Anytime anyone tries to argue the case for Scotland staying inside the United Kingdom, nationalists tell us to stop being so negative, as if only their view of the constitutional arrangement is positive. But when you think about it, the very idea of the Union is intrinsically positive.
When Scotland finally joined England in creating the United Kingdom in 1707, it brought to an end over 1,500 years of battles between those living in what is now called Scotland and what is now called England, barring a few wee skirmishes. Such a triumph, carried out neither by colonisation, nor by conquest is virtually unique in the world today – and certainly was in the early 18th century. The ending of years of warfare, of terrible consequence to both the people of Scotland and northern England is surely the most positive benefit to have come from the Union that one could imagine?
And although such fighting would be unimaginable today, even if Scotland were to become independent, there have been as a consequence of the mutual coming together of the two nations, a much better nation as a result – certainly more productive than either could have been on its own. In the fields of science, industry, engineering, and medicine, Scots have worked alongside colleagues from elsewhere on these islands to improve the life and welfare of everyone. This collaboration, unthinkable between any two countries anywhere else in the world until recently have brought to life almost everything in our modern world, right back to the industrial revolution itself.
The firm of Boulton and Watt, now commemorated on the £50 Bank of England note, symbolised the power that the Union between England and Scotland could achieve. Neither was able to succeed on their own, but after forming their partnership created many of the foundations for the entire industrial revolution, from railway locomotives through to steam powered ocean going liners. Mining become much easier – and more economical – while transport was faster and cheaper too.
The very idea of uniting together, working together – even fighting together, for shared values and beliefs is a most positive thing. It’s something we as socialists encourage everywhere else and actually breaking up the most successful partnership in the history of the world is actually the negative campaign.