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Uncommon Decency

Jul 14, 2021

Football’s oldest international fixture, Scotland-England games have routinely showcased a fever pitch of politically-infused rivalry, and this year’s Euro 2021 proved no exception. Not only were the Scots ecstatic to draw against their English “Auld Enemy” at Wembley in their first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup—many of them even cheered Italy’s narrow win in the final. At odds with its laureate reputation for orderly behavior, the so-called Tartan Army of Scottish fans can still at times be heard jeering at “God Save the Queen”—an unmistakable testament to the pervasive influence of politics on football. Back in 2014, 55.3% of Scottish voters rejected independence from the United Kingdom in a referendum, but the Union has since undergone a political revolution of its own, leaving the European Union at the dismay of the stringently pro-European Scots. Seven years and two prime ministers later, Nicola Sturgeon's ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) is pressing for a second referendum. Whether or not "IndyRef2" sees the day, will the tides of History inevitably lead to a divorce? Exploring the odds and merits of such an outcome, we host Alex Massie of The Spectator and Ben Jackson of Oxford, two Scotsmen steeped in the complex history of the Anglo-Scottish Union and in the latest maneuvering in both Westminster and Holyrood.

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