What changed in the interim was not Scotland’s sense of “Scottishness” — the country’s distinctive identity has been a constant feature of its cultural and civic life throughout the Union With England, which dates from 1707. Scotland never became “North Britain,” but equally, for three centuries, Scottish patriotism did not demand expression in a separate state.
What is new is the impact of global change. Scotland has been transformed from one of the workshops of the world to a service economy. At one point, Scotland’s shipyards produced a fifth of the world’s ships, and its manufacturing and mining sector employed more than 40 percent of Scottish workers. It now employs just 8 percent.
Scotland had to embark on a 50-year search for new skills, new jobs and a new prosperity — its real quarrel should be with globalization, rather than England. But just as, during the Industrial Revolution, nationalist movements sprang up as people tried to protect and shelter their communities against uneven and inequitable patterns of growth, Europeans are once again mobilizing around traditional identities, this time amid the insecurities of globalization.