Published in August 2013 issue of Prospect Magazine
Should Scotland break away from the rest of the UK? As Andrew Marr makes clear, the decision turns in the end on feelings about nationhood, not economics, and the result could be closer than the polls now suggest. If the sense of the value of independence makes enough difference to daily life, he argues, then those living north of the border will vote “yes” in next year’s referendum—and in those circumstances, they should.
There aren’t many exports from Kurdistan to Scotland. But lessons in the politics of independence might be one of them (p44). The age-old movement for a separate Kurdish state looks as if it might finally have traction, with the Kurdish-run northern provinces of Iraq, increasingly separate from the Arab provinces to their south, becoming a focus not just for Iraq’s 5 million Kurds but five times that number across the region. The lesson is to make autonomy a reality, striking new alliances before making the final dash for formal sovereignty—if, indeed, that is still attractive.
But sovereignty, for a small country at least, and even for bigger ones, means accepting the reality of a web of ties to others. Brendan Simms, is entirely plausible in arguing that the eurozone has not yet emerged from crisis (with which Vicky Pryce agrees) although his solution, of something resembling a United States of the Eurozone, is less so. One theme running through this issue of Prospect is the recent abrupt change in many countries’ relations with each other, whether triggered by financial crisis or upheaval in the Middle East. Christian Cary argues that a single year, 1979, was itself a watershed, a reaction against postwar arrangements, and the birth of today’s politics.