Monday, September 8, 2014

Scotland to Vote Yes on Independence, Against Culture of Corruption

Based on the latest poll, Scotland voters appear ready to vote Yes on next week’s secession question. The Yes movement, as of last weekend anyway, is not the naive nationalism that was feared at the start of the year, nor is it based on any hope of economic improvement. Instead, the main emotion right now seems to be a gut-level revulsion at the culture of corruption in London. Scots have some reason to hope they can escape the weight of this corruption by having their own government not so closely tied to London.

When you look at it, this is a problem that affects everyone in the United Kingdom. The whole country subsidizes the excesses of London in various ways, and the political establishment sees protecting this pattern as its main continuing goal. Right now, London is preparing a proposal of a sort of limited constitutional convention for Scotland. Politically, you can think of the convention as a booby prize that Scotland will get for voting No on secession. It is a weak gesture and will likely lend more momentum to the Yes movement. The limited convention seems to frame the ballot question as a question of real reform versus token reform. Even those who are not sure they support reform may vote for the real over the phony.

Instead, the major parties and Parliament may want to consider having a real constitutional convention, one given the power to overturn some of London’s corrupt institutions. For the power brokers in London, that would probably be too big a risk to take. Yet institutions that cling to power generation after generation are hardly consistent with the tradition of democracy that U.K. voters are so proud of. Eventually something will have to give, and a Yes vote in Scotland may be just the first step in an overdue correction in British politics.