Scotch Myths

MYTH #1: SCOTLAND WOULD LOSE ITS INFLUENCE UNDER INDEPENDENCE

This myth is about telling Scots that as an independent nation, we would become non-entities on the global stage. No one would care what we think, and our concerns would be brushed to the side as the Big Boys took control. We would just have to shut up and take it. There are two major problems with the supposed truth of this myth: 1. we already hold no influence and 2. it is not influence that these people seek, but unearned authority.

I’ll take the second point first, because I don’t like following convention. What influence is it that these people talk of? They are, of course, referring to military action, which is made abundantly clear by Moore’s demands that the SNP must explain what an independent Scotland’s defence force would look like, as well as the particularly telling line:

“Scotland deserves to know whether it is going to be part of making the world more secure or simply watching from the sidelines in the future.”

Moore is not interested in “influencing” other countries. When I “influence” someone, I do it through dialogue. I express my take on the situation and try to get the other person round to my way of thinking. That is influence, but it is not what Moore and his ilk want. They wish to “influence” people in the same manner that an armed police officer “influences” you to stand still and hold your hands up (hopefully nowhere near an London underground station turnstile…) It is not influence through discourse; it is compulsion through force.

Unionists like Moore continue to think as if the British Empire still existed. They think that Britain can – and should – tell other countries what to do, and that they have the moral authority to know what is best for everyone (which just so happens to also be best for them – funny that). They know that an independent Scotland would not have the capacity – nor, more importantly, the desire – to boss other nations around and compel them to see the world as unionists do. Rather than being a problem, this is actually one of the refreshing changes that independence would bring.

Secondly, we already hold no influence in the world. How could we? Unionists such as Ruth Davidson tell us that we have influence as part of the “great nation” that is the United Kingdom. But this would only work if the UK’s foreign policy was shaped by Scottish interests. Scotland has no desire to wage war on other countries – we’ll leave the macho appendage-waving contests to other, more primitive-minded nations such as the UK and USA. Unionists of a more pacifist mindset say it is precisely because Scotland doesn’t want to indulge in warmongering that we must remain in the union – as a calming influence. But it’s clear that we don’t hold any sway with the UK government, whose only interest is in keeping up the appearance that the UK is one of the big players on the global stage. If we don’t have any influence within the UK, how on earth could have have any on the global stage?

Saying that Scotland would have no influence on the world implies that small countries have no influence. Perhaps this is true – on their own. But in the 21st century, there is no place for rogue states unilaterally deciding what is best for the rest of the world. Consensus must be built among groups of nations, and Scotland must be allowed to build that consensus with nations that it does not necessarily share borders with; countries that share our ideals rather than our head of state; countries that have no interest in ignoring the UN and making up stories to allow them to remove dictators who no longer do what they are told to do.

As Salmond’s spokesman says in the BBC article, the contribution of smaller countries such as Norway, Denmark and Sweden shows up the lie that smaller countries cannot make a contribution to military action when there is a international consensus. What they can’t do is wage war on other countries by themselves. The idea that this is a bad thing is one of the biggest myths of all, an attitude more suited to the 19th century, much like the union itself.

Scotland’s biggest influence on the world has been through our thinkers. As an independent nation, one which puts education at the forefront of its national values, we can strive towards a second Scottish Enlightenment. That is far more important than having nuclear submarines parked in the Clyde. An independent Scotland would not lose its influence on the world – instead, we would finally rediscover our voice.

Scotch Myths is a series Doug Daniel.

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  1. James Morton says:

    Clearly they are still glancing backwards to a Scotland that was, but not Scotland as it is now in the present. But the truth is that the UK does not have as much influence as it likes to think it has. Look at Basra or Helmand – the courage of our soldiers cannot be faulted, but the leadership can and should be. In Europe the Tories left the a powerful voting block to join the diddy men brigade of closet Nazis and homophobes and where has it got them? It’s got David Cameron being told to be quiet by Europe that has had a bellyful of conservative hectoring.

  2. Andrew says:

    Aye,better an open hand than a closed fist.

  3. Scottish republic says:

    My thoughts exactly, though more eloquently argued.

    Great article.

  4. James Davidson says:

    Westminster is the political wing of the City of London financial establishment which is one of UK.com’s main streams of income.
    The City has a global reach and as such has a vested interest in maintaining “influence”
    in many parts of the world which it does through the Westminster government either overtly or covertly.
    As long as the City is one of the UK’s main economic income earners there will always be a need
    to be able to project this interest globally.
    An independent Scotland would have no such reliance and so no need for global “influence” as we have seen practised by Westminster to date.

    1. Doug Daniel says:

      Exactly, it’s all about trying to control others – the British Empire may have been broken up years ago, but the imperial mindset still remains.

  5. Wallace says:

    Excellently written article!

  6. Doug Daniel says:

    Cheers for the positive comments folks – keep an eye out for the rest of the series. There are a lot of unionist myths going about, so there is a lot of debunking to do!

  7. Raymond Thomson says:

    This article sums up what most people in Scotland think about unionist power. Spot on.

  8. dlgrant422 says:

    Many of this articles points are spot-on.

    However, I take issue with its author referring to the United States as “macho appendage-waving…” and “primitive-minded.” We are a nation larger than all of Europe (my home state of New York has a larger population than all of Scotland) and as such, are comprised of men and women of broadly varying political opinions, especially when it comes to the subjects of foreign policy and war. Many of us have worked diligently to alter the course of our government’s progress, and are in bold opposition to its current policies and actions.

    Look at the Occupy Movement in America; how active it has been, how widely it has spread, and how peaceful it has remained for many weeks.

    Many of us are also of Scottish descent – who do you think these “Americans” are? The majority of the American political class is made up of European descendants, many from the United Kingdom. Please, also remember which nation provided the model for our behaviour.

    Speak all you like about how peace-loving you are as a nation but remember that that in itself is a broad generalisation. There is no need to point to my country and blame the world’s ills on it, especially when many of us are here supporting Scotland’s efforts to redefine itself and it’s role on the world stage, and who are giving their time and energy in order to create a better society that is peaceful, fair, and just.

  9. dlgrant422 says:

    “Ending of Perpetual War for Profit. Recalling all military personnel at all non-essential bases and refocusing national defense goals to address threats posed by the geopolitics of the 21st century, including terrorism and limiting the large scale deployment of military forces to instances where Congressional approval has been granted to counter the Military Industrial Complex’s goal of perpetual war for profit. The annual estimated savings of one trillion dollars per year saved by updating our military posture will be applied to the social programs outlined herein to improve the quality of life for human beings rather than assisting corporations to make ever-increasing profits distributed to the top 1% of wealth owners.”
    From: The 99% Declaration (an American document – and yes, I’m aware that the parent of this document owes much to the Declaration of Arbroath).

    https://sites.google.com/site/the99percentdeclaration/

    1. Gavin Thomson says:

      Thank you.

      One of the most infuriating defences of the union is the ‘We can achieve more together than we can apart’ line.
      In terms of influence on the world stage, the main thing I can recall the UK “achieving” is killing an awful lot of people of colour, in a very short space of time, with very little justification and/or evidence. Not an achievement I want any part of.

  10. Ard Righ says:

    For all you closet unionists, honest….

  11. Scottish republic says:

    I hadn’t realised it is a series, looking forward to more.

  12. LJS says:

    Cracking read I wonder though how many articles in this series will involve debunking myth’s advanced by Mr Moore. I had next to no knowledge of the man prior to him becoming Sectary of state for Scotland and at first thought he’d be a vast improvement on Jim Murphy, boy was I wrong I find myself stunned by the idiocy of man nearly every time he speaks!

  13. Gordon Darroch says:

    I had a light-bulb moment a few years ago during the interminable negotiations over European fishing quotas. (No, don’t go away, I’ll get to the point quickly). The Scottish fishing fleet is roughly equal in size to the English, Welsh and Northern Irish fleet. So you might have imagined that the Scottish fisheries minister would have the same level of influence at the talks as his UK counterpart. What actually happened was that Elliot Morley went into the meeting, negotiated a package that did nothing whatsoever for Scottish interests, and then went outside to convey the good news to the hapless Ross Finnie, who then had to take it home to the understandably livid fishing industry.
    If this is the kind of “influence” we stand to lose, we can’t cast it off soon enough.
    What ever happened to Elliot Morley, by the way?

  14. James Mackenzie says:

    1. We need a well-worked out defence strategy not because we seek to influence or bully others but because others want to “influence” us: (a) England will always be worried if there is an independent state to its north that could be allied to its enemies; (b) Scotland’s stategic position defending the connection between the Atlantic and North Sea will be of interest to other powers; (c) “Our” North sea oil and renewable resources may need defending. In history before the union we had to fight off the Romans, the Vikings, the English, doesn’t this suggest there could be enemies in the future?
    (2) On fisheries, wouldn’t it be helpful if the fishermen negotiated with the fish, rather than blaming other countries? Ultimately, if you don’t negotiate with the fish, there won’t be any left to harvest.

    1. Siôn Jones says:

      I agree that Scotland’s biggest threat would come from England, but not as long as the they are in the community of nations – only if they become a ‘rogue state’, which is not beyond the bounds of possibility. But the main threat at present is from Islamist Terrorists, and being associated with a country (the UK) they see all over the islamic world as the enemy is far more dangerous than distancing one’s self from it.

  15. jmttrial says:

    Is Norway ashamed of its global role?

    Is Denmark?

    England fears loss of nuclear apparatus spread across our landscape – such loss would mean loss of a seat at the Security Council, ie., big bully status.

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