[This is part of the Autumn 2014 edition of e-O&P. Click here for the contents page.]
‘It’s just emotion,’ the Bosnian wife of a friend commented from Sarajevo. Over Skype I’d been trying to explain the Scottish Referendum, but she understood within a few sentences. She’d suffered from the Balkan nationalist wars of the 1990s which destroyed the multi-national state of Yugoslavia and left a wrecked society and hundreds of thousands dead and wounded.
A Lebanese friend, who’d rescued his extended family from the Lebanese civil wars of the 1980s, was similarly bewildered. Ironically, he’d relocated his family to Quebec, Canada, and been shocked by the separatist referendum there. Significantly, it was immigrant families like his own fleeing from oppression and war who’d made the difference when that referendum was close.
We live in a prosperous and peaceful social democratic bubble. We tend to assume that this is how the rest of the world lives or wants to live. We watch the atrocities in Northern Ireland, the Middle East and the Ukraine as if they couldn’t happen here. Our society is more fragile than we think and history teaches us that nationalism has its dark side and looks for scapegoats, particularly when through its policies there is economic failure.
On the night after the No vote there were violent scuffles between Nationalists and Loyalists in Glasgow. A Yes vote followed by a flight of capital and economic crisis would have brought Scotland and the UK into new and more dangerous territory. Negotiations would have become more hostile and as in Northern Ireland, questions about the reliability of the police and the role of the army would have begun to be asked. We have experienced a narrow escape.
About the author
Peter Sheal is a writer and training consultant with MDT International www.mdtinternational.com and delivers management development courses for the international oil and gas industry. He is the author of How To Develop & Present Staff Training Courses and the Staff Development Handbook published by Kogan Page.
Peter was born in Manchester of Scottish ancestors who took advantage of the opportunities afforded by the United Kingdom to move between Ireland, Scotland and England in pursuit of personal and family prosperity. He describes himself as British and has lived in Aberdeenshire for over 30 years.
Peter can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org