Scotland Calls for Second Referendum: Why and Why Now?

Scotland flag
Flag of Scotland (Paul Morgan)

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.

Sturgeon and a majority of Scots elected to remain in the EU in a referendum last year. They were outvoted by majorities in England and Wales.

The first minister told reporters in Edinburgh on Monday that she would do her utmost to represent Scotland’s interests in the negotiations with the EU.

But, she added, “I cannot pretend to the Scottish people that a compromise agreement looks remotely likely given the hardline response from the prime minister so far.” Read more “Scotland Calls for Second Referendum: Why and Why Now?”

Sturgeon’s “Listening Exercise” an Admission of Weakness

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.

Sturgeon, who heads the separatist Scottish National Party, said the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union in a referendum this summer will have “a deep impact on our ambition for this country.”

“The United Kingdom that existed before June 23 has fundamentally changed,” she told a party gathering in Stirling.

Whereas a majority of English and Welsh voters opted to leave the EU, a majority of Scots voted to stay in. They feel they’re now being taken out of the 28-nation bloc against their will.

Yet Sturgeon has balked at calling for a second Scottish independence referendum outright. Read more “Sturgeon’s “Listening Exercise” an Admission of Weakness”

It’s Time For These Women to Take Charge

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 “It’s Time For These Women to Take Charge”

Scottish Nationalists Take Advantage of Labour Upheaval

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. Read more “Scottish Nationalists Take Advantage of Labour Upheaval”

Nuclear Submarines No Deal Breakers for Scottish Nationalists

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. Read more “Nuclear Submarines No Deal Breakers for Scottish Nationalists”