The underlying basis of the “Yes Scotland” campaign, arguably, is the notion that Scotland should become a country independent from England (ahem, the “Continuing UK”) because it is fundamentally more “left-wing”. Prime evidence for this is the old line that there are more pandas in Scotland than Conservative MPs.
In fact, however, there is little real evidence for this. By “England”, too often there is the lazy assumption that this means the Home Counties. However, this should be put the other way around: does, say, Liverpool have significantly more in common with the Home Counties than Glasgow has? Put that way around, it seems ludicrous that post-industrial heavily Irish-influenced Liverpool could soon be in a different country from Glasgow but the same one as Oxford or Haywards Heath.
Even historically, there appear few grounds for this contention. Is Scotland more progressive? The only part of Great Britain which refuses to count votes on a Sunday is in Scotland, not England. Is Scotland less capitalist than England? Where was Adam Smith from again?! It is true that there was never a truly Conservative (as opposed to right-leaning Liberal or Unionist) tradition in Scotland, but neither was there in parts of England and, in any case, Conservatism is not the only (or even predominant) centre-right political philosophy. A century ago Scots accounted for a twelfth of the UK population yet a third of all British Imperial Governors and Governors General – hardly renowned for their left-wing sympathies!
Even in terms of contemporary social make-up, if anything it is England which looks more progressive. 13% of England’s population is non-white compared to 4% of Scotland’s – where, therefore, are the more progressive and liberal attitudes to immigration based on those numbers?
This is devil’s advocate stuff of course – there is of course competing evidence which does suggest Scots are broadly marginally to the “left” of the English. However, perhaps the main argument for suggesting Scots are just as individualistic, selfish and, well, right-wing as the English is the fact that this referendum is happening at all. After all, Scotland gained hugely from the UK at its height – as its living standards grew to match England’s and its people gained unimaginable influence over world affairs through their hugely disproportionate role in the military, administrative, political, industrial and economic affairs of the Empire. Yet as soon as the decline set in, far from working together with their compatriots in Liverpool, Newcastle or Sheffield to overcome the blight of deindustrialisation, many Scots seem content to take their oil money and run. Where’s the social conscience in that?!