By Jeffrey Adams
Jorinde Gessner is a Scot who has been living in Germany since 1992 . My interview deals with the conflicting views of nationalism and how it is perceived outside of Scotland.
Is there any discussion amongst our fellow Europeans about Scotland and its current political situation?
Germans are generally interested in the effect of Brexit on Scotland and are aware that Scotland voted to remain. People tend to commiserate because Brexit is seen as a really negative development and so there is empathy with the Scottish situation. However Scottish independence is considered rather quaint /idiosyncratic and there is a general wariness of nationalist sentiment.
Are people in Europe aware that Scotland voted strongly to Remain and feels it has close ties with Europe?
I think there are mixed views on supporting an independent Scotland in Europe as some feel it opens the door to other nationalist movements in Europe and these are not viewed so favourably. (Belgium, Spain)
Do Europeans conflate Scotland’s civic nationalism with right wing xenophobic nationalism and if so how can we address this?
Generally nationalist movements are considered to be populist right-wing movements or have a terrorist/hardliner aspect to them and so it is hard to explain that this is not the case in Scotland. I believe that Scotland needs to explain that independence is about more direct democracy and why independence in Europe benefits the Scottish people. I find that by giving examples such as education, law, tax decisions, energy policy this can help to clarify. It also helps to cite Ireland (EIRE) as a positive example.
Do you have doubts about Scottish Independence?
Yes, not sure about the currency issue (sterling or Euro)
Is Independence a new reality?
Given the fact that British government has to agree to another referendum, I don’t see how it can work at present.
What do you think the barriers are for Union voters that prevent them moving to the Yes side?
There are a number of barriers in my view:
- Currency issue
- Economic implications
- EU membership
There has been some commentary that an Independent Scotland could generate an increase in jobs in the financial sector. What are your thoughts?
I don’t have any background on this but this is an industry that Scotland is traditionally good at.
Do you think there is a cultural gulf between Scotland and England? The Brexit ref result seems to mark a difference on the subject of Europe? Why do you think that is?
The Brexit vote showed up many differences: London versus the North of England, young versus old. I don’t think Scotland is particularly more pro-Europe. I just think that Scotland is not quite so affected by the migration issue and they rely strongly on European tourism. Also they do not as a whole support Tory initiatives.
How do you feel about Trident?
I have no strong opinion
How do you feel about Brexit and has your life been affected?
I did apply for German citizenship as a result, to ensure that I have an EU passport. Otherwise my life is now in Germany but anything that would make life more difficult in terms of family visits, inheritance, my children studying or working in the UK would affect me and my family.
What do you think the Yes movement needs to do this time around to persuade voters and to succeed?
My professional background is communication, so I am convinced that a personalized social media campaign which addresses the issues that different demographics have with independence is the most effective way to win the YES vote. The campaign also needs visible, likeable spokespeople and a clear path to independence in Europe. If EU membership were guaranteed in advance, this would help.
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