I think there’s a tendency to ask the SNP to come up with solutions for all questions about how to split up England and Scotland.
However, if we think about the time after the Yes vote, I don’t expect all Scottish Unionists to commit collective harakiri.
What I do expect is that the vast majority of Unionist politicians will pick themselves up and start working to secure an independent Scotland the best possible deal.
To be concrete, I would expect all Scottish members of the UK government – Michael Moore, Danny Alexander, David Mundell etc. – to resign the next day. It’s possible that all Scottish MPs would resign, too, but I find it more likely they’d stay in place in order to help keep a tab on the UK government’s activities.
The next step will be the formation of an independence negotiation team. Of course the negotiations could in theory be handled by the SNP, but it would make better sense to make a united negotiation team with representatives from all the mainstream parties in Scotland, and consisting of not just MSPs but also MPs.
As part of the process of assembling the negotiation team, I expect a lively discussion on the way forward for Scotland. For instance, the other parties might challenge the SNP’s plan to leave NATO. This is what makes the current situation so annoying. Labour, the Tories and the LibDems keep criticising the SNP’s concrete post-independence policies, but they don’t have to tell us what they’d do instead; they just tell us they want to preserve the Union (which is fair enough, of course), but they don’t want to answer what it is they want to do if independence happens anyway.
Anyway, once the independence negotiation team has been formed and the negotiation mandate agreed on, things should proceed quickly. Certain questions need to be resolved before independence, but many other questions can probably be ironed out afterwards, so long as the interim position is clear.
Today the Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore, was making an announcement in the UK Parliament about giving the Scottish Parliament the right to call a referendum on independence, so long as they do it the way Westminster wanted and do it soon, when Salmond went on Sky News to announce that the referendum will take place in the autumn of 2014.
Salmond usually wins in situations like this, so I’m 99% certain that the referendum will indeed take place then.
Here are a couple of interesting blog postings from today, one about Salmond running rings around Cameron, and another about why the SNP are outgunning the Coalition.
It will be interesting to see what will happen to the remaining UK after Scotland leaves. I wouldn’t be surprised if Northern Ireland will find it hard to cope without Scotland, so it’s entirely possible that Scottish independence will be followed by Irish unification. However, I’m very happy to be corrected by somebody with better knowledge of the politics of Northern Ireland.
However, if I’m right, perhaps Wikipedia will contain the following chart in twenty years’ time (based on this):
I might be getting ahead of myself, however. There’s a referendum to be won in the autumn of 2014, and I intend to do as much as I can to make it a resounding YES!
The UK government’s recent idea to move the UK from GMT/BST to CET/CEST and the Scottish Government’s refusal to play along is quite interesting.
Let’s have a look at various locations in the UK and compare it with a city on the same longitude but further south, Málaga:
Obviously there’s not much difference between any of these locations, and one might argue that CEST is a better time zone at this time of the year.
Summer solstice (21/06/2011):
At all of the UK locations, the sun rises at an impossibly early time, so either time zone is feasible in the morning. In the evening, either time zone is feasible in Scotland, but I can understand if people in London would rather have brighter evenings.
Winter solstice (22/12/2011):
This is the problematic time. In London, it’s probably not a big deal whether the sun rises at 9 instead of 8, and they would enjoy having daylight until 5pm (and this tendency is even more pronounced in Málaga). However, in Northern Ireland and Scotland, it would mean not seeing the sun till around 10am in the winter, which makes for very depressing mornings.
I must therefore support the Scottish Government’s stance on this – moving to a time zone further east makes good sense the further south you are, but north of 50°N it’s not a good idea (remember also that most of the UK is further west than London).
I probably believe so more strongly because of growing up in Denmark. In Denmark, schools normally start at 8am, not at 9am like in Scotland. The effect is therefore the same as if Scotland moved to CE(S)T. And I must say that I found going to school in the winter utterly depressing, and I was very happy to move to a country where people get up later in the morning.
The English media have to a large extent described the LibDem collapse in Scotland in terms of dissatisfaction with the CoLD coalition.
However, although this is bound to be part of the explanation, I don’t think one should underestimate the part played by their own sheer incompetence in the Scottish Parliament.
As I blogged exactly four years ago, the LibDems behaved very strangely in refusing to even sit down with the SNP.
Back then, the obvious interpretation was that they only wanted to form a coalition with Labour, but now that they’re in a coalition with the Tories in Westminster, insisting on a Labour coalition up here seems a bit odd.
I think many voters asked themselves who would govern efficiently and stand up to Westminster in a constructive manner, and almost nobody thought that the LibDems were the answer to that question.
They need to redefine themselves. Perhaps, as suggested by Liberal Vision, there is a gap “on the pro-independence centre-right” that they could fill. I’m sure that would work better than whatever it was they tried over the past four years.
Let’s see what the new leader decides to do!
If I haven’t blogged very much about the new UK government, it’s mainly because it’s so hard to blog about from a Scottish perspective.
Most of the interesting things they do don’t apply to Scotland, and you can only blog so much about their deficit reduction plan.
I’ve found two good articles about this.
The first one is by Iain Macwhirter:
[F]rom a Scottish perspective it’s hard to pass much of a judgment on the performance of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition so far because, in terms of domestic policy at least, it’s almost completely passed Scotland by. Of the many initiatives that have been launched by the coalition in its first 100 days, very few actually apply here, apart from the deficit reduction programme and that hasn’t been implemented yet.
The second one appeared in the Caledonian Mercury, and it describes well how radical the new government is in England:
England is embracing the free market, a smaller state and weaker local authorities and Scotland is sticking with what it’s got – comprehensive education, a totally state-run health service and powerful councils.
So, if all this is happening in England, where does this leave Scotland? The blunt answer is: in a mess. Scotland is going to get the cuts but without the reforms. It is going to see swathes of public servants thrown out of work but without anything new structurally to take their place.
Although it might not have been the coalition’s intention, I think it’s becoming abundantly clear why Scotland needs full independence, or at the very least full economic autonomy. The alternative is the abolishment of Scottish devolution, and that wouldn’t go down very well north of the border!
Joan McAlpine has an important point about the al-Megrahi affair (hat-tip: SNP Tactical Voting), namely that both the UK and the US are saying Scotland’s government were wrong to release him, but there’s nobody on the international stage to fight Scotland’s corner:
Since foreign affairs are not devolved to Edinburgh, David Cameron officially speaks for us. On this occasion he trashed us in front of the world. Where were we? We should have had a right to reply at least. After all, Scottish troops are fighting and dying in Afghanistan, as they did in Iraq, to support America. Would Obama and Cameron have condemned a friendly, independent sovereign nation like this?
Even those who disagreed with the decision to free al-Megrahi should agree that this situation is untenable – the US government should be discussing this issue with Alex Salmond, not with David Cameron, and only independence will resolve this issue.
There is an article in The Herald today about how Scotland is routinely being ignored by Westminster in EU matters: “Scotland’s interests are being routinely forgotten, ignored and dismissed by Whitehall officials when they seek to influence policy and law-making in Brussels, according to a leaked government report.”
The current arrangement clearly doesn’t work. I think the best solution would be Scottish independence, but a fully federal UK (as proposed by the LibDems) might also do the trick.