We should we prepare for having independence thrust upon us!

The response to the SNP's outstanding victory in this month's Scottish Parliament Election from unionists within Scotland and British Nationalists outside Scotland has been interesting. The general opinion seems to be that Alex Salmond will bottle out of a referendum on independence, because he knows that it will fail to deliver a Yes vote. They base this on polling results that suggest that "only" 33% or so of Scottish voters poll as supporting independence; a rather blinkered view, in my opinion.

The last two referenda on the Scottish constitution managed a 60% and a 62% turnout. If one makes the fair assumption that those who support independence are likely to be more motivated to vote than those who are ambiguous or disinterested on the No side then the current polling already suggests that the Yes side COULD gain a simple majority of votes cast if the referendum was held today. (I'm not good at maths but I think that if 33% of the electorate vote yes in a 60% turn out it gives something like a 55% Yes 45% no vote.)

Whatever our opinion about how desirable Scottish Independence is, we should all accept that it is a possibility that Scotland might become independent within the next few years and recognise that if Scotland does become independent that it will have an effect on all of us that remain in the rest of the UK.

Northern Ireland's Unionist link to the UK is very much a link with Scotland. Where does Scottish Independence leave the NI unionists? Would they want to remain a member of the remainder UK linked to England but not to their Scottish heritage?

Polling support for English Independence is much higher than support for Scottish independence, but independence has a lower priority on the political scale in England than it has in Scotland. A campaign for Scottish independence, especially a successful campaign could raise the issue of English self determination on the English agenda.

So where does this leave Wales, where polls suggest that a miserly 10 to 15% of us support independence for our country? We could have independence thrust upon us without having made any preparations for it.

Perhaps even those dinosaurs who oppose any form of Welsh self-determination should wake up and smell the coffee and prepare for the possibility that we may have to take care of our own destiny whether we like it or not!


  1. Several points:

    Prior to the 2007 election Salmond promised to hold a referendum on independence if elected.

    Shortly after being elected he announced the referendum would be sometime before the next election ie 2011.

    If he had held the referendum in 2007 polling at the time suggested over 40% of the population would have supported it. Does anyone really think it will happen this time?

    Support fell dramatically after the wording of the referendum question was released. It was along the lines of 'Do you think the SNP should go to Westminster and try to schedule a meeting to discuss the possibility of having a meeting to float the question of whether anyone would be interested in contemplating an independent Scotland'.

    At least they finally admitted it would be a non-binding referendum because Scotland can not leave the union of its own accord - it must apply for permission to secede.

    The SNP are in power by default ie the people don't really want them. But they want the other parties even less. The Tories can't win a raffle in Scotland after the Poll Tax debacle. The LibDems were showing some promise, until they stood too close to the Tories. Labour will have to take its lumps for a bit longer, but they'll be back. In fact they've had a bit of a boost since Cameron started chasing the Libyan oil...

    My main objection to the SNP is their hypocrisy. They ridiculed Labour's 'nanny state' for years. We are now molly-coddled. They bang on about independence being important, yet don't trust the people to walk down the street by themselves. Let alone have any input to policy decisions.

    They also like to waste money introducing daft, redundant bills/laws. Thank goodness the majority opposition has been there to reduce the damage. Eg in an effort to improve the health of the average Scotsman they recently wanted to ban advertising BOGOF and '3 for 2' deals on alcohol. But they didn't have a problem with '50% off'.

    Instead of fighting and failing over nonsense for the last 4 years I am sure the could have got support from the other parties to amend existing stupid laws, like Labour's no-smoking travesty. I don't understand why every business in Scotland are required to buy and display no-smoking signs. (Surely a blanket ban on smoking in the workplace is simple enough to comprehend. People manage to remember not to drive on the footpath without reminders every 20 yards down the road. As someone famous once said 'Ignorance of the law is no excuse'.) But there is no requirement to provide ashtrays outside. I am dumb-founded that people get fined for not having pointless signage yet mountains of butts in the street go unnoticed.

    I seem to have drifted off course...what was the question?

    The SNP - while I admire the fact they stuck with their convictions over the years once elected they proved to be self-serving liars like any other politicians. If an independent Scotland does come about it will a) be against the will of the people and b) make next to no difference.

  2. Graeme, you are wrong with our statement:
    'Scotland can not leave the union of its own accord - it must apply for permission to secede'

    Scotland will need to negotiate the terms of it leaving the Union (the basic principles of which are largely enshrined in international law in any case)- but it does not need permission of UK to secede - only the permission of the Scottish electorate.


  3. You're fundamentally right MoF. The independence trajectory may start to move faster than we think. We should prepare.

  4. Think of it this way, why should the English "subsidies everybody and everything" . C'mon England get rid of these Celtic parasites and your prosperity will go sky high!!!
    Do the majority of the English establishment think this way?!/ Answer is no because it benefits economically and defensively. The British Empire has been in decline since WW1 and all we are seeing is the last colonies of this Empire freeing it shackles from Westminster agenda!!

  5. Well at least parts of England will prosper. The latest stats show that only 2 of the 9 English regions are in surplus. Surprise,surprise they just happen to be London and the South East of England. So its not just the Celts who are subsidised.
    It is of course a coincidence that the rich regions happen to either contain or border Westminster. Also a coincidence that the wealth of the UK gets syphoned to the centre of Empire as it always has!
    The quicker the English embark on a program of "tough love" and set us celts adrift the better.

  6. You're a little confusing MOF - first you tell us that Wales should have a campaign for Independence then seem to moan that Wales might get independence thrust upon them! - which I thought was what you were advocating in your earlier post!

  7. Not at all Revenai. I am not moaning about the possibility of Wales becoming Independent, just noting the difficulties that Wales becoming independent due to events elsewhere, without us preparing for that eventuality, might cause. A vigorous campaign for independence would, in itself, make up some of the deficit in preparedness for independence by raising the issues that an independent Wales would need to deal with.

  8. @ Penddu - Have you been drinking the Kool-aid? It's a bit more complicated than "only the permission of the Scottish electorate".

    The devolved Scottish parliament has no control over independence. The Scotland Act 1998 reserves constitutional issues as the responsibility of Westminster. Therefore only the UK parliament can amend or annul the Treaty of Union 1707.

    Also, re international law on secession - if you read Decolonization Resolution, General Assembly 1514 (XV), in: UNYB 1960, 49 or UN Doc A/4684 (1960) 66 you may conclude that:

    "A vital precondition is that a people must be subject to 'alien subjugation, domination and exploitation'. In the theory and practise of international law a secession is generally considered legitimate only 'as a self-helping remedy in causes of extreme oppression'."

    And it doesn't end there if Scotland wants to remain in Europe - see the EC and EU Treaties and the Vienna Convention on the Succession of States in Respect to Treaties.

    Article 5 of the EC Treaty states that members must abstain from 'measure which could jeopardize the attainment of the objectives of this Treaty'. Breaking up the UK would require the consent of all the other participants of the treaty to be lawful under EC and international law.

    Also under international law separating Scotland from the UK would constitute withdrawal from all international treaties. This problematic as Art. 240 (312) of the EC Treaty and Art. Q (51) of the EU Treaty state 'The Treaty is concluded for an unlimited period' with no provision for the withdrawal or expulsion of member states. This also would require the consent of all the participants of the treaty as outlined in Art. 54 of the Vienna Convention on the law of Treaties.

  9. Graeme

    Having said all that, legalism would have to defer, in the final analysis, to the will of the people of Scotland as expressed in a democratic referendum. It trumps all the legalistic obstacles that you list.

  10. Check out this piece of excellent research into the effect of Boundary Changes on the constituencies of Wales.


  11. Graeme, Scotland (or Wales) could cede from the union in just the same way as Chzech & Slovakia split up, or Latvia/Estonia etc left the Soviet Union;

    The position of EU is more complicated, but EU could not prevent Scotland/Wales leaving UK - only preventing them from remaining in EU afterwards - but even that point is not clear