Re: What’s in a name?
Bear in mind though that the situation in Scotland in 2014 and Ireland during the 1800s when the drive towards independence took off have almost nothing in common.
The Irish had lost any independence in 1801 and just 40 years later were facing a famine and mass emigration while Westminster largely just sat on its hands due to the prevailing laissez faire economic and political philosophies and also rigid notions of class and deserving vs undeserving poor. There was also quite open anti-Irish sentiment in the establishment.
The way Ireland was being run (by London) was causing serious economic hardship and social chaos. So naturally enough a lot of people became very angry about it and that's really where you see a build up of independence movements through the Victorian period cumulating in an armed uprising in 1916 and an actual war of independence.
That was followed by a brief but very nasty civil war in Ireland and then a lot of changes as the new state emerged. It wasn't just a referendum one day, a nice cup of tea, some biscuits and the Republic just happened.
Followed by very soured relations causing an economic war between Ireland and the UK over Ireland's refusal to repay 'land annuities' which were loans to farmers to purchase their lands from the British Aristocracy.
Britain imposed trade sanctions on the independent Ireland and the Irish stopped importing British coal and other goods in retaliation. The impact was that it sent the Irish economy into a total mess and drove even more animosity towards Britain as the Irish generally considered the land theirs and the annuities ridiculous.
That continued right up until the outbreak of WWII and the Irish economy was in total tatters.
You also had a situation during that period where because of poverty and lack of funds, the Catholic Church gained a much too powerful role in the running of public services like health, education and social welfare. That's where you started to see the very cold, deeply conservative Ireland of the 1930s to 1960s emerge.
I think to a degree that was almost like the country just went into a post traumatic mess for a long time. Huge emigration had left a lot of old and very conservative people running the place on a shoestring budget.
You see Ireland snapping out of that in the 1960s and especially the 70s. That was followed by fairly rapid social change through the 80s and extremely rapid change in the 90s and 00s where it becomes quite wealthy and liberal. Despite the banking and property bubble of recent years that's still where we are now.
Irish-British relations really only began to recover in the second half of the 20th century and are absolutely excellent these days.
I compare it to a very, very messy divorce. We have gone from a shot gun wedding, to domestic violence, to fighting over who owns the cutlery and the CD collection phase, to the 30 year huffing and referring to another in a string of expletives phase, to lawyering up and fighting over money etc etc.
What you have now is the children of that completely screwed up old divorced couple running the show in both countries and they're actually not remotely like their parents and actually get on very well.
The Republic of Ireland and the UK in 2014 really have very little in common with how they were in 1922 or 1940. They're both modern, generally liberal, socially progressive post WWII, Western European democracies.
While as and Irishman I can fully understand Scottish nationalism, I just think it's very hard to even make a vague comparison between the situation when Ireland left in 1921 and Scotland's situation in 2014.
However, I still think if they do leave the complications are being totally overplayed. This is a negotiated, calm departure not a revolution or violent departure which is what happened here.