotland became independent. However I think the rest of the Uk should be independent from London. London no longer relates to what exists in the rest of the country. While the rest of the country stumbles on or languishes, it still grows. It's a great city, but with better, faster connections between Newcastle, Leeds, Cardiff, Manchester and Bristol the rest of the country could go on.
    Back to Scotland, independence would bring fairer democracy to the rest of the UK and the Scottish parly. Agree with a previous poster though - Scots have to accept there role as Imperial oppressors. Why do so many Afro-Caribbeans have Scottish and Irish surnames? At the very least they were willing executioners, even if they didn't have as much influence or power as the Sassernacks. But those days are fading, all power to Scotland.
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    Mar 27 2013: I support Scottish (any nations) right to self determination, however, I'd be sad if the Scots did opt out purely because so many of us are of mixed blood, and that the bond is actually very strong once you disregard the Glaswegian comedians racist rants.

    I'm 2/8 Scottish, 1/8 Welsh and 5/8 English. I've always felt we gain our strength from being united but different. I have inherited my thick red hair from my maternal great grandparents and my name is an obvious family name from that root of the family tree. Yet I grew up on the south coast of England - and I sound really, really posh! :-)

    I can't understand why Scots feel second best, nor why they hate the English so much given that we've been united by Crown since 1603 and Governance since 1707, and that unification occurred though separate Acts of Parliament rather than from war. I'm not disputing that the two nations did go to war in the distant past - but that was way back in time when boys liked banding together with sharp implements for a spat in a muddy field. It was the fashion for a long time.

    I also don't feel it's right for the Scots to dissociate from their role in the British Empire - as if it was the English Empire. To state that "For centuries now, many countries have broken free of the 'British' constraints.." is implying that the British Empire never included Scotland. In fact, when you look at the time line of the rise of the British Empire it coincides with Crown and Governance unification. No Scot could ever deny that Scots took every advantage of Empire!

    I am concerned that Scotland will vote for independence - have a fab party and stick their fingers up at the English - and then what? People like Sean Connery can afford to support independence - he's a multi-millionaire who lives in the USA. Can you be really sure you haven't made the English into bogeymen, when if fact, we're your kin-folk - all be it with funny accents.
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    Mar 14 2013: On a related talk about Scotland


    While dermatologists have warned of the risks of pale skinned populations developing skin cancer if exposed to too much ultra-violet radiation, there is a positive side to it. Vitamin D is generated in sun exposed skin and is essential to life, but the data confirming that taking Vitamin D supplements improves health is shaky.

    We have identified another mechanism by which sunlight benefits you. Nitric oxide is a small molecule, essential to cardiovascular health, which we have found to be stored in the skin, and released to the circulation by sunlight. This lowers blood pressure and makes the blood flow more smoothly. Could this new mechanism account for some of Britain's north-south health divide?
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    Mar 14 2013: I believe the answer to the future of the UK is to Federalise on a local scale, Scotland's problems can be solved without the break up of the UK.
    For me this is not a matter of Economics, I don't want my culture and heritage to be destroyed by Marxists who want Britain to be torn asunder!
    I want to be able to call myself Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish because I am British! Just because I was born in England does not mean that Scotland is not my country, I was born in Britain and in the event that Scotland leaves the Union, I will be keeping my Great British Passport!
    Have we not already lost enough of our National Identity?
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    Mar 5 2013: Is that how people view the Scots? as second class? or is that how they think they feel? You and the rest in Pommy land are very old cultures and sometimes history can weigh heavy on a people as well as a peoples perspective of time.
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    Mar 4 2013: "Some scholars argue that the Act of Union in 1707 made the Scots part of a larger and more advanced nation and opened the way to the Scottish Enlightenment of David Hume, Adam Smith, and other scholars. And perhaps those modern ideas and the connection with England made possible the achievements of the inventor James Watt, the architect Robert Adam, the road builder John MacAdam, the bridge builder Thomas Telford and later Scots such as Alexander Graham Bell and Andrew Carnegie.

    But whatever the benefits of union might have been in 1707, surely they have been realized by now. And alas, the land of Adam Smith has become one of the poorest and most socialist parts of Great Britain. So maybe a libertarian shouldn’t look forward to Scottish independence. On the contrary, I think it’s easy for Scotland to whine and demand more money from the British central government. An independent Scotland would have to create its own prosperity, and surely the people who produced the Enlightenment are smart enough to discover the failures of socialism pretty quickly if they become free, independent, and responsible for their own future.
    Scottish Independence"
    By David Boaz for the Cato Institute
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      Mar 4 2013: Hi Theodore,

      Some scholars may agree or disagree with what the union brought or did not. Its a moot point, kind of like saying 'would the south states in the USA have survived or flourished better if there wasn't a union'. That there was only one history - that of a union here in the UK - is obvious and we cannot and should not debate whether 'it was hood for us or not'. It simply *was*.

      Right now though, it is failing and has been for decades. Being anti-socialist and falling for the 'subsidy' myth isn't helping - its adding to the prevailing lie. What I have asked for here is an insight into helping nourish confidence, courage and ambition. It is apparent that this is what we need, not I'll informed regurgitated propaganda from an indifferent state or misinformed opinion.

      We need inspiration, not lectures; especially as we have and such a profound influence on the modern world - and now need to join is as is our right.

      So again I simply ask - can we have some inspiration rather than assumptions or assertions that all is right with the UK state. It isn't working, we in Scotland want to go our own way, we are almost there and have developed this by majority consensus. Almost every UK policy is neither voted for or wished for by the people of Scotland. All we are doing is exercising that democratic right - that unfortunately is forgotten about in all the noise.

      Again, can I have some enlightenment about nurturing ambition, please? Without it there would be no USA, Canada, Australia, etc etc.... if its all right for everyone else, its all right for us too.
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    Gail .

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    Mar 4 2013: As populations increase dramatically, all humans seem to be crying out for the same thing: we want our voices to be heard. If this is true, then Scottish independence will not give you what you are looking for if you are still a minority voice in a majority population.
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    Mar 4 2013: It will boom then recede then there will be a long convalescence, human nature. What might shock everyone is that the UK will eventually reunite as one again. What do you think?.
    • Mar 4 2013: Humpty Dumpty set on a wall etc. I can't evaluate what the Scots want, but do they really want to be big Ireland. The only thing I know about Ireland is that they had what seems to me better reasons for independence. Michael Collins was assisinated like Gandhi was. Ireland also seems to benefit from surplus people being allowed to imigrate fairly freely to Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Duh - is that really being grown up and independent? If I am not being fair - let me know. Even in the States which had better reasons - half the colonials were opposed.
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        Mar 4 2013: Actually, Ireland, Gandhi etc cannot be placed in the same sentence as the situation in Scotland.

        On the other hand, one doesnt have to have their leadership repressed or worse to be actively repressed. Even slight disinterest from the powers-that-be is a form of repression.

        As for emigration... Im not going to get pulled into that nonsense.... ;-)

        Hoping other posts will be more on theme...
        • Mar 5 2013: Sorry David - as I said I -am an American so I can't evaluate what the Scots want. There are 7 Billion people in the World so statistically very few of the people reading this are Scots. So almost every one reading this isn't knowledgeable - that was one of my main points. You are almost all alone. It could be worse - an American awhile back asked what other countries thought of the U.S.A. He found out. He did not sound happy to the response. I regret if I was not helpful.
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        Mar 4 2013: Only the political system changes. There's only two islands up there with three tribes of heavily interlinked peoples. The Scots sell power to the rest of the UK but eventually they and the rest will come back together, under what? I don't know but they will.

        Emigration to there? or abroad? I don't think it would matter. I've always liked the Scots and Irish, they know how to swear like they mean it rather than swearing as a replacement for most of the language that some people i know use english for.

        Nothing wrong with wanting independence, better to start now than wait so you can get through what follows and hopefully it will be very fast.
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          Apr 3 2013: Actually, we dont sell power. The money from taxation is taken from our oil, to fund illegal wars and very right wing policies we dont like.
  • Mar 3 2013: Okay, I am an American, but I notice one thing - You had two(2) British Prime Ministers in a row. Maybe your complaints are a little extreme. So you get the sheep and those who remain get the big factory cities. Is that a good idea?
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      Mar 4 2013: Those politicians are on the gravy train. Two people doing rather well out of an anachronistic system of privilege and patronage does not constitute democracy for Scotland.

      Please raise the bar people - 'getting the sheep' is showing a degree of ignorance or worse.