Geography of Europe Blog Assignment #3 Posted on March 7, 2015 by saorsa2014 Same as usual…500 words by Sunday night (March 15th midnight),… Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading... Related
20 thoughts on “Geography of Europe Blog Assignment #3”
Derek Kiyoshi Randolph Fukumoto
Blog Assignment #3
The topic at hand has been coined, “the English Question.” In a time of economic uncertainty, the loyalties of Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales are all in retreat to their greater alliance to the United Kingdom. As public service spending decreases, while budget deficit continues to grow, the optimistic intentions of voters is more easily swayed to a stronger conservative ‘us and them’ dichotomy. Conservative voices are generally quick to advocate a distancing between greater supranational identities and themselves. In the UK, this identity is further complicated by the EU; such that a country such as Wales is supposed to honor three different identities, Welsh, British, and European respectively. When times get tough, the idea of devolution comes naturally.
The pictures indicate a growing and popular movement that by no means is something new. All four states currently making up the United Kingdom are experiencing growing resentments towards their greater loyalties. States long for more individual power over their own monetary and political policy because everyone thinks they can do a better job. This translates into a push for politicians to sway voters because they are able to centralize and highlight the problems of the state, effectively blaming the powers in office. This devolution effect during economic times of uncertainty is a very normal reaction in state-politics. In parallel to this event, the Greeks have voted for a far left political party because austerity measures did not seem to be working. Although it is appealing for Greek voters to flee from the EU, the reality of such actions would conversely ruin their nation. When times get tough, it is easy to believe that a radically different approach is the answer.
In regards to the process of devolution, the English Question takes on a different perspective for every identity. There is a general fear of foreigners especially those from Eastern Europe and Turkey. The belief is that outsiders move to Britain and simultaneously steal the jobs and leech off of the social welfare programs. Although some level of this must be true at a minimum, recent research indicates that of all the legal immigrants who immigrated in 2004, they have contribute a net-gain for the economy. Despite this evidence, xenophobic fears are rampant thus making isolationist policy tempting. The departure from the EU would effectively quench this fear, but the economic ramifications have been poorly considered. Should Britain effectively disband, it would be unlikely that the EU would continue to grant them a free trade agreement as prophesized by some conservatives.
In sum the future is not clear for the states comprising the United Kingdom. Nationally the people of Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland are all becoming increasingly resentful of the others. With the upcoming elections voters will decide where their allegiance stands and whether or not they will follow the status quo of safety in numbers, or fall trap to the false belief that independence is key.
God Dammit, wrong class, Thanks Obama.
Thanks for the laugh….and good commentary even if it was for the wrong class !
The debate over Scottish independence has been blistering as of late. There was a call for a referendum on the issue last year. The movement to separate from the United Kingdom was strong as we can see in picture of the message on the rock wall. The debate then arose over whether Scotland could and should be independent. There was division on both sides of the island over the issue as the second photo of the two flags insinuates. There was indeed a referendum however it failed among a flurry of promises from London. The failure of the referendum not only left division but Scots with high expectations and London politicians with a tall order to fill.
The British Empire is merely a fraction of a shadow of its former self. If you rewind a hundred years the British Empire was embroiled in the First World War but otherwise strong and vast. In the midst of the Great War a movement reignited in Ireland for independence. As the lower left picture shows there was already a desire in Ireland for breathing room from the mother country for calls for home rule. These demands had been a consistent theme for more than a century. Ireland won her independence following World War I. The following century has brought the unfurling of the empire with great pieces of the once great Empire becoming independent. Ireland set the pattern to other nations like India, Australia, Canada, South Africa and probably soon Scotland possibly followed by Wales and Northern Ireland.
Today those hoping to hold together what remains have their work cut out for them. As we have discussed in class the promises made to Scotland prior to the independence referendum will be extremely difficult to keep. If the pledges are fulfilled they may have long lasting ramifications.
As if this were this dilemma were not taxing enough Parliament and her leaders in London have Britons to worry about as well. In Britain there is the question of whether or not to withdraw from the European Union. Many support this move but this action will undoubtedly have negative effects if it is carried through. As we have discussed in class if Parliament decides to pull the United Kingdom out of the European Union, it will likely fracture the kingdom into several pieces. Scotland will most likely declare her independence which has been made clear is already weighing heavily on the minds of its citizenry. Upon breaking away Scotland will with all probability apply for entry into the European Union. Wales and Northern Ireland will likely follow suit to maintain reaping the benefits apportioned to member states of the European super state. The upper right picture is of great importance to the whole discussion. As the situation evolves it will be of utmost importance to give the people of the United Kingdom a feeling of solidarity. To keep them united under one flag. English nationalism is a great threat to that goal and will only serve to factionalize the greater whole.
It seems unlikely that Great Britain will remain an entity for much longer. Regardless of which side of the debate one finds themselves, one thing is certain, if the United Kingdom breaks apart it will send shockwaves politically and economically through Europe and probably the rest of the world. The effect of the retreat of world financial institutions out of London will have little great consequences on the English economy which will likely stem into America and beyond.
The United Kingdom is in unique position right now. With the threat of a referendum for separation from the EU, the future of Great Britain is unknown. The identity of Great Britain was founded around three ideals: Protestants, Peripheries, and Profits. After the end of their empire, the future was unclear but as long as they remained united as Protestants and profits were high the country could be held together, but that is not the case today. The economy of Great Britain can be compared to that of the United States, which is often a reason for strife among neighboring countries, as is the close relationship between Great Britain and the United States. Another factor that changed the national identity is the shift from a religious base to a more secular one. With the loss of these three ideals, will this be the end of The United Kingdom?
Images one and two directly correspond with the unknown future of Great Britain. If the referendum leads to a withdrawal from the EU, it will have two detrimental effects. The first one being the collapse of the economy due to the shift of financial institutions. All the banks located in London will immediately transfer to Frankfurt, resulting in an economic crash. The second one being the inevitable separation of Scotland, which would definitely change the economic and cultural landscape of this nation. This can also be tied to the Scottish National Party making history at the moment. It is the third largest party in the UK, and, “is the only party not controlled by Westminster.” (SNP.org)
Image three is reflective of the past relationship between The UK and Ireland. Being predominantly catholic and having little resources, it never fit within the national identity created for The UK. The past relationship can be described as in-existent or tense. After the secession of Ireland in 1922, the island split into two entities, one loyal to The UK (Northern Ireland), and one loyal to a “free Ireland” (Ireland).
Image four is reflective of the current political landscape in England right now. With parties like UKIP, openly blaming problems on The EU, or immigrants’ tensions are high. With the promise of Cameron’s impending referendum, I wonder if people will allow these parties to thrive. The propaganda surrounding this “nationalism” is very interesting. It is amusing, but also scary to read some of the propaganda associated with parties like UKIP. I recently researched a little about the party and had a hard time stomaching their accusations and ideals. Could this potentially be the future of England? They do not have a strong following, so it is not likely, but playing the blame game sometimes gains a large amount of support. I guess only time will tell, and it will be very interesting to see what happens.
Image five is reflective of the potential for Welsh independence. If Scotland becomes independent, could Welsh independence be possible? If Scotland becomes independent does The UK still exist? Are England, Wales, and Northern Ireland enough to make up a country? These are some of the questions being asked right now. I don’t really have an answer for any of those questions, but it could potentially be the catalyst for Welsh independence.
Reblogged this on Neverending Wanderlust and commented:
These images all deal with nationalism across the British Isles. Although nationalist movements have existed to some degree within Great Britain since the integration of Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland into the English/British government, they became much more prominent beginning in the 19th century. Today, the Scottish nationalist movement is by far the most visible and well known across the world. Although Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all have devolved parliaments and powers, the Scots have been particularly vocal in their desire for more. In 2014, this culminated in an independence referendum in Scotland.
Many Scots view the British government in a particularly negative light. Even with the devolved Scottish Parliament, Westminster still wields many powers over the country. For example, the British nuclear arsenal is located in Scotland, against the wishes of numerous Scots. Additionally, Scotland has natural resources such as oil, but most of the money does not stay in Scotland. Therefore, some see the British government as almost oppressive, and they want freedom, as shown in the top left image.
The middle left image shows the Scottish and British flags, both of which were used frequently in the run-up to the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. A “yes” vote meant an independent Scotland, while a “no” vote meant remaining a part of the United Kingdom. In the weeks leading up to the referendum, opinion polls began shifting toward the “yes” vote, and Westminster politicians went into panic mode. They promised Scotland “devomax” or full devolution to Scotland. This would grant the Scottish Government much greater powers than it held at the time. This promise helped ensure that the “no” vote won the referendum. However, since the referendum, Westminster has seemed to get cold feet about granting Scotland devomax. Scottish nationalist sentiment has only increased since the defeat of the referendum, as has support for the SNP, which looks like it may have record-breaking results in the next general election in May. Furthermore, David Cameron has promised a UK-wide referendum on exiting the EU if the Tories stay in power after the general election. If he keeps his promise, and the UK votes to leave the EU, the Scots will probably be more pissed off than they have ever been. Scotland is completely committed to the EU, and would likely separate from the UK if the UK chose to leave.
Wales has been joined to England longer than Scotland has, which has given it more time to integrate with England. Nationalist sentiment in Wales, therefore, is much weaker than in Scotland. Wales also does not have significant natural resources like Scotland does. Plaid Cymru is the Welsh nationalist party that promotes Welsh independence, but it does not enjoy as much support as the SNP does in Scotland. Wales seems to be content with the current amount of devolution it has in the Welsh Government.
English nationalism also exists within the United Kingdom, but it is quite limited, probably since England holds the majority of the power within the British government. There simply is not a need for an English government, since the British Government is essentially an English government. English nationalism does exist, however, and is promoted by the English Democrats, who have 1 seat on the Boston Borough Council, and no seats in any other government body.
The EU has grown in terms of member countries, but parts of it (some members) are smaller than the others—-some of which are getting smaller still. Population in the EU is important just as it is in the US. The younger generations need to produce enough capital and services to take care of the elder generation which can’t do so for itself (or at least as well) . The problem of finding this balance is hard though, and it’s made harder still as technology and medicine increase the lifespan of the population, but not necessarily the vitality it takes to continue being part of the work force. Right now there may be too few young people to support the older generation. Solutions to this are two-fold. Population needs to increase. One way is by sex, but that can take a while to get a mature workforce. The other way is immigration. Immigrants from outside the EU which move into and then work inside of it are a newer solution. There are problems with this as well though. Countries such as the UK which may not have as dire need of a workforce increase as Greece or Italy don’t altogether appreciate an influx of immigrants lured towards the more (relatively) successful countries such as Germany and the UK. Once in the EU, they can move around anywhere without border controls. This results in some countries becoming more integrated into the concept of ‘Europe’ and some such as the UK preferring to tout their ‘Empire’-esque rhetoric as a great sovereign nation. Even some of the immigrants who make it to the UK and make a life for themselves there may pick up this national pride, and be defensive of the life and success they worked hard to achieve (or that they want their children to achieve). The result is a tension between countries. Some accept the loss of their former identities in exchange of being only part of a greater whole. Some don’t see that as possible, happening, or any sort of eventuality of which they want to be part. Some in fact attempt to hold onto power by appealing to the citizens who ate their ‘independence’ rhetoric by convincing them that if power is given to the current occupants yet again, they will most certainly allow their proud citizens to vote for a once again independent country (*coughs-UK-coughs*). It would be rather ironic if the most reluctant member of the EU tried to withdraw from the very thing it was forced to admit (not so long ago) was a great and economically profitable idea. It’s important to remember though that while people are stirred up, it’s only when they’re unhappy (economically, medically, etc.) that they want change. If I was starving, without a job, and forced to beg on the streets… I’d likely blame someone for it as well, and perhaps I’d be right. Perhaps someone is to blame for lack of jobs and austerity, but is it better to help your citizen point a finger, or work with your fellow EU members to get them jobs and a stable life where they can support not only you but your EU friends as well?
Oops. That was for Blog #2.
England is not the UK. The UK is a group of nations held (currently) under a single government. Whether that remains the case or not is dependent upon an upcoming election that has been a while in coming, and that many anticipate with or without pleasure. Unfortunately for the current Prime Minister, he seems to have dug himself into a hole (and the rest of his party seems to have helped as well) by using rhetoric representing the ~largest part of the UK (England) —-or perhaps just the loudest and most influential globally—-to convince and cajole the rest of the United Kingdom into supporting or not supporting its various ideals. Those ideals stem from its history as a great colonial empire and great world power. Unfortunately (or fortunately) England does not rule the world anymore, and in a few months it may not even rule Scotland, Ireland, or Wales. Scotland seems to have no interest in leaving the EU and despite some lies told to the English people about how Scots soak up more government money than they contribute (which isn’t true), they are in fact a valuable partner to the UK. The American military base is in Scotland, making it strategic for NATO and any American operations overseas in Europe. The overriding problem (or perhaps more accurately the overriding ‘mistake’) by David Cameron is that his party has attempted to remain in power by appealing to England. This didn’t really include the rest of Britain in being ‘united’ against the perils imposed or menacing from the EU. An irate minority that has several precedents in place to secede and return to its own sovereign state and thereby then re-apply for the EU membership that it DOES want… well… I think we can see where the dice will likely lie unless England changes its act very quickly, and the likelihood of that is minimal. What’s more interesting to hypothesize is that if the UK votes for and passes a referendum/popular vote to withdraw from the EU, will it then be equal in power or less powerful than Scotland itself? If all of London’s banking sector (the lifeblood of the economic empire) moves away overnight in order to stay in business, what does that leave England with? Some nice tennis and cricket greens? What will happen to the presumably thousands of skilled workers within England, given access by its EU membership? Worse, what will happen to the retirees, workers, and students scattered throughout the rest of the EU? Though I don’t hope for any negative impacts on the populace, I will admit to being very interested in seeing just what happens if the UK does vote to leave the EU and Scotland (and Wales and Ireland?) then votes to leave the UK. Perhaps one of the best lessons to be learned from such an outcome would be a grave example to the other members of the EU: leaving may not necessarily be something you ever want to suggest to an upset part of your population, and it certainly may not be something you want to actually give them.
There’s a lot of history that’s led up to this moment. Scotland has been part of the UK since the 1700s, and nationalists have been fighting for a referendum for decades. You could say that in the United Kingdom the future of England and Scotland’s union is on a knife edge. There is nothing but peace and love between the nations making up the United Kingdom. Some people here in America might think that there is nothing going on in the United Kingdom but soccer and the queen. But that is not the truth. This might be because they want Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to stay apart of the United Kingdom. There is a great push coming to move away from the joint union between the nations, and yes as the picture above says some people do believe that “English nationalism is the most dangerous of all the nationalism that can arise within the United Kingdom”. But moving on, there are other reasons that this happening. Scotland currently controls its own policies on health, education, and prisons, but the country does not have control over its own armed forces or foreign policy, given what I know about how well this would go over in America if Canada had control of this aspect it would not be good.
Every country no matter how small weak or big and powerful they are, they want to have control over their own military and foreign policies in order to protect and better their own country. As well, if Scotland gets its freedom the people of Scotland will then process the power in their own hands to make decisions for themselves in regards to political affairs in their own country. This would help with the decision of have nuclear capability to be dismantled and they would have the ability to be able to make this decision on their own without the influence of England. Another reason that this split up is wanting to happen shown in the top picture is “Free Scotland” on the side of the barn. It is very obvious that people in scotland want to be free to make their own decision and one of these would be as we talked a little about in class, is they could utilize the benefits of the national resources in the form of oil. Only a free and independent Scotland would be able to fully use and benefit from its national resources, which would include the North Sea oil and gas reserves.
As you can see from ever picture above though, there are many different ways you can talk about Scotland, Ireland, and Wales wanting to get their freedom from the English and rule there own country from home. We briefly talked about this in class and we can all relate to the fact that we as Americans did the same thing many years ago. We did not want another country telling us what to do so we fought to leave britain and won the right to govern and use our resources as we wanted to and still do today.
Blog Post 3
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has been under the public eye in the past few months because of tension between it and Scotland. In a recent referendum, the people of Scotland got very close to voting themselves out of the UK. Many sources have predicted that the next referendum will result in a vote for an independent Scotland. The images in this series all relate to the UK and nationalist movements in all of its member countries, including England. These movements, as well as relations with the EU, are testing the bonds between the countries of the aging UK, and putting its future as a united group of nations within the EU into question.
The first image to focus on is the photograph of “FREE Scotland” painted over an old stone farmhouse next to a highway. The voter turnout for the Scottish referendum was very high, meaning independence is an issue that 84.5% of people in Scotland care about. This graffiti is proof of how important it is to the general public. The image below the call for freedom is a great visualization of the gravity of the referendum – using the flags as symbols of Scotland’s potential futures as either an independent Scotland or a part of the United Kingdom.
The next image, with the words “Ireland demands home rule,” is of a stamp from the year 1914. Ireland has historically been a lesser-ranked member of the United Kingdom, and its struggle for independence has been long and at times bloody. When Ireland split in 1922, with the North remaining under British control, the conflict was only drawn out into a longer period of terrorism and fear. The situation is far better now that it was then, but this stamp from more than a century ago really shows how far back nationalist movements against the UK reach.
Wales is another small but increasingly nationalist part of the UK. The National Assembly for Wales was created in the year 1999, and forty members of the UK Parliament are Welsh. Welsh nationalist movements, to distinguish whom they represent, often use the Welsh language. It is also used in much of the Welsh government, although it is not recognized as an official langue in the UK outside of Wales or by the European Union.
The last image in this series is a quote spoken by William Hague, a conservative British politician who is the current Leader of the House of Commons. He said that within the United Kingdom, English nationalism is the most dangerous of all forms of nationalism. While Scottish, Welsh, and Irish nationalism movements can tug at the UK’s bonds in the periphery, a majority English nationalist movement could genuinely push the others away and completely break the UK apart.
By far one of the most pressing problems that will stress the European Union in the near future will be the question of Scottish succession in particular and the breakup of the United Kingdom in general. The UK, while it still operates somewhat on the fringes of the EU in terms of not really playing nice in terms of striving for advancement/integration across the entire European community, is still a major economy and has significant influence in many areas and procedures across the Union. The almost inevitable split of Scotland and the UK, given the failure of the conservatives to deliver on their promises in the last referendum for Scottish independence, will almost indubitably cause a domino effect-both in the United Kingdom and elsewhere throughout the European Union. In the United Kingdom alone, Wales and Northern Ireland both have sections of the population striving for greater amounts of self-rule, if not independence, while, in the rest of Europe, the Catalans of Spain and the Walloons/Flemish of Belgium may look to a successful Scottish independence as an example for their future action.
In my opinion, it is entirely possible that the European Union’s very existence will only further prompt these independence movements across the continent. While without the European Union, a smaller country like Scotland may look at the wider global arena and think that it would be better off in the larger market and more effectively sovereign state of the United Kingdom, in the present state of affairs, Scotland can separate from the UK and still retain the vast majority, if not the complete sum of the benefits of being in the UK, assuming it can maintain membership in the even larger and more effectively sovereign European Union. I feel that the question of an independent Scotland’s accession to the European Union upon independence, in terms of immediacy, will be an interesting case study in the current state of the accession process, as it is entirely possible that a then independent or lessened England/United Kingdom would veto Scottish entry into the European Union, much as Spain might veto Catalonia.
It is that question that I find particularly interesting in regard to the question of the splitting up of the United Kingdom. I wonder firstly will the Tories repeated games of brinkmanship come back to bite them in the end, leading to a more liberal coalition controlling parliament? Will the referendum they promise assuming their re-election actually succeed, which would then leave England financially devastated, likely immediately bereft of the wealthier Scotland, and out of the larger European decision-making process? Given that I do not live in England, and I am always taken aback by the sheer idiocy and greedy pride of American politicians, I readily admit to having no grasp of how great of lengths the British conservatives are willing to go in terms of this movement to leave the European Union; that being said, I cannot possibly imagine that they would be so idiotic-surely there are a few sentient beings willing to listen to the fact that the entire financial district of London will pack up for Germany upon their potential independence from the European Union. Also, there is the small matter that I imagine that in the in all likelihood dramatically depressed economy following such a separation, re-election for the party responsible for the economic decline would be nigh impossible. (It’s the economy, stupid.) Given that I therefore feel it likely that the United Kingdom will remain in some fashion in the European Union, I can hardly wait to see how the accession process proceeds if Scotland declares independence and how the EU members discuss potentially changing the process leading up to such an event.
Historically, Great Britain was able to create a unison form of identity through the overarching empire in which it created. Following the Treaty of Union in 1707 England and Scotland separated Church and education, therefore not imposing ideals on the other, but were able to form a bond over peripheries profits and most importantly the empire. England, Scotland and Ireland found unity in the footholds that Great Britain found in Africa and Asia (specifically India). One beneficial part of imperialist colonial project was that it took pressure of domestic populations of the home base in Great Britain. Rather than exploiting Britain’s population and resources, they were able to find labor and resources abroad. Britain sent people in networks around the world with the colonial project, where each of them identified with Great Britain. Britain was able to maintain its identity throughout WWI and WWII because war is an extremely unifying event. After WWII though, the British Empire began to fall as Britain left India, which destabilized the British economy, and was unable to control the global system of alliances during the Suez Crisis. Uniformity began to crumble as the core, England, voted in Margaret Thatcher, proving that the English were more concerned about their local demands than the demands of the peripheries and Great Britain as a unit. Secularization also played a role in the disunity in society, as Protestantism diminished along with the other “P’s” (periphery and profits). In order to create a new identity with a stronger economic backbone, Great Britain decided to join the EU. This has been relatively successful, but since the economic crisis in the EU, there seems to be less popularity in the EU identity, causing a rise in demands for Independence. Both Whales and Scotland don’t want to leave the EU, because they feel it is beneficial, and therefore if Great Britain decides to leave the EU, there will be an evermore increasing demand for independence in order to meet local economic demands. The nationalist party of Scotland has recently gone from 20% to 50%, proving that Scotland no longer feels a uniform identity, or benefits from being in a union. Scotland actually held a national referendum in 2014 to decide whether they should become an independent sovereign state, but just barely failed to gain enough support to pass. Ireland on the other hand has had a different, clashing history with Great Britain. Ireland never fully fell in line with the 3 P’s because of Catholicism. Religion became a defining factor in Ireland, making them one of the most religious countries in England. When Ireland officially became part of Great Britain in the 12th Century, they were marginalized in government and remained economically stagnant. Catholics were not given the right to vote, and when they eventually were given that right, they immediately proved their discontent under Great Britain and voted for nationalist parties. The Irish desire for independence has remained relevant throughout Irish history as groups like the IRA have set out to achieve sovereignty through violence.
All of these pictures have to do with the future of the UK. With the elections coming up in May of this year, the fate of UK hangs in the balance. The first picture pertains to the feelings of the Scottish people as of the current elections. The Scottish people are not entirely happy with the decisions that the British government are looking at making. If Scotland continues to be a part of the UK, then they could face an economical crash. The fate of Scotland as a part of the UK depends on the UK’s decision on whether or not they continue to be a part of the EU. If the UK decides to separate from the EU and have their own identity and not be associated with the EU, then Scotland very well may leave the UK in order to continue to be a part of the EU. Continuing their relationship with the EU will keep their country stabilized and keep them in the world market. It seems to me that the end of what we currently know as the UK will come to an end in the near future. The debate in England is for becoming independent of the EU, as depicted by the upper right picture. This course of action will likely create a push from other countries in the UK to separate from the UK and maintain their membership in the EU. Scotland will likely be the first. As depicted in the lower right picture, the Welsh government will likely follow suite and continue their membership with the EU. Like the picture in the middle left depicts, Northern Ireland is looking in the same direction as the Welsh, and Scottish. Northern Ireland has been a hot seat in the UK discussion for many years, and it looks like it will continue to be that way for at least a little longer. The ripples that Great Britain makes over the next few months could cause Great Britain to crumble and turn a once great empire into an island country all alone. Only time will tell, and the decisions that are made could be world changing.
These images explore the rising nationalist movements in the United Kingdom, which leads to questions about the future of the UK.
Ireland was the first nation in the UK to demand devolution and eventually independence. The image with the words “Ireland demands home rule” is a portion of a postage stamp from 1914, the year that the Government of Ireland Act 14 was passed, which was supposed to allow home rule in Ireland. The beginning of World War I prevented the bill from taking effect, and in 1920 the Government of Ireland Act 1920 was passed, which divided Ireland into Northern Ireland, which was mostly Protestant, and Southern Ireland, which desired complete independence and started a rebellion. Eventually a treaty was signed which made Southern Ireland a dominion called the Irish Free State (as opposed to Northern Ireland which was still a part of Great Britain.) In 1948 the government of the Irish Free State, with John A. Costello as prime minister, declared independence
Scottish nationalism has been on the rise recently, with the referendum in 2014 only narrowly choosing to stay in the UK, and support for the Scottish National Party surging since the referendum. It seems quite likely that another referendum is in Scotland’s near future. If Scotland does achieve independence, it will be interesting to see what will happen with other regions in Europe, such as Catalonia, Sardinia, Flanders, and the Aland Islands which have their own independence movements.
Although Wales boasts its own language, national costume, etc. as distinct from the rest of Britain, Welsh independence seems unlikely at this time since there is very little public support for it, as shown by recent polls. However it will be interesting to see if there is more desire for Welsh independence if Scotland succeeds in becoming independent.
The English have not been particularly vocal about their nationalism, perhaps because “Englishness” and “Britishness” have long been synonymous. As the other nations of the UK continue to assert their desire for more devolution or even independence, it may be that the English need to rediscover the value and pride in being English so that they do not have an identity crisis if the UK were eventually to break into separate countries
While speaking of the various forms of nationalism in the UK I think it is worth mentioning the fact that David Cameron has promised a referendum on whether or not the UK should stay in the European Union, which seems to me to be a form of English nationalism. Many British people feel that they contribute too much to the EU and do not receive enough benefits in return, are frustrated by the lack of control over decisions that affect the UK, and feel that overall the UK does not need help from the continent to be successful. However, withdrawal from the EU would have catastrophic results for the economy of the UK, since London’s financial district would move to Frankfurt, taking with it a large portion of the UK’s economy, and since the UK would suddenly find itself outside of the European Union’s tariff walls and excluded from a large portion of its former economic market.
The World Book Encyclopedia
As the United Kingdom threatens to leave the European Union one wonders about the consequences that will follow. If the United Kingdom decides to remove itself from the Union there will be no stoping Scotland nor Northern Ireland from declaring independence . Both Scotland and Northern Ireland would be greatly affected by such separation, so why be loyal to the country that would be responsible for the future economic and social onslaught that would occur shortly after?
Scotland has been a loyal allied to England. When referendum was voiced a few years ago, Scotland decided to remain as part of the United Kingdom. England, always self-centered and unapologetic about it, is calling the shots and only thinking of what it best for England and England alone. Not a surprise there.
I’ve never met anyone from Scotland that calls himself or herself “British”, nor anyone from Wales or Northern Ireland. I made the mistake once to ask my dear friends from Scotland if they thought of themselves as British or English. Needless to say they corrected me swiftly and made clear that I never make that mistake again. That made me wonder how such symbiotic relationship worked between England and the other territories members of the United Kingdom. There seemed to be a distinct feeling of identity that separated one group from another. Always wondered how much longer before such differences created the schism that would take down the United Kingdom. As demonstrated in one of the pictures posted in the blog, English nationalism applies only to those that consider themselves as “English”. Irish are not English nor are the Scottish nor Welsh, so how does a nation expect to assimilate and keep those that are not going to accept the denomination as theirs? The fact that slogans as “ Free Scotland” and “Ireland Demands Home Rule” shows that there is an underlying animosity that has not been quelled since the Union of the Crowns in 1603.
The United Kingdom seems to be fracturing from the inside out. The separatist sentiment has been reignited with such fervor that it is only a matter of time before it becomes a reality. Parliament itself is divided. Right and Left wings have taken stances so far from the center that it is not possible to reconcile their ideology for the benefit of the Kingdom.
Now, let’s pretend England does leave the Union and Scotland declares independence followed by petition to be admitted into the European Union. England cannot oppose the request, for not longer would have the leverage to do so. However, how about other nations with separatist movements within their borders? Spain comes to mind. Catalonia had placed bids in the past for independence but has never been successful. They are not the only ones within Spain borders that harbor the separatist voice. The Basque country has had its desire to separate as well. One cannot forget the ETA attacks the plagued Spain for decades under the banner of freedom. And there is Asturias — the land of my forefathers– proud and defiant since before the time of Franco, always marching to a more socialist-communist beat than the rest of Spain. So, if Scotland declares independence, will Spain oppose to the new state joining the European Union? Will fear of an internal separatist crisis stop countries like Spain from supporting the admission of new declared states into the Union?
These pictures are extremely important right now because they are all pictures of political controversies that are currently going on in Europe as of right now. The top left one depicts how the Scottish feel about not being an independent country. They want to be on their own and as soon as possible.
However, there are benefits for Scotland by being linked to Great Britain and not having their full independence. When they united with the British they got free trade with England and got access with the empire, which they did not have before. In return, was created the new identity of Britain. Even though Scotland wants to have their own independence they still have advantages because of whom they are linked to. There was a vote just last year asking Scotland yet again if they wanted to be independent and even though the results were close, the no vote was the ultimate winner.
The picture below that of Great Britain’s flag split in half, one side saying yes and one side saying no is about the overwhelming question that people keep asking. Will Great Britain leave the European Union and if they do what will be the consequences? First off, there is a very good chance that if Great Britain does decide to leave then Scotland will want to leave and the bank economy will crash sending Great Britain into ultimate turmoil.
The top right corner picture is important because English nationalism is huge. It is important because it unites people who are English and promotes civilians thinking like one but at the same time it also is extremely dangerous because outsiders coming in have to be “English” and take on that sense of nationality. That ultimately leads to the weakening of other languages as well as cultures because it is harder to pass on two cultures to the next generation compared to just one.
The bottom right picture is a political logo of Wales. The government of Wales is very devoted and the idea of independence is quickly spreading to those tied to Great Britain. With Great Britain no longer being a world power and its economic status continually declining it is a huge question as to whether or not they will be left by Whales and Scotland and thus end up alone in their decline.
The picture of the home-rule need in Ireland is about Ireland growing frustrated and wanting their own government. They have never fully fit in with Great Britain but also are not independent and once again the patriotism and want of independence of the countries attached to Great Britain is continuing to increase and grow stronger. All together the pictures just demonstrate how Great Britain is getting weaker and weaker and how they are losing countries loyalty and are looking to face a huge setback if they lose the countries that are trying to break free of the control that Great Britain currently has over them because of how bad of shape the British are in at this time.
With its perch atop the hierarchical command of the United Kingdom, England has historically been vehemently opposed to relinquishing any of its influence. This was especially apparent during the decolonization period following WWII. While on an individual basis many English persons would likely espouse a dedication to democracy and liberal ideals, the United Kingdom has continued, even in what we may consider to be a progressive era, to exhibit patterns of paternalistic management over her dominion. The desire to maintain the integrity of the Union ostensibly emanates from a sincere dedication to the conceptualization of a British Identity, combined with a pragmatic disposition with regards to diplomacy and international affairs. Having briefly considered the “burdens of empire” (which in this day-and-age pertains more to domestic issues, at least so far as they remain domestic,) I would like to examine these images from the perspective of the respective independence movements.
Concerning the roughly strewn text that constitutes and impromptu billboard on a rotted stone structure, we can observe Scottish nationalism from the ground level; the person who wrote the message was not a high ranking official, nor was it likely that s/he was from the upper strata of society. I perceive this as a symbol of a common Scottish man or woman who sincerely believes in independence.
The “Yes/No” campaign is an example of a complex situation being presented in the most simplistic manner possible. Of course, the vote itself was simple enough…you are either for independence, or against it…but the layers to the opinions of Scottish citizens is undoubtedly more complicated than that. It is a way, however, to quickly and easily identify with like-minded voters and form solidarity between those in favor and those in opposition, respectively.
The devolved Welsh Government fits between Scotland and Ireland, which gained its independence. Powers given to the Welsh government may indeed have been an attempt to placate the country (is it considered a country, as part of the state?) and squash an independence movement. The Welsh independence movement is tightly linked with that of Scotland, as England likely fears the setting of a precedent. Moreover, with diminished dominion, should the UK be reduced to include only England, it would have a difficult time finding a proper place in the world, straddling the line between “Europeanism” and its relationship with America.
What, then, of Ireland? Ireland won its Home Rule, and has been a (relatively) viable nation since, especially after the resolution of the Catholic-Protestant violence. Could we posit that even Northern Ireland would leave the UK if Scotland and subsequent Wales do?
Finally, regarding the image on English nationalism, we can see the negative side of that coin, having considered the merit of self-determination and the associated nationalist movements of Scotland and Wales. Why should English nationalism be considered the “most dangerous of all forms…that can arise within the [UK]?” I would venture to state that it is because the English are, in fact, at the helm of the UK government. English nationalism has traditionally been expressed in an ethnocentric manner, and itself is a major contributor to the desire for independence by the countries that comprise the rest of the UK.
Geography of Europe
The United Kingdom consist of the island of Great Britain which includes England, Scotland, and Wales along with the northern tip of Ireland. How this kingdom came to be is a tale told of bloodshed, conquest, royal lineage, and deal making. England conquered and later annexed Wales in the 16th century. In the 18th century Scotland and England entered into a political alliance and this began the Kingdom of Great Britian.
Though the political alliance between Scotland and England is hundreds of years old there are still people who believe Scotland should be independent. We see in the top left photo that this is evident with graffiti saying “Free Scotland.” Scotland has many reasons for wanting independence, one reason being parallel to the United States’ in the Revolutionary War. Scotland wants to be free to control themselves, levy its own taxes, and have an independent economy. The Scottish piece of the North Sea has a huge oil reserve and Scotland could capitalize on it if they didn’t need share it with the rest of the United Kingdom. There is also a huge debate over the Euro verses the pound with Scotland voting for the pound to be the currency of Scotland. In the photo below we see the Scottish flag verses the United Kingdom flag with a yes on the Scottish side and a no on the UK side. Yet another representation of the debate over Scottish freedom.
Ireland and the United Kingdom have a different story. Northern Ireland is part of the UK while the southern half remains the Republic of Ireland. This is due to the religious differences between the Catholics and Protestants. The bottom left picture is captioned “Ireland demands home rule” and this is because they would like an Irish government free of British men telling them what to do. Ireland wants to be self-governed by their own people.
The bottom right photo has to do with the Welsh country and government. Wales was conquered and annexed and to this day feel like a nation conquered and not equal with the English. However, the Welsh value the EU and would not agree with the United Kingdom leaving the EU. If the referendum were to pass and the UK separated from the EU it would be devastating to the Welsh because they benefit well through agricultural funds.
The final photo is one that talks of English nationalism. The quote states how English nationalism would be dangerous to arise in the United Kingdom. My best reasoning for this quote is that English nationalism would only further the separation felt between the countries of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. They already struggle with issues of freedom and home rule and then the most recent issue being the idea of referendum from the EU. The United Kingdom will be facing a lot of change in the coming years and a once united Kingdom could fall leaving them divided and weak. The division from the EU would only add to the pressure of unity between countries who already struggle to hold together.
“What’s Going on in Scotland?” BBC News. BBC, 9 Sept. 2014. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.
“The EU Is Essential to the Future Success of Wales and the UK” â Jane Hutt.” Welsh Government. Welsh Government, 13 Mar. 2014. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.
September 19, 2014, around 3.5 million people voted on whether Scotland should be independent from the United Kingdom. According the Wall Street Journal forty five percent voted to leave and fifty five percent decided to stay in the United Kingdom. There were four larger cities that decided to leave the United Kingdom, these cities were the following: West Dunbartonshire, Dundee City, North Lanarkshire, and Glasgow. For the first time that the Scottish people were allowed to vote for independence, this was an incredible outcome. Almost half of the voting population wanted to leave and declare an independent Scotland. Although they did not leave, it is very likely that they will in the near future. In the meantime, England has a lot to do if they want to keep Whales and Northern Ireland from following Scotland. The rights and power needs to be looked at fairly critically and honestly if they are going to keep a “United Kingdom”.
While England has the largest population by far, the smaller three are still states that contribute to the economy and to the policies of the United Kingdom, yet, they have less of a voice in decision making. England used to colonialize lots of land all over the world, and although they don’t have any authority over most of these places anymore, it is almost as if Scotland, Whales and Northern Ireland are under colonialism in a post-colonial world. While England has made promises to Scotland if the population decided to stay, they have yet to fulfill these promises. While England is biding time on how to sell the idea to stay to the voters that voted to leave, they are driving these voters further and further away from working things through and desiring to maintain a status of unity with England.
From a different perspective, hopefully this will improve efforts towards Whales and Northern Ireland while England tries to persuade Scotland to stay. This may make a difference with these two smaller states in the amount of influence that they have in decision making in key decisions right now such as the United Kingdom staying in the European Union, military involvement, and immigration. Scotland and England especially are going to have to work together on their differences of opinion in immigration. These domestic and international interests are going to be key in making decisions in the next few years (until the next election) on whether Scotland decides to leave the United Kingdom or decides to stay.