Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Stands Scotland where it did?

Over the course of the last 25 years Scottish politics has altered substantially, and in doing so it has diverged markedly from the rest of the United Kingdom. The next five years will determine whether Scotland will continue to diverge to the point of separation or whether a new United Kingdom can be forged based on more federal lines.

In 1979 the Conservative Party in Scotland gained 916,155 votes votes in Scotland and elected 22 MPs. Labour gained 1,211,455 votes and elected 44 MPs, while the Liberals got 262,224 votes votes, electing three MPs while the SNP gained 504,259 votes but were only able to elect 2 MPs. That year showed the real impact of the "first past the post" electoral system on Scottish politics, with a small fall in the SNP vote reducing their parliamentary Party substantially and relatively minor differences in the vote bring big differences in the outcomes for Labour and the Conservatives.

Over the course of the past three decades, Scottish politics became focused on the debacle of the referendum on devolution - the fact that, although the majority had voted in favour of this significant constitutional change, no Scottish Assembly had been created became the fulcrum of Scottish politics. It was an issue that split both Labour and the Conservatives, but in the end, under the influence of john Smith, the Labour Party became determined "Home Rulers", the Conservatives, despite their own divisions, became the party of adamant opposition to any change in the constitutional status of Scotland whatsoever: the die-hard Unionists.

Yet in the end, this position was untenable, simply because it was wrong: Scots Law was the only legal system in the world without a true legislature and the failure of Conservatives to engage with the debate is ultimately- at least as much as the unpopularity of Margaret Thatcher- the cause of the demise of the Conservatives; and demise it has truly been. reduced to the status of fourth party in Scotland, wiped out entirely in 1997, even now they posses only one Westminster seat and across Scotland, even in their former heartlands, they are but a shadow of themselves. The collapse of the Conservatives north of the border has been dramatic, but even the resurgence of the Conservatives in recent weeks has found no echo in Scotland- the destruction of the Scottish Tories, though not complete, still seems irrevocable.

Where Scottish Politics is drawing parallels with the rest of the UK is, however, in the gathering weakness of Labour. The creation of the Scottish Parliament with a fairer voting system has shown two things in sharp relief- firstly the overweening arrogance and complacency of Scottish Labour, and their inability to tackle the economic and social challenges that Scotland faces. The death of Donald Dewar created a vacuum at the heart of the party which has yet to be satisfactorily filled- the hapless Henry MacLeish replaced by the cocksure arrogance of Jack McConnell. The new leader of Scottish Labour, Wendy Alexander continues the murky dynastic traditions of the West of Scotland apparatchiks. Having dealt with her brother at Uni, I am unsurprised neither at her ineptness of touch nor her relentless and unprincipled ambition.

The counter to the collapse of the Conservatives in Scotland has been the rise of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the SNP. The Liberal Democrats have become well entrenched in the North and East of Scotland and have gained substantially in MPs- now holding eleven seats. In the first two Scottish Parliaments they were able to wield considerable power- especially given the prolonged leadership problems of Labour that meant that Jim Wallace found his role as Deputy First Minister was more than ornamental.

The SNP could only hold six Westminster seats in 2005, but the sea change that has taken place in recent years has been the election of the SNP as a minority government in the Scottish Parliament. The SNP doubled their number of MSPs and was able to form an administration under their wily and politically ruthless leader, Alex Salmond.

However, the crisis of Labour in Scotland is extremely dangerous: the dramatic fall of Labour over the past six months opens up the possibility of a major constitutional rift which works to the short run political interests of Alex Salmond and David Cameron but which ultimately leads to the end of our country in its current form. The irony is that much of Salmond's support is precisely the same people who were once die-hard Unionists: that is to say from Conservatives.

As under Margaret Thatcher, the debate is being framed as a zero-sum game between Scottish independence and the United Kingdom. Yet now, as then, there is another way: Scottish autonomy as part of a Federal United Kingdom. Indeed both the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Senedd were intended to be only the first steps in a settlement with Northern Ireland and England too. Sure enough, Northern Ireland, eventually, seems to have been able to grasp the chance for a settlement. In England though, the message has been lost. The other day I heard John Redwood suggest that Westminster should sit partly as the Parliament of the UK and partly as the Parliament of England- I can not imagine much that would destroy the UK quicker than such ill thought out nonsense. Apart from the fact that it would still leave 50 million in non-local units, it would be bound to create a schizophrenia amongst the English members of parliament.

Westminster should remain the Parliament for the whole Kingdom. In my view, there is a model in Spain, where one large Spanish area dominates the smaller nationalities such as the Basques, Gellegans and the Catalans in the same way as England dominates the rest of the UK. In Spain, different parts of the country have been offered different levels of autonomy- alot for the national areas, but also for those areas of Castilian speakers, like Andalucia, where there was demand for it. The units vary from single counties, such as La Rioja, Murcia or Asturias, to much larger groups of counties, like Castilla La Mancha and Castilla i Leon. The choice was left to locals. I could easily see a Cornish Assembly or an East Anglian one of Norfolk and Suffolk, or both Sussex-es being quite popular- and since it is based on traditional boundaries, I suspect the argument about "an extra layer bureaucracy" is removed too.

As in Spain too, I suspect that, though the SNP may continue to do well in Scottish elections, it will struggle to gain the majority of UK mandates in Scotland, as the PNV or CiU equally struggle to do in Catalonia and the Basque country for the Spanish Cortes. Nevertheless there is a trial of strength in the offing- and the real risk that a single mis-step could undermine our country- Gordon Brown and David Cameron would do well to listen to the Liberal Democrat answer to the "West Lothian question": Home rule all round.

16 comments:

Newmania said...

I am not entirely sure what "Home Rule all round" means, or indeed what the Lib Dem answer to the WLQ actually is from this.I think your solution is breaking up England.

The English have shown themselves to be resistant to the dismemberment up of our country into Hapsburg style statelets such as would suit the EU .Even in the Labour client region of the North East where Public sector Employment actually exceeds real work they could not be budged . We do not wish to be chopped up for the breakers yard after a thousand glorious years of integrity as a people …thank you.
Hope thats clear


On Sussex you are talking rubbish on Cornwall ..the EU has flooded the Cornwall separatist movement with money in effect using English taxes to break up our own country . The supposed Cornish Parliament is a myth and it preys on often forgotten extreme poverty in the SW. I find it outrageous that we are attacked in such ways and I can only assuem yopu are ignorant of the misues of tax payers money.

The UK became the focus of national loyalty in England only because it was perceived as greater England . The is no special love of it as a political frame work and the English have little love of it now as has been shown in successive surveys . The West Lothian Problem is not an academic one . Labour import 69 MP`s into government of the English with little more rationale than 69 Frenchmen arbitrarily drafted in. What really happened was this ....

Conservative representation in the Celtic Fringe slowly declined from the war as the potency of the Unionist case declined . The Labour Party benefited from this and the sub merged political drift inflated Labour Party fortunes .The Conservative Party clung to the Union in an attractive romantic and loyal way…., (many rebelling over devolution for reasons that have been proved quite right ). Nationalism eventually reached such a pitch however ( oil of course) that it threatened the Labour Party strongholds in the North . Their remedy was to cook up a system whereby Scots rule both themselves and the rest of the UK to the obvious detriment of the English. In other words they wanted to buy of Scottish Nats with English rights triangulating the Unionist Party,. This piece of despicable gerrymandering has lasted until now although it is clearly an unworkable arrangement


It was supposed that while Scots had two votes to our one it would be impossible to remove Labour and that is what Labour wanted . When the question arose the threat of a PR deal with the Lib Dems was always flagged up and the Lib Dems are still seen as Labour lite whatever you might privately want,and with good reason .

England is a country not a federation of artificial parts . As a country it has a system of governing itself which does not need the imposition of a continental regional model .

The state whereby the UK is no longer a reality is already with us . You cannot govern England with no majority in England any more this is the true reason for the “Constitutional Reform” threatened by New Labour ie the imposition of some anti Tory fix as tried unsuccessfully in London, but it could so easily have worked .Paddick we learn would have sided with ken. Typical and so it will go on.

.

You will not succeed in ending the story of the English Cicero . We will have English votes and we will head with regret towards and Independent England . We will not be ruled by a Scottish Raj. The inconvenient truth that England will go on shall thwart your internationalist plot to reduce us to little nothings dependent on distant masters . England will have the government it wants , a right centre Conservative Party in permanent control with a Liberal/Labour minority coalition in opposition.

Newmania said...

I am not entirely sure what "Home Rule all round" means, or indeed what the Lib Dem answer to the WLQ actually is from this.I think your solution is breaking up England.

The English have shown themselves to be resistant to the dismemberment up of our country into Hapsburg style statelets such as would suit the EU .Even in the Labour client region of the North East where Public sector Employment actually exceeds real work they could not be budged . We do not wish to be chopped up for the breakers yard after a thousand glorious years of integrity as a people …thank you.
Hope thats clear


On Sussex you are talking rubbish on Cornwall ..the EU has flooded the Cornwall separatist movement with money in effect using English taxes to break up our own country . The supposed Cornish Parliament is a myth and it preys on often forgotten extreme poverty in the SW. I find it outrageous that we are attacked in such ways and I can only assuem yopu are ignorant of the misues of tax payers money.

The UK became the focus of national loyalty in England only because it was perceived as greater England . The is no special love of it as a political frame work and the English have little love of it now as has been shown in successive surveys . The West Lothian Problem is not an academic one . Labour import 69 MP`s into government of the English with little more rationale than 69 Frenchmen arbitrarily drafted in. What really happened was this ....

Conservative representation in the Celtic Fringe slowly declined from the war as the potency of the Unionist case declined . The Labour Party benefited from this and the sub merged political drift inflated Labour Party fortunes .The Conservative Party clung to the Union in an attractive romantic and loyal way…., (many rebelling over devolution for reasons that have been proved quite right ). Nationalism eventually reached such a pitch however ( oil of course) that it threatened the Labour Party strongholds in the North . Their remedy was to cook up a system whereby Scots rule both themselves and the rest of the UK to the obvious detriment of the English. In other words they wanted to buy of Scottish Nats with English rights triangulating the Unionist Party,. This piece of despicable gerrymandering has lasted until now although it is clearly an unworkable arrangement


It was supposed that while Scots had two votes to our one it would be impossible to remove Labour and that is what Labour wanted . When the question arose the threat of a PR deal with the Lib Dems was always flagged up and the Lib Dems are still seen as Labour lite whatever you might privately want,and with good reason .

England is a country not a federation of artificial parts . As a country it has a system of governing itself which does not need the imposition of a continental regional model .

The state whereby the UK is no longer a reality is already with us . You cannot govern England with no majority in England any more this is the true reason for the “Constitutional Reform” threatened by New Labour ie the imposition of some anti Tory fix as tried unsuccessfully in London, but it could so easily have worked .Paddick we learn would have sided with ken. Typical and so it will go on.

.

You will not succeed in ending the story of the English Cicero . We will have English votes and we will head with regret towards and Independent England . We will not be ruled by a Scottish Raj. The inconvenient truth that England will go on shall thwart your internationalist plot to reduce us to little nothings dependent on distant masters . England will have the government it wants , a right centre Conservative Party in permanent control with a Liberal/Labour minority coalition in opposition.

Cicero said...

So presumably you would argue that England deserves no local government then?

This little Englander nonsense is precisely the problem. I am British and I am not going to have my country taken away from me by small minded numpties, no matter what side of the Tweed that they are sitting on.

agentmancuso said...

"a thousand glorious years of integrity as a people "

I vaguely remember some other nationalist nutters being keen on the '1000 year' idea too.Whatever happened to them?

Newmania said...

So presumably you would argue that England deserves no local government then?

This little Englander nonsense is precisely the problem. I am British and I am not going to have my country taken away from me by small minded numpties, no matter what side of the Tweed that they are sitting on.




Who said anyone was going to ask you? No-one asked us .
England has local government in which I have taken an active part and continue to do so.
May I point out that Conservatives were vociferous in defending the Union ,members were incandescent at the cynical devolution ploy whereby the UK was sacrificed for Labour’s political ends. The English had no say , nor indeed did the Scots in England who would have defeated the referendum.
It hardly needs saying that the Liberals did sweet FA as usual so it is a colossal joke that said spineless non combatants should suddenly; care one way or other .The whole question arose not because of “Little Englanders “ but because of microscopic Scots and devious socialists . Only years of electoral disadvantage and abuse from the SNP did attitudes harden towards the Scots and the prospect of our own government seem the least bad possibility.
I do not considers it small minded not to wish our country to be broken up for the convenience of the EU and progressive losers who are entirely the architects of our present impasse . Furthermore I do not doubt that England will be stronger and more prosperous country without Scotland as well as free to renegotiate with the EU and pull closer to the US playing a real part in world affairs not posing in illusory talking shops as socialists prefer. It will be viable wealthy and reflect the wishes of its population . Could be worse . In fact I would not be surprised if Liberals did not end up as the main opposition.
Your problem is that having used the anti Union vote since the war against the English now it threatens to permanently disempower you except in some nothing little adjunct the EU which will be ruled from Brussels and will be a poor parochial province. You should have taken a more principled stand in the first place it is now transparently unprincipled cobblers .As for “little Englander attitudes I am more than happy for Michael Gove etc. to continue to play apart in our public life . The Scots do not afford us the same courtesy so do not pretend their is symmetrical belligerence .
Any way bottom line , forget your pipe dream ,its been tried and it aint happening . Forget Britain it has effectively already gone and was in any case only a set of entitlements by the time the Progressives had abused it s integrity.

As for ‘small minded numpties’ . Misdirected and unjust obviously but can I alert you to the danger of having a mind so open that your brain falls out and with it any understanding of the UK political scene .On ‘Numpty’ I can assure you everything is in working order here.


Agent Mancuso,

Well done on winning the Godwin`s law prize well done also for making it explicit that your kind actually detest nationalism and therefore have no understanding of matters pertaining to nationality. Cicero probably thinks he is European and if someone wrote the right treaty he would become a citizen of the Solar System. Hitler was in fact defeated by strong nations like Britain , as iot then was, not by the little minnows of the Continent which Cicero wants to create here , .The National loyalty you despise saved us from fascism not Liberal hand wringing.

agentmancuso said...

"It hardly needs saying that the Liberals did sweet FA"

On the contrary, the Liberals remained committed to Home Rule all century long. Labour and the Conservatives both changed their position for reasons of short-term political convenience.

"your kind actually detest nationalism"

Yes. I detest nationalism. It is a base and repulsive doctrine.

As for Godwin's law, well, it has it's limits. And invoking it to avoid criticism of the utterly pathetic statement "a thousand glorious years of integrity as a people " is well beyond those limits.

Cicero said...

As usual newmania, you live up to the second half of your name rather well. Did you not read this piece at all? If you want a totally centralised England you are opposed not only by the overwhelming majority of the country, but even by your own party. I think your paranoia about England and Europe is quite simply so far from the truth that you are either exceptionally stupid or quite mad.

I start from the point that the UK is worth preserving, and that a less centralised UK and and less centralised England within it is a massive benefit, economically, socially, miltarily and politically.

Wanting some kind of centralised isolationist, separatist England, ignoring your partners in the UK and in the rest of Europe would leave your country as an irrelevent laughing stock.

BTW It was precisely the Tory die hards that put the country at risk in the first place- Scotland wanted a looser version of the UK and for nearly 20 years and voted for it. This was bitterly opposed by the minority Conservative government- and this democratic failure is what has caused the strain in the Union. Rigid inflexibility is a crap strategy in any political endevour- fortunately not even the most blinkered Conservative (with the exception of the very peculiar Mr. Redwood) seems inclined to adopt it.

Newmania said...

a thousand glorious years of integrity as a people

An element of attractive self mockery was contained in that phrase which as a barbaric clot you missed in your pubescent enthusiasm to make a fatuous non- point . How many Liberals rebelled over the amendment requiring the whole of the UK to have a vote on devolution.? None . How many Liberals Mps were prepared to lie to their voters and betray the country by saving Brown over the Lisbon fiction . All. So spare me the irrelevant history lesson and do something useful just once ,ever .

Nationalism is not a doctrine , it is a loyalty. You simply would not understand and would therefore screw your granny if you convinced yourself it was doctrinally correct as ,such people usually do in the end .Enjoy.

Newmania said...

Cicero perhaps it would help if you decided what you thought before putting finger to keyboard, I couldn’t say?. I kindly assumed the opaque waffle was re hashing the old regional assembly idea which died when it was rejected in the NE ?
I do not want an especially centralised England .Councils should have more power devolved to them. I support local accountability in crime and I am all in favour, for example , f fighting the Brown plan to flood the South with immigrants which he will house in his hideous ‘eco slums ’ plonked in sacred green belt , (2/3 of the occupants of this vile invasions are yet to arrive ) .Planning permission will be by passed by the Browns and such arrogant treatment is to be deplored …This is one of many ways in which the central governments signals should be attenuated .I support then the localist thrust of Conservative Policy also on freeing schools and so on and so on.
You , however , are suggesting that Scotland is a country whereas England is collection of regions no more interrelated than the Pictish horde and the Angels . You may have confused two entirely different subjects if you feel localism and de-nationhood are the same thing .
The reason for the regional ploy is interesting . Labour and its left allies (you) have been aware for a long time , certainly through the 90s period of unofficial Lib Lab alliance , that they were exposed when Scotland completed it s progress to independence. The biased fix suited LIB /LAB ers s they were strong in Scotland and the hoped the undemocratic non-equilibrium would not be noticed . Of course it has been assisted by Salmon . It is no exaggerations say it has since been their obsession, hence all that “British “blether from Mac Bruin.

The first plan associated with that ‘far thinking and non partisan statesman’ John Prescott ( and now you). To avoid disappearing from the bulk of the UK`s governance the plot was to break England up and hope to sell the lie that a devolved Scottish influence in England were equivalent to regionalised Yorkshire’s rights in East Anglia .

Say it aloud , that’s all I ask. . The very case for Scots devolution was based on there being a difference in kind between two ‘countries’ . You were to cowardly to make the Unionist case in Scotland and accepted that there was a organic integrity to the meanies and their Drizzly bogs. To square the circle you thought you would tell the English that they actually lots of separate countries too so it did not matter. Except we are not , so it does. In other words you abandon the position you take for Scotland ,of accepting nationhood counts , when you approach England .It has all the principle of a conjuring trick and no-one was fooled when fat boy Prescott tried this incoherent and vicious gambit on.
Needless to say the regional assemblies would be elected by the sort of gerrymandering second preference system we had designed to ensure London never had a Conservative Mayor . This would then have the additional benefit of attacking the political system unseen and using the states power in effect to ensure a perpetual state of Liberal and Left. Shabby



We ‘stupid mad’ people contend that Scottish nationalism , which became a serious force when the first oil barrel slipped ashore( not when they discovered the joys of loose federation you twit ) , and their continued determination to be separate country is ,what has caused a strain on the Union not the intransigence or anything else of the Conservative Party. .We do not need to be ruled by foreigners to avoid isolation unless you seriously think the Germans are going to stop selling us BMW`s or the French are going to help us when we need men on the ground . Grow up. Newmania is a celebration of things Newman you have mistaken the entomology and should we cause any merriment in the German and Scottish soul it will not be begrudged ,it usually takes a dead neighbour to get a laugh out of either.

agentmancuso said...

"An element of attractive self mockery was contained in that phrase"

I think maybe you should increase the element of self-mockery; it might make your incoherent rambling easier to follow.

"The very case for Scots devolution was based on there being a difference in kind between two ‘countries’"

Actually it was based on the fact that Scotland was the only country in the world with its own legal system but no separate legislature.

Out of curiosity, does your peculiar flavour of mania xenophobia reflect the typical Conservative activist from Sussex? Do the others try desperately to shut you up at public meetings? Do they regard your personal identity crisis as a credible tool for winning over the floating voter, or are they just embarrassed?

Cicero said...

Let's try this one again shall we... I am suggesting that English local units, currently existing, should have substantially more power- indeed as much power as they can take. You are accusing me of wanting to break up England. In Spain, single county governments work. The answer to the WLQ is to give powers that are not the same but are comparable to, the Scottish Parliament, either to single counties or to small groups of counties- depending on local wishes. It does not mean the break up of England, still less the UK, since the Westminster Parliament will continue to function. However, a lot of people in Cornwall or Sussex or East Anglia *want* much more local control. My view: give it to them. Creating a single English Parliament is pointless, the population of the Uk is 60 million, of England, 51 million- what is the benefit? It does not improve the local government of England and just sets up a trial of strength between an "English" and a "British" legislature.

BTW the campaign for Scottish Home Rule is more than a century and a half old- it has not much to do with oil, it was simply necessary.

Newmania said...

AM- Lighten up dear its only a blog

Cicero- I have already dealt with your suggestion which hardly news and entirely understood the first time round and over the many years when it has been made.

agentmancuso said...

I take it from your avoidance of the question that your xenophobic gibbering is typical of Tory activists in your part of Sussex. Maybe that explains why the Conservatives are such a distant second in Lewes, when the rest of the area is a sea of blue?

"Newmania is a celebration of things Newman you have mistaken the entomology and should we cause any merriment in the German and Scottish soul it will not be begrudged ,it usually takes a dead neighbour to get a laugh out of either."

Remind me never to mistake the entomology. ;-)

Tearlach said...

The problems of local identity and governance in England are simply that - a problem for England. And one that the existence of the UK - and the real problems that it poses for England - simply exacerbates.

A key issue that almost everyone manages to ignore - or simply miss - is that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (to give it its Sunday name) is pretty unique in the world of nation states. That's because it’s not a real Nation state, in the sense that anyone else would understand. It’s only accepted because it’s been around a long long time, and most other countries find this Britain/England/Scotland thing something for the too hard box.

The UK is a political assemblage of two Kingdoms (England, Scotland), a Principality (Wales) and a Province (Northern Ireland). It used to be three kingdoms and a Principality, but Eire chose to dissolve its political ties to the rest of the UK over 80 years ago.

The best way of looking at the UK is that it was a very early form of the European Union - formed in 1707 - and then added to in 1800, as an economic and political union to do two things - prevent war, and promote free trade through a single currency. Sound familiar? Yep - Jean Monet was 250 years late in coming up with the idea of free trade zones and economic growth through free movement of goods, services and people.

And what's the Pound Sterling - a 300 year old version of the Euro.

But the key issue is that Scotland - and England - remained - and remain - separate nations within a political union. Quite unlike anything you would see in the USA, although US states have many more political and economic powers over their affairs than anything that the current Scottish Parliament has.

There are a couple of crucial differences though - Law - quite separate, its Scots Law, and English law (no such thing as British law), and religion. Scotland and England have different National religions, which define both their outlooks on life. An the fact that the core bit of the UK (unwritten) constitution is the 1707 act of union, which defines the two nations separateness, at the same time as combining them politically.

To the chagrin of quite a few Jacobites - both then and now - in many ways Scotland benefited from the Union on the 18th and 18th century - it had access to huge markets for goods and service, free movement for its labour and the ability for its politicians to drive the growth of an empire without having to take full responsibility for its serious downsides.

However many of the old supporters of the Union - for the reasons above - are now questioning the need for the UK in a modern 21st Century Europe. The sort of benefits that the UK used to supply - especially access to markets and capital, and free movement of labour have long gone, subsumed within a much wider European trade zone.

It's also clear that smaller EU nations - such as Ireland, Finland, Sweden and even Iceland have many more fiscal and economic tools at their disposal to ensure that their populace are ready to face up to the challenges of developing modern, open, knowledge based economies than anything that can be seen coming out of Westminster. Look at some of these Nations - Finland, 600 years under Swedish rule, then Russian, then existing almost as a Soviet satellite - now one of the worlds most progressive countries. If you follow the logic of UK Unionist politicians it should be clamouring to for full economic and political union with Sweden, or Russia.

If you follow that same reasoning Canada and Mexico should also be beating at the doors of the White House, desperate for membership of the US. Oh, and not much evidence of Ireland wanting to re-join the UK.

As we say in Scotland - Aye Right.

That's what is really annoying more and more people in Scotland today. The argument that Scotland needs to remain in the Union to ensure that we get the cash that the Union brings, and that Independence would bring fiscal ruin.

This same Union that has ensured that Scotland has lower growth, lower GDP and lower population growth than any comparable northern European country! Some benefit - particularly on the back of 30 years of oil revenues that have been pissed away supporting UK political agendas (how else did Margaret Thatcher manage to "restructure" the UK's economic base in the 80's). Look at what Norway has done with its resources over the same time frame. Or look at what Iceland has done without Oil - a country so poor 50 years ago that most people were simply focused on simple subsistence...

The basic point here is that the vast majority of folk within Scotland consider themselves Scottish before British (and have increasingly done so since WW2 - the last time people felt "British"), and they more and more are starting to wonder as to the real advantages that the Union brings.

I guess that many folk in England are starting to think in just the same way....

Cicero said...

Tearlach, interesting comments. For me the point is not so much the order: most people would say that they were "Scottish, British & European". The point is the shape of the British dimension. In my view a shared state has stood us in good stead for several reasons, not just economic ones. Overall the differences between the nations of the UK are much smaller than the gap between the Home nations and other Europeans- largely becusae of language, but also religious tradition. We have a shared history arguably since 1603, certainly since 1707. We are heavily intermarried and few of us do not have relatives on the "other" side of the border.

Whatever the problems of the "Union" many of these have been addressed by the creation of the Scottish Parliament- and I would argue that a federation of Britain would give sufficient economic freedom but also allow the benefits of shared and efficient armed forces diplomatic corps and a stronger political influence to continue.

Separitism, for me is aa dead end. Many say: "Scotland could be like Ireland". My reply, do you mean the Ireland of the past decade or the 70 years becfore that of backward, poor irrelevency. Why take the risk? Scotland is Free, does it need independence to prove the point? In my view too, I agree the problem of the current UK is the need for England to evolve- it is a test for the whole country, but once I believe will be passed. The Scottish Parliament has generally been a success- I see no need for separatism at this point.

kiki said...
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