From post-imperial Britain to post-British imperialism
The article explores the potential implications for the United Kingdom of Scottish independence. I attempt to situate the possibility of the break-up of the British state in 2014 within a broader understanding of the decline and erosion of the main institutions of British society. In particular, I focus on the malaise created by the end of the British Empire and on the political and institutional effects of the neoliberal restructuring of the British economy. I relate these processes to the current austerity agenda of the Coalition government and the attempt to outline the likely effects of the current government’s policy on the debate over Scottish independence. I then focus more particularly on the question of Britain’s nuclear weapons, analysing the ways in which discussion of the replacement or renewal of the Trident weapon system has interacted with debates over the future of the British state. I suggest some possible outcomes of Scottish independence on the United Kingdom, including the likelihood that it will increase the speed of British decline and further increase dependency on the United States. I also offer some criticisms of those on the left of Scottish politics who have seen independence as a means of pursuing a post-neoliberal and anti-militaristic alternative to the regime of war and austerity on offer from Westminster.