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Published On: Mon, Oct 6th, 2014

When it’s right to reject freedom

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Mr. Alex Salmond

Mr. Alex Salmond

From 2011, when the British Prime Minister David Cameron gave his nod to a Scottish referendum on whether to stay in the United Kingdom or go their separate way following an unceasing campaign by the pro-independence Scottish National Party of Mr. Alex Salmond in Parliament, the 307-year-old union binding the English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish stood on a knife edge until the September 18 ‘no’ vote. The Scots voted 2,001,926 to 1,617,989 to stay in the UK.

With a slim margin of less than a half a million, the United Kingdom was saved from a political quake that would not only have shrunk her at home but would have considerably diminished her standing abroad because no one would likely take seriously a country so shredded at home. However, it would have been argued conversely that only a thorough-going democratic state would have allowed a mere 7% of its population to decide its fate (the Scots are only 7% of the total UK population)

However, with the high feverish referendum rhetoric gone and the UK intact, the implications of the vote both for the UK and the world would continue to reverberate. Inspite of the victory for union, the UK would never be as it was before. Notwithstanding the loss of the referendum, London should do a real introspection to examine why nearly a half of Scots wanted to opt out of a union that has lasted so long. The complaint about the unabashed pro-business elites in London who pander to every whim of big business means that a liberal state in the western sense may have run its full course at home. Abroad, there is even the greater risk of an implosion. The Scots did not so much complain about the harsh policies of London, which have seen their social and economic wellbeing take a nose dive. At the heart of the campaign for independence was a palpable desire to take charge of their destiny. This is not specifically Scottish or even British. Most people around the world would hope to take charge of their lives, which many believe are trampled upon by insensitive political leaders who sit far away to take decisions on their behalf.

Most people, including even those of us at Peoples Daily, commend the Scots for having made a bold statement that reaffirmed their faith in the United Kingdom. For most African states, themselves creations of British colonialism, London has blazed the trail and shown conclusively that there is nothing sacrosanct about the state, except the will of its overwhelming majority to live in common. Contrary to elite recalcitrance that the general will, lubricated by social justice, equality and fairness, can hold or validate a state, those who refuse to give their people a legitimate voice as London did to the Scots will have to travel the uneasy road that leads to the former Yugoslavia, where more than half a dozen independent states emerged from a union formerly believed to have been made from a granite.

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