Much is made of the uncertainty factor which is said by the nay-sayers to be inextricably associated with voting Yes in the Scottish independence referendum on Thursday. Even Her Britannic Majesty is understood to be so concerned about an unamusing outcome that she is reported to have been advising her Scottish subjects to think carefully about what the Dickens they think they are up to.
So let us think carefully, as if we had not already been doing that for the past few years of constitutional debate while England slept, and let us be jolly British about it by examining a precedent, for this is not the first independence referendum concerning the question of whether a union of northern European countries should be dissolved, such a plebiscite having been held in 1905. One presumes that voters thought carefully about what they thought they were up to in that instance. Having thought carefully, how did they vote? And what consequences ensued?
Irreconcilable differences had led to unilateral Norwegian dissolution of the union with Sweden on June 7th 1905:
A cartoon published in Söndags-Nisse on February 12th 1905,
representing Norway as an angry cat and Sweden as a stolid dog
tied to one another by a bond which is in flames,
which Swedish Prime Minister Boström strives unsuccessfully to extinguish.
"The dispute between Norway and Sweden has reached a dramatic, if not a tragic, stage. By the resolution which the Storthing passed yesterday, the union of the two Kingdoms was dissolved, and King Oscar practically deposed. In spite of the assurances of loyalty to the House of Bernadotte, with which this step was taken, and the supplication or, at all events, the earnest request that King Oscar might transfer his regality to the youngest of the Royal Princes, it is impossible to disregard the fact that the Norwegian people are in the mood to proceed any length in support of their claim to complete independence. Nor is it easy to question their attitude or refute their arguments. With the menace of Bernadotte's army to compel their acquiescence, it is quite true that they entered into an involuntary union with Sweden. But they did so on the basis of the Constitution of May 17, 1814 [...]" (The Glasgow Herald, June 8th 1905)
Norway went on to confirm its decision by voting Yes in an independence referendum on August 13th. On the 'Yes' campaign post card below it says "Yes, we love this country", which is the title of the Norwegian national anthem.
The plebiscite resulted in an overwhelming 99.95% in favour of independence against 0.05% opposed. The population of Scotland's northland neighbour thus asserted emphatically that to love one's country is to wish it to be free to truly be itself and that this requires sovereign independence, which provides a nation with the means to realize its potential, as the Norwegians are doing, and as the Scots will be able to do if they vote Yes on Thursday.
Following its independence from Sweden, Norway was transformed in the course of the twentieth century from a poor agricultural country into a model democracy possessing a vibrant economy, with an engaged if somewhat reluctant international presence.
It has topped the United Nations list for human development for several years. Unemployment, inequality and population growth are low among the country's 5,033,675 inhabitants (2012).
Norwegians enjoy long life expectancy, a high education level, high health expenditure, as well as high income and a high gross domestic product per capita. As in the rest of Scandinavia, the electoral supremacy of social democracy has been pronounced. The Norwegian state has been described as both corporatist and based on an ideology of welfare capitalism, where free-market activity is balanced against government intervention.
Norway is also famous for its highly beneficial oil fund:
"Everyone in Norway became a theoretical krone millionaire on Wednesday in a milestone for the world's biggest sovereign wealth fund that has ballooned thanks to high oil and gas prices.
Set up in 1990, the fund owns around 1 per cent of the world's stocks, as well as bonds and real estate from London to Boston, making the Nordic nation an exception when others are struggling under a mountain of debts.
A preliminary counter on the website of the central bank, which manages the fund, rose to 5.11 trillion kr ($828.66 billion), fractionally more than a million times Norway's most recent official population estimate of 5,096,300." (Reuter's, January 9th 2014)
Where is Scotland's oil fund? You may well ask. The answer is, of course, that the UK state has squandered all the income from our oil and gas, leaving us with nothing. This melancholy state of affairs can and will be rectified if Scotland votes Yes on Thursday.
Think carefully by all means. And then vote Yes.