WB Yeats described this kind of freedom very well in the early years of the Irish Free State in the mid-1920s. He and his artistic collaborators were under attack for daring to put on stage ugly images of an Irish reality. Yeats drew attention to a crucial distinction between national pride and national vanity: “The moment a nation reaches intellectual maturity, it becomes exceedingly proud and ceases to be vain and when it becomes exceedingly proud it does not disguise its faults.”
But national freedom isn’t meaningless either. Room to manoeuvre can be expanded. Democratic spaces can be opened up. The terms of the struggle between public and private interests can be renegotiated. Citizens can become more confident of their power to insist on decency and dignity. A place can be defined as a society and a culture as well as an economy. And the greater the constraints, the more naked the power of unaccountable elites, the more vital it is that whatever collective freedom remains is grasped.
In more recent times, this archaic sense of a unique destiny was replaced with another set of equally delusional exaggerations: Ireland as the richest, most successful, most globalised economy in the world, where banks would grow forever and property bubbles would inflate to infinity. These delusions can be seen as compensation for centuries of repression, but they have made it hard for Ireland to deal with its own, humdrum, nonexceptional realities in everything from poverty and mass emigration to the victimisation of children and women.
It is much easier to send an external government packing than it is to cut yourself off from the cosy and comforting self-image that dependent cultures create for themselves. But when you’re on your own, those self-images cease to be warm and fuzzy and turn toxic. This is largely what happened to Ireland. It gradually disengaged from London rule. But it has struggled to disengage from the exaggerated notions of Irish specialness that were built up through that conflict.
You Scotts take all England's money and dish it out in benefits... Maybe England would be better off with out you! I wonder if once they become independent, if after a few years they'll realize that snuggling in the bosom of England wasn't so bad after all. Although independence is fun and life changing its always easier to live at home with mum who does all the washing and cooking. Scotland will be as broke as Spain (and England) if they venture out on their own. Good luck and good riddance.
Happy to have Trident back, thanks. Re-target on Edinburgh, Glasgow etc. Do you really think the "British" are any better or different to the Yugoslavs? Looking forward to a violent, bloody and vicious war. Than a closed border, forcible repatriation of ethnic Scots, cessation of trade and commerce. And veto Scotlands attempt to get back into the EU.
Scotland is an idea, like America is. Having a political center will be unpopular, as much as the last time when the Lords had to sneak into the hall to sign documents in the middle of the night to become part of London and company. However small local governments are more accountable to their people and more inclined to do what they say.
After decades of ups and downs, the nationalists won their first election in 2007, forming a minority government, before becoming the first party to win an overall majority at Holyrood in the 2011 poll - securing a mandate for an independence referendum.
The SNP previously said people could be asked to vote "Yes I agree" or "No I disagree" to the statement: "The Scottish Parliament should negotiate a new settlement with the British government, based on the proposals set out in the white paper, so that Scotland becomes a sovereign and independent state."
There are many other factors which could affect support for independence - the state of the economy for one thing, and of course every politician's worst nightmare - unforeseen events, or "unknown unknowns", as former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld once put it.
Prof Curtice adds: "The SNP undoubtedly has succeeded in providing Scotland with what people regard as effective government - but there isn't any clear evidence of any long-term increase in support for independence since 2007."
A “Scottish Defence Force” would be formed. Experts suggest that this slimmed down force would consist of a standing army of up to 12,500 and between 20 and 25 ships. Close alliances would be forged with Scandinavian countries. An independent Scotland would not have nuclear weapons and would kick out the UK’s Trident submarines. Doubts remain over whether UK armed forces personnel will be able to “switch allegiances”. Defence secretary Philip Hammond has called the idea of Scots units breaking away “laughable”.
The SNP wants Scotland to remain in the EU after any independence vote. However, EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso has cast doubt on any hopes of a smooth transition, pointing out that a new state would have to apply for membership and be approved by other members.
Home Secretary Theresa May has said that border checks may be necessary between the UK and an independent Scotland. However, the SNP is intent for an independent Scotland to join the EU, so the Schengen Agreement would guarantee free cross-border movement. Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said there will be Scottish passports.
Scotland would retain its national flag, but questions have been raised over the future of the Union flag, which incorporates the Saltire. The SNP have said it is a matter for the UK what happens to the flag, but there are no current plans for a new design.
In a separate development, one of the most senior authorities on EU law has undermined the SNP's case for continuing to charge English students tuition fees for Scottish universities after independence.
Sir David Edward, a former judge at the European Court of Justice, said the policy outlined in the Scottish Government's White Paper would be "incompatible with EU law and could not survive challenge in the Court of Justice".