Scotland Calls for Second Referendum: Why and Why Now?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland gives a news conference in Edinburgh, June 24, 2016
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland gives a news conference in Edinburgh, June 24, 2016 (Scottish Government)

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants to hold a second independence referendum for the region in either late 2018 or early 2019.

The announcement comes days before the United Kingdom is expected to formally inform its allies in the European Union that it intends to withdraw from the body. Such a notification would trigger a two-year divorce process. If Sturgeon gets her way, that means Scots would be asked to choose between the EU and the United Kingdom by the time the terms of “Brexit” are known. Read more

Sturgeon’s “Listening Exercise” an Admission of Weakness

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland visits a farm, August 26, 2015
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland visits a farm, August 26, 2015 (Scottish Government)

The “biggest ever political listening exercise” to gauge public support for a second independence referendum Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced on Friday is really an admission of weakness. Read more

It’s Time For These Women to Take Charge

Nicola Sturgeon, Theresa May, Angela Merkel and Hillary Clinton
Nicola Sturgeon, Theresa May, Angela Merkel and Hillary Clinton (Scottish Government/UK Home Office/EPP/DoD)

Sarah Gordon argues in the Financial Times that Britain’s male politicians have failed to rise to the occasion and it is time to hand over to the women. Discipline and maturity may not be their exclusive preserve, she writes, but “the past few days could give one an excuse for believing so.”

There is something to be said for female power at a time when the men in her country’s ruling party appear to be living out their House of Cards fantasies.

Indeed, there is something to be said for female power across the Atlantic as well, where one party is in thrall to a caricature of an alpha male. Read more

Scottish Nationalists Take Advantage of Labour Upheaval

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland gives a speech in Tweedbank, September 9
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland gives a speech in Tweedbank, September 9 (Scottish Government)

Nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon told Scots on Saturday that with Labour in disarray, her party was the only thing standing between them and “another decade of Tory government.”

In doing so, she may have reignited the debate about Scottish independence that Britain’s ruling Conservatives had hoped to put to rest with a referendum last year.

At a conference in Aberdeen, Sturgeon, who also leads the region’s devolved government as first minister, reasserted her Scottish National Party’s status as a “credible” social democratic party as opposed to Labour. Its failure “to meet even the basic requirements of effective oppositions — to be united and credible as an alternative government — should make them deeply ashamed of themselves,” she said.

Labour may have thrown away its chance of removing the Conservatives from power when it elected the radical Jeremy Corbyn as leader in September. His far-left economic and foreign policy views threaten to split the parliamentary party and are wholly unacceptable to the majority of British voters.

In the last election, most leftwingers in Scotland abandoned the Labour Party in favor of Sturgeon’s SNP. In England, it was defeated by Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives.

55 percent of Scots voted against independence in a referendum last year. But surveys show that support for breaking away from the United Kingdom has increased since Cameron won the election in May.

In her least ambiguous remarks about independence since losing the referendum, Sturgeon argued this weekend that Labour’s inability to challenge the Conservatives had brought into “sharp focus” a “fundamental truth.”

The only real and lasting alternative to Tory governments that we don’t vote for is independence for our country.

Nuclear Submarines No Deal Breakers for Scottish Nationalists

A British Trident submarine departs Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde, Scotland, August 15, 2007
A British Trident submarine departs Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, Scotland, August 15, 2007 (JohnED76)

Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon told The Guardian newspaper last week she would no longer condition policy support in Westminster on the removal of Britain’s nuclear submarine fleet from the region.

That takes away a major obstacle from a potential coalition with the Labour Party which is opposed to moving the Trident submarines from Faslane, a naval base west of Glasgow.

The nationalists are projected to win as many as 56 out of 59 Scottish seats in May’s general election. 41 of those are currently held by Labour.

Such a victory for the nationalists could deny Labour the opportunity to beat Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives although they are likely to fall short of an absolute majority as well.

If the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, who currently rule in coalition, fail to defend their majority in Parliament, Labour could possibly form an alliance with the Scottish nationalists who share its left-wing economic and welfare agenda.

In her interview with The Guardian, Sturgeon played down the prospect of a coalition.

“It’s more likely to be an arrangement where we would support Labour on an issue-by-issue basis,” she said.

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has refused to rule out an accord but would be hard-pressed to meet the nationalists’ demands even if they don’t insist on canceling Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent.

Despite losing a referendum on independence last year, the Scots want more powers from London.

The major national parties have already agreed to give the Scottish Parliament control over air passenger duties, housing credits, income taxes and winter fuel payments. It would also get additional welfare competencies. These reforms, if enacted, would represent the biggest transfer of power to the region since the Scottish Parliament was originally set up in 1999.