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SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE? January 20, 2012

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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Direct democracy is supposedly in theory a great thing. It can make and possibly break nations.

In Australia, referenda seldom pass, and with the current political leadership this is unlikely to change in the immediate future. In this likelihood, change will forced upon us, so the defeated Republic referendum may be reversed by events in the Northern Hemisphere.

Monarchy may have survived a Republican India and Ireland, but it is doubtful other than existing in an underground box wearing proudly and forlornly the Order of the British Empire, a Republic of Scotland. Referenda from long experience here necessarily evoke scepticism, so how likely are the Scots to vote for independence from England? What would be implied by Scotland leaving the British Union?

Andrew McFadyen at Aljazeera goes through some of the immediate political and economic outcomes that a successful referendum may produce:

[PM David Cameron’s] government’s austere programme of spending cuts is beginning to bite; the Scottish Nationalists are counting on them becoming even more unpopular as the referendum approaches. If Salmond gets his way and the Scots vote for independence, the UK will lose 90 per cent of its oil and gas reserves in the North Sea and almost half its land mass.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, who served as Britain’s Defence and Foreign Secretary, told Al Jazeera, “I have no doubt that if Scotland became a separate state the perception would be that the UK was a much diminished country.”

One of the major issues that Rifkind fears could be at stake is Britain’s status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. The composition of the Council reflects the world as it was in 1945, rather than today. There is no longer any logical reason for Britain to be a permanent member instead of countries with stronger economies, like Germany or Japan, or emerging powers like India or Brazil. Rifkind, who is himself a Scot, said that if Scotland declares independence, “It would certainly open up the question of permanent membership of the Security Council in a way that would be quite awkward for the UK.” In the understated language of British diplomats, “quite awkward” almost nearly always means “absolutely bloody awful”.

If Scotland declares independence, it is also likely that the UK will be forced to find a new home for its four Trident submarines, which are currently based at Faslane, around 25 miles from Glasgow. The Scottish National Party detailed the matter in their election manifesto: “Our opposition to the Trident nuclear missile system and its planned replacement remains firm – there is no place for these weapons in Scotland.” Salmond confirmed to Al Jazeera that “an independent Scotland will not have nuclear weapons, and after we become independent Trident weapons of mass destruction will no longer be based in Scottish waters.” Defence officials are already looking at contingency plans to transfer Britain’s nuclear deterrent to England if Scotland declares independence, but England does not possess a deep-water port with the same secluded and easy access to the North Atlantic. And even if a suitable site could be found, developing a new port would be phenomenally expensive.

As I have suggested there may be other implications as well. The British Government is putting pressure on the Scottish Parliament to hold the referendum as soon as possible, and perhaps certainly on the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn in 2014.

The Scotsman’s assistant editor Peter MacMahon discusses recent developments and how things might pan out:

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1. Scottish Troubles? « An Sionnach Fionn - January 25, 2012

[…] Scottish Independence? (wmmbb.wordpress.com) […]


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