Originally posted on September 19, 2014 at 12:30 PM
I should be remiss if I did not offer a few words regarding yesterday’s referendum on the issue of whether Scots should once more have their own nation. Sometime I;n the early ‘80s I heard the Late Jeannie Redpath perform on the NPR radio show Prairie Home Companion. I don’t recall what she sang but at one point she said of a particular piece “There are man Versions of this song. There are English and Irish and Scottish Versions. So now we’ll start right at the bottom with an English Version.” This occasioned from her Minnesotan audience a vast amount of clapping and cheering. “Oh,” Quoth Jeannie, “That’s wonderful! Would you like to come home with me and start the Third Jacobite Rising?”
What what we’ve been hearing about over the past few months, the Third Jacobite Rising with yesterday’s attendant failure? Not really. The term Jacobite refers to Jacobus, Latin for James, in this case James II of England and Scotland, one of the last Stewarts to rule. He was deposed in 1682 in favor of his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange and hence the Irish Orange and Green conflict. Jacobitism was not only a movement to restore Scottish rule Specifically Stewart rule, but also to restore Catholicism as the faith of the land in Britain.
When in 1707 England and Scotland formed a union, adopting The Union Jack as their common flag, it was done in royal and parliamentary circles with no reference to the peoples of the land Scots or English. A Jacobite rebellion ensued in 1714 and another in 1745, more royal manipulating to be sure but the outpouring of support they garnered from the common folk on both sides of these conflicts showed the strong feelings of the peoples affected by a system imposed from above.
To be fair, the rebellion of 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Collodon and all that was more of a civil war than a revolution. There were Scots standing with the British Army and obviously those ranged against them as well. We sometimes forget that what has been represented as a bid for independence was really an enterprise of Charles Edward Stewart (whose claims appear dubious and his character even more so) to rule both England and Scotland, I.E. to impose Scottish will on the neighbours to the South. (Sound familiar?)
No, yesterday’s referendum didn’t look anything like a Jacobite uprising, perhaps more like the old Confederacy of the American Southern States, a more idealistic movement and a conflict conducted mercifully without blood. It failed not because anyone defeated the dream on the battlefield or imposed the outcome from thrones in London and Edinburgh but rather, because Scots themselves agreed to disagree but to accept the will of the majority.
Though touted as a quite decisive victory for the “Nos” the margin of 10 Percent being given by the news pundits, the victory may not be as significant as first impressions might indicate. Firstly, when we’re told that a measure wins or loses by a margin of 10 percent, it’s not always clear what this means. Did 10 % more of the voters vote one way than did another, (55 to 45) or were there 10 % more folks voting one way than the other? (more like 52.4 to 47.62. Let’s be generous though and assume that 55 Scots voted for continued union with Britain against 45 voting for independence or secession. What does this actually look like? Shrunk down to ten people in a room we have 5 persons fully for Union, 4 persons for Independence and in between, one person unable to make his or her mind up which way to go. All’s needed is to change half a mind in order to declare a draw. Hopefully both English and Scots will bear this in mind because the matter appears closer to me than others may find it.
Though the referendum failed and I must say I am saddened by that; I am in another way cheered because for the first time in 307 years Scots have been given to choose for themselves what the nature of the country in which they will live shall be. They stay within the United Kingdom by their ayne sufferance, three hundred years from the Great Jacobite rising of 1714 and a decision made without fire or blood or steel. Scotland forever but also God bless Great Britain!