Why I support Scottish independence

Scots protest against a bedroom tax imposed on them by London. 

Brian McNeil

As I left Palestine to study in Scotland, I felt that I had left one of the most politically interesting regions in the world to arrive at yet another. In less than 18 months, people in Scotland will be heading to polling stations to decide on the future of their country — whether to stay in the union or become an independent entity that determines the future of its own people.

When I arrived here I had a shallow idea of what the question of Scottish independence meant for the people of Scotland, but today I find myself in a position fully supporting the notion of Scotland becoming an independent nation. Scotland has been a place that I’ve been quite fond of for a while before I even arrived: it is one of the most beautiful and scenic countries in the whole Northern Hemisphere. A personal favorite is when the Israeli ambassador to the UK and other Israeli diplomats describe Scotland as “enemy territory” — that is due to great efforts by groups like the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Scottish Jews For a Just Peace, the We Are All Hannah Shalabi student network, and many others who refuse to be silent and brand injustice as normal.

Being too fond of Scotland is not the reason that makes me support independence. It is a reason that makes me care more for Scotland and strive for what people here see as bringing a better future for their country. It is important to highlight, as well, that support for independence here doesn’t stem at all from an ethno-centric form of isolationist nationalism. It has nothing to do with a Braveheart- themed nationalism. Rather, is a form of social contemporary nationalism which spurs from a desire to create a fairer country that embraces everyone, and looks towards the world as a partner in this already globalized world.

When I first shared my views on Scottish independence with my dad, he asked “Why are you not pro-unity? Isn’t there strength in unity?” This sentiment is what I’ve heard from many who see weakness in an independent Scottish state. But this is not what independence is about. An independent Scotland is an idea that offers a real hope for a better future for Scotland; a smaller country that cares for its people, as well as being a better citizen of the world.


Today, the Scottish voice is often marginalized by a centralized government based in London. Scotland has laws and welfare reforms being imposed upon it from Westminster: an example is the bedroom tax being imposed upon Scotland, even though 91 percent of Scottish members of Parliament opposed it.

For 35 years of the past 50 years, the Scots have had a Conservative government, even though they haven’t voted for it. An independent Scotland would have a fairer representation of people, and it would give the Scottish a voice to determine their own policies on the domestic and international arena.

On a global scale, I tend to see Scottish independence as a positive force affecting the whole world. We can’t strictly say that Scottish independence is a continuation of the twentieth century fight against Western imperialism, as Scotland historically has been a major benefiting partner in the British Empire. But we can say that Scottish independence would provide a window to counter forms of neo-imperialism and give Scotland a chance to become a positive citizen of the world.

Independence would provide Scots with a chance to make their government’s foreign policy live up to what they want and see as acceptable, rather than being dragged around by a Westminster-dictated foreign policy which has largely been influenced by the US and is deemed unacceptable by most Scots.

Even though the current Scottish Government has been able to slightly lighten the damage Westminster governments have had on Scotland, an independent Scotland would mean that a better future for everyone living in Scotland is possible.

Independence would mean better representation. It would mean giving the people a voice and the ability to act on the international field as they deem acceptable. People in Scotland don’t deserve to suffer the damage inflicted by a government they didn’t choose.

A longer version of this article was published on the National Collective website.




Whatever makes you think that an independant Scotland will be more able to resist being influenced by English or American or EU foreign policies?


personally i feel that we have too many nations as it is and should be working to erase all illusory boundaries until we have one global border-less boundless human society and the concept of 'nations' is retired to the history books...


An independent Scotland would be less likely to follow US imperialism than the UK does. It's a fact based on the historic trend. Scotland is ruled by a party that opposed the war against Iraq and is against nuclear weapons. Scotland has a more left-of-centre political culture than England or the UK. It's not that people in Scotland are inherently more progressive, but that the political landscape and alignment of parties is.


Nations should not be written off. In the globalised world the nation can provide a vehicle for collective and progressive politics. Apart from that, unity between nations is a must. But it should be unity based on mutual co-operation like in Latin America. UK unity is not based on equality. Scotland has to do largely what the UK (or England) says. An independent Scotland could have an equal relationship with the remainder of the UK and with the Irish Republic. A nation-less world would be a gift to neoliberalism and imperialism. The idea of everyone transcending nationality is utopian in my opinion. Liberation nationalism is an attractive concept and can serve as an extra layer of strength on top of class-based politics.


This article made me smile for so many reasons. I am also am immigrant who feels that no country has justification for governing another. I've been involved in the independence movement for many years now. And to go from the point of pushing for even a consideration of a referendum, to actually having a date for the vote, has been a long, but satisfying road. Best wishes to Jalal on his studies. Dundee is a fine university, and the politics department is excellent.


Rather ironically, I think the present relationship between Scotland and England could be a good model for the future relationship between Israel and Palestine. Scotland and England are two distinct nations with their own characters, but living as neighbors with a defined but open border between them, and united to form a single nation-state, the United Kingdom (with apologies the the Welsh and Northern Irish). Most outsiders do not realize how different the two nations are: Scotland has a different legal system from England, a different educational system, and a different established religion. Scotland and England have their own national cultural institutions, and their own national sports teams playing in international competitions. Since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, Scotland has been largely autonomous in its internal affairs. (England does not have its own parliament, so the UK Parliament in Westminster has to double-up as the English parliament as well. This results in Scottish MPs in Westminster having a vote in English internal affairs, but English MPs have no vote on Scottish internal affairs. I do not suggest this anomaly be repeated elsewhere.)

It seems to me that such an arrangement, two self-governing nations united to form one nation state, is the only way in which Israel and Palestine could possibly coexist peacefully. See religion-science-peace.org/?p=278 for more on this.

Jalal Abukhater

Jalal Abukhater's picture

Jalal Abukhater is a Jerusalemite, he is a graduate MA(hons) International Relations and Politics from the University of Dundee, Scotland.