Scottish Referendum Hasn’t Settled United Kingdom’s Future

A 55 percent majority of Scots rejected independence on Thursday but the future political structure of the United Kingdom is still in doubt. If Scotland gets additional autonomy, as promised, the remaining three parts of the island nation may expect the same.

With 3.6 million Scots turning out to vote in a referendum that Alex Salmond, the Scottish National Party leader, had described as a “once in a generation, perhaps even a once in a lifetime opportunity,” the result was decidedly in favor of keeping the union with England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Read more “Scottish Referendum Hasn’t Settled United Kingdom’s Future”

Scottish Referendum Raises Questions About Nationhood

The polls are closed, but that doesn’t mean an end to the Scottish referendum in the news. Even by tomorrow night, there will be plenty more to say (and repeat) on the issue which, either way, will change the United Kingdom — either destroying it or keeping it together with new expectations of devolution among its constituent countries.

All eyes, it seems, both north, south and abroad, are watching with some dog in the race, either culturally (in the case of the millions of Scots descendants who still claim to be Scottish) or politically. Politicians in Madrid, for example, are no doubt observing with particular interest and wondering how this will all knock on for Spain’s own issues with the Catalans and the Basques.

Opinions on the matter are as divided in England as they are in Scotland, not just including the Scots living south of the border who have been unable to vote (like Andy Murray, who tweeted his support for independence) but also among the English. Some Conservatives see it as a wonderful opportunity to reduce the voters of the opposition; Scotland was for years a Labour bastion until many Scots felt underwhelmed and even outright betrayed by the policies of New Labour. With a reduced leftist population in a rump United Kingdom, the right-wing Conservatives and United Kingdom Independence Party would gain a larger relative portion of the vote. You’d think David Cameron would be pleased about that at least but credit where it is due — he does seem to genuinely want the union to continue despite the potential opportunities for his own party. Read more “Scottish Referendum Raises Questions About Nationhood”

Scots Reject Independence in Referendum

Edinburgh Scotland
Skyline of Edinburgh, Scotland (Unsplash/Joe Tree)
  • 55 percent of Scots have voted against leaving the United Kingdom in a referendum.
  • Turnout was 84 percent, or 3.6 million.
  • Scottish independence could have made a British exit from the EU more likely.
  • Prime Minister David Cameron has called for a “balanced settlement” that is fair to Scotland as well as the rest of the UK. Read more “Scots Reject Independence in Referendum”

Scottish Referendum: A Testament to British Civilization

However Scotland votes on Thursday, the simple fact that it will have a referendum on independence peacefully and only after careful deliberation testifies to Britain’s greatness.

It wasn’t so long ago that the peoples of Eastern Europe fought and died to liberate themselves from Soviet oppression. Only in recent years has the unrest that accompanied separatism in the Basque Country calmed down yet to this day, the rest of Spain refuses to give the Catalonians even the choice to secede. In the Middle East, the Kurds are on the verge of gaining their own state but only after decades of violent struggle. The people of eastern Ukraine have to defend their independence from another state altogether.

The Scottish referendum is almost unique in that the breakup of a country would be accompanied without bloodshed. It is also almost unique in the sense that the rest of the United Kingdom is willing to let the Scots go their own way, should they choose to do so. No one doubts that on Friday, the English, Northern Irish and Welsh will accept and respect whatever decision the Scots have made. Read more “Scottish Referendum: A Testament to British Civilization”

Salmond Confident Independent Scotland Could Join EU

Scottish leader Alex Salmond expressed confidence on Sunday his country would be welcomed into the European Union if it voted to secede from the United Kingdom, arguing that its rich fishing waters and energy potential could make it a valuable member of the bloc.

While an independent Scotland, with over five million inhabitants, would have only 1 percent of the European Union’s total population, Salmond pointed out that the country has 20 percent of the bloc’s fish stocks, a quarter of its renewable energy potential and 60 percent of its conventional oil reserves.

“I don’t think that anyone in the rest of Europe is wanting to exclude fish-rich, energy-rich, renewable-rich, oil-rich Scotland,” the Scottish National Party leader told the BBC’s Andrew Marr in Edinburgh. “I think that is a ridiculous proposition.”

But when Marr pressed Salmond on the concerns of especially Belgium and Spain, which worry that Scottish independence could embolden separatist movements within their own borders, the Scottish first minister was not very forthcoming, merely saying he had spoken with leaders from those countries. Read more “Salmond Confident Independent Scotland Could Join EU”

As Scottish Referendum Nears, Tempers Heat Up

With Scotland’s referendum on whether or not to secede from the United Kingdom under two weeks away, the rhetoric from both sides of debate has become fierce. One Scottish women, a nationalist, recently accused Alistair Darling, the former Labour chancellor who leads the “Better Together” campaign, of being a liar, saying, “He can’t be trusted”. While on a recent episode of Question Time, one of the BBC’s flagship political programs, taped in Inverness in the Scottish Highlands, an audience member said he would give his life to keep the union together.

The heating up in the debate has been noticed by the Scottish police. The chairman of the Scottish Police Federation warned both campaigners and members of the public to not use “intemperate, inflammatory and exaggerated language” after a senior “no” campaign source suggested that polling day could descend into “absolute carnage.” Although he was quick to point out that the debate has been temperate so far and that it would be a disservice to let the last days go by in any other way. Read more “As Scottish Referendum Nears, Tempers Heat Up”

Scottish Referendum Raises Risk of British EU Exit

If Scotland votes to leave the United Kingdom later this year, it could put the rest of the country on a path to leaving the European Union.

An Ipsos MORI poll released on Thursday found that 54 percent of Brits want to stay in the EU. When the pollster asked the same question in November 2012, just 44 percent said they backed membership against 48 percent who wanted to get out.

Two other polls published in March by YouGov also found that most voters support staying in the bloc. Read more “Scottish Referendum Raises Risk of British EU Exit”

Scotland May Not Fare Better Outside United Kingdom

Buachaille Etive Mòr Scotland
Cottage at the foot of Buachaille Etive Mòr in the Highlands of Scotland (Unsplash/Max Hermansson)

In less than two years’ time, the people of Scotland will decide in a referendum whether to stay in the United Kingdom or not. Despite intense debate between opponents and proponents of secession, how the ordinary Scotsmen might fare under independence is less clear.

A recent University of Edinburgh study is fairly devastating for the ruling Scottish National Party which advocates secession. It polled a thousand teenagers who would be just old enough to vote in the 2014 referendum and found that 60 percent wanted to stay in the union. 21 percent backed independence. This is the very demographic the nationalists fought to extend the vote to. Read more “Scotland May Not Fare Better Outside United Kingdom”

Ahead of Referendum, Confusion Over Scottish Oil

North Sea oil and gas will likely be one of the most divisive issues in the 2014 referendum on Scotland’s independence. Who does it belong to and do they own all of it?

The first North Sea oil came ashore in June 1975 and production is believed to have peaked in 1999 with more than forty billion barrels extracted so far. There are arguments about how much oil is left but historically high prices have made it feasible to drill for reserves that are harder to get with new and expensive technologies.

International convention says that a maritime border between two countries is an extension of the frontier on land. The land border between England and Scotland points upward on both the east and west coast. The maritime border used to follow this convention, putting a large portion of North Sea hydrocarbon reserves in English waters.

However, the maritime boundary was tweaked years ago, without consulting the English, to give the “Scottish sector” more of the oil. Which isn’t a problem as long as Scotland remains in the United Kingdom, since revenues flow to London and are then distributed across the country. But if Scotland decides to secede, the English might demand that the boundary is corrected. Read more “Ahead of Referendum, Confusion Over Scottish Oil”

Independent Scottish Defense Would Amount to Little

Britain’s defense secretary, Philip Hammond, made light of Scottish plans for an independent defense on Thursday, arguing in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, “Taking random units and putting them together does not make an army. Half a destroyer would be no use to anyone, neither would be one frigate.” If crude, it is a fair assessment.

The Scots will vote in a referendum next year about whether they wish to secede from Britain. Opinion polls show there isn’t majority support for independence although the separatist Scottish National Party is by far the dominant political force in the region. It promises to commit £2.5 billion per year to defense if Scottish voters decide to break away from the United Kingdom.

Paul Cornish, a professor in strategic studies at the University of Exeter, writes in The Daily Telegraph that that’s significantly less than the £3.3 billion that Scotland currently contributes to British defense spending, totaling some £35 billion — which is hardly enough to finance the country’s defense needs as is. Read more “Independent Scottish Defense Would Amount to Little”