Monday, 18 May 2015

A Letter from Scotland to America.


Dear friends,

The United States is a nation of immigrants. Even the Native Americans originally came from Central Asia. But then if we go back far enough all of us are immigrants. In the UK even people who can trace their ancestry back centuries are descended from immigrants. Celts came from Central Europe. Anglo-Saxons and Jutes came from Germany and Denmark. Vikings came from other parts of Scandinavia.  Scots originally came from Ireland. We are all immigrants.

People in the United States frequently reflect on where their ancestors came from. Some people call themselves Italian Americans, others call themselves Irish or Swedish Americans. People maintain this identity even if their ancestors left these places a long time ago. It’s good to have roots and it’s perfectly possible to feel two things at once. Someone can feel, for example, both Scottish and American even if they’ve never been to Scotland. Why not take pride in a heritage? Why not celebrate where your ancestors came from?

The United States is defined by two great wars of independence. In the first you gained independence from Britain. When I read the history of the American war of independence, my heroes are the Americans. Thank goodness the Americans won, because they were able to set up the first real democracy. They were able to show that democracy is system of government that can work. They created a nation that welcomed people from all over the world. The world needed the United States in the 20th century. Thank goodness your ancestors won the war of independence that enabled that country to come into existence.

The other war of independence was the Civil War. It is perhaps a little controversial to describe it as such. But that if you think about is what the Confederacy wanted. They wanted to become independent from the United States. I don’t want to go into the rights and wrongs of that conflict too much.  But I can say that I’m mighty glad the United States was preserved as one country. It would have been a disaster if the Confederacy had won independence. The whole world throughout the period afterwards needed the United States to continue to exist. Let us be thankful that it did. I suspect even most people from southern states today are glad that the Confederacy lost. They may be proud of their ancestors, but few southerners today regret that they live in one country rather than in a country that was split.

Did the United States have the right to prevent the southern states from seceding? This was what the war was about. The South thought it had the right to leave. The North said it did not. The issue was decided by war. After that there was no question that a part of the United States could secede. This is the case with most countries in the world. No-one today thinks the Maryland could secede from the United States even, if for some strange reason, the majority in Maryland wished to do so. Likewise no-one thinks Bavaria could secede from Germany or Sicily could leave Italy. No-one likewise thinks that the island of Honshu in Japan could choose to leave Japan. But why not? The reason is that most countries are considered to be indivisible. This is after all what most children in America say about the United States. It is one nation and it is indivisible.

States in the United States used to think of themselves as semi-independent. The reason South Carolina seceded from the Union in 1861 was because it thought of itself as having the right to secede. People thought of the United States as a sort of loose federation of independent states with states’ rights.  The Civil War showed that this view was incorrect. The United States is one nation, it is not fifty.

Scotland was once independent, but then again so was each of the original 13 colonies as was Texas. The process of creating the United States was the process of states subsuming their independence into the Union. This too is what happened to Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. These places ceased to be independent when they became parts of the United Kingdom. We still describe them as countries or nations, but just as with the United States there is only one country. It is called the UK.
Last year we had a referendum on independence. This referendum was very unusual. Very few countries in the world would allow a part to have the chance to choose to leave. I very much doubt for instance that Texas would be allowed a vote on secession, because it wanted a Republican president rather than a Democratic one. Why would Texas not be allowed a referendum? The answer is that Texas is a part of one nation that is indivisible. It matters not at all that Texas was independent in 1845.

Scotland ceased to be independent in 1707. It wasn’t taken over by force and it isn’t a colony.  It has been an integral part of a single nation state for over 300 years. That state, the UK has done some great things. The world would be a very different place if the UK had not stood alone in 1940 against the Nazis.

Exceptionally Scotland was given a referendum on independence. Everybody living in Scotland was given the choice to decide this question once and for all. The result wasn’t close. The Scots who wanted Scotland to remain an integral part of the UK won the referendum by more than 10%.

Just as people in the United States can be both Italian and American, so we Scots can be both Scottish and British. There is no contradiction in this. We can love both Scotland and Britain, just as people in the United States can, for example, love both Maryland and the United States. Just as most people in the United States want their country to remain intact so most people in Scotland want our country the UK to remain intact.

It’s great that so many Scottish Americans remember where they come from. But it’s also worth remembering that most Scots voted last year to remain part of the country, the UK, that has a history stretching back more than 300 years. Of course some Scots disagree, but they lost. Some of them want to continue fighting this battle until they win. This seems to me to be like the Confederates continuing to fight after losing the Civil War. The Civil War decided whether a state had the right to secede. After that the United States was one nation and indivisible. The same can be said for the UK. We had a peaceful debate. But it decided the question. The people who are continuing the fight now are dividing Scotland in a way that is very painful for those of us living here. Please do not support them as you are supporting people who lost democratically but still won’t give up.

In the end it amounts to this. If you do not want your own country to break up, why would you want to break up mine? If an Italian American would neither want Italy nor the United States to break up why would he want to break up a country that has existed for longer than either Italy or the United States?  The United States and the UK have a history of friendship and helping each other. Please continue to support this friendship by supporting the majority view. The overwhelming majority of people in the UK want the UK to continue and so do most people in Scotland. If you consider yourself to be a Scottish American you should support us too. We need your support and would be very grateful indeed to receive it.

Best wishes,

Effie Deans



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38 comments:

  1. Effie:

    'Thank goodness the Americans won, because they were able to set up the first real democracy. They were able to show that democracy is system of government that can work. They created a nation that welcomed people from all over the world. '

    Well I'd disagree witb all that Effie. As Dr Johnson said at the time "How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?"

    Despite the modern myth that the so-called 'Declaration' of Arbrtoath influenced the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson didn't think much of the Scots, indeed had to be persuaded to take a derogatory reference to Scots out of his first DOI draft.

    The Ulster Scots were even less respected by the 'Founding Fathers' - Franklin called them 'white savages' but they were nonethless used as shock troops against the First Nations. One of the reasons for the slaveholder rebellion in the American colonies was so that the slaveholders could drive west against the Indians and steal their land.

    As Tom Devine has wittily pointed out, American attiutes to Scots only began to be change when a fresh group arrived to be despised, with the waves of Irish Catholic immigration.

    Re the Civil War the Confederates won the peace - they rolled back all the rights won by African- Americans and only began to lose ground in the 1950s

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    1. History, as much as anything else, is about disagreement. We may share the same view of what the facts were, but differ in interpretation. US democracy was of course flawed from the beginning when it excluded a whole group of human beings, but so did everywhere else in the world at that time. The democracy that was established after the US war of independence, had this flaw of exclusion, but once that was rectified it remained remarkably the same. This is quite an achievement for the 18th century. The UK did not have anything close to that level of democracy. Russia, France and other countries at that time were absolute regimes.

      I don’t agree the Confederates won the peace. Within a generation their cause was dead. No-one has seriously tried to break up the USA since the 1860s. It is true that the former slave holders retained much of their power even up until today, but that is really to argue that the Civil War was unnecessary. The same result could have been achieved from the southern perspective by accepting the end of slavery in 1861. Why fight if you can remain dominant anyway. Indeed even if the Confederacy had won slavery would soon have ended. So what was the war about?

      The equality of citizens in the US is evolving. It is not there yet. But every year the situation is improving. I believe the fact that the USA remained united after 1865 has helped this situation rather than hindered it. Civil rights would have been more difficult to find in a 1960s Confederacy. The USA despite flaws is a force for good. It is one of the freest and most prosperous countries in the world. It has faults like we all do, but the answer to these faults is for all of the citizens of the US to work together not to seek to secede from each other.

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    2. 70% of those on death row are black.....thats not evolution. You cannot equate the UK to the US. States get to set more than road signs or Drink Drive limits and they don't have all the tax take in the country pooled by the federal goivernment and then given pocket money back to the states.


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    3. Perhaps, the reason blacks are found more often on death row is because they commit murders more frequently than the USA's white population? There should be some concern about how the USA implements the ultimate punishment but that shouldn't detract from having the death penalty as a penal sanction.

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    4. I thought it was the SNP who were racist ......you seem to be rather going against the groupthink on here

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    5. I am not being 'racist' at all. I believe there is much to be desired about the way the USA uses the death penalty (for example, some of the methods they use ie lethal injection which frequently results in botched executions and also the length of time prisoners spend on death row) but the statistics show that more blacks are sentenced to death than whites. Surely, it can't all be explained by 'racism'?

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  2. Wellsaid, Effie. I think we need to have a written constitution like Spain's which codifies the "indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation, the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards; it recognizes and guarantees the right of self-government of the nationalities and regions of which it is composed and the solidarity of them all"


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Constitution_of_1978

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    1. Yes because the first thing right minded people do when faced with a democratic upswell for self determination is try to ban it with laws......

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    2. You had the debate, the people DID EXERCISE their right to self-determination and believe it or not the MAJORITY SAID NO TO SECESSION and that is the end of the matter. It REALLY IS ABOUT TIME secessionists like you got the message and if it takes laws and constitutions to do it then so be it. STOP being constantly divisive and trying to break-up a great country.


      Non-secessionists EVERYWHERE in this great country are sick and tired of the SNP constantly pushing the same old policy (the only distinct policy this cult has) They LOST and it is high time they accepted this fact.

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    3. Yes but we only need to win once.....you need to win everytime old boy. Don't let that keep you awake at night.

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    4. Though you haven't noticed it (since when did the quasi-fascist SNP party have any conception of democracy?) the people said a firm NO on September 18th 2014 and we WON. There WON'T be another referendum.

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    5. Maybe or maybe not but as I said I just need to win one....just the once

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    6. Yes, you do but there won't be another one as you had your choice in September last year to give your consent or not (something which is still denied to us by the way) to the Act/Treaty of Union of 1707 (albeit in a modified form) so you can't say your right of self-determination has been denied to you. It's time Scotland settled-down now and made the most of devolution WITHIN the United Kingdom.

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  3. Scotland is a country , it was a country before it entered the UK union and is still one. There is no constitution banning exit from a political agreement e.g EU or UK exit.

    How can you say that the world is better for a United states...Do they not now have military hegemony globally ? Do they not have one of the highest incarceration rates and capital punishment rates in the world. Do they not have one of the most unequal societies on earth where even healthcare is based on monetary worth.

    The first and only nation to drop atomic bomb and one which has sought to influence the politics of dozens of countries globally either by force or by undermining via political or economic means.

    There are certainly some good things about Amercia but there is much they could improve and they have not greatly benefitted by their size.....There are also plenty of dark spots that may not have been should they not have quite the power they now have militarily. e.g arming of Taliban, Chilean coup over democratic government, Vietnam, anywhere in the middle east, their own backyard regarding native Americans.

    Almost continuous military presence in Europe and Asia since 1940's..... I'm not breaking up a country, I'm looking to end a political union.

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    1. yes there is, its called The Act Of Union, article 1: "That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England shall upon the first day of May next ensuing the date hereof and forever after be United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain And that the Ensigns Armorial of the said United Kingdom be such as Her Majesty shall appoint and the Crosses of St Andrew and St George be conjoined in such manner as Her Majesty shall think fit and used in all Flags Banners Standards and Ensigns both at Sea and Land "

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    2. Exactly. It is there in black and white in the Act/Treaty of Union. That document is the founding document of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the people of Scotland gave their democratic consent to it on September 18th 2014. That is the sovereign will of the Scottish people and it is about time the so-called Scottish 'Nationalist' Party accepted the Scottish people's sovereign will!

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    3. You are seeking to end a country. Britain IS a sovereign state and a country according to the UN, wikipedia, World Heath Organisation, the EU ect.

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    4. So what if the USA executes people occasionally! They don't do it very often (even Texas has quite a low execution rate nowdays) compared to countries like Singapore with its death penalty being used frequently and its enviable low crime rates. Personally, I am not going to be condemnatory towards the USA because it takes a tough line on evil murderers. I only wish our country did the same. I will though advise the USA that they should change their method of executing murderers from the messy and frequently botched way of lethal injections to the way we gave them ie hanging (its the most humane method)

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    5. Yes again I'm sure the Irish might disagree with you given how many of their folk were incorrectly locked up for murder and terrorcharges...

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    6. Barry you seem to be going in Circles....there can be no limit to the number of times we look at the constitutional situation. We also may choose not to look at it again. This will be deemed by the path of politics which will in turn be influenced by the mood of the people.

      I'll humour you on the end of a country nonsense...If by you and Effie's logic its OK to end Scotland in 1707 then why can the UK not be ended now....

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    7. Because the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the present country. Scotland and England don't exist as real (ie sovereign state) countries now. That was precisely the intent of the Act/Treaty of Union. I know the SNP are slow on these matters but surely even they have noticed this by now?

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    8. There was a referendum on September 18th 2014 and it resulted in a No vote. There won't be another referendum to go over the same tired old ground for at least another thirty odd years by which time the SNP are going to have to come-up with some decent economic arguments seeing as the oil will have evaporated by then and they can't take whatever oil is found in the Falklands with them.

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    9. Feel free to answer my question ? Why can we undemocratically end one country 300 years ago and not do it again.....its your argument.

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    10. How many centuries do you wish to go back? The Kingdom of Essex was once a country and so was the Kingdom of Strathclyde but I don't see people campaigning for independence for these areas of the UK. Anyway, the continuence of the present country of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and NI has been ENDORSED by the majority in September 2014.

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    11. Hey Barry its your argument that you are pulling apart. As I asked and you seem unable to answer. Why is it OK to extinguish Scotland and England and then not extinguish the UK........Clearly its a very selective logic on your behalf.

      Sooner we're away from you lot the better.

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    12. I've already said ie because Britain is the present country and only fools would intentionally destroy and create international state frontiers within a 300 year plus country. I am glad you have admitted in your final remark what the REAL basis of your campaign for separatism IS ALL ABOUT ie a ETHNIC HATRED for the English.


      At least, you unlike the vast majority of your fellow separatists are good enough to admit to it. You're scum.

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  4. That will be a surprise to the Irish.......

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    1. It was not a surprise to the Scottish Parliament when they sought permission to hold a referendum! What's all this country nonsense anyway as in 1707 Scotland was a Kingdom along with most of the world?

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    2. The lost of their identity and country will be a surprise to the English who seem to have also been extingished by your constitutional logic.....Not sure they will best pleased.

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    3. No, most of us accepted and still do that the Act of Union was designed to a be a permanent arrangement. It's time the SNP did so as well.

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    4. Yes, I suppose the Irish and all the huge trouble that has happened on that island since 1921 is some sort of 'model' to the SNP. Most people though are still relatively sane and think the example of Ireland is EXACTLY not the right course of action for anyone else in the world.

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    5. My goodness Barry, up till now you have had a dig at the Irish and Blacks....are you from the past ?

      Get a bit of perspective then come back.

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    6. I haven't had any dig at either the Irish or any blacks from the USA or elsewhere. As for being allegedly in the past, it is not I that wish to break-up a 300 plus year old country that is you and the SNP cult. I would suggest it is the SNP and its cultish followers who wish to turn the clock back to 1707 not I.

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  5. Permanent and undemocratic...... Not an argument often used these days. If it's accepted as permanent then why was a referendum allowed.....that seems to be where your argument dries up. The facts say the opposite of your rhetoric. But keep stamping the feet.

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    1. You were entitled to have one referendum because that was the first time you would have had the chance to agree or not with the Act/Treaty of Union. In 1707 you didn't have that opportunity (neither did we) Now the vote is in and it was a Yes to the continuence (in a modified form) of that act so we can now move to a federal constitution like Spain's.

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  6. Where is it written or was it discussed its a one off deal, that's democracy for you....I suspect your desire is down to your nervousness about losing the next one.......

    Ohhh you are just entitled to one vote for all time....You could not make nonsense like that up, well you clearly could but most folk I suspect would not have the brass neck.

    its utter nonsense. If your union is so good it needs to stand up to scrutiny. I suspect that its that fact that worries you the most. The day when its decided there is no economic reason to have high speed trains reach Scotland.... Its a joke and whats sad is that suckers are lapping this nonsense up.

    The union is a one way street and it all leads to London. Time to be well rid of this nonsense.

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    1. It DOES stand up to scrutiny but you can't reason with zombies who take no account of the facts, can you? And yes, that is exactly what this vile CULT of the SNP is. The SNP is a religious CULT where ANY facts in support of the United Kingdom are not understood or even taken as being remotely credible because EVERY fact is some sort of 'conspiracy' to this loony mob.


      You last sentence just proves my point entirely.

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    2. Wow, quite a rant there Barry lad....You are the one quoting zombies and cults,,,,And its the nationalists who are the loonies.....

      What facts have I denied ? I see you throwing plenty of 'concepts' out there around one time only referendum, creating laws to block democratic dissolution of UK . Both concepts that I have not even seen on the Daily Mail...

      Just calm down a bit and realise you are not running things,

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