The canonical document of the Scottish independence movement is the Arbroath Declaration of 1320. ???It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom ??? for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.???
Nearly 700 years later, the Scottish Social Attitudes survey asked what respondents would think about independence for Scotland if it would make them ??500 a year better off. They favoured separation by 65 per cent to 24 per cent. If independence would make them ??500 a year worse off, however, it would be rejected by 66 per cent to 21 per cent. Yet ??500 is less than 2 per cent of average Scottish household income.
There were no similar polls in Ireland in 1920, or India in 1945, or America in 1773, but it is hard to imagine a similar result. ???Give me liberty or give me death,??? proclaimed Patrick Henry, arousing American colonists to rebellion with a cry reminiscent of the Declaration of Arbroath. ???Give me liberty or give me ??500??? lacks the same resonance.
The question cleverly illustrates that most Scots do not see the constitutional status of Scotland as integral to their identity or self-worth. That is what differentiates the Scottish debate on independence from that which convulsed Ireland or India, or divided America, and trivialises it.