Should Scotland be a country?

A guest post by Bob Hastings

‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ That’s the question we have to answer on September 18. But there’s one word too many in that question. It should read simply ‘Should Scotland be a country?’

Wait a minute, though, you say, we know that Scotland is a country. It has its own flag and anthem and football team; its own legal and educational systems; it even has two national drinks. It must be a country.

But although most of us are convinced that Scotland is a country, I’m afraid it isn’t. Not if you consider a country to be a sovereign state. Slovakia, Latvia and Luxembourg are countries, but Scotland is a region.

If Scotland were a country, we would have the government we vote for at every election. If Scotland were a country, it would have a seat in the United Nations. If Scotland were a country, we would have 13 MEPs defending our interests in the European Parliament, not 6 lost amongst the 73 representing the UK. And at some point in the future for six months Scotland would have the honour of presiding the Council of the European Union, just like Latvia and Luxembourg will in 2015.

But we have none of those things because despite our heartfelt conviction that Scotland is a country, the political reality is that it is nothing more than a region of the UK. It fails to meet six of the eight accepted criteria used to determine statehood (see for details). That’s why we have to scroll all the way down to the United Kingdom before we can click on our nationality on those interminable drop-down menus on the Internet.

I’ve been living in Spain for almost thirty years. When people wonder where I’m from, they often ask me if I’m English. (For most Spaniards, English and British are synonyms.) ‘English?’ I say. ‘No, I’m Scottish.’ For I believe that Scotland is my country. I feel Scottish, not British and certainly not English. The Spaniards accept my correction but often I can tell they feel confused. They know that Scotland exists. They know we have whisky, tartan, Sean Connery and a monster. They know we have a football team that is not nearly as good as theirs. They laugh at the idea that our men wear skirts. But they also know that Scotland isn’t a proper country like Spain or Ireland or Slovakia or Latvia or Luxembourg.

On September 18, we can choose to be a country, an independent sovereign state instead of a dependent region.

If we vote no, we’re admitting to the world that we’re happy to be a region; a region with some cultural and historical trappings that please the tourists, but a region nonetheless. If we vote no, we’re giving up the right to claim that Scotland is a country. No longer will we be able to sing of our desire to rise and be a nation again. And if we vote no, in the future when I’m asked if I’m English, I’ll have to answer, ‘English? No, I’m British.’

If we vote yes, then Scotland will become a country once again. We will have the governments that we vote for. We will live in a sovereign state that is recognised and respected around the world. Scotland will be on those drop-down menus between Saudi Arabia and Senegal. Our heartfelt conviction that Scotland is a country will match the political reality. And the Spanish will no longer be confused when I tell them that I’m not English, I’m Scottish.

So when you enter the polling booth on September 18, ask yourself one question: should Scotland be a country or a region? And if you believe that Scotland is a country, all you can do is vote yes.


49 comments on “Should Scotland be a country?

  1. Hazel Smith says:

    Great post. We are a country. Let’s prove it on the 18th.

  2. Maggie Craig says:

    Gaun yersel, Bob. Scotland is a country. Vote yes on September 18th. That’s the date I met my Welsh husband in The Rock in Hyndland, 44 years ago. We’re both voting yes.

  3. mary vasey says:

    AYE nae question, Scotland is a country and I have voted YES
    Thanks Bob good post

  4. rat says:

    Reblogged this on Rat Xue's Blog and commented:

  5. yesguy says:

    OH Bob brilliant piece and good to see the WGD still producing great guests.

    You might be preaching to the converted but it’s still good to see the words on the screen. We’re getting so near. But we have the momentum .

    Thanks for keeping up the tradition of visiting this site and leaving with a smile.

    Tell Paul we miss him and have him and the families in our thoughts.

  6. Jan Cowan says:

    I’ve already voted for my country. Hope the postal votes are safe.

  7. panda paws says:

    I’ve voted yes in my postal vote and am hand delivering it to the council offices where they handily have a ballot box to put them in.

  8. Coinneach mac Raibeart says:

    Wonder how soon we’ll be able to choose Scotland on the drop down lists of the Internet.

  9. maybolebuddie says:

    Right enough is enough the establishment are now firing all guns on us! Paul we have lost Andy, time to man up we need you more than ever in these final day’s another £50 coming your way. I have donated to the Maryhill more than once, however I’m supporting you again because you are our driver in these final days. So for you and Andy,where once again can I support YOU to support us in these final days we NEED YOU!!

  10. maybolebuddie says:

    Andy PM me smuir160858@ ~~~~~~~ want to get you there!!

  11. Fordie says:

    Agree. If we vote No we are not a country. We are a region.

  12. macart763 says:

    Great post.

    And yeah, Scotland is a country.

    We just need to rubber stamp the deal. 🙂

  13. Should our NHS BE PRIVATISED. NO
    Should our children pay for education. NO
    Should people be using FOODBANKS in a wealthy country. NO
    Do our votes mean we choose our governments? NO
    Should we go to illegal wars? NO

    Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes it bloody well should be.

  14. Clootie says:

    What a dilemma for next Thursday/Friday.
    Whisky or champagne

    Who said both?

    • macart763 says:

      Why choose, when you have the makings of a really interesting cocktail? 🙂

    • Maggie Craig says:

      How about a wee spritz as an aperitif? I just got that out of a crime novel, popular in Venice apparently: Campari, Prosecco and a slice of an orange. (You can have an olive in it too if you want.) Let’s be internationalist and aren’t there stirrings in the Serene Republic about regaining their independence?

      Think I’m becoming delirious the nearer we get to the 18th. We might really be going to pull this off.

  15. Iain T says:

    You’re bang on. Scotland was a country, isn’t at the moment, but just might be again very soon. I hope.

  16. macart763 says:

    There may be a few frayed nerves in BT HQ in the morning. 🙂

  17. Finnula says:

    It’s a collective YES x3 from our wee house in Argyll overlooking that hideous establishment Faslane! Your mammy is in for the biggest birthday party the world has ever seen. Thinking of you all. X

  18. Capella says:

    Scotland is a country. The real question, as somebody pointed out months ago, is “Should countries rule themselves?” Obviously, YES. Odd that there’s any question about that except where there is vested interest!

    • Iain says:

      Scotland isn’t a country any more than Bavaria or Moravia are. The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘country’ as ‘A nation with its own government, occupying a particular territory’. That’s not to say we shouldn’t or won’t be very soon; we just aren’t at the moment, and shouldn’t kid ourselves.

      If we were a country, there’s a chance we’d be a member of the UN and EU (with around 13 MEPs and 1 Commissioner) and of other international organisations. There would be embassies in Edinburgh. Scotland’s name would appear in country lists on the internet. We would be represented abroad by Ministers of our sovereign Parliament and Government.

      Scotland is currently a region of the United Kingdom and that’s the reality. Sadly Alex Salmond is not Scotland’s equivalent of Francois Hollande or Angela Merkel: that’s the role of David Cameron – he represents us abroad.

  19. Pam McMahon says:

    Scotland has been a sovereign nation for over a thousand years, and it annoys me hugely when some people (usually from “countries” which hadn’t even been discovered then) suggest that we can now suddenly become a country, under their own weird definition of what a country is.
    Thank you Bob Hastings for raising this point in your well discoursed post.

  20. Quentin Quale says:

    Well said, Bob. Hope you are well and found good homes for the WBBs.

  21. arthur thomson says:

    Whatever happens on the 18th we are SCOTS and if necessary we will find new ways of working together to ensure that Scotland is able to function as a country again. I live a life based on the values of co-operation and common decency handed down to me by my parents and I see those as Scottish values. So long as I live I will not allow anyone to ahhihilate my values or my identity and I won’t sell them either. Scotland will always be my country.

  22. Hugh Wallace says:

    Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    If we vote no, we’re admitting to the world that we’re happy to be a region; a region with some cultural and historical trappings that please the tourists, but a region nonetheless. If we vote no, we’re giving up the right to claim that Scotland is a country. If we vote yes, then Scotland will become a country once again.

  23. Stuart Clark says:

    As a NO voter up to now , and proud to be British these last 300 years

    i had no idea it was causing confuision for you and a Spanish Barman , as to what your nationality was .

    To avoid such dsicomfort ever happening again I will now be voting YES ,


    What if the Spanish Abrman came to IScotland and asked me” if i wa s Scottish ?”

    And I said “No, British ”

    Would that not cause confusion as well ?

    • weegingerdug says:

      You’re 300 years old? That’s impressive. You must tell us the secret of your longevity – is it a good skin care regime with aloe vera, early nights and plenty of vegetables?

      • Stuart Clark says:

        That’s the Scottish diet you describe , “early nights and plenty of veg ”


        It does concern me that people are voting to change a 300 year old union , for some temporary inconveniences

        One Yes chap I know is voting because of “free prescriptions and bridge tolls ”

        another because of “Poles taking all the jobs ” , and another I talked to
        “wants change ”

        I find it hard to fathom what went wrong in Scotland that so many can think this way , mind you I was away for years from 1983-1999.

        I will be gutted if Scotland votes “YES ” , but that’s democracy.

        • Andrea says:

          I’m a Scot – in exile these last 35 years, who doesn’t have a referendum vote – but who will always be Scottish – not British and not Australian (like it says in my two passports).

          Stuart -are you kiddin’?

          Since Margaret Thatcher successive governments in the UK have totally eroded the link between policy …and national values in Scotland. Nothing ‘went wrong’ in Scotland …..the values many of us carry for social justice and a fairer society are soul food – they have always been there.

          The people of Scotland have created this moment in history – they drove it to this point by the way they cast their votes the last 4 decades that has seen SNP rise from one wee lone MP Winnie Ewing in 67 to the present day when the question finally had to be asked

          ‘Are we content to live with Westminster values?.

          What you describe as ‘temporary inconveniences’ have been rolled out across my entire lifetime

          Belittle “free prescriptions and no road tolls” if you must – they are the way some express that social justice. Here in Australia we pay for both ….and it makes people on low incomes think more than once about taking the weans to the doctor (we pay for that too) so the poorest people have poor health outcomes.

          We have a treasurer here in Australia who on being told that his increased petrol excise would hurt lower income families most actually said that was not true because ‘poor people don’t have cars or don’t drive very far’.

          There is no point to being a wealthy country if its to feed the greedy not the needy……
          Westminster and conservative australia have a lot in common…and there is a lot to be feared with a no vote…

          I make regular trips home to Scotland and value beyond anything the things that Scotland does …better than England (and Australia)- free higher education, the NHS, dental and social housing. One of the greatest comforts to me in the last five years was that my parents were able to die, in their own bed at home with all of the palliative services coming to them.

          A young smart Australian can start their working life with a university debt of $100,000 unless their wealthy parents can foot the bill.

          You value social justice more when you see how they impact on a society where these things are not valued.

          You are right about one thing though – it IS about democracy. Getting the government you vote for.

          Like every other democratic country.

          • Stuart Clark says:

            Hi Andrea

            here is a link to Scottish general election results these last 50 odd years

            scroll down and see who votes for who and how many of them do it



            Scots may well have a keen sense of social justice , i would just prefer it if they did it in a British context , and not by some “national boundary ” .

            • Andrea says:

              Stuart I had a wee look at your election results …..and the only significant figure there is the size of the turnout – sitting around 45-55%. That tells me one thing and one thing only:DISAFFECTION. The Scottish people KNOW that Westminster isn’t good for them – so why bother voting at all.
              They have no respect for that authority – and it shows.

              I too will be devastated if the people of Scotland vote no…. the loss of opportunity to make changes that have been a long time coming will sting like crazy.

              On the other hand, I wont be quite so homesick as I am now….

              • Stuart Clark says:

                Andrea , Its noticeable to me that Yes supporters are generally good writers ,and I have some friends whoa re Yes and they are quite creative intelligent types

                They all seem to have problems reading raw data though , as I post that Link quite a lot , it shows , that main reason for Indy , is not so clear cut , and more a vagarie of the first past the post system in the UK

                the 50% turnout refers to Holy rood elections , and the turnout is poor , they are not directly comparable to GE , as Holy rood , gets 2 votes per person

                GE is only one

                if you scroll down the link further

                There are 4 million voters in the electorate in Scotland , and approx 63.8 % of them vote

                So approx 2.4 millions Scots turn out for General Elections
                a similar % to the turnout in General Elections throughout the UK , So if Scots suffer “apathy ” , then it is similar to the UK as whole .( 65.1 % in 2010 )

                In 2010

                1035000 =42% voted labour = 41 MP’S

                465 471 = 18.9% voted Liberal =11 MP’s

                491386 = 19.9 % voted SNP = 6 MP’s

                412 855 = 16.7% voted Tory = 1 MP

                Labour is the largest party , but its amount of MP’s are disproportionate to its share of the vote , even though approx 40% of the vote has went to labour for over 50 years

                If Scotland “always “got the Govt it voted for then Labour would be in power all the time

                Is it fair that 40% of Scots should always govern the rest ?

                Would it not be possible for other smaller parties to form an alliance and get a “turn” in Govt

                That way the Liberals and the SNP can get a turn in Govt .

                If Scotland has rejected New labour , (And NL has been around for 20 years approx )

                then why Have Scots continued to vote labour , in spite of the fact it no longer serves their needs ?

                Would the natural left inclinations of the Scots , go towards the parties offering real left wing polices ?

                It has been 20 years after all and 4 elections (1997, 2001, 2005, 2010 )

                • Andrea says:

                  Stuart thanks for your response. These are still poor figures when you compare them to the 4.2 million registered to cast their vote on Independence Day….that’s 97%. That’s an engaged country.

                  My point about the ‘movement’ over the last 40 years is that despite always having minority status representation in Westminster the voting public in Scotland have seen fit to vote for smaller parties – refusing to vote for BOTH major parties.

                  The tories brought their low level of Scottish support on themselves ..starting about the time of the Poll tax.

                  As for why Scots would vote Labour when it no longer serves their needs – that’s too easy …………same reason as we do it here in Australia – to keep the Conservatives out!! 🙂

        • weegingerdug says:

          It’s not what went wrong in Scotland that’s the issue. It’s what went wrong with the Westminster Parliament and the UK economy. We’ve become locked into an ever rightwards drift, and this has alienated not just many in Scotland, but also many in the rest of the UK.

          The economy of the UK exists to service the financial industry. Everything is poured into ensuring that London remains a global city that can attract global financial institutions. The rest of us are supposed to live from the crumbs that fall from that shoogly table, trapped in precarious temporary jobs under a mountain of debt. In effect all of the UK has become a colony of the City of London, the providers of labour, capital and resources.

          All the institutions which once fostered a sense of “Britishness” were privatised and sold off. All that is left are the armed forces, the BBC, and the monarchy. By a twist of history and constitutional law, Scotland has the opportunity to decide whether we’d do better on a different path. I know we would. We could scarcely do worse. I’d like to see our resources and skills and talents go towards building a Scotland where our young people don’t have to leave to better themselves.

          Personally I never felt much of an emotional connection to Britishness, because from a very early age I was unable to discern anything I had in common with someone from Wales or England that I didn’t also share in common with someone from Ireland. And in adulthood I lived in Spain for many years, became fluent in the language, and developed strong bonds with people there. Of course I respect that others feel differently, but my own experience tells me that a shared identity, or a sense of sharing a common linguistic, cultural or historical experience, do not depend upon a Parliament. I can feel a connection with people in Dublin or Alicante without sharing a parliament with them, I can do the same with Manchester and Cardiff.

          So for me this is not about identity or history. It’s about government, and it’s about living in a country where the economy is put to the service of the people, and not where the people are put to the service of the economy.

          I’ll be gutted if Scotland votes No, but that’s democracy.

          • Stuart Clark says:

            Thx for the eloquent reply Wee Dug

            I do feel a common bond with other British people , though I probably thought of myself as more “Scottish” till I was 17 and went to work in England .

            One of the great things about this debate , is that it has forced us all to think about our “identities ” , and I am perfectly prepared to submerge my British identity into a European one in years to come , as it is the general “direction of travel ” , i see reviving a Scottish sovereign nation , as a backward step .

            Social reform is unappetizing for me , as I see to many of the downsides of dependency , when the state does everything , then people lose their self reliance

            Only today I was passing the new Harris Academy in Dundee , and to my surprise most of the laborers i saw were Poles !

            In a city with rampant unemployment , we cant tempt some home grown Scots to pick up a shovel ?

            Why is this ? certainly Poles are preferred by employers because of their motivation and work ethic , but if we are to build a “New Scotland ” , i would prefer our own young folk to learn the work habit .

            How else will they compete ?

            At this late stage of the campaign our positions are rapidly setting , but I do agree with you , that London and the SE , has become a superstate , and in some sense the UK is already divided .

            If your ideas of social reform , were more inclusive of them “North of Watford ” , I would cede more of the argument to you .

            Finally you say you “don’t want our young folk to leave “, I do , i see it a s a rite of passage , a broadening , edifying experience , going to work for a few years or more in foreign climes

            I went Hitchhiking through Spain in 1984 (and I am jealous of your fluency )

            i had just read Laurie Lee and i was all for the adventure , sleeping in orange groves and living on 200 pesetas a day ( a £1 then )

            If there was anyway i could get some our young Scots , to take their hands out their pockets and pull their ear phones off , instead of shuffling around averse to work , and bemoaning their lot

            just to visit other places , and use the self reliance they were born with .

            So we both have a dream that life will get better for young people

            Bueno Noche 😉

  24. Curmudgeon says:

    Slovakia, Latvia and Luxembourg are countries, but are they independent? Canada is a country and like Germany has an occupied government, and therefore not independent. Some say the government in Westminster is occupied, and not independent.

    I think the “independent country” question is valid, but different from the “country or region” question. Those voting should be asking whether “independent country” means intentionally getting yourselves out of the EU and NATO. If not, you won’t be independent.

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