Today, the people of Scotland will vote on their future. They will decide whether they are to remain part of the United Kingdom (UK), or whether they will wrench Scotland away from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as the overseas territories, to tack their own course in the twenty-first century’s choppy and uncertain seas. Yesterday, the former British prime minister, Gordon Brown, gave what many analysts have claimed – rightly – is the best speech in his political career. He outlined eloquently why Scotland should remain part of the UK; why the Scottish people should renounce the too-good-to-be-true honey that they are being offered by the Scottish Nationalist Party, which will likely soon go sour, and embrace a new British era, where they will continue to have considerable influence.
What Dr. Brown did not discuss – although he alluded to it on several occasions – is the risk the West faces as a geopolitical entity should Scotland decide to break the UK up. Indeed, should they vote for separation, the Scottish people may decide more than their own future. They may also decide on more than the future of the rest of the British people, who may look around on Friday morning at a country that no longer exists. For should they vote to leave, the Scots will almost certainly set in motion forces that will alter the trajectory of Western civilisation, to which they have contributed so much and will – hopefully – continue to belong.
For make no mistake, if Scotland leaves the UK, the West will suffer a mortal blow. Why? Because in so many ways, the UK is the beating heart of Western civilisation, where modernity – cultural, political and economic – began. Geopolitically, the Act of Union in 1707 – which married England, Scotland and Wales – closed the last frontier on the island of Great Britain, leaving the new country to pursue a maritime destiny on a scale never before seen or contemplated. Ideologically, the Anglo-Scottish elites constituted a new British national identity, deliberately generated to overcome centuries-old religious and ethnic divisions. This was constructed slowly but resolutely using the best of both English and Scottish traits. It was synthetic, liberal, inclusive and expansive, energising the Anglo-Scottish people, whose power and creativity started to erect the foundations of the modern world.
The combined resources and ideological fervour of the new Anglo-Scottish realm – a fiscal-military state – were unleashed and harnessed: the UK rapidly projected itself across the planet. Due to this maritime, liberal revolution, the world today is decidedly Anglo-Scottish in character: British ideals, British justice and British culture prevail, and the English language has become the world’s primary means of communication. Would this have ever happened if England and Scotland had remained separate from one another?
We should not hesitate to say it: the UK can claim to be the most successful and influential political union in history. Together, Scotland and England have proven that they can confront and overcome any adversary, as they have so many times in the past. Together, Scotland and England have shown that they can use their enormous combined resources and their resolute drive for justice for the betterment of the wider world, as they have throughout history, be it the destruction of the slave trade to the defeat of twentieth-century totalitarianism. Today, British cities – from London and Manchester, to Cardiff and Edinburgh – still shine as beacons of tolerance, commerce and creativity. The UK is itself the exemplar of stable constitutional government and the British Armed Forces – of which Scots are a critical part – defend other Europeans and provide global stability. Only together will Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland – as the UK – continue to matter on the global stage, standing up to autocrats and tyrants who would relish the prospect of seeing the symbol of democratic government cease to exist.
So today, the Scottish people have a truly monumental decision to make. Will they seek separation from the British enterprise, or will they seek to maintain, and even reinforce, it? Will they close in on themselves, like most other European countries, or will they re-assert their role in the world’s most successful multinational union? As Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, recently declared: the Scottish people should ‘think very carefully about the future.’ Indeed, no-one should be under any illusion: just over four million people will decide whether or not the West remains strong and robust, or whether it will begin to close in on itself – as a pathetic civilisation fit for no-one except the fickle and myopic needs of the Last Men.
Without the UK, the West will lose its beating heart, and the dynamo of progress will slow down: the modern age – the British era – will almost certainly end. Scotland has a huge decision to make.
Vol. 6, No. 69 (2014)
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