I will then use secondary qualitative data toinvestigate the case of Scotland. Qualitative interviews were conducted on fourfocus groups of 60 to 70 members, with two groups of Scottish nationals and twogroups of migrants, between 2000 and 2005. The aim of the interview was toinvestigate whether the nationals that were being studied feel more Britishthan Scottish, vice-a-versa or equally British and Scottish. The interviewsincluded a series of open-ended questions, with one question for the Scottishnationals being ‘would you consider yourself more Scottish, British or equallyScottish and British’ (Bechhofer, 2010).
AnalysisFigure 1 is a visual representation of how the numberof 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 thisin turn, was followed with a sharp increase in the number of Catalonians whofelt Catalonian. This was a clearly a result of the Spanish constitution granting the right forhistoric communities to form autonomous regions in Spain, with Cataloniabeing one of the first regions to do so. From this point onwards, the number ofpeople who felt Catalonian and more Catalonian than Spanish followed in anupward 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 both2013 and 2014 and the Free Way to the Catalan Republic (2015). Such protests arenot only a way for Catalonians to come together in unison and be vocal abouttheir wishes to leave Spain, it is also a useful way to express their identitythrough the use of the official Catalan Esteleda, which is the unofficial flag wavedby Catalan nationalist supportersas 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 and1902′ (Harris, 2017).
Thus, the flag is both a representation of the resilienceof several Catalans and the desire to be unrestricted and free. Language isalso an important form of cultural expression for Catalonians and has become a wayof fostering a sense ofloyalty and unity within the region because of the way it was previouslysuppressed under previous governments. According to data from the 2001 Spanishcensus, ‘74.5% of the Catalan population spoke Catalan’ (Comajoan, 2004) andthis is when we see a rise in the number of people who feel Catalan and moreCatalan than Spanish in the graph above. Thus, this proves that although for manyCatalans, Spanish may have been their first language, it does not take away thefact that more and more Catalonians identify with the Catalan language thanSpanish. Likewise, the secondary qualitative data on Scottishidentity shows a similar pattern to that of the Catalan nationals.
73% of Scotsanswered that they were mainly Scottish and below are some of the responsesfrom 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 andI’m proud of my Scottish heritage’Respondent D (national): ‘I feel uncomfortable about theidea of being British because I want to distance myself from the British Empireand all it stood for.’ It is often difficult to decipher the differencebetween the Scottish and British culture today due to the effects of modernisation.However, from the above responses, it appears that being Scottish is something bothnationals and migrants hold highly, with nationals taking pride in their Scottishheritage and history and what it stands for.
In comparison to the situation inSpain, the UK has respected the national identity of its four members. Therefore, the reasons drivingindependence in Scotland is more likely to do with feeling alienated from thepolitical core, London, and this has been translated in increased voteshares for SNP in the last decade alone. The 2015 General Election saw a totalof 50 out of Scotland’s 59 seats go to the SNP’s (BBC, 2015), in a region thatwas 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 howthe rest of the UK voted. These two pivotal moments marked a changing UK and asone of the nationals stated in the interviews conducted by Bechhofer, ‘an independentScotland would mean greater autonomy, politically and economically’. Scottishinstitutions have shown the ability to exist independently, with policy differencesin higher education and health care being evidence of political cultures thatare dissimilar. Both Catalan and Scotland are similar in the sensethat their irredentist movement has been driven by the belief that independentof Spain and the UK, they will not only be better-off financially, but havegreater regulations over policy-making.
Catalan is considered one of therichest parts of Spain, with an average GDP per capita of £28,198.50 in thelast decade, considerably higher than that of Spain’s (Statista, 2018). Thus,many Catalans maintain that an autonomous state will strengthen the region’s profilesocioeconomically, as Catalan tax revenues that currently account for one-fifth of theSpanish economy, will be redirected into the Catalonian economy (CNBC, 2017).Furthermore, Catalan’s GDP per capita dropped dramatically between 2008 and2009 because of the Spanish financial crisis that took place in the latter halfof 2008. This saw Catalan having to account for a huge sum of the national debtacquired, 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 partof the UK’s GDP, but Scots believe the they should have rightful claim over theNorth Sea Oil and a large sum of the net revenue generated should not beredirected back into the core.
Many Scots hold that even without the revenuethat the oil generates, Scotland would still be able to stand independently asits 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 thatthe drive for independence in the 21st Europe falls down todifferences in national identity and the belief that as an independent state,regions like Catalan and Scotland will be able to survive economically. Lookingspecifically at Catalan and Scotland, nationals view themselves as peripheral tothe rest of the country and thus, their voice is often disregarded on anational level. Self-government will pave the way for policy-making that will favourthose living on the periphery. Though the situation in Catalan and Scotland isdissimilar, in the sense that Scottish national identity has not be suppressedby the UK government, in the way that the Catalonian identity has in Spain.Nevertheless, pro-independence supporters have risen over time because more andmore people are recognising the socioeconomic benefits that will follow ifindependence is granted.