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News Scotland seceding?

  1. Jan 15, 2012 #1
    I just read that Scotland is to vote on independence in 2014. If Scotland leaves the UK, will it still be the UK? Can there be a United Kingdom with just England and Wales?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 15, 2012 #2
    What about Northern Ireland?
  4. Jan 15, 2012 #3
    I don't know. Northern Ireland has a different relationship to the UK than Scotland. Anyway the Protestant majority there has no desire to secede as far as I know. But historically, neither Northern Ireland nor Wales have ever been kingdoms. Therefore, I don't think you can have a United Kingdom since it was defined by the union of England and Scotland in 1707.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2012
  5. Jan 15, 2012 #4
  6. Jan 15, 2012 #5


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    Being pedantic, the question should be about Great Britain, since the UK is "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".

    Nothing is likely to happen very fast, but part of the issue in England is that the English had quite enough of the 10 years of a Labour government which seemed to be run entirely by ministers who were Scots. (Even Tony Blair was educated in Scotland, though he never learned the accent).

    There is also the "West Lothian Question:"
    - which became more of an issue now that Wales and Scotland both have their own elected parliaments.
  7. Jan 15, 2012 #6
    Yes, but they use UK for short, while many in the US call the country Great Britain or just Britain.

    Well, they've set a referendum for the fall of 2014. I don't know if it will be binding. The Tory government in London wants the vote to be all or nothing; independence or status quo. I think Scotland wants to negotiate a looser relationship perhaps just leaving defense and foreign relations to the UK. but being otherwise independent.

    Yes. I know about that. One solution would be to have three parliaments (or four if Wales wants to upgrade the Assembly, but I think Wales would prefer the status quo). Northern Ireland used to have its own parliament but it was abolished by London in 1972 in exchange for N.I. having members in the Westminster Parliament. Under this arrangement the current Westminster Parliament would cease to exist and the UK would only exist under the common sovereignty of the monarchy and perhaps a some common arrangements for defense and foreign policy. Frankly I doubt this Balkanization will really benefit anyone in the long run. The funny thing is that England, with about 10 times the population of Scotland, would probably benefit if anyone does, provided the North Sea oil and debt issues can be be resolved on a proportional basis (a big "if").
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2012
  8. Jan 16, 2012 #7
    Never has it been seriously suggested that the Westminster Parliament would cease to exist. The only thing at question is what its jurisdiction will be. And 2014 has not been set, the date of the referendum along with the precise wording of the question that will be posed is exactly where the active argument is at.
  9. Jan 16, 2012 #8
    That's why I said current Westminster Parliament. If Scotland secedes, presumably they would no longer be represented in Westminster. This would solve the West Lothian problem, as least as it involves Scottish MPs voting on legislation for England and Wales. I'm not sure how this whole thing might involve Northern Ireland. In the more extreme case, the Westminster Parliament would only legislate for England and Wales. This would essentially solve the problem external interests interfering with legislation for England and Wales. I don't think Wales is likely to want more autonomy than it already has. What do you think?

    I'd also like your opinion on the status of the United Kingdom if Scotland secedes. The UK was created by the Act of Union between England and Scotland in 1707. If Scotland secedes, would there be a legal basis for the existence of the UK? I'm asking hypothetically assuming complete independence for Scotland. It seems that either independence or the status quo is the only choice the present Tory government is willing to allow at this point in time.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012
  10. Jan 16, 2012 #9
    If I remember correctly, you are not British are you SW VandeCarr? Believe me I quite accept that does not disqualify you from commenting on this situation, indeed it means that you have a level of dispassion in your viewpoint that is impossible for me. For my part, I am very definitely English – I was born and brought up in England, and my identity is English. But my mother is Scottish. She was born and brought up in Edinburgh, and as a youngster I was a regular visitor to Edinburgh, a city for which I retain a great affection. From this, you can perhaps understand why my strong feeling is for the survival of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Like most people though, and with something of a heavy heart, I recognise and accept the pointlessness and lack of constructiveness in any attempt to force the Scottish people to remain part of the UK if they really are determined to leave it. The arguments are age-old and wrapped up deeply in the history. I don’t know why you think that the Welsh are less nationalistic than the Scottish, the Welsh Nationalist Party (Plaid Cymru) has as long a history and is no less vocal. They have not yet gained a majority in the Welsh parliament equivalent to that currently enjoyed by the Scottish Nationalist Party is the Scottish Parliament, but it is hopelessly simplistic to suppose that to be an indication of less nationalist fervour in Wales than in Scotland. Some level of pragmatism does come into play at the ballot box which does not necessarily reflect what people are really feeling about their national identities. In any case, the very fact that the SNP gained the majority that it did absolutely does indicate that a referendum result in line with their vision is a real possibility, and thus so is the break-up of the United Kingdom. The possibility that such an event would lead to a similar result in Wales in very real. Of course the situation is Northern Ireland is much more complex. The protestants of Northern Ireland still perceive a real danger of coming under the control of a Catholic dominated government of all Ireland and see continued membership of the United Kingdom as their best protection against such an eventuality. And the active conflict in British politics relating to our membership of the European Union and the prospect of our becoming a member of Eurozone is a further complication to all of this. My feeling is that the end of the United Kingdom will be a real pity. But one clear lesson of history is that nations, like all living things, have finite lifetimes.
  11. Jan 16, 2012 #10
    Well as you say, I'm not British, but I'm not really "dispassionate". I hope that things turn out to the best advantage of all citizens of the UK but I have my doubts. I'm particularly surprised about Wales. I'm not surprised there would be a small minority that felt that way (probably many of those that can actually speak Welch?). But, as far as I know, Wales has never been an independent state. I believe the Welch tribes came under English rule in the 1300s.To think that Wales could be a viable prosperous independent state seems rather strange. A Welsh seat in the UN, a Welsh Army, Navy, Airforce, foreign embassies, etc?? Frankly, of the four constituent parts of the UK, only England has a good chance of prospering as an independent state with all the trappings of a significant power IMO. You could argue for Scotland, but in terms of the size of its population and economy, it is dwarfed by England. I think this is the strategy of the Cameron government. A simple choice: independence or status quo and a solution to the West Lothian problem in favor of England. Let the would be nation states understand what it will be like going it alone. What do you think?

    EDIT: Another thing: What will these would be nation states do for a currency? They could issue their own or join the euro zone. Hmmm.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012
  12. Jan 16, 2012 #11


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    Wales has a a population of 3m. That's bigger than Latvia, Estonia, Macedonia, etc in the EU and nearly 10 times as big as Iceland. What's the size problem?

    The Welsh have always been an independent minded bunch. It took about 250 years for the English to get from "officially" defeating them militarily, to formally agreeing a Union!

    That's one that Alec Salmond prefers not to talk about. Scotland can't have genuine economic independence from England with a common currency and therefore common monetary policy. But there might not be a Euro for to Scotland join by the time that question arises...
  13. Jan 16, 2012 #12


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    For once, I think I'm on the side of David Cameron. All Salmond ever bangs on about is Scottish independence, and how the English are blocking it. Well, if you care about it that much, Mr Salmond, let's have the people decide. Let's put it to a referendum, preferably one in which all people in the UK can vote (since it will affect us too!).

    There should be two options: full independence, or to be united back into the UK and powers sent back to Westminster. The thing that pisses me off the most about the Scots is their view on tuition fees for students. Higher education in Scotland is free if you're Scottish. Due to EU law, they were forced to make it free for all other EU citizens, since you cannot be biased towards those of your own country. However, since the UK is a country and both England and Scotland are part of it, the EU will not rule on domestic issues, despite the fact that the English are being treated illegally.

    You can see Salmond is close to running scared, as he wants three options in the referendum: independence, no independence, or 'full devolution', which essentially means that the Scots will leech off the rest of the country, yet not be bound by the laws. The reason this referendum will not happen, or it won't happen in the timeframe people are suggesting, is that when it does, and the people vote to stay in the union, the SNP will collapse and Salmond will have to disappear.

    I guess you can tell from this what my vote would be!
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012
  14. Jan 16, 2012 #13
    There are a lot of small independent nation states in the world. They usually have a long tradition of fending for themselves. Over the centuries, they have developed trading relations, alliances, and the national means to produce goods and services for trade and domestic consumption. Many also have valuable natural resources which can be the basis of a prosperous economy. It's a learning curve. The USA nearly went broke in its early years after independence (and may still go broke). The Republic of Texas (1835-1845) never made it at all. Scotland has oil and a well educated population, but it will need a lot of cooperation from England to develop it's export trade, defense arrangements, a worldwide diplomatic network, etc. Any exclusive claim on the North Sea oil will be challenged by England because the treaty involved was negotiated by the UK. Wales is in a much less advantageous position than Scotland. Perhaps it can train a marine corps to land on the Isle of Man and take over that Crown Dependency's banks which are filled with foreign money seeking a tax haven. Wales might try to become a tax haven itself, but those Manx people have earned the trust of their customers based on years of experience.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2012
  15. Jan 17, 2012 #14

    Not losing site of the fact that this is primarily a discussion of the modern politics of the possibility of Scotland voting for independence and how that may lead to the further break-up of the United Kingdom, in answer to your post #10, SW VandeCarr, a few notes on the history:

    Before the Romans, Britain was populated by the peoples we now refer to as the ancient Britons, the dominant ethnic group of which were the Celtic. But it was really after the Romans left to be replaced by the northern Germanic Angles and Saxons that the Celtic tended to get pushed to the extremities of Britain. And it was these Anglo Saxons that applied to them the term Welsh, meaning in old German ‘alien people’, the irony being that they were actually the indigenous people and it was the Anglo Saxons who were the invaders. The Welsh people’s name for themselves ‘Cymru’ means, in Gaelic, something like ‘the fellowship’. And the ancient county of England called Cumbria has a common etymology with Cymru, it is essentially the same term with the same meaning. Because you see, at that time, the Welsh people were not confined to that area of land which, today, we know as Wales. In fact, their largest and longest surviving kingdom was in the southern part of modern Scotland, centred on the city that today, we know as Dumbarton. As you said, it was not until something like 1300 that the area of land that we call Wales gained that particular label.

    In more recent times, because parts of rural Wales were more rugged and wild than anything you found in England, there became a point when it was quite common for wealthier English people to own holiday homes in parts of Wales. In the 1970s there were frequent arson attacks against these holiday homes from the more extremist Welsh nationalists. Thankfully, that kind of incident is not so common now, but you can perhaps see that there is some historically founded strength of feeling to Welsh nationalism that a modern assessment of their likely place in the broader world might not take account of.

    And I suppose the point is that, including several recent examples, history does tend to indicate that if Scotland does break away from the United Kingdom, it is highly likely that that will not be the end of it. There is a strong possibility that the remnant UK will then further factionalise. Indeed, it has been suggested by some that such a thing might not end with the independence of Wales and Northern Ireland. We could, potentially, even see the further factionalising of England itself. And the obvious fact that such a thing would be in the best interests of none of us might not make any difference…
  16. Jan 21, 2012 #15
    What a bizzare opinion.

    Why should devolved powers go back to Westminister? Scotland has a different legal system to England, why should English MPs be imposing laws on Scotland? Other than to treat the country as little more than a laboratory for their latest wheezes like Poll Tax was.

    As for devomax, that was the unionists plan for Scotland. A plan Cameron originally backed until his cack handed effort to intervene at the start of the month.

    Its people like you who regard Scotland as little more than a subservient colony who are driving the push for independence.
  17. Jan 21, 2012 #16
    The odd thing of Europe: People still relate to events which happened several millennia ago. :uhh:
  18. Jan 22, 2012 #17
    Huh. So let me understand MarcoD, history is not taught in non-European schools and colleges?

    Okay. Let’s engage with your comment in a little more positive vein. The truth is, there is some merit in the viewpoint you appear to advocate. Let’s put it in the context of the subject of this thread. When the Scottish people come to vote on this referendum on independence, and if my doom saying proves to be correct and it is followed hard-upon by a similar vote in Wales, when the Welsh people are faced with a similar question, they should all put the past behind them, and base their judgement of how to vote purely on the basis of the question of what lies in their own best interests today. Put like that, it seems obvious that your dismissal of obsession with the past has merit. Of course that is what they should do. Except that the human (not just European) reality is that the past keeps getting in the way.

    It is as much a human thing as is the need for food and shelter to ask the very simple and basic question, how did we get to here? If there are no historians searching for evidence based answers to that question, it tends to get answered by myth and legend. In much the same way as science provides answers that roll back superstition and belief in the supernatural, and replace it with rational, evidence based explanations, so serious history too is about honouring what actually happened. And yes, sometimes, events from the distant past have a tendency to cloud the active, vital issue of today. But the answer is not to dismiss the past. The answer is a quieter, more rational analysis of the past. The answer is a proper, deeper understanding of the past. Just as crackpottery, as it is called here, flourishes where there is ignorance of science, so distortion and manipulation of accounts of past events occur where there is no serious history.

    And another human reality that goes way beyond Europe is that for many people, the accurate historical accounts offer deep and profound fascination.
  19. Jan 23, 2012 #18
    Because we do not live on land expropriated only a couple of hundred years ago....
  20. Jan 23, 2012 #19

  21. Jan 23, 2012 #20
    Of course history is taught, but from my perspective, the world is made out of individuals and most believes they hold are, when thinking about it, utterly absurd. A nation is a social construct, so it has some pragmatic value, but most ideas associated with it seem to fall in the 'romantic hogwash' category.

    To put it to an extreme: ponder on those individuals from the Roman era. They were about half your size, had bad teeth, a foul breath, were disease ridden, almost completely illiterate, full of bigot ideas, and most of them were barely surviving. If people like that would move next to your house, you would be tempted to move out. I am clueless why I would relate to them?
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