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Tue Jan 24, 2012, 06:51 AM


The Canadian man behind the Scottish independence movement


Scotland has announced that in 2014, it will hold a referendum to decide whether to quit the United Kingdom. It turns out the Scottish National Party’s chief of staff, a man dedicated to tearing the U.K. apart, isn’t Scottish at all, though. He’s Canadian—not even fully Scots-Canadian, but equal parts English, Polish and Scottish—and arrived in Scotland all of six years ago. At first, the Kincardine, Ont., native admits, he felt funny trying to make the case, but he’s grown comfortable in the role, leading the charge for a free and independent Scotland. And yes, he’s acquired a wee Scottish brogue.


Q: When did your political awakening to the national question occur?

A: I did a stint working in the European Parliament [in 2005], as a paid intern for one of Scotland’s members, Alyn Smith. I’d spent time in Scotland, then in Brussels, and I saw countries like Sweden, Estonia, Finland, countries that are actually quite close to Scotland—they’re smaller but have similar populations— and they were there negotiating and getting the best deal for their people. I thought, “Why is Scotland so uniquely incapable of doing that?” And I’d obviously spent enough time in Scotland at that point to feel a connection with it as well.

Q: Tell me about Scots’ new-found assertiveness, and desire for independence. Why now?

A: I think the Scottish people are on a journey, although it’s been quite a long one. With the advent of the Scottish parliament in 1996, for the first time considerable decision-making powers were transferred from London to Edinburgh. When people came to see that institution as doing things that made their lives better, they felt a reawakening of that identity; that gradual process culminated in a very historic election in 2011 [in which the SNP won its first majority over the traditionally dominant Scottish Labour Party].

Q: Why do you think regular Scots are joining your campaign?

A: A lot of the case for independence in Scotland is an economic one. It’s one of the head, and not necessarily the heart—it’s how will Scotland be better off? That’s the case that we’re taking to the Scottish people. [With independence], decision-making simply shifts from London to Edinburgh, and with that switch we’re better able to tailor our policies and create Scottish growth. So I think it’s very much an economic argument.


Q: But there are historical grievances, and some segments of Scotland do feel anger toward England, no?

A: I think, yes, Scotland joined in a political union with England 300 years ago. Are there people that focus on that? I suppose there are. But the SNP doesn’t. The SNP needs to make a modern case about independence and civic nationalism. I think Scottish nationalism is inclusive and open.

I’m a good example of that, I’m a Canadian working for them. Our leader at Westminster, Angus Robertson, MP, was born in England and is half German. We’ve got Scots-Asian members, support from immigrants in the EU, from new Scots. That sort of grievance of battles long past is something that, while it hasn’t faded totally from people’s memories, is not what they think about day to day.

Q: You talked about the idea of Scottish devolution, which began in 1997 when Scotland’s parliament was established and given limited powers to enact laws. The irony is devolution was supposed to have the opposite effect and discourage independence, was it not?

A: That’s correct. There’s an infamous quote from Lord George Robertson [who in 1995 was shadow secretary of state for Scotland]. He said devolution would “kill nationalism stone dead.” It very clearly hasn’t. The Scottish people accept the parliament, they are proud of it, but they want more.


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Reply The Canadian man behind the Scottish independence movement (Original post)
MichaelMcGuire Jan 2012 OP
JustAnotherGen Jan 2012 #1
DeathToTheOil Jan 2012 #2
MichaelMcGuire Jan 2012 #3

Response to MichaelMcGuire (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 07:24 AM

1. Thanks for sharing this

He lays it out clearly in this article.

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Response to MichaelMcGuire (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 07:29 AM

2. I hope he returns to Canada and does the same for us


Fuck the Royals!

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Response to DeathToTheOil (Reply #2)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 03:30 PM

3. That will need to be settled at possibly another time.


The vote in 2014 is on whether our nation becomes a proper nation state. With full powers returned and the normality of statehood which is the normal order of things. However the Queen is viewed as part of our shared history in these isles and part of the social union and hence will remain. Although there are no doubt republicans in the SNP but I'd bet the referendum on whether Scotland became a republic will come from elsewhere.... but you never know...

But in saying that I'd vote yes to that too.


The drive for independence is; of course economic but also political differences which is why the political union doesn't work.

Whereas the drive for a Scottish republic at the moment is purely view as just because its....

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