When you look at a standard map of the UK, Scotland takes up a lot of space. The BBC’s weather maps reduce Scotland and enlarge southern England, but Scotland still looks like a significant part of the UK.
I sometimes wonder whether the physical size of Scotland is making Scots blind to the fact that Scotland’s influence in the UK is based on population, not on landmass: Scotland has only 59 out of 650 seats in the House of Commons.
To avoid this pitfall I often find it instructive to look instead at a cartogram, such as the one on the right. The size of the blue squares depend on the population living there, so London is a huge circle full of big squares. Sparsely inhabited areas are so small that they look like white lines instead. For instance, the white border around London means very few people are living in this “border area”.
From a Scottish perspective, we can see that Scotland is separated from England by a lot of white lines. In other words the Borders are almost empty, and this creates a very real border between the two countries. (We see a similar situation in Wales, and to some extent in Cornwall.)
More importantly, Scotland is clearly much smaller than London on this cartogram. This explains why the UK is increasingly being run by and for London, while Scotland struggles to get its voice heard.
Three hundred years ago, when the Union was formed, a cartogram would have shown a much more balanced map. Unfortunately, people (and money) have gradually gravitated towards the capital.
We need to rebalance the map, and the best way to achieve that is to vote for independence next year.