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Durham University

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor Joe Painter

Sharp, J., Cumbers, A., Painter, J. & Wood, N. Deciding whose future? Challenges and opportunities of the Scottish Independence Referendum 2014 for Scotland and beyond. Political Geography. 2014;41:32-42.

Author(s) from Durham


The image of Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond unfurling the Scottish Saltire behind the bemused UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, moments after Andy Murray won the Wimbledon tennis tournament in July 2013, has come to epitomize the nature of debate around the implications of the Independence Referendum outside of Scotland. Mainstream coverage has rendered “IndyRef” as something of a pantomime politics performed by Salmond and Cameron. The debate has been reduced to a competition between Salmond's idealistic political nationalism and the economic “realities” presented by Cameron, rendered as a chant: “We can afford independence, we will be one of the world's wealthiest countries” versus the response, “Oh no you can't”! In Scotland, on the other hand, debates around the implications of the referendum have gone beyond romanticized notions of tartan, Braveheart and freedom (although these do still exist, of course). Although the political parties themselves have perhaps been rather conservative, debates beyond their official efforts have been much more imaginative, with discussion around the nature of the state, citizenship, and Scotland's role on the international stage, among other issues.