Newspaper article International New York Times

Nationalism in Scotland Rises Anew

Newspaper article International New York Times

Nationalism in Scotland Rises Anew

Article excerpt

The sea change in Scotland is one of the great dramas of the British election on May 7.

"Scotland has gone mad," wrote Chris Deerin, a Scottish columnist, trying to comprehend the surge of nationalism only seven months after an independence referendum was soundly defeated by 10 percentage points.

"It's a strange thing, starting to think that your homeland may be a bit dim," he wrote in a column for CapX, produced by a research institution of the center-right. "It's even stranger when that homeland is Scotland, cradle of the Enlightenment, engine of the Empire."

The judgment is harsh, but the sea change in Scotland is one of the great dramas of the British election on May 7, coupled with the collapse of the Liberal Democrats and the rise of the U.K. Independence Party. If some Liberal Democrats are heading toward Labour, Scottish Labour voters are flooding to the Scottish National Party, which looks likely to win most of Scotland's 59 seats, putting new momentum behind the uncosted notion of independence.

Even Glasgow, heartland of the Scottish Labour Party, is turning to the more fervently left-wing S.N.P. According to constituency polling, the head of the Scottish Labour Party, Jim Murphy, could lose his seat, along with the shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander.

A wipeout in Scotland could cost the Labour leader Ed Miliband a place in Downing Street or force him into a deal with the S.N.P. And as exciting as all this may be for the Scots, it raises new doubts about the future of Britain.

A Scotland so dominated by the S.N.P. would mean that Labour becomes just another English party, like the Conservatives. Since the S.N.P.'s prime goal is independence, other Britons question whether Scotland should continue to benefit disproportionately from the wealthier south.

England funnels money north that pays for free university tuition and prescription drugs for Scots -- benefits not available to other Britons.

Because of a regional formula, Scotland spends 10 percent more per capita than the British average. …

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