Today is the day that Scotland votes on independence! In a wonderful twist of fate, I was able to pay a second visit to the Byåsen class studying the British Empire (and will hopefully continue to do so for the rest of the semester). Most of the class was pretty split on whether or not Scotland should be independent, but when put to a vote 60% voted no to independence. When I talked to the students who voted no, most of them voted that way because they were worried about Scotland’s oil reserves running out and the Scottish economy tanking. Many of them also felt as though the “Yes Scotland” campaign had simply seized onto the idea of becoming rich through Scottish oil reserves and done a poor job of focusing on nationalistic reasons for becoming independent. As for those who voted yes, those students sympathized with the Scottish desire to be independent and compared it to Norway’s independence from Sweden in 1905. The class seemed to have a really good time discussing the issue, although they strongly objected to the teacher, Maria, putting on bagpipe music in the background. They seemed to mind the bagpipes a bit less when we watch John Oliver’s take on Scotland’s independence:
My students also seemed to enjoy looking at Alan Bissett’s scathing poem “Vote Britain.” Many of the students felt that Bissett’s critique was effective; however, when I asked if it would have swayed their vote, many of them said no. I was personally struck by the line “Vote for Glasgow having the highest knife-crime rate and lowest life expectancy in Europe” and his use of Rupert Brooke’s World War I poem, quoting “There is some corner of a foreign field that is forever England.” While I’m personally on the side of the “Better Together” campaign (even though as John Oliver points out it’s a terrible name), I do think that Bissett points out some very valid grievances in his poem. Well, I suppose we’ll see what happens tomorrow morning!