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Scotland Leaving UK

My 13th ascent of Ben Nevis. The mountain seems to get higher and steeper with each climb.

Here’s hoping the good people of Scotland – my ancestral homeland – will vote with their noggins and not their guts next Thursday and stay in the United Kingdom.

I understand the romance and the allure of William Wallace, Bannockburn, Robert the Bruce, Bonnie Prince Charlie, the skirl of the pipes, the Highlands, heather and history.

I’m crazy about all that myself.

I’ve climbed the Wallace Monument once. Thirteen times I have slogged up Ben Nevis, the highest of the Highlands and Britain’s tallest peak.

I have trodden sodden Rannoch Moor and traipsed the Culloden battlefield – where a lot of Scots, by the way, also fought for King George II against Charlie. I’m partial to the music of bagpipers -- “boopipers” our son called them on a visit to Fort William when he was a wee laddie.

Like a lot of Scottish working stiffs, this lifelong Kentuckian packs a union card. Like most of my Scottish union brothers and sisters, my politics lean decidedly leftward.

I thrilled to hear Alistair Hulett croon “The Internationale,” if only on You Tube. We considered naming our son for the stalwart Scot James Keir Hardie, founder of the Labour Party.

I often joke that if some long forgotten forbear of mine hadn’t left the old country, I might be a Labour MP from some Scottish constituency. If he hadn’t and I was a Scot, I’d be doing all I could to keep Scotland in the UK.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of the British monarchy or of kings and queens anywhere. Where are Charles James Fox and Willie Hamilton when we need them? While I’m glad the Tories and the Liberal Democrats oppose Scottish secession, too, I’m counting the days until Labour returns to power in Westminster.

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That will likely be a long time coming, if ever, should the Scots depart. Scotland is Labour and union through-and-through.

Scotland’s exit would greatly, if not fatally, weaken Britain’s still strong trade union movement, which has been under Tory attack since the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher declared holy war on organized labor.

Thus, Scotland’s exit would greatly, if not fatally, weaken Britain’s still strong trade union movement, which has been under Tory attack since the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher declared holy war on the National Union of Mineworkers and the rest of organized labor in the UK. A framed “VICTORY TO THE MINERS!” poster hangs on a wall in our house.

“We have always believed that our strength comes from working together and organising ordinary working people across the country; building unity, not division,” says a joint statement from the leaders of four major British unions.

“That is why each of our unions has made the democratic decision to support a ‘No’ vote on 18th September and why we are speaking out in favour of Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom. We believe that the best future for working people across Scotland is served by continuing to work together with friends and colleagues across the UK.

berry craig

“The people of Scotland have never turned their backs on improving the lives of people in Scotland, or across the UK. That is why we want Scots to help lead our fight for progressive values. Not leave the UK, and leave this fight behind.”

The Labour Party similarly urges: “The referendum is the biggest decision the people of Scotland will face for 300 years and it is important that we have strong Labour voices speaking for the majority of Scots who believe we are better working together with our neighbours in the UK.”

In honor of my ancestors, I’ll add a Presbyterian “amen” to those fine statements from the unions and from Labour.

“United We Stand, Divided We Fall” is the motto of Kentucky, a state which boasts a Dunbar, a Dundee, a Glasgow and a Glencoe. (The three-star shield logo of Murray State University, my alma mater, is part of the Clan Murray shield.)

[dc]“S[/dc]olidarity” is the old byword among unions on both sides of the Atlantic. Here’s hoping that “solidarity” with the UK will be the watchword in Scotland next Thursday and that voters will reject disunion and stay under their country’s flag – just as a majority of Kentuckians did in 1861.

Berry Craig

Solidarity forever! The Union forever! American and British.

Berry Craig