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An Irish perspective on Scottish Independence

by Frank Schnittger Wed Jul 30th, 2014 at 08:51:50 PM EST

Scotland votes in an independence referendum on 18 September.

Whilst the debate on independence is hotting up in Scotland, I have been surprised at the lack of discussion both here and in Ireland.  Indeed Irish Government Ministers have been briefed to avoid commenting on the issue one way or the other.  So far the major "external" interventions have been by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, saying that an independent Scotland can't have the "British pound", and outgoing EC President Barosso saying that Scotland can't take continued EU membership for granted.  Both have been seen as somewhat maladroit attempts to bully Scotland into remaining within the UK.

For those interested in following the debate in Scotland more closely, a good summary can be found here.  I am interested in discussing the issue primarily from an Irish perspective, but hope this diary will provoke a broader discussion here.

On the face of it, you would expect Ireland to be exhibit A in any discussion on the feasibility of an independent Scotland: after all Ireland and Scotland are close neighbours, share a somewhat similar Celtic cultural background and language, and are of remarkably similar size in terms of GDP, area and population (Ireland €162 Billion, 84,421 km², 4.6 M; Scotland €161 Billion, 78,387 km², 5.3M).

However from what I can see, Ireland has barely featured in the discussion.  I suspect that the demise of the Celtic Tiger and the embarrassing bank bail-out has reduced Ireland to the rather wayward cousin no one mentions to avoid embarrassment all round.  Indeed the referendum could not have been timed better from the point of view of advocates of the Union, what with Ireland having fallen from grace, and the EU and Euro generally seen as being in something of a mess.

But if you were trying to articulate a view on Scottish independence based on the Irish experience, what would it be?

The Irish Experience of Independence

The first thing that has to be said about the experience of Irish independence since 1922, is that it all started rather badly with a bitter civil war fought between two factions (which often divided families) over whether or not to accept the 1922 Anglo-Irish Treaty with Britain which ceded six counties in the North East of Ireland to continued British rule as a separate Northern Irish statelet.  When allied to the debilitating effects of the Famine and the centuries long struggle for independence, this meant that the Irish economy was in very poor shape indeed.

Before the 1800 Act of Union Dublin had been, briefly, the second largest city in the British empire, but by 1922 it was in many areas a slum city with a great deal of poverty and industrial and social strife which had resulted in the Dublin lock-out 1913/14. Ireland lacked the coal and steel resources which helped fire the Industrial Revolution and remained a largely rural, peasant, agrarian economy divided into many small subsistence farms.

The new Government hardly had any resources to work with, virtually no industrial base and very poor relations with their former colonial masters and chief market culminating in the Anglo-Irish Trade War 1932-38 and not helped by Ireland's official refusal to take sides in the Second World War (because of the unresolved N. Ireland dispute with Britain).  I say "official" refusal, because many Irish citizens did indeed volunteer to fight in WWII, and the Irish Government was, informally, as helpful as it could be to the Allied side without actually formally taking part in the war.

Things didn't get a whole lot better in the 1950's with the dead hand of the Roman Catholic Church and a sclerotic ruling class keeping economic development to a minimum.  It is worth noting, however, that despite some flirtations with fascist sentiment and an anti-communist ideology, the state did, in fact, take a very strong lead in economic development setting up numerous "semi-state" semi-commercial companies to develop public transport, airports, electricity, gas and communications grids, forestry, sugar manufacturing, peat harvesting, food production, horse racing and numerous other industries.  Socialism by any other name!

The 1960s saw an end to rule by the Civil War generation of leaders, an opening up to foreign direct investment to develop the economy, and the introduction of free secondary education to provide a more skilled and educated workforce.  Entry into the EU in 1973 exacerbated these trends and also led to the introduction of much-needed progressive employment, social, and environmental legislation.  However it is something of a myth to say that subsequent Irish growth was fuelled largely by EU subventions.  Ireland lost almost as much in potential fisheries production as it gained in agricultural subsidies, and the chief benefits of the EU was in access to wider markets, sources of investment, and a broadening of the skill base of the workforce.

The 1980s saw the onset of a severe recession brought on partly by much-increased oil prices but also by "give-away" budgets and tax reductions which greatly increased sovereign debt.  It also marked a last stand by the Catholic Church in seeking to control the social agenda through passing constitutional amendments banning abortion and divorce.  But by the late 1980s, the economy was growing rapidly again, fuelled mainly by FDI from companies seeking to gain access to the EU market, low corporate tax rates, and a skilled and youthful workforce.

The 2000s saw the Celtic Tiger morph into a gigantic property and public spending bubble fuelled by property-related windfall taxes and largely unregulated banks pumping credit into the economy.  Even without the ill-fated bank guarantee the fall from grace would have been pretty spectacular as the property bubble burst and government property transaction tax revenues plummeted.  But this more recent history of Government and regulatory failure shouldn't let us lose sight of the very significant progress which has been made by Ireland since independence.  Perhaps the most significant achievements include:

  1. The achievement of a large degree of national reconciliation after the civil war, with public order maintained by an unarmed police force and democratic institutions strongly embedded in the national political culture.  (The Cumann na nGaedheal Government - winners of the Civil War - lost power to Fianna Fail, the losers of the Civil War in the 1932 elections and handed over power to their sworn enemies without quibble or incident.)

  2. A strong infrastructure of state enterprises developing almost every sector of the Irish economy.

  3. An almost unrivalled infrastructure of industrial dispute settlement (since the 1980's) and national wage bargaining which have led to the entrenchment of employee rights and low levels of industrial disputes.

  4. State FDI attraction agencies which have succeeded in attracting virtually every emergent technical leader in the ICT and biopharma industries to set up their European Headquarters and very significant manufacturing and service industries in Ireland (Microsoft, Oracle, Intel, Google, Twitter, Facebook, PayPal, SAP, Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer, Genzyme etc.).

Now we see the re-emergence of growth (c. 3% GDP) despite an enormous sovereign debt load (c. 120% GDP - up from 25% in 2008) and very considerable headwinds in both the EU and global economies, much more jaundiced attitudes to the EU, and much friendlier relations with the UK following the success of the peace process in Northern Ireland.  The old imperial/colony relationship has been replaced by a much more reciprocal "equality of esteem" partnership and there is no longer a visceral inclination to "diss" the Brits at every opportunity.

Implications for Scottish Independence

So what is the significance of all this for the debate on Scottish Independence?  A few general observations seem appropriate:

  1. For all the difficulties in the world and the EU at the moment, Scotland would be gaining independence in a far more propitious environment than Ireland did.  There are no world wars, trade wars, or civil wars on the horizon, and no economic devastation comparable to the Irish Famine and its aftermath (1 million dead, 1 million emigrated, 20% reduction in population, no industrial base).

  2. Developing the full institutions of an independent state and the expertise to manage them can be a long, difficult and painful process, but can lead to a much more self-confident, informed, and engaged citizenry.

  3. Scotland will have to ensure it has the institutions and expertise to develop the economy away from reliance on oil, British defense industries etc. and to fight its corner within an increasingly central-European–dominated EU.

  4. Some degree of "national reconciliation" may be necessary to bind the wounds of a fractious debate and to get all strands of Scottish society pulling in the same direction. This includes a need to define the terms of an amicable and yet real separation from England.

The Scottish Debate

In reading through the list of topics which has emerged during the Scottish debate, one is stuck by how infantile some of them are; how much scaremongering there is; and how little confidence some people appear to have in the ability of Scots to perform some of the basic functions of Government.  It is as if Scots have had no hand act or part in the Governmental activities of Whitehall and will have to learn to do everything from scratch.

There is a strange mindset behind such fears, especially when articulated by predominantly English media: that the Pound, Whitehall, and all the organs of British Government will be retained by England, and that if the Scots want independence, they had better start again from scratch.  It is as if the English are conceding that it is the English who have effectively ruled the Scots over the past few centuries, and that the Scots clearly have no experience or expertise to do this for themselves.

This rather gives the lie to the current ruling ideology that the UK is run by all for the benefit of all without regard to national background, because if that had been the case the Scots would have been as proficient at Government as the English and would merely be moving the main location of their part of the operations from Whitehall to Edinburgh.


For all the more recent wailing and gnashing of teeth in the wake of the failure to regulate the banks, the bank bail-out, and the sense that the EU is being run primarily for Germany's benefit, very few Irish people regret independence or would want to go back to some kind of rule from Westminster.  If anything, there is the stirrings of a debate about ceding less power to Brussels and reinforcing national independence.  Even that open sore that has been N. Ireland in the minds of many nationalists is receding into the background.

In the past, Irish nationalists might have looked on with glee as the UK tore itself apart and risked losing Scotland, and who knows, perhaps N. Ireland some time after that.  A weakened England/Britain would have been seen as a good thing, and an independent Scotland a kindred state.  But now, insofar as there has been any engagement with the issue at all, there is a real sense that it is up to Scots to come come to their own decision and that we will be supportive whatever way they choose to go.  Ireland and the UK are close allies within the EU and there is no point in stirring up a hornets nest in Northern Ireland again.  Far more worrying, from an Irish perspective, would be a UK exit from the EU.

My own personal view is that Scotland should go for independence, but I am far from certain they have the self-confidence, cohesiveness, and balls to make that decision.  The status quo is always the safer option, and this is not a time of great visions and great leadership.  It will come down to a grubby little debate about how it effects each individual personally in the short term, and a few baubles in the form of "enhanced devolution" thrown out by the British Government will probably be enough to sway the majority to play it safe.

In a peculiar way the Scottish independence debate may come to mirror the British withdrawal from the EU debate: a lot of huffing and puffing, but in the end a grubby little fudge in Brussels providing a "Better Deal for Britain" will allow everyone to save face and carry on much as before.  Oh the horror!

Scottish independence
. 1. Would be a good thing 57%
. 2. Would be a bad thing 0%
. 3. Would make no difference 14%
. 4. Won't be passed anyway 14%
. 5. Will be passed 0%
. 6. Will lead to the break-up of the UK 14%

Votes: 7
Results | Other Polls
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 30th, 2014 at 10:31:56 PM EST
Opinion polling for the Scottish independence referendum, 2014 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Polls in March and April showed opposition to independence at an average of 55% (excluding don't knows), compared to 61% in the period before Christmas 2013.[5] There has been little movement in the following few months, with the average showing 43% yes and 57% no in July 2014.[6] A poll by Survation in April 2014 suggested that a high turnout in the referendum is likely.[5] 75% of respondents that they were certain to vote in the referendum, compared to 63% for the next United Kingdom general election.[5] The 2013 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey found that yes voters were slightly more likely to turn out (90%) than no voters (86%).[5]

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 31st, 2014 at 04:01:54 AM EST
The problem is the English.
ENGLISH VOTERS living in Scotland could swing the independence referendum towards a No vote, a poll suggests.

About two-thirds (66%) of English people living in Scotland intend to vote No on September 18 compared with 42% of Scots, a Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times and Heart Radio found.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jul 31st, 2014 at 04:20:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Having grown up with the phrase "the Irish Problem" ringing in my ears from mostly British media, it's ironic that the boot is now on the other foot...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 31st, 2014 at 04:30:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Usain Bolt denies remarks about Commonwealth Games
According to Times reporter Katie Gibbons, she approached Bolt on Tuesday as he waited in the rain for his car at the athletes' village. After showing Bolt her media accreditation he reportedly told her that he thought that "the Olympics were better" and that he was "not really" having fun in Glasgow and felt the Games were "a bit shit" before he left "to do some business".

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 31st, 2014 at 04:26:35 AM EST
The media subtext being, if the Scot's can't do as good a job of running the Commonwealth Games (as London did with the Olympics) then obviously they're hardly capable of running their own country, are they?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 31st, 2014 at 06:37:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Scotland is no India. Remember that 'mess'? For a non-islander like me the subtext is that the Commonwealth games are a third-rate olympics (which they are). A quirky souvenir from erstwhile imperial times. Usually, the reports of catastrophe arrive well before the games begin. These Commonwealth games simply aren't big or important enough.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Thu Jul 31st, 2014 at 02:26:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't even think it was that coherent a hit-job. There's no recording so it's just hearsay from some journo after a slash and grab headline.

More a case of a lying press lying about people simply because they wouldn't do an interview, that's the usual reason. Murdoch press still have that as their MO, "talk to us/do what we say or you won't like what we'll write about you".

Its just intimidation the way Al Capone understood it.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jul 31st, 2014 at 03:17:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I read it as a totally honest and fair cop.  She caught Bolt miserable and cold on a wet Scottish day waiting for his car which never seemed to arrive letting off a bit of steam and wishing he were back in Jamaica.  Later he realised he was at the centre of a media firestorm and denied everything.

What was interesting for me was WHY it was such a big deal for the media that an athlete was having a bad day and unloaded on the games.  It's what sportsmen do to relieve the tedium and tension. He's not a paid media consultant or PR official for the games.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 31st, 2014 at 03:42:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jul 31st, 2014 at 04:06:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I saw it reported as "Glasgow is a bit crap". With the comment from a Glaswegian that it brought tears to his eyes, that it was the nicest thing he'd heard anyone say about his home town.

I'll be visiting Scotland, land of (some of) my ancestors, at the end of the month. For the first time. Not sure if I'll make a swing through Glasgow, cos I've heard it's...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Aug 1st, 2014 at 04:33:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've driven over it a few times - literally - there is a motorway which more or less drives over the centre of it.  I'm told its a much improved and regenerated city...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 1st, 2014 at 06:22:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It certainly has a nice gentrified part. But it still has the lowest life expectancy in the U.K..
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Aug 1st, 2014 at 06:27:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I were a Rangers or Celtic supporter, I would probably lose the will to live to!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 1st, 2014 at 06:38:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I should probably be a Celtic supporter, since a bunch of my ancestors were Glasgow Irish; but yeah. They had the good sense to emigrate, so I'm inclined to respect their judgement.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri Aug 1st, 2014 at 08:13:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If your visit includes the more wild (and more rainy) Western part, prepare for the midges. They are worse than mosquitoes.

Which places are on your list to visit?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Aug 1st, 2014 at 03:30:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The train from Fortwilliam to Mallaig is good - I think it might have been used for the Harry Potter series...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 1st, 2014 at 05:19:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Flying in an out of Edinburgh, and I have rented a camper van for five days out of Perth. I am open to suggestions as to what should be seen. I'll probably manage to fit in a couple of distilleries.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sun Aug 3rd, 2014 at 05:57:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I did a whisky tasting course at Royal Lochnagar - near Balmoral, and visited Lagavulin (Isla), Dalwhinnie (Highlands) and Cragganmore (Speyside) while doing my "research" for building Malts.com for Diageo many years ago. Tough work, but someone had to do it.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Aug 3rd, 2014 at 06:35:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some recommends based on my own visit more than a decade ago:

  • West coast: from Perth, you could head straight west across the highlands towards Oban. Then there would be Kilchurn Castle along your road, Castle Stalker (of Monthy Python and the Holy Grail fame) north along the coast, and Dunadd to the south. The last one is very ruined, but it is also the most ancient and it left the most impression on me.

  • North-west coast, there is of course Eilean Donan Castle (featured in several movies), but be aware that it is somewhat of a fake, restored in the 19th-20th centuries. The Atlantic coast you reach from there is absolutely beautiful, but I can't name specific spots.

  • The far North: John O'Groats is for American tourists, but there is a road to the cape nearby, and that's a high white cliff and full of birds. Nearby to the west there is the The Castle of Mey. For much older stuff, to the south there are the Grey Cairns of Camster and the Hill o' Many Stanes.

  • Inverness area: north along the coast is Dunrobin Castle, which looks like something in the Loire valley rather than Scotland, except for the North Sea view. Rather close to the east of the city, all within a small area (for a driver) are the Culloden battlefield, Culloden Viaduct, the Clava Cairns under it, and lovely Cawdor Castle, which is worth a visit inside. South of the city is Glenmore Forest Park (and the preserved Strathspey Railwayin front of it).

  • Aberdeen area: another gem worth a visit inside is Craigievar Castle west of the city. Firther south on a stunning cape on the coast is the ruin of Dunnottar Castle.

  • Edinburgh area: Edinburgh is beautiful itself and worth a full day, but absolutely don't miss the Forth Bridge in low sunlight. Best viewed in the morning from the north shore or at sunset from Queensferry on the south shore. (I experienced the latter, arriving just in the best half-hour – around 21h when I was there –, unforgettable.) East of the city, there is the tidal island of Lindisfarne with the ruins of an abbey and a castle on another dramatic cape in the sea.

Believe it or not this all fit in six days; although there were some more days when we went to further places.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Aug 3rd, 2014 at 09:58:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the best it of Scotland? The road south of course ;-)

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Aug 3rd, 2014 at 10:56:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Scottish independence: Remember 2014, the last golden summer of the old Britain - Martin Kettle - Guardian
From the vantage point of 2024, the referendum's yes vote can be seen as the beginning of an unravelling, and a terrible waste of time

The result stunned a London that had consistently ignored events in Scotland ever since devolution in 1999. ...

An hour later Gerry Adams gave a press conference in Dublin to call for a referendum in Northern Ireland on unification with the Irish Republic, to take place at Easter 2016. The Northern Ireland government began to totter. ....

Salmond's timetable, which optimistically foresaw completion and full sovereignty by March 2016, was soon binned. Partly this was because the talks, ... trod water as the May 2015 UK general election approached. ...

By the Scottish elections of May 2016 Salmond's star had lost its sheen. Opponents of the York agreement abandoned the SNP over Salmond and Sturgeon's compromises on Trident and the currency. The Real SNP took enough votes from the nationalists to bring a Labour-led government back to power at Holyrood headed by Jim Murphy, one of Scotland's Labour MPs who had not decamped to an English constituency after 2014. Salmond duly stepped down.

With the Scottish bill increasingly bogged down in the Commons, Cameron accelerated the promised referendum on EU membership. But the hurt caused by the 2014 vote and increasing media bitterness in England towards Scotland had an unexpected flipside. Insecurity about the future meant that voters took fright at the prospect of a broken UK going it alone. The referendum was a triumph for the Better Together campaign, which won the vote to stay in the EU by the same two-to-one margin as in the 1975 referendum. But it was a pyrrhic victory for Cameron.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Thu Jul 31st, 2014 at 02:41:37 PM EST
I couldn't work out what he was trying to say in that essay, strawman argument followed strawman until I just lost patience.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jul 31st, 2014 at 03:13:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I read it as an amusing projection into the future, full of in jokes and sly digs, and ultimately concluding, much as I did in my diary, that perhaps not all that much will change after all. The establishment are more comfortable with the Status Quo, and will find a way to preserve it.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 31st, 2014 at 03:59:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know. I've always assumed that English comment on this subject is probably quite unwelcome, I imagine they've had it up to here with being bossed around from south of the border and so I've just felt I'd leave 'em to it.

After all, they're gonna have their vote and make a choice whatever my opinion, so why get involved?

I don't know whether they can make it on their own, it may be better, it may be worse, but it will be their own decision and that alone will make it different.

I am, naturally, more concerned about the impact on Britain and the political composition of Westminster. Generally, England votes conservative, Scotland votes Labour. If those labour MPs are no longer going to Westminster, then we are set for a Conservative hegemony.

I could never understand why Labour sat on their hands during the referendum on proportional representation, it was quite obvious that, if Scotland broke away, it was in Labour's interests to have some form of PR in place. But as usual, strategic thinking was entirely absent from Labour's considerations.

So, we'll see

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jul 31st, 2014 at 03:46:53 PM EST
4 points:

  1. In allowing Scotland to hold an independence referendum, the UK has already effectively ceded Scottish sovereignty.  They have allowed Scotland the sole right to make the decision on whether to break up the UK, and not the UK as a whole in a UK wide referendum.  It now only remains to be seen whether the Scots decide to take up the offer, or settle for a more limited form of autonomy under Dev Max on this occasion.  You as an English member of the UK, have been effectively disenfranchised when in comes to deciding on the future of the UK - even though it could have profound implications for you.  In that context, you have every right to make your voice heard - whether the Scots like it or not.

  2. Labour voting for PR is like Turkeys voting for xmas.  The straight vote absolutely favours a two party system with only regional parties likely to a bit of a look in - whereas PR favours the emergence of a wide range of alternative parties - and coalitions between the more compatible of them. (PR also, of course, encourages a higher turnout, as there is a better chance of party you can actually support having a chance of wining).

  3. I am not at all convinced that a natural Tory majority in England would survive a UK break-up. More likely, in my view, would be a more sustained resurgence of an English nationalist party like UKIP which would split the conservative vote and allow a Labour party into power - that is if you had a functioning Labour party...

  4. Would England vote to exit the EU even if it knew Scotland would remain in?  Effectively that would be exacerbating the split between the two.I actually think Martin Kettle is right. If Scotland votes for independence and decides to stay in the EU, even England would be very reluctant to leave   

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 31st, 2014 at 04:18:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, if you're in a partnership, then it takes two (or four in the case of the UK). If your partner walks away, you don't get to decide if they'll stay unwillingly.

My view of myself as English, British, whatever isn't going to be changed if they go.

It depends on which version of PR you have, but FPTP is gonna kill Labour in England.

UKIP are not a substitute for the Conservatives. They're a Tea Party equivalent which, in the UK, means it's a slightly less self-aware Monster Raving loony party. TBH, it's not so much a party as a personality cult focused on Farage, which means that it can't last because the contradictions of one individual eventually blow up. their electoral significance will be fleeting at best.

Would England be more likely to exit the EU? Who knows? The debate here has long passed the point of being about reality, it's more an argument about identity where which tabloid you read determines your vote.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Aug 1st, 2014 at 02:16:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The key is in your use of the term "partnership".

Let's face it, the English conquered the Scots, Welsh and Irish - and cleared the Highlands and resettled much of north east Ireland. They were little more than spoils of war. Much of the land was given to favoured friends of the realm whose job was to secure local loyalty and order. They became core constituents of the state, ruled by Westminster, and following the Acts of Union not given all that much local autonomy either.

Over the years the relationshps mellowed and some self rule was allowed. But this referendum is different. Would Westminster grand Yorkshire the right to self-determination and let it secede if a local vote favoued it? No.

So Scotland (and NI) are now formally recognised as distinct, and allowed to make that choice.  That is what I meant by saying that Sovereignty had effectively been ceded.

Is UKIP not basically a party of (largely semi-racist) working class Tories who swung behind Thatcher and left when the Tory gentry retook the party? I don't see them as having a home in either the Tory Establishment or New Labour parties, but you're much closer to the situation than I am.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 1st, 2014 at 06:18:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I see your point about sovereignty, but it's more a case of acknowledging that England isn't an acquisitive state any more, but can attempt grown up relationships with former colonies.

I don't think, despite many Scot's prejudices, that "England" has ruled over Scotland for at least a century and even more. Indeed many conservatives viewed the NuLab government as a Scottish government lording it over them.

Your description of ukip is exactly what I've been saying for the last year. The tories could reclaim them, because there remains a strong tendency of Thatcherism within its ranks, but they're forever lost to Labour

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Aug 3rd, 2014 at 11:04:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps the situation is somewhat analogous to Britain's relationship with the EU. Westminster politicians and media like to rail against the "Brussels  Bureaucracy" even when the decisions are prepared in consultation with and agreed to by British Government officials.

Scots can now rail against Whitehall and Westminster even if an Edinburgh based administration would have done much the same thing.  Nationalism isn't about changing stuff all that much, its about changing who's in charge, from where, and what symbolism is attached to the decision making process.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Aug 3rd, 2014 at 01:16:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am of 100% "British" stock (in the sense of "British Isles"), and I feel a direct cultural connection to each of the three components (sorry, no Welsh ancestry that I'm aware of), unmediated by any sense of "Britishness". (This lack of Britishness is somewhat paradoxical, because my time and place of upbringing was pervaded by faded vestiges of Empire britishness, both in institutions and in ideology. This was discarded as irrelevant by most of my generation, but for my part I reacted explicitly against it).

The colonial perspective is an important one in the overdue dismemberment of the United Kingdom, last vestige of the Empire of which the founding acts were the successive conquests by the English of the Welsh, Irish and Scots. The original objects of colonization became the foot-soldiers and cannon fodder of imperial expansion. First in, last out?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Aug 1st, 2014 at 08:10:36 AM EST
And what about Cornwall? Helen at least should approve of them becoming independent, as that would reduce the number of Tory (and LibDem) voters in England.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Aug 1st, 2014 at 10:24:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cornwall is definitely not a viable economy on its own.

Indeed the breaking of the rail link in the winter storms earlier this year threatened to destroy the economy of the area even with all other help. It was rebuilt with herculean efforts from Network Rail and it is almost certain that an avoiding line inland will be built in the next decade. Although the break was in Devon, the cost was only justified by the economic damage to Cornwall. If it went independent, they'd be stuffed.

It used to be a strong LibDem/Labour county but I suspect it'll become a ukip stronghold in coming years.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Aug 3rd, 2014 at 11:10:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The big gamble for Scotland is staying in the union - FT.com

The real threat to jobs, capital flows and investment comes not from Scottish independence but from the very real possibility of a British exit from the European single market. Scots are uncomfortable with backward-looking isolationism. We have a long and proud history as innovative and outward-looking contributors to the world.

We should take our place as an equal member of the international community. Our choice is between two futures, both involving uncertainty. A Yes vote will give us the power to manage change. A No vote would hitch our wagon to Westminster's erratic locomotive - a dangerous gamble indeed.

The writer is outgoing chief executive of UK-listed bookmaker William Hill. He is writing in a personal capacity

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 5th, 2014 at 04:02:45 AM EST
William Hill is offering odds of 9/2 on a YES vote
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Aug 5th, 2014 at 04:11:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Current poling gives it a 30/50 yes/no with only 20% undecided. That's a heckuva mountain to climb for the independence peeps

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Aug 5th, 2014 at 11:39:44 AM EST
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But something like 2 to 1 among the Asians. In fact most minority groups, except for the English and the Jews seem to be more in favour than the Scots themselves, an interesting contrast to every other separatist movement I can thing of.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Aug 6th, 2014 at 02:18:31 AM EST
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Well, an independent Scotland would certainly be more pro-EU and favour tighter integration, which would presumably find favour with minorities. Scotland also seems more at ease with cosmopolitanism than much of England. In fact, the UK as a whole (but mostly England) exhibits most of the negative aspects of nationalism these days, making the Scottish version look nice and cuddly by comparison.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Aug 6th, 2014 at 05:33:19 AM EST
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I found it interesting that the poll attached to my DKOS cross-post of this diary had 286 votes - 70% "Scottish Independence would be a good thing"; 9% Bad thing, 9% "will make no differnece".

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 6th, 2014 at 03:40:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That should read 19% Scottish independence is a bad thing

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 6th, 2014 at 07:57:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Salmond limps from head-to-head with Darling

Taking First Minister Questions in the Scottish Parliament, Alex Salmond often gives the impression he believes he is not up against equals. Often, the people facing him give the impression that he is right.

On Thursday, however, the situation was different: Salmond's cloak of invincibility had been damaged by his performance against Labour's Alistair Darling in Tuesday's televised debate.

There, he was skewered by Darling over the issue of a future Scottish currency. Salmond says it will be sterling in a full currency union. The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats say this will not happen.

Labour's Ed Miliband came to Glasgow yesterday and delivered exactly the same message. The Conservatives' George Osborne did so in February. The Scots hated Osborne's intervention, but they heeded it nonetheless.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Aug 9th, 2014 at 06:38:55 AM EST
Guardian - Salmond and Darling squabble, but the real conversation about the Scottish referendum is elsewhere

The great thing about television debates is not what gets said but all the things that get told unspoken. When Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling, leaders of their respective campaigns in the coming Scottish referendum, went head to head for two hours on STV the other night, what they communicated was not just Salmond's unease on the currency or Darling's inability to nail the specifics of post-no-vote powers, but all the cracks and fissures within the independence issue itself.

Darling was predictably strong on the figures but came over as stiff and occasionally intransigent. Salmond, who is often accused of having only three tricks - insult the opposition, accuse Westminster of bullying, tell the voters they'll all get rich - tried each of them in succession.
So it seems no one is telling the voters the whole truth. And as one woman in the TV audience pointed out, many Scottish voters are in the odd position of having both too much information and too little. They're smothered by the weight of opinions and statistics, but they still don't feel they've got enough honest knowledge to make a proper decision. They can't trust what the politicians are telling them and they've learned not to trust the media (including the BBC) or online sources either.....For the undecideds, the result is paralysis. Which, it seems, is the no campaign's biggest advantage. If it's a no vote, it won't necessarily be love of Britain that wins out. It will, as one Clydebank voter put it to me back in April, "be fear that keeps Scotland united".

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Aug 10th, 2014 at 11:21:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Scotland, independence, the pound, and the debt

Can’t we just be friends?

Germany is a large country, bigger than the whole of the UK. Denmark is a small country, of similar population to Scotland. They are neighbours, and very friendly. Can’t we do the same?

We can, eventually. But not at the start. Germany and Denmark have settled rules of interaction, and settled habits within those rules. Disputes have been settled, and are accepted as settled.

That is not true of new neighbours. London will see a huge and dangerous too-big-to-fail guarantee, which used to be low risk because London had the sovereignty to prevent debt accumulation, and is now high-risk. Edinburgh will see a very useful too-big-to-fail guarantee, which it will want to retain. Settling this entails unpleasant manoeuvring by both sides, before, during, and for a while after negotiations.

Eventually things will settle: probably some risk of too-big-to-fail guarantee remaining, but probably lessened at some cost to Edinburgh. Then, when that has become an accepted part of the furniture, and when the manoeuvring is less immediately remembered, we can be friends.

And even London conceding to the SNP’s desire for a currency union won’t make for a friendly relationship, as correctly said in the letter dated 11th February 2014 from H M Treasury’s Permanent Secretary:

If the dashing of Scottish expectations were perpetually blamed on continuing UK intransigence within the currency union, relations between the nations of these islands would deteriorate, putting intolerable pressure on the currency union.

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Sun Aug 10th, 2014 at 11:29:16 AM EST
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