I nationals and two groups of migrants,

I will then use secondary qualitative data to
investigate the case of Scotland. Qualitative interviews were conducted on four
focus groups of 60 to 70 members, with two groups of Scottish nationals and two
groups of migrants, between 2000 and 2005. The aim of the interview was to
investigate whether the nationals that were being studied feel more British
than Scottish, vice-a-versa or equally British and Scottish. The interviews
included a series of open-ended questions, with one question for the Scottish
nationals being ‘would you consider yourself more Scottish, British or equally
Scottish and British’ (Bechhofer, 2010).

Analysis

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Figure 1 is a visual representation of how the number
of Catalonians who ‘feel Spanish’ has declined overtime. Between 1979 and 1985,
there was a sharp fall in the number of Catalonians who ‘felt Spanish’ and this
in turn, was followed with a sharp increase in the number of Catalonians who
felt Catalonian. This was a clearly a result of the Spanish constitution granting the right for
historic communities to form autonomous regions in Spain, with Catalonia
being one of the first regions to do so. From this point onwards, the number of
people who felt Catalonian and more Catalonian than Spanish followed in an
upward direction, with 2009-2010 being the peak in the 21st century.
The 21st century saw a series of protests for independence in Spain,
namely the Catalan independence demonstration in 2012, the Catalan Way in both
2013 and 2014 and the Free Way to the Catalan Republic (2015). Such protests are
not only a way for Catalonians to come together in unison and be vocal about
their wishes to leave Spain, it is also a useful way to express their identity
through the use of the official Catalan Esteleda, which is the unofficial flag waved
by Catalan nationalist supporters
as opposed to the Catalan Senyera. The Catalan Esteleda is a combination of the
‘Puerto Rican and Cuban flags, who gained independence from Spain in 1898 and
1902’ (Harris, 2017). Thus, the flag is both a representation of the resilience
of several Catalans and the desire to be unrestricted and free. Language is
also an important form of cultural expression for Catalonians and has become a way
of fostering a sense of
loyalty and unity within the region because of the way it was previously
suppressed under previous governments. According to data from the 2001 Spanish
census, ‘74.5% of the Catalan population spoke Catalan’ (Comajoan, 2004) and
this is when we see a rise in the number of people who feel Catalan and more
Catalan than Spanish in the graph above. Thus, this proves that although for many
Catalans, Spanish may have been their first language, it does not take away the
fact that more and more Catalonians identify with the Catalan language than
Spanish.

Likewise, the secondary qualitative data on Scottish
identity shows a similar pattern to that of the Catalan nationals. 73% of Scots
answered that they were mainly Scottish and below are some of the responses
from the Scottish nationals:

Respondent A (migrant): ‘Because I’m Scottish not British.
It just makes more sense’

Respondent B (migrant): ‘It’s got to be the first one;
it’s got to be Scottish not British’

Respondent C (national): ‘I was born in Scotland and
I’m proud of my Scottish heritage’

Respondent D (national): ‘I feel uncomfortable about the
idea of being British because I want to distance myself from the British Empire
and all it stood for.’

 

It is often difficult to decipher the difference
between the Scottish and British culture today due to the effects of modernisation.
However, from the above responses, it appears that being Scottish is something both
nationals and migrants hold highly, with nationals taking pride in their Scottish
heritage and history and what it stands for. In comparison to the situation in
Spain, the UK has respected the national identity of its four members. Therefore, the reasons driving
independence in Scotland is more likely to do with feeling alienated from the
political core, London, and this has been translated in increased vote
shares for SNP in the last decade alone. The 2015 General Election saw a total
of 50 out of Scotland’s 59 seats go to the SNP’s (BBC, 2015), in a region that
was previously dominated by the Labour party. A year later, an overwhelming 62%
of Scots voted to remain in the EU (BBC, 2016), an unequivocal contrast to how
the rest of the UK voted. These two pivotal moments marked a changing UK and as
one of the nationals stated in the interviews conducted by Bechhofer, ‘an independent
Scotland would mean greater autonomy, politically and economically’. Scottish
institutions have shown the ability to exist independently, with policy differences
in higher education and health care being evidence of political cultures that
are dissimilar.

Both Catalan and Scotland are similar in the sense
that their irredentist movement has been driven by the belief that independent
of Spain and the UK, they will not only be better-off financially, but have
greater regulations over policy-making. Catalan is considered one of the
richest parts of Spain, with an average GDP per capita of £28,198.50 in the
last decade, considerably higher than that of Spain’s (Statista, 2018). Thus,
many Catalans maintain that an autonomous state will strengthen the region’s profile
socioeconomically, as Catalan tax revenues that currently account for one-fifth of the
Spanish economy, will be redirected into the Catalonian economy (CNBC, 2017).
Furthermore, Catalan’s GDP per capita dropped dramatically between 2008 and
2009 because of the Spanish financial crisis that took place in the latter half
of 2008. This saw Catalan having to account for a huge sum of the national debt
acquired, hence why many Catalans hold that the core drains the periphery economically.
Scottish nationals also hold this outlook. The North Sea Oil is a profound part
of the UK’s GDP, but Scots believe the they should have rightful claim over the
North Sea Oil and a large sum of the net revenue generated should not be
redirected back into the core. Many Scots hold that even without the revenue
that the oil generates, Scotland would still be able to stand independently as
its economy without the North Sea Oil, is similar to that of the rest of the UK
(McCrone, 2014).

In conclusion, the findings of my research suggests that
the drive for independence in the 21st Europe falls down to
differences in national identity and the belief that as an independent state,
regions like Catalan and Scotland will be able to survive economically. Looking
specifically at Catalan and Scotland, nationals view themselves as peripheral to
the rest of the country and thus, their voice is often disregarded on a
national level. Self-government will pave the way for policy-making that will favour
those living on the periphery. Though the situation in Catalan and Scotland is
dissimilar, in the sense that Scottish national identity has not be suppressed
by the UK government, in the way that the Catalonian identity has in Spain.
Nevertheless, pro-independence supporters have risen over time because more and
more people are recognising the socioeconomic benefits that will follow if
independence is granted.