Tuesday, 31 July 2007

No Union, No Scotland

The SNP will not survive to the next Holyrood Election. There will be no devolution referendum (not least because only Westminster can legislate for one, which it will never do), so the fundamentalist wing will either break away or stage a ruinous leadership contest with the same eventual effect.

But what if there were such a referendum, and a Yes vote? No British Government would ever sign up to Scottish independence without at least a permanent 50/50 split in oil and gas revenue, if not a split per head of population. No Spanish or Belgian Prime Minister would ever permit the accession to the EU of a secession from an existing member-state.

But most of all, unless there had somehow been obtained a clear majority Yes vote in each and every one of Scotland's (all unitary) municipalities, then no Westminster Parliament would ever do other than follow the Irish precedent and legislate for the independence only of those municipalities where the majority of registered voters had voted Yes, with the rest remaining the Scottish part of the United Kingdom as already existing.

In other words, the Union is the only way to preserve Scotland, as such, at all.

23 comments:

  1. The Aberdonian1 August 2007 09:48

    Why would it not legislate for a referendum? It passed the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1922 and the Ireland Act of 1949. Even Thatcher herself in her memoirs said Scotland could become independent.

    Concerning the "municipalities", that has never ever been an issue? If that was the basis in Ireland then large chunks of the south (such as as parts of Cork, Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan, County Dublin, Limerick) would be part of the UK. Indeed if I do recall Sinn Feinn was actually in control of local government in 3 counties that are now Northern Ireland after the 1919 Irish local government elections. So by your logic Northern Ireland should actually be a lot smaller.

    Why this about the 50/50 on the oil revenues. Most of the gas fields are in England anyway. Again by your logic then Ankara should have a share in the revenues accrued from Iraq to Albania. Are you suggesting Scotland is not England's partner but merely her colony?

    Again no public comment from Belgium or Spain on the matter. If Scotland leaves the UK then the UK ceases to exist. It is like Flanders leaving Belgium, no Flanders, no Belgium - Union of Arras and all that.

    Obviously Spain wants to lose access to fishing waters----------

    The EU has never been in this position so we do not know. The only dramatic things to happen concerning EU membership was Greenland leaving it (which was difficult) and the unification of Germany.

    Here is of course a moot point. Should West Germany have left the EC (as it was), united with East Germany and then reapplied for membership as a new country. Cannot remember that happening. Enlighten me.

    This precedent might be used in the future to howls (particuarly from the anti-EU lobby) if Romania cuts a deal with Moldova (well the part that Moldova that still regards itself as Moldova).

    Would the SNP split on a failed refererendum. Likely as there are those who still follow Jim Sillars who is anti-referendum. The views of his disciple Alex Neil are not known but proberly are similar.

    Why do you view Scotland as a jumped up colony which even incapable of choosing its own internal self-government within the UK. Re your declaration that the present regime in Edinburgh is treasonable.

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  2. The Aberdonian1 August 2007 16:42

    Forgot to mention as mentioned in previous post that Ireland was partitioned pre-independence under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 into two devolved entities. So partition dates before independence.

    Parliament of Northern Ireland of course developed into the regime of 1921-1972. The election of the devolved southern parliament went a bit haywire as Sinn Feinn scared the rest of the candidates off and returned for 121 of the 125 seats (the other four going to unionist candidates for the University seats) in the Southern Irish House of Commons.

    The 121 promptly declared themselves the second Dail, the first of course being made of SF MPs elected in 1918 who boycotted the UK House of Commons.

    There was a boundary commission under the Anglo-Irish Treaty that was to meet. However Dublin gave it up in return for some financial liabilities being written off. And also the fact that the boundary commission (rigged in nationalist eyes due to the British government appointee - who sat each with an appointee of the two Irish governments - was a sidekick of the a prominent London unionist) called on giving a piece of Donegal to Northern Ireland.

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  3. The votes would have to be counted somehow, and the call for the British Government to safeguard the position within the Union of any unit without a clear Unionist majority would be unanswerable.

    Good God, when certain hysterics were spreading the very unlikely fear that Australia might vote Yes to a republic, there was serious talk of British forces being sent (by a Labour Government, and a largely Scottish one at that) to defend those parts of Australia that wished to remain merely a Commonwealth Realm, never mind part of the United Kingdom!

    Westminster will insist on retaining even areas with slight Nationalist majorities for the sake of the Unionists living there. There is simply no doubt at all that there would be partition unless every single municipal area, parliamentary consitituency, or whatever unit was used to count the votes, voted heavily for independence. And you know that that is not going to happen.

    Likewise, you know that the oil and gas, being currently a common resource, simply could not just be signed away by the British Government; that would be a dereliction of its responsibilities.

    No British Government would ever accept anything less than 50/50 for ever. And what if it insisted on per capita for ever? What if it just refused to sign without that provision? Which, therefore, it would. As much as anything else, it could not possibly resist the domestic pressure to do so.

    As to Spain, Belgium, and Scotland's alleged indispensibility to the UK, you are just being silly for effect, and you know it. And a lot of the Spanish fisherme in question are Basque...

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  4. As for Westmister legislating for a referendum, just think about it. Would such a Bill pass the Commons? Would it pass the Lords? Come on! Give it up - Alex Salmond has.

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  5. The Aberdonian2 August 2007 09:43

    Is the money made from the City of London a common resource?

    Rubber in the once Malayan colonies were common imperial resource. So were the riches of South Africa. Do not see the UK getting 50/50 on this issue (except via investments).

    Are we a colony or a partner. If you propose 50/50 on oil, then should that be that on everything. 50% of the South of England's wealth will do nicely please.


    Concerning Australia - you seem blissfully unaware of the Statute of Westminster and the Australian constitution. Austalia is no longer a colony or a set of colonies.

    Your talk of sending in the army into Australia is absurd. Not even Churchill did that when was having problems with John Curtin ("he's a socialist, his parents were Irish and he was a pacificist during World War I - how can they elect a worse man!"). Not sure how the USA would take to an attack on their "deputy" in the Pacific.

    Concerning Spain and Belgium, again I say there has been no public comment so we do not know. There are a number of opinions from saying Scotland needs to reapply to the fact that Scotland is already a member vis a vis the UK and would remain so on indepenendence. The SNP sees its policy to negotiate OUT of NATO as Scotland would be still be in NATO on independence.

    Did not Westminster not legislate in 1974 for a referendum on the status of Northern Ireland? And was there not a referendum held on the subject?

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  6. The City of London is not attempting to secede from the United Kingdom. Again I say that no British Government would sign up to anything less than a 50/50 split, if not a per capita split. It just wouldn't do it - it simply wouldn't sign.

    Malaya and South Africa were in the British Empire, but they were never in the United Kingdom.

    If Australia ever did vote to become a republic but any rural areas still overwhelmingly populated by people descended from these islands' inhabitants, and very often still in close contact with relatives here, voted solidly NO, then the political pressure on the British Government would be impossible to ignore. Britain would undoubtedly recognise any monarchist Australian State's Declaration of Independence, and that in itself would probably avert a war, so great would be the fear of one on the republican Australian Government's part.

    Yes, that would break the alliance with America (although a republican Australian Government would probably be quite anti-American as well). At the end of the day, it was always going to be something Commonwealth-related, and certainly not anything EU-related, that did so; if not this, then something else. The day will come, probably quite soon. Don't take your eye of Canada or (especially when Castro dies) the West Indies...

    Of course, Westminster *could* legislate for a referendum. But it won't, ceratinly not while there is breath in the bodies of Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling, and probably not ever.

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  7. The Aberdonian3 August 2007 09:41

    Did not see us break with America after their hand in Fiji in 1987 -----

    Was there a talk of an invasion of Mauritius in 1991 when it proclaimed a republic?

    Austalia is an independent, soverign country which chooses to continue to have a common head of state. Maybe one day it will be a republic. That is up to them. To pass an amendment to the constitution is to get a majority in a referendum (remember voting is obligatory in Oz)in a majority of states and the Northern Territory combined.

    The age of Palmerston has gone and was buried after Suez.

    Again is Scotland a colony or a partner in the UK? You seem to want to punish Scotland if it were to choose the independence path.

    Why?

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  8. I'm saying that this is what would would happen, not that it's what I would want.

    Politically, how in the world could a British Government sign a treaty establishing Scottish independence without at least a 50/50, if not a per capita, distribution of the oil and gas revenue? It would be looking at a motion of no confidence and, even if it survived that, at oblivion at the next General Election to come along.

    The same would be true if it failed to safeguard the continuing position within the Union of any municipal area, or parliamentary constituency, or whatever unit was used to count the votes, where, to say the least, the majority of those registered to vote (not just of those who actually voted) failed to vote Yes to independence. In a word, partition. Is that really what you would want?

    Fiji is something of an oddity. The Great Council of Chiefs, which elects the President (who must be of a chiefly family), continues to acknowledge the Queen as Paramount Chief, and her head still appears on the currency and the stamps.

    There is no British-descended population worth speaking of in Fiji, nor is there any state there except Fiji itself, just as there is no state in the United Kingdom except the United Kingdom. But if one or more of those Australian ststes which still have largely British-descended populations resolved to secede in order to retain the monarchy in the wake of a Yes vote in an independence referendum, then there would be intolerable political pressure on the British Government to safeguard the links with the Crown desired by those English-speaking, rugby and cricket-playing tea-drinkers with their aunties in Sussex or their cousins in Ayrshire.

    And we'd probably have American backing, since Australian republicanism mostly comes out of various political traditions there which are also decidedly anti-American. So the Australian Government would just give way.

    But that's academic: there's never going to be a Yes vote to a republic in Australia. Australia, like all the other remaining Commnwealth Realms, is now beyond that sort of adolescence, and can be expected to retain the monarchy for ever.

    Likewise, there is talk of the Irish Republic rejoining the Commonwealth, while almost no one there (as is seldom reported here or in the US, but it is the case) has the slightest desire for union with Northern Ireland.

    And even the American general population, as distinct from the traditionally anglophile ruling class, is warming to Britain and to Britishness these days. Well, if they can, then anybody can.

    Got the message?

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  9. The Aberdonian3 August 2007 17:33

    Nope do not get the message.

    So theoretically since the largest group in Singapore are Chinese then Beijing could directly meddle in their affairs.

    If you mean this can only happen within the Commonwealth, do you mean that Dehli has the right to pour troops into Georgetown (Guyana) and Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago) to protect the interests of the Indian-descended population as they see fit. There are some problems in T & T but not its Guyana that has the problems (Georgetown is regarded as one of the most dangerous cities in South America, considering the competition thats impressive) between blacks and indians. It is not even a century since the indentured labour system was abolished.

    Maybe Nigeria, Ghana etc could weigh in on behalf of the blacks in such a conflict - since is where much of the slave ancestors of the Afro-Guynayans come from?

    A wag I was speaking to about your talk on the 50/50 deal said to me this: well they have about 90% already, so we can keep the rest if independence happens!

    The Empire is dead. Imperial politics are over.

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  10. If the Chinese in Singapore made some sort of appeal to Beijing over some crisis or other, then there would be a Chinese response.

    And that's from a government which doesn't have to care too much about public opinion (as a British one does) in relation to a community with few remaining direct personal ties to China (in marked contrast to huge numbers of Australians and Britain).

    India and indentured labour is more complicated: loss of caste by leaving Bharat (widely believed to be the case), Hindu-Muslim tension, little or no remaining ties, &c. But I wouldn't be surprised, as India increasse in power. If, that is, the call ever came. For the reasons given, it probably won't.

    And you haven't answered the main points: that no British Government would ever settle for less than a permanent 50/50 split in the reveneue, that it would probably insist on a permanent per capita split, and that it would also insist on preserving within the Union any area which failed to record a Yes vote to independence from the majority of registered voters there. These are simply political realities.

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  11. The Aberdonian4 August 2007 15:32

    Vast bulk of Indo-Guynayans and Indo-Trindadians are Hindu. And one of the names for India is Hindustan.

    Remember until last month or so the President of India was a Muslim (as have several before him). Unusually a Muslim Tamil at that.

    So theoretically the Indian airforce could start bombing Fiji for its discriminatory constitution against its Indo-Fijian population.

    Again is Scotland a colony or a partner with your 50/50 rhetoric? Not much of partnership if it is based on threats and retaliation. Fortunately it is a bit more real politik in the real world.

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  12. Real politik indeed.

    No British Government would ever sign up to anything less than a 50/50 deal, if not a per capita deal, in perpetuity. It just wouldn't sign, and then where would you be?

    And no British Government would ever sign up to anything less than the continuation within the United Kingdom of anywhere where there was a Yes vote below fifty per cent plus one of all registerted voters. It just wouldn't sign, and then where would you be?

    But all of this is academic, because no Westminster Parliament would ever legislate for a referendum on independence, as only it can do. It just wouldn't do it.

    Real politik indeed.

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  13. The Aberdonian7 August 2007 09:49

    50/50 - The greatest act of Grand Larceny in the post-Cold War Europe. Hardly something for London to be proud of!

    As I said in other posts:

    Anglo-Irish Treaty 1922
    Ireland Act 1949
    Northern Ireland Referendum 1974

    Were they not legislation by the British Parliament.

    Tell me David, what will the remainder of the British State's reputation internationally if it carried out your views.

    Waging aggressive wars on sundry countries for exercising their self-determination. Where would the money come from? Where would the troops come from?

    Getting yourself killed on the matter of whether Australia has the Queen as head of state or not is probably not really a priority for people signing up for the armed forces. Human rights yes, protecting the nation yes, securing oil supplies er yes if need be.

    But going to war over whether a country decides to change its constitution in quite a reasonable manner???????????

    Rump of the British state would be expelled from NATO, the EU, get a kicking in the UN and yes maybe even be thrown out of its own Commonwealth.

    Palmerstonian adventures are over. They are no more. They are as dead as Palmerston himself.

    The Empire is dead. It is very nice that there is an association of ex-colonies and the remaining colonies but that is what it is, an association.

    The Commonwealth is not the RC Church with the Queen acting as the Pope sending down firey edicts and using various member nations to march on each other at her will. More like the convuluted mess that passes for the Eastern Orthodox communion.

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  14. The Aberdonian7 August 2007 12:02

    Should I add, the Pope in days of yore. They can still emit firey edicts but not many people listen to them these days---

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  15. Again I say that, while of course Westminster could legislate for a referendum, nevertheless it won't. It simply won't. After all, is Gordon Brown to introduce this Bill? Come on!

    And anyway, would a resolution calling for such a Bill be passed at Holyrood? It only takes a disgruntled Green, or someone at death's door in hospital, or someone caught in traffic, and the answer would be no.

    "Grand larceny"? Again I say, no British Government would sign anything less than this. Have you got that? It just wouldn't sign. Indeed, politically or morally, it couldn't sign. So that would be that: no treaty. In other words, no independence.

    Again I say that the same is true of preserving within the Union any discernable unit of Scotland (and the votes would have to be counted somehow) which failed to deliver a Yes vote of at least fifty per cent of registered voters (although the bar might well be set higher than that) in any independence referendum that might, most improbably, ever be held.

    Again I say that no British Government would sign anything less than that. Have you got that? It just wouldn't sign. Indeed, politically or morally, it couldn't sign. So that would be that: no treaty. In other words, no independence for ANY part of Scotland.

    And in similar vein, since you keep coming back to it, if Australia ever did become a republic (which is never going to happen, but for the sake of argument), and if one or more of the more rural and strongly British-descended states wanted to retain the monarchy (as would certainly be the case in this extremely unlikely overall scenario), then the political pressure on the British Government of the day (among others) to recognise and aid any UDI or what have you would be impossible to resist.

    But that is not going to happen. Australia (among other places) is not going to become a republic. The Irish Republic looks likely to rejoin the Commonwealth in the near future. Certainly, rhetoric aside, even Sinn Fein has worked out that it now has a lot more power in Northern Ireland as it is than it could ever expect in a united Ireland, which, very occasional rhetoric aside, next to nobody in the Republic now wants anyway. And so forth.

    Leaving the SNP and Plaid Cymru as the last relics of an otherwise entirely bygone age of anti-Britishness.

    The Scots and the Welsh should be grateful that they never went through that sort of national adolescence (as "normal" Australians and others, as distinct from their political and media classes, also never did). And they appear to be so, judging by the actual support for the SNP and Plaid Cymru, never mind for independence itself.

    Here's hoping that the English are also spared it.

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  16. This is an extract from the book 'SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE: A Practical Guide' by Jo Eric Murkens with Peter Jones and Michael Keating (ISBN 0 7486 1699 3) -

    'The Select Committee on Scottish Affairs considered the question of power in its examination of the Scotland Act. Their report states that:

    greater power can only be granted to Scotland by the UK Parliament and here there is potential for conflict. To take the extreme example, constitutional matters are reserved but it is hard to see how the Scottish Parliament could be prevented from holding a referendum on independence should it be determined to do so. If the Scottish people expressed a desire for independence then the stage would be set for a direct clash between what is the English doctrine of sovereignty and the Scottish doctrine of the sovereignty of the people.

    (The Operation of Multi-Layer Democracy, Scottish Affairs Committee Second Report of Session 1997-1998, HC 460-I, 2 December 1998, paragraph 27)


    The Committee believes that, both in political and practical terms, it would be difficult to prevent a referendum on independence.'


    As far as Flanders leaving Belgium is concerned - what about the recent politicla crisis in Belgium which still has not been resolved?

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  17. It depends what you mean by "the People", always the law in any theory of popular sovereignty.

    I cannot see how "the Scottish People" (whom does not include, eaxctly, and why exactly?) could express any such desire. I am wholly unconvinced that a referendum would suffice. Why would it? How could it?

    But there isn't going to be one, anyway. The SNP has settled down into a populist, "fighting Scotland's corner" party. And why not? But it has given up on independence. It can't quite say so, but its actions (or not) on an independence referendum speak for themselves.

    Belgium might well break up, but whichever part seceeds will forfeit EU membership for ever. Britain and Spain will make sure of that. And the same would happen to Scotland. But it won't, for the raesosn set out above: the situation is simply never going to arise. The SNP has given up.

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  18. The current definition of "the People" in Scottish Constitutional Law is the total registered electorate. You say you that you are "wholly unconvinced that a referendum would suffice. Why would it? How could it?"

    Matt Qvortrup, Professor of Political Science at the Robert Gordon University and author of the book 'A Comparitive Study of Referendums' wrote in an Opinion column in 'The Scotsman' -

    '...As someone who has advised on several international referendums and written extensively on the subject I take exception to these claims...All referendums conducted in accordance with international standards have been regognised by the international community. Scotland would not need the consent of the rest of the UK before a referendum was held. Iceland was granted independence from Denmark although the referendum was advisory only...To quote English constitutionalist Vernon Bogdanor: "In the last resort, all arguments against the referendum are also arguments against democracy, while acceptance of the referendum is but the logical consequence of accepting the democratic form of government."

    "The Scottish Executive has unlimited powers to negotiate with the Westminster government about any issues which could be the subject of discussion between them, therefore it could seek an advisory referendum" (MacCormick 2000:726).

    - Professor Neil MacCormick

    "a consultative referendum - even on secession - would not conflict with the policy of the Scotland Act as long as its purpose is to assist the Scottish Parliament in determining the democratic will of the electorate" (Walters 1999:387).

    - Professor Mark D. Walters, Professor of Law, Queens University, Canada.


    You also write "...But it has given up on independence...The SNP has given up. I can assure you that that is definitely NOT true. There is a lot of deliberate political disinformation circulating at present. I suspect that you've been duped si I would suggest that irrespective of the source you check out the actual facts for yourself.

    I have been an SNP activist for over 30 years and in that time the best advice I got about being involved in politics was from my gran. I'd like to share it with you -

    "Just remember, especially in politics, that people who make statements as facts without knowing what they're talking about are just opening their mouth and let their belly rumble."

    By the way the name of your post should read "No Scotland, No Union".

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  19. I repeat that a referendum of those enrolled as voters in Scotland at the given time is morally unfit to break up up the United Kingdom.

    Would this include foreign nationals registered to vote in local elections? Yet the British residents of England, Wales and Northern Ireland - even those who are themselves Scottish - would have no say in the continued existence of our country, the United Kingdom!

    SNP activists might still want independence, but activists in any party might want a lot of things. The SNP Establishment has settled down into keeping itself in power by doing often very welcome populist things like abolishing road tolls. And why not? But that is all that it now does.

    It seems that there can never be a secessionist party of government in any part of the United Kingdom: as soon as it gets into government, its ceases to be secessionist in anything more than the most rhetorical sense. Look at the SNP. Look at Plaid Cymru. Look even at Sinn Fein.

    If you doubt this in the SNP's case, then where is the independence referendum? Where?

    And of course the Union would stioll exist if those parts of Scotland which voted Yes in such a referendum seceeded. It would be hat was left,including much of Scotland.

    But there isn't going to be any such referendum. Ever.

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  20. In a previous reply to a comment by 'the aberdonian' you write '...there is no state in the United Kingdom except the United Kingdom'. The official title is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The 'United Kingdom' or 'UK' is an abbreviation of that title, it is also a description of the state. Take note of the preposition 'of' in the title - it is very important. The word 'of' in the official title makes it absolutely and grammatically clear that the state is Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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  21. What is your point? If England, Scotland, Wales or any part of any of them seceeded, then what was left would still be Great Britain. This internal Scottish myth of Scotland's indispensibility in principle is just that: a myth.

    But it's not going to happen, anyway.

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  22. Article I of the Treaty of Union of 1707 makes it absolutely clear that Great Britain was formed by the union of Scotland and England. If either one of those two nations became independent then Great Britain would cease to exist. That is not a myth. Check you facts.

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  23. Ireland? It happened. The wonders of not having a written constitution.

    Anyway, Scotland for the purposes of the Act could be declared to be the parts where there was no majority for independence, and which therefore remained part of the United Kingdom.

    But it's not going to happen.

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