The rise of Scotland’s Yes vote: a backlash against globalisation

I wrote in a post here last week that the drive for independence in Scotland isn’t really about Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the UK but about a social backlash against globalisation – a backlash hugely exacerbated by the financial crisis.

Would Scotland really be on the verge of voting yes without the crisis and the conversation about austerity that followed it?

Christine Lagarde appears to interpret shifting sands in a similar way. In an interview in the FT, she refers to the way in which the global political system is becoming more fragmented, even as the global economic system becomes more integrated.

The former she sees as a “backlash against globalisation… what we are seeing with the Scottish people wanting to go their own way… is going in the direction of less globalisation.” There is a “structural disconnect” growing between economic and political structures.

She doesn’t like it much: “It is not clear which of these trends will win. I am worried. Very worried. I don’t want my children, my grandchildren, to grow up in a world which is fragmented and disaggregated.” I don’t either. 

Is there a solution? She hopes that governments will promote “inclusive growth” (although she gives no hint of how that works) but overall hopes that the current conflicts will eventually “demonstrate that economic independence will prevent more isolationism and territorial nationalism.” Can that really happen?

Lagarde reckons the jury is out. But we might just get a hint of which way the tide is turning on Friday.