Friday 26 June 2009

Scotland

It is not an exaggeration to say that continuation of the United Kingdom – the union that unionists support – depends largely on Scotland. Without Scotland there simply would not be a United Kingdom – it started with the union between Scotland and England in 1707, and would not survive its dissolution.

Scotland is also vital in so far as Northern Irish unionists (though not all) feel a sense of kinship with Scotland. Many carry Scottish names, many worship in churches that are to all extents and purposes Scottish, and some can even see Scotland on the horizon. Some, less sensitive to ridicule than most, even affect the wearing of Scottish-style kilts!


If Scotland left the UK, then the UK would effectively disappear. All that would be left would be England, its long-time vassal state Wales, and far to the north-west the unwanted Northern Ireland. Even if unionists were determined to avoid re-uniting with the rest of Ireland, they would have a difficult choice to make – to try to follow Scotland out of the UK and form some sort of Scottish-Northern Irish federation, or to try to persuade the English (who many unionists simply do not like) to keep up the pretence that there is still a UK.

Would Scotland want Northern Ireland? Almost certainly not. Apart from the sheer cost of Northern Ireland – a state on welfare – there would be the issue of trying to persuade the 42% (and growing) minority that would prefer reunification with the south that their interests lie in an illogical federation. Scotland would not wish to embark on its nation-building with an awkward appendage across the Straits of Moyle.

Would England want to keep Northern Ireland? Would Northern Ireland really want to be England's scruffy back garden? It is likely that Scottish independence would kindle a parallel urge towards English nationalism, but whether this would lead to the formal dissolution of the UK is harder to predict. What is likely, though, is that the uncertainty would lead to a serious outflow of people to either Scotland or England, as those with ties to those places would not want to find themselves (or their assets) stranded in a post-breakup Northern Ireland. The demographic effects of a breakup of the UK might be sufficient to ensure that Northern Ireland votes comfortably for reunification with the south.

How likely is it that Scotland will vote for independence?

Support for, and opposition to, independence for Scotland is running about even at present: currently 39% say they would vote 'no' in a referendum, 38% would vote yes. The strength of the SNP is often considered as a proxy for 'independentist' support. In the recent European Parliament elections the SNP vote increased significantly, by 9.4% to 29.1%. This is clearly less than the majority that would be needed, but there are many labour or other voters who would, in a referendum, vote for independence.

The SNP also did exceptionally well in the 2007 election for the Scottish Parliament, increasing their share of the vote considerably both in the constituencies and regions (the system is a complex mixture of FPP in constituencies and the d'Hondt system in the regions). Whether the SNP's success is simply a result of Labour's unpopularity, or a genuine growth in support for independence, is hard to judge.

The SNP has a manifesto commitment to hold a referendum on independence by 2010, which the three 'English' parties are opposed to. Doubts exist over the legal and constitutional ability of the SNP to declare independence even if a referendum voted for it. But it is unlikely that the Westminster parliament would be so foolish as to deny Scotland the independence that it voted for.

The moves towards independence for Scotland are of considerable importance in Ireland, as Irish reunification would probably be a direct effect of Scotland's decision to collapse the UK. Even the debate around Scottish independence may have a positive impact if it forces some unionists into thinking about an uncertain future. The realisation that the UK may disappear from under their feet could spark some deeper reflection than normal.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Horseman,

How does the SNP view the reunification of Ireland?

How do the Welsh Nationalists feel about it?

MPG .....

hoboroad said...

If the Tories get in at the next General Election support for Scottish independence will go through the roof!The cabinet will be full of Tory toffs who all went to Eton and if it's a landslide the Labour party in Scotland will be demolished for a generation.The Tories are only interested in English matters no south of England matters.If unemployment increases in Scotland and the Tories reform the benefits system you could end up with a lot of very angry Scottish Nationalists!

Pedro said...

How does the SNP view the reunification of Ireland?
A spokesman was asked in the 70's 'what is your parties policy on Northern Ireland?'
Answer: 'Jesus Christ!!!'

Pedro said...

Ruairi O'Braidaigh (of PSF fame) has flirted with the idea of of an Irish/Scottish federation.

hoboroad said...

Pedro

It included the Basques and Bretons as well!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is England that should abandon the U.K. England effectively subsidizes the rest of the country. Look at how Labour has ruined England with its immigration policies. An independent England could be the best thing to ever happen to the English people.

hoboroad said...

Anonymous

The Scots would say it's there oil and gas from the North Sea that subsidizes the rest of the UK!

Anonymous said...

Reply to hoboroad:

NOT TRUE. England effectively subsidizes Scotland and the rest of the U.K. I could also mention the West Lothian question too. England doesn't need Scotland at all. It certainly doesn't need Ulster. As long as both Scotland and England are free countries and live in peace and agree to trade (to both countries benefit) with each other I see no reason why a "Czechoslovakian-style divorce" could not be done. Please note this is not "anti-Scottishness" or "anti-Englishness". Norway and Sweden "divorced" too. They are both good and decent countries.

hoboroad said...

Even if Scotland goes down the UDI route it will still be in the EU.I am not sure about Scotland staying in NATO though and that would cause problems with the Americans as they have a submarine base in Scotland.If England went Independent the Anti-Euro crowd would use it as a way of getting out of the EU!And the new English Nationalists would maybe put an end to all emirgration as well.

hoboroad said...

Of course Nelson is not the first DUP member to wear womens clothes Clifford Smyth enjoyed dressing up as a women!

Anonymous said...

Welsh nationalists are in favour of a united Ireland. irish nationalism has been a great influence on Welsh nationalism ... though, not the more violent/assertive republican side.

Plaid Cymru was formed in 1925 partly in response to the success of Sinn Fein in creating an independent Irish nationalist party. Welsh nationalists (patriots may be a better term) had favoured 'entryism' through the Liberal Party (or possibly) Labour as a way to promote a Welsh parliament within the UK.

However, the history of the Irish language in the Republic is constantly used by Welsh nationalists as a warning of what could happen. Ireland in that respect is a 'this is how not to revive a language' which may be a little harsh by the Welsh considering the complexities of Irish in Ireland and the different concept of nationality on both sides of the Celtic Sea.

Many Welsh nationalists, although fully supportive of Scottish independence and great fans of Scotland, have difficulty understanding a nationality which doesn't have language as an integral part of it.

Cymro

menaiblog said...

Long time vassal state state - hmm - thanks for leaving me with that thought mo chara.

Horseman said...

Yeah, Menaiblog, sorry if that sounds insulting, but from an outsider's point of view thats how it looks. Most things are still administered as if 'England and Wales' was a single unit. Even your devolution is very weak, as is the support for more devolution, let alone independence. Hopefully this will change, but 500 years of 'vassal' status won't be erased in a few years.

Anonymous said...

In fairness to Wales, it is the smallest and easiest accessed for the English. There were spirited rebellions in Wales, which ultimately failed like the rest of the Celtic nations. But the Welsh identity has not only survived but flourished as can be seen in their language.

I`m sure because of its proximity to England there must have been waves of English settlers carving up the best land for themselves. Wales survives as a political entity and this is testimony to the resilience of the Welch nation which could lead to in the years to come to the emergence of an independent Wales especially looking at the potential outcome in Scotland.

An Bhreatain Bheag Abú.

MPG .....

menaiblog said...

Wales is politically weak, but arguably it's retained more of it's cultural distinctivness than any of the other Celtic nations.

menaiblog said...

BTW - there is considerable polling evidence that the opposition to devolution has largely collapsed & that there is a clear majority in favour of more devolution.

hoboroad said...

Menaiblog

So do you believe in rolling devolution a more slower process but you get to the destination in the end?

menaiblog said...

hoboroad - that's how it's going to happen in Wales - independence will evolve a la Australia or New Zealand.

Irish style step changes won't happen here. We're different.

hoboroad said...

Well different strokes for different folks as are American friends might say!How do Welsh people feel about the royal family?Is it the tie that binds or is it the welsh nationalists secret weapon?

menaiblog said...

Nationalists obviously dislike them, & they're generally not that popular.

Welsh society is informal & socially egalitarian - Assembly members & councillors all over the country refer to each other by their first names while debating - even the bitterest of enemies.

Historically royal events such as the investiture 40 years ago have been followed by increased Nationalist electoral spport.

hoboroad said...

Interesting who are the up and coming politicans in Welsh Nationalism?Who should we look out for as a future leader of your Country?Do you think if the Tories win the next British general election that it will increase Welsh Nationalist support?

menaiblog said...

Adam Price will without doubt be the next leader of the party & quite possibly he'll also be First Minister at some point in the future. He's openly gay & is by far the most talented politician of his generation.

He's also a regular blogger - http://www.adampriceblog.org.uk/ - it's bilingual, so you'll need scroll down to find something in English.

A Tory win will present us with opportunities - but we need to play our cards correctly - in the past Tory power in Westminster has helped Labour in Wales.

Picador said...

It seems logical that with a government in London support for independence in Scotland will increases. If Scottish independence happens Northern Ireland would be seriously destabilised. Without contingency this could be dangerous.

hoboroad said...

Where does there loyalty lie with there orange brothers in Scotland or with the English the Unionists of Ulster may have some serious thinking to do!The Unionist could be the children in a rather messy divorce!

Picador said...

Aye but the children nobody wants!

Watcher said...

Hoboroad said:

"If the Tories get in at the next General Election support for Scottish independence will go through the roof!The cabinet will be full of Tory toffs who all went to Eton and if it's a landslide the Labour party in Scotland will be demolished for a generation.The Tories are only interested in English matters no south of England matters.If unemployment increases in Scotland and the Tories reform the benefits system you could end up with a lot of very angry Scottish Nationalists!"

If you get your way, there'll be a lot of very angry UK Unionists. Of course they're all men of straw aren't they? Unlike the brave Oirishmen who begged The BRITISH army to save them from Loyalists in '69.

Please Mr Englishman save me and my 13 kids and the hag in the corner from the big bad Prods - I'll let you use little Shamus and Patrick the same way Fr O'Deviant does...

Watcher said...

Picador said:

"Aye but the children nobody wants!"

Except the bog Irish apparently. The UK never wanted The Oirish, just the territory and they held on to the only worthwhile piece of that.