Freddy Gray has written a thoughtful review of the Scottish independence debate. He concludes:
Yet proper conservatives cannot wish to see 300 years of heritage thrown away, and Cameron wants to avoid going down in the history books as the prime minister on whose watch the union came to an end. Most of the English people, no matter what their political views, retain an affection for the Scottish—even if, across the border, the sentiment is not returned. Many of us (me, for instance) have Scottish ancestry. We may not be entirely comfortable with our shared and mixed identities, but that doesn’t mean we’d have it any other way. Not everything is politics, even for politicians.
I take his point, but I think this is where the unionist case is much weaker than its supporters realize. Even in much more contentious and violent political separations than this one, the shared cultural heritage between two peoples usually isn’t and can’t be “thrown away.” Despite changes in governments and borders, cultural ties persist and can even thrive across official boundaries, and the boundaries between an independent Scotland and the rest of the U.K. would almost certainly be more porous than most. America’s separation from Britain certainly represented a very sharp and permanent break with the government in London, but it didn’t mark the end of commerce with Britain or a breakdown of social and cultural relations. The other parts of the U.K. may not want Scotland to separate from the union, but Scotland won’t and in many respects can’t give up the economic and cultural ties that still exist. Gray notes that there is no love lost for the English in Scotland, but it is conceivable that this attitude could gradually change for the better when London has no authority over Scotland. I suspect that both nationalists and unionists need to overstate the significance of independence for their own reasons, but if it does happen it would probably not be nearly as dramatic a change as they hope or fear it will be.