Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Disuniting the Kingdom


The Republic of Scotland? Commonwealth of Scotland? We may be closer than many think. As reported in The Economist here and here;
AFTER three hundred years of union, Scots are to be given the chance to vote for independence. The offer of a legally-binding referendum, probably in 2014, ...
...
Polls suggest that Scots are keener on more power than on outright independence. Give them three options, and the unionist vote could split, possibly producing a plurality for independence. Whatever the result of the vote, Scotland would surely end up with more powers. The SNP would have delivered something to its nationalist supporters.
...
A simple question also makes for straightforward campaigning. The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties would have to explain why union is good for Scotland—something they have so far done poorly, which is one reason they are in headlong retreat north of the border. The SNP, for its part, would have to explain the problem to which independence is the solution—which they haven’t done either. And if the Scots turn down independence, they can later be asked if they want more devolution.

Mr Cameron’s question, then, is the right one. And he should have a say on the referendum’s terms. Divorces affect both partners. Scottish independence would have mighty consequences for Britain, raising questions from how to settle the two nations’ fiscal accounts to where the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines should be parked, if not in Scotland’s deep lochs.

Canada has a sensible model for moving towards independence: its government has passed a law which sets various conditions on any future referendum on Quebec’s independence, including that the question should be a clear one. If most Scots wish to leave Britain, so be it. But it must be a clean divorce, not a long, finger-pointing row that hurts everyone.

Having spent a fair bit of time in the UK and with their military - some thoughts from a friendly outsider.

When you are in Scotland - you see a lot more Scottish flags than you do English flags in England. You see very few Union Jacks.

Scots are much more nationalistic than the English. So much so, that the last time I was there (visiting the family Clan's castle, natch) the Edinburgh paper was talking about how the "Muslim terrorist problem" was mostly and English issue as the vast majority of British Muslims were in England - and very few in Scotland. Not something you would see on the front page of the self-hating English press.

On balance - not much downside - but there is a lot of political funny stuff going on that, frankly, I will let the Scots work out.

You know me - I am a firm believer that words mean things, even more so that history means even more.

What is significant about 2014? It is the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. Interesting.
The British government wants independent oversight of the poll and dislikes Mr Salmond’s idea of votes for 16- and 17-year-old Scots (seen as gung-ho about a split). For a heady day or so, aides to Mr Cameron talked about forcing the Scottish government to hold a referendum within 18 months, before Mr Salmond retaliated with his own date, accusing Mr Cameron of “almost Thatcheresque” conduct (a grave charge north of the border). Westminster teasing about a “neverendum” aside, Mr Salmond will probably pick the date. Everything else is up for grabs.

Mr Salmond is on soothing form. He denies “any thought” of hijacking the Bannockburn anniversary. He insists, with a straight face, that his referendum is being delayed almost three years merely to ensure it is well-organised. The SNP, he says, is considering a multi-option referendum because it cannot ignore a big section of public opinion, not because it wants a fallback if Scots reject independence.

Mr Salmond confirms that Britain’s submarine-based nuclear deterrent would have to leave its current home in the deep waters of a Scottish loch. Scotland would leave NATO but would retain an army of perhaps 8,000-12,000 men, a navy and an air force. Scottish warplanes could have served in Libya. But Scotland would have shunned the “illegal” invasion of Iraq.

An independent Scotland would be a co-operative neighbour, Mr Salmond repeatedly says. Queen Elizabeth II would remain Scotland’s monarch. He would accept a stability pact as a basis for sharing the pound with the British. Asked if he would accept binding debt and deficit rules, he ducks the question. With its oil wealth, Scotland will be a better credit risk than England, he beams.

Once voters choose independence, the Scottish government will be an easy negotiator with “few red lines”, predicts the first minister. The friendship between the Scots and English will be “re-invigorated”. But until then, no meddling in Scotland’s vote. The warning is clear. Mr Salmond faces a tough battle. He intends to pick the ground on which he fights it.
History - just when you think some things are all figured out.

As for me? Most of my blood comes from the losing end of various Scottish uprisings and clearings. Whatever the Scotts wish to do - I wish they well, they always treated me very well.

48 comments:

ewok40k said...

Scots and Irish have been a large percentage of the redcoat "imperial grunts" that conquered India and been at the forefront of colonization of places like Canada or Australia (the latter quite often, erm, involuntarily?). Should Scotland get out of the Union, it can quite benefit from the North Sea oil and gas, too. And BTW, aren't there some Stuarts descendants still out there to claim throne? :P

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Is the tartan of Clan Salamander orange with green spots?

Spade said...

None of the, albiet few, Brits I've heard speak of this seem to want Scotland to stay. They seem to view their northern cousins as welfare sucking drunken lazy bastards who somehow got their own parliment but still have a voice in southern affairs.

Andy said...

The Scotish nationalists seem to be counting on one main thing to make this all happen: They get their "independence," (with defence, of course, coming from England & Wales) then immediately get to join the EU so they can continue their attempts to succeed where Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Spain have failed miserably. (e.g. an expanded welfare state)  There may, however, be a very big fly in that ointment: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/spain-could-wield-veto-over-scotlands-eu-membership-6292846.html

Andy said...

Worth noting is the fact that a huge proportion of the UK's very-far-left and neo-Marxist political class all hail from north of Hadrian's Wall.  This may be why quite a number of English say "good riddance."  Not that the Scots (and Welsh) have a lock on all things to the far left, by any means.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Seems Scotland is skeptical of the Commonwealth because they have less and less in common, and stand to lose their wealth.  Scotland is indeed more viable economically than their cousins to the south, and the Muslim terror problem is indeed largely English. 

I have said here before that, with the breakup of the EU, we will be headed to a world that resembles 1913.  And, in some cold regions of the North Sea, 1313.

Adversus Omnes Dissident said...

Well, look at it this way.  If hte Scots get independence, they will have their own passports.  This will help customs in foreign countries to properly identify Scotsmen and women and PROHIBIT them from entering their respective countries.  Scotsmen are notorious for being the ABSOLUTE WORST tourists while on Holiday.  They start fights EVERYWHERE.  I love that kind of rabel-rousing........in a soccer game..........in a country not my own.

LCDR M(Ret) said...

As an Irishman, I am extremely sympathetic to the Scots.  What I don't understand is that, from what I've read elsewhere, they are considering applying for membership in the European Union.  Don't do it!

UltimaRatioRegis said...

<span>A huge proportion of OUR very-far-left and neo-Marxist political class all hail from north of the GW Bridge....</span>

MR T's Haircut said...

Will they rebuild Hadrians Wall to keep the English out?

James said...

Ironicly I've always heard it was the british youth who are the worst behaved.

WCOG said...

An accurate observation. Scotland was Europe's worst, poorest country before the union (they were gullible enough to spend their entire national treasury trying to set up a freight carrying scheme across the Isthmus of Panama in the 1690s, England bailed them out by incorporating them). In exchange for their incorporation into the union they became an international economic force in the fields of finance and manufacturing, the engine room of the empire. Then We (and the Germans) came along and took all their jobs because they failed to modernize their economy during the 50s, 60s and 70s, so whenit was all privatised under Thatcher and everyone was put out of work they blamed the English. The fires of nationalism were stoked by these preposterous films like Rob Roy and Braveheart, which invariably portray the Scots a rugged, manly types and the english as mincing dandies (obviously homosexual). Of course the Scots have always trounced the English in war, just look at Flodden and the Forty-Five.
 The UK was once the greatest nation on earth. That this is even being considered openly fills me with sadness. We'll see how an independent Scotland does when it runs out of oil to hold up its preposterous wellfare state.

Aubrey said...

They can get together and form a new country with Quebec and Hawaii...

WCOG said...

As an afterthought: in the vein of Braveheart, how well do you think it would go over if the English made a film called 'Culloden' which glorified their efforts to shoot and bayonet a group of fools with swords wearing only shirts trying to place a syphilitic moron on the throne? Probably be decried as racism or something.

Grandpa Bluewater said...

The problem comes when they leave the Boston-NY Megalopolis and move elsewhere, and then set about trying to make it into where they came from!

Byron said...

Quite a few ended up here, too...when the Brits made them leave their lands after Culloden. Most of them settled in the South, where a few years later they were involved in another uprising...the Civil War.

DeltaBravo said...

I always wonder how you survive up there, URR. 

Mike M. said...

It would be very interesting to figure out just how much secession would shift English politics to the Right.

Wstr said...

They'll do it not to keep the English out but to keep remaining tax revenue in!  :)
Despite its deserved reputation of a nation of hard-drinkers and the iconic associatation with the a certain spirit; the Scottish political establishment has a very strong puritan streak (more accurately presbyterian). Public drinking bans abound in many cities (nay probs if it was only tackling the Alkies with whatever drain-cleaner-of-the-week is disgusied in an Irn-Bru bottle; but even bans people from having a light beer or wine with a picnic during rare warm summers); alcohol multi-buy deals at supermarkets are now banned, and a minimum price for acohol is to come into law this year. It's one of many tax differences that pretty much guarentees that there will eventually be border posts installed (upsetting millions of Scots who work in England and travel north regularly).
The only Englishmen gleefully heading north after independence will be modern-day bootleggers.

Stu said...

If they ditch the Hanoverian usurper to the throne and ditch the EU, I'll glady come back home.  

Wstr said...

Thats what makes the whoe thing a joke. The SNP are strong Euro-philes and the way the EU is going, especially with binding members tighter with the actions meant to tackle the Euro crisis, independence would be a relative (and becoming more elastic) term.

The Usual Suspect said...

<span>"The only Englishmen gleefully heading north after independence will be modern-day bootleggers."</span>

I can't wait for the Scot version of NASCAR =-O

Wstr said...

N. England is the main hotbed, although despite being originally born in England, one of the Glasgow Airport bombers lived across the road from my Uncle in Houston (Renfrewshire); giving him a front row seat when Strathclyde's finest raided the place.

I do humbly disagree though on the 'more viable economically' point. North Sea is on the wane. The UK is now a net importer of both crude and gas. Obviously Scotland alone with a smaller pop. would regain net exporter status, but it shows how production in the UK sectors has dropped off (pending a new discovery - then all bets are off). As Andy and WCOG discuss below, Scotland is very left wing with corresponding love for a generous welfare state. University Education, Medical Prescriptions and Eye Tests are all free - unlike England & Wales. Also with most of the traditional industry gone, nearly a quarter of -all- employment in Scotland is in public sector govt jobs. With many outsourced from Westminster an Independent govt is not going to cover all of those with their own needs - so theres a big funding gap for magical North Sea revenues to fill back in.

Alex Salmond (First Minister) used to talk about Scotland being a new Euro-Tiger economy along with Ireland, Iceland and Norway. Since the current worldwide economic difficulties the first two on that list have been quietly dropped and are no longer mentioned!

Byron said...

Would the announced scream, "He's make a right turn! He's making a right turn!" 8-)

Byron said...

Yah, like Florida.... "Youse guys don't know how to do (X) hee yuh. We do it right back in (Y Yankee state, usually New Joisey or New Yawk...

LT Rusty said...

There's a reason that a certain well-known flag in the south is shaped the way it is ...

Byron said...

Yah, like Florida.... "Youse guys don't know how to do (X) hee yuh. We do it right back in (Y Yankee state, usually New Joisey or New Yawk...

Stu said...

You are darn right there are some real heirs to the throne left.  

Mike M. said...

Actually, there aren't any good Stuart claimants.  The direct line died out with Charles Edward and Henry Stuart.  Around 1800.

Mike M. said...

I'm reminded of a book on Scottish history I read.  The author flatly said that an American visiting Scotland would be disappointed.  The land is still there, but the proud, stubborn, innovative people that were the Scots of old weren't.

They had all emigrated, most to the United States.  More than a few (including some of my own ancestors) before the Act of Union.

Wstr said...

Waylaid Ulstermen? Oh not the Alabama or Florida state flags but  THE  other one, ok - immigrants from Tenerife?  :-D

Stu said...

Yes, the last with the "Stuart" name was Cardinal Henry Benedict Stuart who was also the Dean of the College of Cardinals.  However, there is an offshoot from the surname that still exists which all Jacobite recognize as the legitimate heir.

Stu said...

Kind of makes it a good time to go home and excel.  

andrewdb said...

The true Jacobite heir is currently Franz, Duke of Bavaria and head of the House of Wittelsbach. 

The Telegraph noted that the proposed changes to the Act of Succession could make Franz the King.  See here: 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1584184/Act-repeal-could-make-Franz-Herzog-von-Bayern-new-King-of-England-and-Scotland.html

andrewdb said...

Sorry, Act of Settlement, not Succession.

Stu said...

I can only dream at this point.  But the prospect is awesome.  

Byron said...

Is anyone besides me thinking that the Brits are looking to cut their losses? How about telling Ireland they can have that tiresome bit to the north and no, we don't care how you settlle it?

Byron said...

Not to mention the "Rebel Yell" and the craziness, grit and courage under fire. There are many cities and towns in the southest that still have Highland Games every year, a few of them in the serious, no $hit authentic style up in the Smokies

cdrsalamander said...

Byron,
That would be "English." Without the Scots all you have left are the Welsh in order to be called "Brits." The Welsh prefer to be called Welsh.

The joys of devolution - a nasty stepchild of multiculturism. It worked so great for Yugoslavia, the British thought they would give it a go.

Byron said...

Hey, I'm just an old Coonass, what would I know about those funny talkin people 8-) . No kidding; when the North Sea oil fields started up, it was all peachy keen. I guess the ENGLISH are thinking, time to give them what they've whined about all these years and all we'll have to support are the Muslims (good luck with that one!).

Stu said...

Prince Charles does plans on being the "Defender of the Faith<span>s</span>."

andrewdb said...

The English (Brist?) have been reducing their presence in NI for some time.  It is no longer the ROYAL Ulster Constabulary, for example.  In 2001 it was changed to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.  The Royal Arms no longer appear in NI courtrooms.  The long term plan seems to be to get out, or at least to make it easy to do so.

NI gets a LOT of government (London) money, so it would probably be a net gain to cut it loose.

Captain Joe said...

Hoot, Mon, The wall was built to keep the ruddy Scots away from the gay Italians, er, Romans. But I kinnah think of a better idea for the wall now, than to keep the swarthy Paks and bonny Amish away from Scotland.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Met last Wed with the Chair of the House Homeland Security Cmte, (Rogers, R-AL) and when he was told I was from Vermont, he cringed and said "Gee, sorry!" 

James said...

We have a guy that is our new boss that does that...

So far:

He's fired pretty much everyone who knew a damn thing in the clubhouse, threatened a member "bring some guys down here to deal with you". Caused half of our members to quit and run up a million in debt.........oh and now we are famous as the disfunctional club.

So thats my view on what they know.

Scott Brim, USAF Partisan said...

There is an extensive and informative discussion concerning this topic now in progress on Stuart Slade's forum, with participation from some of those across the pond who might be affected by Scotland's departure:    

http://www.tboverse.us/HPCAFORUM/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=9604

juan said...

It is ironic that the Scots, who practically invented modern capitalism, seem to have become the most socialistic welfare queens of the entire Anglosphere.

(And part of my ancestry is from right there on the English-side of the border. Lot of sheep and women getting stolen and raped, as both sides raided across the borders for a thousand years. And I'm pretty sure the sheep were victims of both the raiding and raping.)

Skippy-san said...

Will Scotland get 50% of England's retirement in the divorce? :-$