Parlor Games: Why no talk of “two Scotlands” despite their sectarian divide?

What makes it legitimate for the Scottish people, composed as they are of Scottish Unionists and Nationalists (and, if you insist, “Others”), to vote on independence as one national group?

I’ve never subscribed to the “two Irelands” or “two nations” theory in Irish politics but Scottish Nationalists be forewarned, it could be coming your way soon.

It boils down to this: Though Ireland voted for independence in the 1918 General Election (Sinn Fein winning a massive 73 of the 105 seats) this vote was not a true expression of national rights (and was therefore lacked legitimacy) because Irish Unionists constituted a distinct “national group” with their own “national rights” – including the right to secede from the majority of the country’s expressed desire for independence form Britain and self-government.

I’ve generally boxed this “Two Nations” theory as a less than coherent attempt to (i) delegitimize the integrity of the Irish Republican vision (in the broadest United Irishman sense) while (ii) retroactively legitimizing the efforts – many foul – of the Protestant Ascendency of Grattan’s era and later, of Protestant Unionists in the post-1801 years, to refuse to live on the island as equals.*

(Sidetrack alert: Of course I accept that living as “equals” in a “democratic” Ireland dominated by Catholicism and riddled with sectarianism would have meant precious little actual equality for the minority of non-Catholics. But that’s a separate point for a separate thread and one that makes it too easy to airbrush over many of the nefarious and nakedly self-serving motives of Ireland’s and later Northern Ireland’s governing class.)

So, I ask you Two Nation theorists, why doesn’t your theory apply to Scotland?

Or does it and in the event of the SNP winning the independence vote, might it once again?

*In fairness to Two Nation theorists and Unionists generally, the Two Nations theory has also been advocated explicitly by Nationalist bigots like Sinn Fein’s Arthur Edward Clery (1879–1932), and implicitly, to this very day, by a Dublin Administration too complacent with narrow and exclusive expressions of “Irishness” as all Green and little Orange.

Strategic Communications Consultant, located Washington DC

donate to keep slugger lit