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The Genie is Back in the Bottle – but Pandora’s Box is Open: Scotland and Progress

by Andrew White  |  September 19, 2014  |  3 Comments

I stayed up last night until around 12.30am local time, around 5.30am Greenwich Mean Time/UK.  I had to watch one of the most important votes of my lifetime; at least that is how I see it.  The UK, the sixth largest economy in the world, a key ally of the US, permanent member of the Security Council, and doorstep to Europe, perhaps one of the stronger speakers and ambassadors for freedom of the individual, civil law, property rights, and the great British banger.  Scotland was, and is, part of the UK.  After all is said and done, just over 55% of the votes went with “no” to exit the Union.  Weather they wanted it or not, the result will still mean more devolution for Scotland – even the 55% that said they wanted to stay in the UK.  More devolution will likely follow for other parts of the UK also.

It was almost unthinkable that Scotland would even have considered such a vote.  Breaking up the UK would have triggered, or been a catalyst, for so many bad things for the West: The West needs to be strong, united, and organized as the enemies are legion and dynamic.  Some of the possible genies that would have followed an exit of Scotland from the UK could have been:


  • A punch in the arm for other, near-organized cessation opportunities including Spain (Catalonia), Russia/Ukraine, Canada (Quebec), even talk in the US (Texas is never far removed).  If it really was unthinkable in the UK, it is just as unthinkable in Texas
  • UK political scenery.  The Labour party would have lost a notable power base it needs in order to regain power in Westminster, and the UKIP v Conservative argument would have destroyed any chance for a rational, if establishment-oriented response.  The Conservatives would likely have won the next election but in a more fractious environment, even though it would then oversee a national vote that would have removed the remaining UK from Europe; just as Scotland votes to get into the Euro.
  • The remaining Commonwealth would have been undermined.  The reaming UK would have been less interested, and less able, to keep supporting the resulting group of nations that feel there is value in connecting with the old British Empire grandparent.  As the Commonwealth continued to erode, nations around the globe, many small, would have less support from a large, significant ally.
  • European security.  The UK was never, as a whole, a central European federalist.  The role the country plays is a free market counter-weight to that movement – even if that role is currently under scrutiny and has its own vote ahead after the next general election.  A “yes” vote would very likely have hastened the UK’s withdrawal from Europe; put at risk its membership of the Security Council and contributions to NATO.  With that, French federalists would be left to fight it out with Germany and Europe would have little choice but opt for a 2 speed Europe.  This would hasten the pressure on the Euro and the demise of the European project at the fringe of Europe.
  • The US and its relations with Europe would have changed.  The US’s closes moral ally would have been downsized, and though the rhetoric would have implied little change, the reality is that the UK’s ability to hold up its end of the bargain, with US and NATO, as well as operating as a global voice of reason, would have been diminished.

These genies have been put back into the bottle.  Of course it is not all a bed of roses, nor should we have thought it would be – life itself isn’t like that.  But the voice of reason has won through – finally – in a rare victory.  The UK still has to vote on European membership in a year or so; France and the Federalists still have to managed and constrained; work with the US and NATO can continue reliably..

But when you hear Scottish folk blame their lot on the politicians in Westminster (as you did last night on TV), you have to wonder where they get their ideas from.  Barmy politicians, with too much time on their hands, wove a clever, dangerous message.  The WORLD is struggling to cope with our situation – it has little to do with one government.  That is not to say that Westminster is without blame; and does not let them off the hook after not listening to their citizens from north of the border.  But deindustrialization is a fact of life.  Austerity is something we have to get used too.  Getting on your bike is a good strategy.  Life is tough.  Let’s get on with it.

The real value of the vote however is that all I just noted above is moot.  As the genie is pushed back into the bottle, Pandora’s Box is actually now open.  More powers will be given to the Scottish parliament.  As this goes, so Wales, Northern Island and England will follow.  The UK’s constitutional monarchy will change.  How this will change I don’t know – nor do many others though there are a lot of ideas now spinning around in the UK.  But change there is a coming – that is for sure.  At least these changes will now be explored within and under the auspices of one UK.  I just hope the politicians actually work together.  I am not so sure.  If you watched C-SPAN last night and saw how the various members from the different parties “argued” over each other, one wonders how can they come together.  Some of the weirdo’s even claimed the other were racist – on live TV.

In a rare opportunity the rational outcome was realized.  Let’s see how long it survives

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Category: commonwealth  european-union  nato  reason  scotland  uk  

Andrew White
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
22 years IT industry

Andrew White is a Distinguished Analyst and VP. His roles include Chief of Research and Content Lead for Data and Analytics. His main research focus is data and analytics strategy, platforms, and governance. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on The Genie is Back in the Bottle – but Pandora’s Box is Open: Scotland and Progress

  1. Steven Briggs says:

    “It was almost unthinkable that Scotland would even have considered such a vote. ” … Why?

    There have been a lot of voices calling for independence for a long time, in 1979 there was a referendum for devolution but even though the vote was yes, low voter turnout meant it was repealed.

    Your points above are not moot because of the no vote, they are moot because they are irrelevant to the purpose of the referendum question and because you don’t possess a crystal ball.

    A “Yes” vote was not a vote for the SNP or any of its policies, such as Trident. If there was a yes vote then everything including your points would have been on the table for the people of Scotland to decide for themselves.

    The point of the referendum was simple, it was about giving the Scottish people the Political power to determine their own fate and not Westminster.

    “But when you hear Scottish folk blame their lot on the politicians in Westminster (as you did last night on TV), you have to wonder where they get their ideas from.”

    Let me think…., we get it from the fact that the vast majority in Scotland voted labour because the conservatives wanted to introduce the Poll Tax only in Scotland, but the conservatives still won the UK general election and gave it to Scotland and only Scotland anyway. Despite 2 years of peaceful protest and campaigning against it (And all we got out of it was Tommy Sheridan). One year later it is introduced to England and Wales, within weeks there are riots in London, only then does Westminster decides to scrap it.

    If you have a vote but no political power then you have no voice.

    If the government doesn’t deliver before the next general election then we will have to do it again and people won’t be fooled even after a generation.

    “I just hope the politicians actually work together. I am not so sure. If you watched C-SPAN last night and saw how the various members from the different parties “argued” over each”

    That’s what they do, that’s what they are meant to do, that’s all they do… that’s what they get paid to do.

    “In a rare opportunity the rational outcome was realized. Let’s see how long it survives”

    If the people of a country turn out and cast their vote, the outcome can never be anything but rational, just because you don’t like the answer doesn’t mean it’s irriational.

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