Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Wendy Alexander on a Scottish referendum - "I don't fear the verdict of the Scottish people - bring it on."

Yay! Go Wendy! I hope Westminster takes notice of what she's saying and gives the referendum the go-ahead.

I don't believe that the Scots want independence from the UK. They are not that stupid, and the ties (including family ties and business ties) with England bind tightly and run far too deep, as people have moved freely back and forth over the centuries, settling all over the place and inter-marrying. Compare the UK to Germany - England has been united with Scotland for 300 years, German unification only happened after Bismark united them in 1871 - and then they split apart again in 1945, coming together again in 1990. The ties between east and west germany are far weaker because they were separate so long (the myth held in the UK that german families were split by the cold war applies only to Berlin where a city was divided). Yet despite their unification being recent, Germany stays together.

The only reason the SNP have gained sway in Scotland is because the Tories and LibDems have failed in their democratic duty to provide opposition to Labour everywhere in the UK. Therefore if Scots want an alternative to Labour they have had no choice but to turn to the SNP. It's no accident that the seats the SNP hold - Angus, Perth, North Perthshire, Moray, Banff, Galloway and Upper Nithsdale - are the wealthy Tory seats of old. SNP success is about Tory failure.

If a referendum defeated the independence drive, the SNP would then have to start to define what they are really for. And if the other unionist parties had any sense, they would seize the chance to regain their foothold in scottish politics.

Another consideration. Many Scots say that if there is a Tory administration at Westminster they will definitely go independent, because this generation of Scots hates the Tories. What a stupid short-term reason to break up a 300-year relationship and what a stupid way to decide the next 300 years. Looking at this from a long-term point of view, the Union will be best served if we have a referendum in Scotland before the next general election and win it convincingly. Then even if Labour loses the next general election (and it's still not clear we will, despite the local election results!), the Union will stay intact as the incoming administration can point to the referendum and say that it was the settled will of the Scottish people.


Anonymous said...

Just a quick suggestion - perhaps you should take a look at the political map of Scotland. Most of the seats the SNP hold were until recently, Labour strongholds.

snowflake5 said...

Anonymous - I was thinking of the seats the SNP hold in Westminster - they are ALL former Tory seats. Essentially the SNP moved into the gap left by the conservatives.

If the Tories were truly the party of the UK they'd be fighting hard for power throughout the country, the way Labour is, not giving up on large huge chunks of it.

There is a school of thought among some Tories that it would be a good thing if Scotland disappeared as they would be in power in England permanently. Just a few small problems with that - Labour has an English majority in parliament and has done since 1997. And political fortunes swing back and forth. In the 1950's the Tories held most of the seats in Scotland and the Labour heartland was England. Imagine if Labour at the time had said, let's get rid of scotland and we'll be in power forever in england! Luckily Labour wasn't daft!