Is Scotland still feart (to pay for independence)?

Things are looking good for the SNP in Scotland. They are well beyond the token revolutionary party of the seventies, and stand to gain up to 50 seats in the next parliament, if the latest polls are to be believed. Allan Little in the New Stateman asks whether Scots are prepared to follow through into real independence from the rest of the UK.

Salmond is a hard man to like, but he redefined Scottish nationalism. My colleague Andrew Marr calls it “internationalist nationalism”. When “Independence in Europe” became the party’s prevailing appeal, it seemed, suddenly, hardly “separatist” at all. This is a very odd kind of nationalist party. The independence it wants doesn’t really amount to “separation” at all, at least not in the Seventies sense. That, to those who love the Union, makes it all the more dangerous.

But the real challenge may be in the other direction:

In the Eighties, I often found an unpleasant pattern emerging when I argued about Scotland with English friends. A typical reaction came in two phases. The first was wounded disbelief: how could you treat us this way after all we’ve done for you? That would be followed by a petulant defiance: go then – we don’t care (subtext: you’ll soon come crying back). Now, English friends no longer seem hurt; they’re more likely to be bored or irritated by the endless indecision. In the Eighties, too, Scots complained of the “democratic deficit”. Opinion polls showed that the English sympathised with this, and support for Scottish devolution was sometimes higher in England than it was in Scotland. The English could see no harm in it if that was what the Scots wanted.

But they see harm in it now. Dilettante fellow Scots beware: one of the stereotypes of the English character is that they really do care about fair play. And there is a growing sense that the current settlement is not fair. It’s not just the West Lothian question. Why, when the UK Treasury pays the bill north as well as south of the border, should nurses in Scotland get their pay rise immediately while their counterparts in England and Wales have to wait till November? Whatever the rights and wrongs, a sense of unfairness is taking hold in England. It seems that the risk for the Union has shifted: the Scots may not be any more ready to vote for independence, but if they’re not careful they might be “pit oot”. Increasingly, the rest of the UK wants us to put up or shut up.

And:

It is time to acknowledge the elephant in the room. Scotland spends £11bn more a year in public money than it contributes in taxation. The unionist parties argue that that means an independent Scotland would have a huge hole in its budget. Although some high-profile entrepreneurs support independence, business leaders for the most part fear that an independent Scotland would have to raise taxes, causing a flight of industry and capital. The SNP says this £11bn figure doesn’t include oil revenues (which the UK Treasury does not count in Scotland’s total fiscal contribution) and argues that in the short term the North Sea would fill the hole. In the long term, the party also says, Scotland would have control of its own destiny and would be able to implement growth-promoting policies that aren’t currently available to the devolved Scottish Executive.

But the solution is not as implausible as it might seem . He cites Finland:

I went to Finland last year to make a film. The similarities were compelling: it is a nation of about four million people on the geographical periphery of Europe; it has a larger, more powerful neighbour with whom it was once joined in a union. But it doesn’t have an £11bn hole in its budget. Unlike Scotland, Finland can pay its own bills. How?

In 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, the Finnish economy went into free fall, shrinking at a rate of 10 per cent a month. Finland’s new government took drastic action to restructure the economy. Classically, things got worse before they got better. In little more than a decade, Finland found itself near the top of world league tables. Would this have been possible if it had not had control of its economic policy? A businessman who runs one of the world’s biggest internet security firms told me: “When I started in the late Eighties, Nokia was still making rubber boots. Our economy was based on wood pulp. We rent ed a small office in New York so we could claim that as our head office, even though our workforce was in Helsinki. We thought no one would take a Finnish high-tech company seriously.”

The telling line: “classically, things got worse before they got better”.

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  • Concerned Loyalist

    I believe the SNP will make significant gains at the expense of Labour. A section of the Scottish electorate who once voted Labour are now disillusioned with the party due to a wide range of issues, but primarily, they are opposed to Scottish troops being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. They probably see the SNP as the only viable alternative as most Scottish people see the Conservative Party as “The English Party”.

    Having said that, “The Rangers vote”, as our Scottish friends call it, will have a veto over any move for Scottish independence. They, like the overwhelming majority of Ulster ‘Gers fans, are staunchly loyalist/unionist and would rather vote for a Labour Party who they have severe reservations with, rather than a radical nationalist, and at times sinister SNP it has to be said, who don’t understand their British identity and openly criticize sections of their community on a regular basis…

  • Frankly, it’s risible to make the “argument from Nokia” without giving the necessary credit to the pan-Nordic cooperation to design and build the NMT mobile phone system, and then their share of GSM. This had been going on since 1969.

    I’m not aware of anything similar indy.Scotland might be in on that the rest of the UK wouldn’t be.

    Also, the quote gives the impression that Finland was joined in a union with something else (i.e. Russia) more recently than 1917.

    Finally, the company he refers to is obviously F-Secure. I’m not too clear what it is that holds you back from starting a security shop in Scotland that would be removed by independence. By its nature, all you need for a software house/security lab is a good leased line and smart people. “Try it” sounds good.

  • Crow

    What is the SNP’s policy on Northern Ireland? Do they have one? An independent Scottish government would hardly support the Union between NI and the rump UK, would they?

  • K McLaughlin

    Re. “Concerned Loyalist” posting. Who the hell are the “Rangers vote” who are going to turn the tide for the Union?. Face it, they are merely a figment of your imagination. The truth is that the ‘British’ jig is up. Even the English have had enough of it. It is time for you to move on from the Boyne.
    PS Where do you get off calling the SNP sinister??
    Have they ever engaged in or approved of the kind of mayhem that both sides in the North of Ireland have indulged in in my lifetime. Now that’s what I call sinister!!!

  • IJP

    The real interest in the article lies in the fundamental and huge difference between Scottish Nationalism and Irish Nationalism.

    The SNP proposes something akin to what I proposed for an all-Ireland State on these boards about 3 years ago (and was laughed out of town).

    Academics refer to what the SNP proposes as “civic nationalism”, as opposed to the “ethnic nationalism” supported (foolishly) by most on this island.

    As a result, my money’s on the SNP to get there first. And one hopes, if it does, that we will learn the relevant lessons on this island.

    Insular nationalism is dead, long live pro-European patriotism.

  • George

    IJP,
    there is no comparison with Ireland and Scotland when it comes to the independence issue.

    For example, I can’t imagine the British making the same mistake they did in Ireland by sending in the troops, imposing martial law, banning the Holyrood parliament and imprisoning its MPs once they do vote for independence.

    If they did you might see a different type of SNP emerging.

  • Greenflag

    IJP,

    ‘as opposed to the “ethnic nationalism” supported (foolishly) by most on this island.’

    The only ‘ethnic’ minority on this island which demands separate political status from the rest of Ireland is Northern Ireland’s Unionists!

    When and if the Scottish people come to decide which ‘separation’ model they will follow I’d guess that it’s the Irish Republic they will look to – rather than the failed political and economic ‘entity’ that is and has been NI.

  • Greenflag

    ‘What is the SNP’s policy on Northern Ireland?’

    Two letters

    In polite Scots – GA

    (Go Away )

    In the vernacular

    FO (not foreign office )

  • “’What is the SNP’s policy on Northern Ireland?’ “

    What sense would it even make for them to have a policy? They want out of the Union so why would they be concerned with its membership aside from their own?

  • Valenciano

    “and stand to gain up to 50 seats in the next parliament,”

    Pedantic point Mick, but shouldn’t that be *win* up to 50 seats? 50 gains – almost half the total seems rather a lot in a semi-proportional system.

  • Scottish Conservative

    I’ve often wondered if there IS more of a parallel between the SNP and the DUP than is accepted by those who always see the parallel between the respective irish and scottish “nationalisms”.

    You could argue that the UUP and the Scottish Conservatives have been the Parties of the British establishment in their respective areas – or at least were perceived as following a London line which created a localist backlash. Certainly the form of Unionism advocated by the DUP is much more Ulster Nationalist than the Scottish Tory party’s line is Scottish Nationalist. Whether you like the DUP or not Paisley has clearly been trying over the years to articulate a uniquely Northern Irish position – the defence of the Unionist community. In Scotland Unionism has been much less about defending something peculiarly Scottish and more about the retention of the actual constitutional arrangement rather than the protection of a community. The Scottish Conservatives would in my view be well advised to pursue more of a ‘nationalism under the cover of Unionism strategy’ but there u r.

    Also the DUP and SNP appeal to a similar lower middle class demographic.

    The SNP shy away from stating positions on Northern Ireland as they wish to appeal to both halves of the Central Belt sectarian divide. Traditionally the SNP has been perceived as a predominantly Protestant Party and this has been confirmed by polling evidence. There was also an incident in the late 70’s early 80’s where an SNP Leader opposed the ppopes visit on the basis of Catholic Church being hierarchical and historically oppressive. However, Alex Salmond has bent over backwards to appeal to catholics – he supports the retention of denominational schools and also supported the right of Catholic adoption agencies to opt out of homosexual equlaity provisions. There is a view that Salmond himself is republican with regard to NI issues.

    It should also be remembered that the sectarian divide is much more prominent in Central Scotland where it is still a source of identity whereas it isnt really in secular/overwhelmingly protestant areas outwith the central belt where Church of Scotland goers often vote SNP.

    The Rangers vote as it was called is much less preseNt now and is a major cause of Conservative decline especially in urban areas. However, it is not dead and there are several council wards in Atyrshiore and Glasgow where a candidates religious allegiances are importaNt. For instnace the Tories won a previoulsy safe Labour ward in Ardrossan by fielding a member of the local Ornage Order. This is very unusual though.

  • Mick Fealty

    Val,

    Guilty as charged!

  • Liam

    The sooner Scotland breaks away from the apron strings (the butcher apron strings) the better. Then maybe the deadhead deniers adopting an osterich like demeanor such as Vance and Mc Cann might see that the writing is on the wall for their beloved union!!

  • GavBelfast

    Is the SNP better these days at encouraging Catholics to vote for it? I can recall debate about this previously around the time of high-profile by-elections, etc, when it was often suggested that Catholics tended to vote for the non-independence parties and avoid the SNP like the plague because they didn’t want to be in a relatively small minority in an independent, reformist country, preferring to be part of a bigger, nominally Anglican but increasingly secular one.

  • IJP

    George

    You make a good point.

    There is a fully valid comparison when it comes to the type of Nationalism, though.

    If you need to win people to your cause – as both do – whingeing isn’t usually the way to do it, and ethnic Nationalism certainly isn’t.

    Your point refers, therefore, to why the Nationalisms have developed the way they have. My point refers to how they should develop in future if they wish to attain their objective.

    Greenflag

    Depends on which way you look at it. Irish Nationalists demand separation from the rest of the British State.

    Either way around, ethnic Nationalism is no way of winning people to your case (see above). You make an interesting point, because it appears to me that Unionism is increasingly simply another form of ethnic Nationalism. (Denying one is Irish rather than fighting to ensure “Irishness” remains/becomes a secular term is a good example of such.)

  • George

    IJP,
    the real point here is independence not nationalism, ethnic or otherwise.

    The part of Ireland that is independent is successful because it is independent and able to make choices that benefits its people.

    It would not be successful if it promoted ethnic nationalism as the be-all and end-all of its existence. It promotes self-determination for the people of this island. It makes mistakes and learns from them.

    Ethnic nationalism needs a foil so it suits much of unionism to portray the Republic as an ethic nationalist entity.

    But anyone who takes a trip to Dublin will see the reality is different. The Scots see this, which is why it is often cited as an example of what Scotland could become, but the unionists don’t want to.

    Don’t forget the Republic accounts for 85% of the “nationalist” population. Here Irishness is a secular term. It is only non-secular in the part of Ireland still hitched to the union.

    The question facing Northern Ireland going forward is the same as Scotland – union or independence?

    Unionism has to answer how it can deliver for the people of Northern Ireland in the same way that independence has for the people of the Republic.

    If it doesn’t then the people will eventually decide on independence because a state/entity cannot survive on a pure diet of ethnic nationalism. It’s only a matter of time.

    The question then will be all-island independence or a two-state solution.

  • Greenflag

    IJP,

    Irish Nationalism was always more political than ‘ethnic ‘ Irish Nationalist leaders have come from many ‘ethnic ‘ backgrounds . English (Childers /Pearse/ Davis , American ( Parnell ).
    Oddly enough those aspects of Irish nationalism which could be termed ‘ethnically’ orientated more often than not emanated from the ‘Anglo Irish ‘ element in resurgent Irish nationalism in the mid 19th century which harked back to an ‘imagined ‘ Celtic /blissful past .

    However the vast majority of Irish nationalists are not and never have been ‘ethnic’ nationalists . Which is why we have had Jewish Lord Mayors of Dublin and Cork and Ministers in Government and Cork- Church of Ireland Presidents etc etc

    ‘Ethnic /cultural nationalism was understandable enough in the mid 19th century at a time when most of the smaller submerged nations in Europe were ‘awakening ‘ to the possibilities of greater democracy resulting from the triumphs of the French and American Revolutions and were ‘discovering ‘ themselves . But we are now in the 21st century and we have seen what a purely ‘ethnic nationalism ‘ can lead to in World War 2 and indeed as recently as the 1990’s in the Balkans /Middle East and Northern Ireland .

    ‘It appears to me that Unionism is increasingly simply another form of ethnic Nationalism.’

    Probably true because political Unionism as such has nowhere else to go? It does not appeal to the vast majority of people on this island and there is little sympathy across the water for the Unionist predicament .

    Personnally I don’t have a problem with Unionists denying they are Irish . I just have a problem with Unionists not drawing the logical political inference from that denial which IMO would mean their political leaders moving to a two state solution on this island . This in turn would necessitate an agreed repartition of NI .

    As an Irish ‘non ethnic ‘ moderate nationalist I could not ‘oppose ‘ such a solution if that were the politically expressed wish of the vast majority of Unionists in NI. Why would I.

  • Greenflag

    George ‘

    “The question facing Northern Ireland going forward is the same as Scotland – union or independence?’

    True enough but the more immediate question is how long the present political limbo dance between DUP/SF can continue ? And what will replace it when one or other of the ‘bent over backwards’ parties can’t bend anymore ?

    ‘Unionism has to answer how it can deliver for the people of Northern Ireland in the same way that independence has for the people of the Republic.’

    This it cannot do . The ‘restored’ Assembly is not ‘independent’ and it’s financial as well as economic policy powers are restricted in a way which even those of the early Irish Free State were not . You can’t expect an orange tree to produce apples . To do so is to ensure disappointment .

    The above is just another of the inherent ‘contradictions’ in the Unionist position. There is no half way stopping point when the leap has to be made from the uncertain edge of one abyss to the other side .

    ‘If it doesn’t then the people will eventually decide on independence because a state/entity cannot survive on a pure diet of ethnic nationalism ‘

    Very true -not for long anyway. North Korea and Zimbabwe appear to be the main purveyors of this particular noxious diet . It appears from their experience that reliance on this diet is not conducive to either economic or political well being other than for the tiny minority who rule these kleptocracies . For the majority of the population in these states -starvation and mass migration have been and continue to be their singular ‘achievements’:(!

    ‘The question then will be all-island independence or a two-state solution. ‘

    The sooner that decision is made one way or the other – then the better for everybody North and South IMO.

  • IJP

    George

    the real point here is independence not nationalism, ethnic or otherwise.

    This is spot on. But I don’t honestly think it’s a point agreed upon at heart by most Irish Nationalists.

    A wee story. A Protestant I know from Wicklow was a regular visitor to a house in Derry. On one visit, another regular visitor, wife of an SDLP elected representative, was discussing Russian literature. At one stage she turned to him and said: “I don’t suppose you’d understand Russian literature, not being Irish.”

    She was, of course, duly embarrassed. But you see the point.

    I’m afraid I simply don’t buy the line that Irishness is “secular”, although I would certainly say it is nearer that in Dublin than it is anywhere else on the island and than it was in 1977. It is nevertheless still innately linked to a view of history and people which I, and indeed any objective viewer, simply wouldn’t share.

    In my Irishness, for example, “Britishness” is innate. Yet it was the Republic of Ireland which just removed “British Isles” (a term which pre-dates the British State) from its school books, was it not?

    (I don’t mean a debate to start about terminology, we’ve had enough of those, I simply mean to encourage an honest debate as to whether or not “Irishness” is truly secular.)

    Greenflag

    It’s a very relevant point that, 150 years ago or so, the leaders of Irish Nationalism were of different ethnic origins. We should note that, but for the first World War, we would have an independent all-Ireland State now within the Commonwealth (and conceivably even within the Monarchy). In short, they bloody nearly got there.

    Suggest independence along such lines now, however, and you get laughed out of town. Because Irish Nationalism is ethnic these days, in a way it perhaps wasn’t 100 years ago.

    I could not ‘oppose ‘ such a solution if that were the politically expressed wish of the vast majority of Unionists in NI. Why would I.

    Because it doesn’t solve the problem! We don’t have to have a divided future unless we choose one.

    I don’t wish to deny a clear socio-religio-national divide on the island. But you’re earlier point proves that there was, and I believe still is, a common “Irishness”, if we have the guts to overcome our own myths and go and look for it. Through it, I believe, we can deliver a stable, prosperous, yes “united” Ireland we are all proud to call home – whether it’s 6+26 or all 32.

  • IJP

    George and Greenflag

    Very thoughtful contributions as so often, by the way.

  • George

    Greenflag,
    “The sooner that decision is made one way or the other – then the better for everybody North and South IMO.”

    The difference between you and me is that I believe that if the current border fails then any different border drawn on ethnic-nationalist grounds (even in your fair repartition scenario) will also fail in the long run.

    The Pale was culturally homogenous and monoreligious and it too eventually fell because total separation is impossible on an island of this size.

    Either Northern Ireland works as part of the union, develops as an independent entity or it is subsumed into an island state.

    You do the northern Protestants of this island a disservice if you think the majority of them would ever agree to be coralled into the northeastern corner of Ireland while at the same time looking for those of a different religion to leave – even voluntarily.

    They will work to make the union work, they will work to make Northern Ireland work and come the dreaded eventuality (for them), they will work to make Ireland work.

    Sure there’ll be growing pains and maybe even deaths, as there are a lot of head the balls going about, but there simply isn’t a pan-Protestant or pan-Catholic appetite for enforced or voluntary mutual ethnic cleansing on this island.

    There is no future in such a move even if it is a good after dinner topic.

    P.S. There is no need to explain to my why you think voluntary repartition is a good idea, I have read most of your previous posts on the subject and am up to speed on your postion.

  • kensei

    “A wee story. A Protestant I know from Wicklow was a regular visitor to a house in Derry. On one visit, another regular visitor, wife of an SDLP elected representative, was discussing Russian literature. At one stage she turned to him and said: “I don’t suppose you’d understand Russian literature, not being Irish.”

    She was, of course, duly embarrassed. But you see the point. ”

    Embarrassing yes, but not necessarily “ethnic nationalism”. That story has to be seen through the prism of Northern society. I don’t anyone in Wicklow would have made the same mistake, and the assumption could have come as much from the wish not to offend. Some people here get annoyed if they are labelled Irish. Others are comfortable with it. The context is missing and it matters to your point.

    It was condescending, which was the bigger crime.

    “It’s a very relevant point that, 150 years ago or so, the leaders of Irish Nationalism were of different ethnic origins. We should note that, but for the first World War, we would have an independent all-Ireland State now within the Commonwealth (and conceivably even within the Monarchy). In short, they bloody nearly got there.

    Suggest independence along such lines now, however, and you get laughed out of town. Because Irish Nationalism is ethnic these days, in a way it perhaps wasn’t 100 years ago”

    No, Irish Nationalism is Republican these days, in a way it wasn’t 100 years ago. What split people along “ethnic” lines was partition, and it wasn’t Nationalism that was responsible for it. I think a lot of Nationalists genuinely believe in the uniting Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter; in many ways it’s a badge of pride contrasted with a Unionist “Protestant state” view. I just don’t think a lot know what it really means, because they have little understanding of t’other side.

    It is equally likely without WWI we would have had a bloody civil war, by the by.

  • George

    IJP,
    “She was, of course, duly embarrassed. But you see the point.”

    This just confirms what I said above, that in the Republic, Irishness is a secular term. The reason Ireland is doing so well is for this very reason -It is a secular, outwardlooking, modern and prosperous European democracy.

    Per capita, it has taken in more immigrants in 3 years than the UK did in the last 40. It is looking to build a new Ireland from the ground up. If Irishness wasn’t secular, this project would never have got off the ground.

    Forget the 12.5% corporate tax rate, if Northern Ireland wants to replicate the success, it too will have to become secular.

    A country’s success in this globalised world is dependent on its level of openness. The non-secular Irishness and non-secular Britishness that dominates Northern Ireland has to go if it is to succeed in the coming years.

    I haven’t a clue what this means for the constitutional question but interesting times ahead.

    It is nevertheless still innately linked to a view of history and people which I, and indeed any objective viewer, simply wouldn’t share.

    We can all look at views of history and consider ourselves objective. Doesn’t mean we are, including our good selves.

    In my experience, we deal with our history as objectively as we can in Ireland (Republic of) and no less objectively than other countries and certainly no less than Britian.

    Children aren’t indoctrinated in the Republic and what you learn depends on your background, who you listen to and how much you want to know. It’s a healthy mix of romanticism, realism, resentment and begrudgery.

    For example, my history teacher was a communist so we learnt of the glory of Larkin and Connolly and evils of Pearse, Collins and De Valera. I was even forced to read “Yes we have no Bananas” about the strike in Belfast and how the evil capitalists fomented religious difference for their own ends.

    Might I add that I am sure those in the UK who continue to label those who fought for Ireland in the War of Independence terrorists consider themselves objective. I’m equally sure they saw nothing wrong in the Black and Tans being honoured by the Queen and Tony Blair only a couple of years ago. As I said, everyone likes to think they are objective.

    In my Irishness, for example, “Britishness” is innate. Yet it was the Republic of Ireland which just removed “British Isles” (a term which pre-dates the British State) from its school books, was it not?

    You see removal of British, I see inclusion of Irish. You can still be British in Ireland but Ireland is not excusively defined by the term “British” (this change probably never would have happened if Britishness didn’t become such a politically loaded term). Truth be told, the UK comandeered British for themselves. In the spirit of objectiveness: Alternative truth be told, the Irish separatists left the British fold so no longer fit the term.

    Either way, onwards to 2007 where they are now the British and Irish Isles or the Isles of Great Britain and Ireland.

    Today, Britishness may be an innate part of your Irishness but it isn’t for the majority of people on this island. These are the cards that we have been dealt.

    There is no diminuition of Britishness by giving Irishness equal status – even if it’s just on a map. If there is, it’s a funny kind of Britishness.

  • Greenflag

    Suggest independence along such lines now, however, and you get laughed out of town.’

    True and with good reason . We live in a different world . The Free State/Republic has had to adapt to a fast changing world .It was not an easy adaptation. NI Unionism for a whole host of reasons could not or was unwilling to adapt . It’s leaders never had to . That was left to HMG .

    ‘ Because Irish Nationalism is ethnic these days, in a way it perhaps wasn’t 100 years ago.’

    Not at all . It’s because Irish Nationalism has proven to be successful through it’s economic and political achievments first in asserting political independence and secondly in delivering economic and social progress.

    What we have here IJP is a relative failure to communicate :). Your definition of ‘ethnic’ is obviously not the same as mine . Irish nationalism today is arguably more ‘republican ‘ or ‘political’ than it was 100 years ago is how I would phrase it . Things change in 100 years . And as you know none of us can go back to ‘amend’ the past . We can however fashion the future or at least attempt to .

    ‘ We don’t have to have a divided future unless we choose one. ‘

    I agree . And as Unionists have continuously voted in favour of a ‘divided’ political future for this island I take them at their word and the logic of an agreed and fair repartition of NI thus presents itself as the only practical solution for Unionism IMO. I don’t see the current NI status i.e presumed devolved local government as anything more than a short term band aid prior to a final solution.

    ‘But you’re earlier point proves that there was, and I believe still is, a common “Irishness”, if we have the guts to overcome our own myths and go and look for it.’

    Well yes but honestly I don’t think too many of us are really that bothered about ‘irishness’. We take it for granted . Anyway it would be too much like trying to define an ‘elephant ‘. Simply stating that it’s a huge grey skinned pachyderm with large floppy ears and a long trunk and two tusks does not convey the ‘reality’ of actual of bumping into a real live elephant walking through your back garden.

  • Greenflag

    George ,

    ‘The difference between you and me is that I believe that if the current border fails etc etc ‘

    If any future NI state post a fair repartition fails – then that I see is a bridge which would have to be crossed at some future time .

    ‘there simply isn’t a pan-Protestant or pan-Catholic appetite for enforced or voluntary mutual ethnic cleansing on this island.’

    I never said there was. Which is why I continually made the point that in a fair repartition NOBODY would have to move from their present place of abode.

    ‘The Pale was culturally homogenous ‘

    I doubt it . There was always a large Irish community in the Pale .

    ‘and monoreligious ‘

    In theory for a brief period -In practice it never was .

    ‘and it too eventually fell ‘

    Actually it ‘voted’ itself out of existence . The Pale ended for all practical purposes in 1801 by which time the majority of the Dublin population was RC anyway.and had been since the 17th century.

    ‘There is no future in such a move even if it is a good after dinner topic.’

    Perhaps not . I’m slowly coming around to the view that ‘unionism’ generally may not be up for ‘repartition’ well not in the same way it was up for the first ‘partition’.

  • Greenflag

    ‘It is equally likely without WWI we would have had a bloody civil war, by the by. ‘

    Even with WWI we had a bloody Civil War which left the Free State virtually ‘bankrupt’ at it’s foundation. Which is why HMG was able to put the squeeze on William Cosgraves Government to forget about the Boundary Commission border adjustment ‘farce’ in return for HMG removing the financially onerous conditions attached to the Treaty which favoured the British in 1922.

    The Scottish Parliament when faced with a similar economic crisis in 1707 following the financial collapse of the Darien venture in Panama went one better than the Irish Free State . Instead of ‘selling’ of just a part of the Irish nationalist population the Scots sold off their entire country ?

    Canny eh ?

    Rumour has it that some now want to buy it back if the price is right ?

  • George

    Greenflag,
    I brought up the Pale merely as a local example of how complete separation is impossible to maintain as initially they had been described as “loyal English” and considered themselves as such. Serves me right for bringing up history.

    I never said there was. Which is why I continually made the point that in a fair repartition NOBODY would have to move from their present place of abode.

    It is the height of optimism to assume things would work out that way. If we were all behaving that rationally we wouldn’t need repartition in the first place.

    I’m slowly coming around to the view that ‘unionism’ generally may not be up for ‘repartition’ well not in the same way it was up for the first ‘partition’.

    I hope so. It is 2007 and I think you should lend greater weight to ongoing development of relationships between Ireland and Britain.

    The friendship is deepening by the year and old bridges are being rebuilt and new ones created. After we have a lot in common and who knows if things keep going we could become true sister nations sooner rather than later.

    Any kind of acceptance that our peoples couldn’t share a piece of territory for fear of killing or mistreating each other has to be consigned to the past. Our hoped for future shouldn’t allow it.

    The Irish in NI will be treated as equals by the British and should the day come for unification the British in Ireland will be treated as equals by the Irish.

    Scotland has it easy in comparison. They don’t appear to have such deep wounds and already have an agreed national identity. Independence could truly be a breath of fresh air for these islands rather than something divisive and painful.

    P.S. Your description was closer to that of an African and not an Indian elephant. Elephants can be either you know 🙂

  • Academics refer to what the SNP proposes as “civic nationalism”, as opposed to the “ethnic nationalism” supported (foolishly) by most on this island.

    What are the criteria for making this distinction? To me, it just looks like a rhetorical label.

    As Scottish Conservative points out the SNP were themselves partly a product of Protestant antipathy to Irish Catholic emigration.

    Incidentally, I agree that there are parallels between the DUP and the SNP. The Corporation Tax issue being a good example.

    If Irish nationalists take a civic nationalist approach they will try to make the most of this to minimise the influence of the British Government.

    If they take an ethnic nationalist approach they will concentrate on competing for British patronage to put one over the DUP.

    In the context of the North, an element of the latter is inevitable, amongst all parties, but there are some very hopeful signs of the former logic at work.

  • Greenflag

    ‘as initially they had been described as “loyal English” ‘

    I went to school with a Shakespeare and a Churchill (both Dubliners ) and I would not describe either as ‘loyal English’ certainly not the Shakespeare lad anyway who had a very fast right fist IIRC 🙂

    ‘It is the height of optimism to assume things would work out that way.’

    Which is why I insisted on a neutral agency and the backing of both Governments and a multinational force. Not just ‘optimism ‘

    ‘ If we were all behaving that rationally we wouldn’t need repartition in the first place.’

    I never presume ‘rationality’ which is why I placed the emphasis on agreed repartition between elected politicians rather than one built on graveyards post an insane useless conflict.

    ‘It is 2007 and I think you should lend greater weight to ongoing development of relationships between Ireland and Britain’

    I take that as a given almost regardless of future events within NI.

    ‘Your description was closer to that of an African and not an Indian elephant. Elephants can be either you know 🙂 ‘

    In regard to matters pachyderm my experience is that regardless of their nationality they are not to be ‘*&*ed with particularly by trainers who do not speak their language :). When annoyed or upset pachyderms can leave an awful mess . Taming the pachyderm of nationalism is probably best achieved by the ‘nationals ‘ themselves . Outside interference only exacerbates the negative aspects of this passing political phenomenon .

  • PaddyReilly

    Modern scholarship is coming more and more to the conclusion that Shakespeare was a Catholic, and a somewhat militant one.

    But to return to Bonny Scotland. Isn’t is a wonderful country where the Protestants are Nationalist and the Catholics range from indifferent to pro-Union. (with England).

    And what is more, most of the serious Gaelic speakers are Presbyterian. Neverthless, there is an strong feeling for Bonny Prince Charlie, who was a Catholic.

    The Orangey crew are well out of fashion. Who wants to celebrate 300 years of servitude to England? Came across the following recently, which is Dr Johnson’s warning to an Irishman at the end of the 18th Century:-

    Do not make a union with us, sir, We should unite with you only to rob you. We should have robbed the Scotch if they had had anything of which we could have robbed them

  • IJP

    Greenflag

    An elephant in my garden?

    It’s supposed to be “in the room”!

    I’ll have to hurry out and repartition it…

  • Nathan

    The SNP attracts a very strong young voter base, giving some indication that it can sustain itself in the long run.

    If independence for Scotland arose, then I think it would have to be handled very sensitively. Those who oppose as well as those who favour independence should have an equal right to be consulted on things like a new constitution.

    Perhaps guidance would need to be taken from the Irish situation, where considerable lengths were taken to involve political and religious minorities in the administration of the Irish state, post 1922.

  • IJP

    There is certainly no confusion between “ethnic” and “civic” nationalism.

    Irish is, with only minor exceptions, “ethnic”. The unwillingness even to countenance that Britishness (or “British-Isles-ness”) is obviously part of Irishness (cf. “German-ness” being obviously part of Austrian-ness) illustrates the fundamental belief in a separate Irish “nation” (read “people”), and the notion that the Irish state should predominantly reflect that “nation/people”, complete with its own set of values, historical readings, “culture” (read “music/literature”) etc. Add in that this state should encompass the whole island and you have a real problem, which Greenflag and I basically agree upon. It’s only our solutions which differ!

    Scottish Nationalism, in its current public form, is “civic”. It focuses not on a Scottish “people” or “nation”, nor on a certain reading of history, nor even really on certain values. It is more to do with institutions – predominantly, it seems, the separate legal system. Nathan‘s comments that those opposing independence would have as much say in its aftermath as those who favoured it is taken for granted, as is the fact that those opposing independence are “Scottish”. Frankly, those comments do not apply in Ireland.

    It would be foolish not to reflect that the distinctions are not as clear-cut as all that. “Ethnic” and “civic” of course overlap. There are all kinds of difficulties of definition (what is “culture”, for example?). But I would struggle to think of two “Nationalisms” at more opposite ends of the ethnic-civic spectrum than contemporary Irish and Scottish.

  • Nathan‘s comments that those opposing independence would have as much say in its aftermath as those who favoured it is taken for granted, as is the fact that those opposing independence are “Scottish”.

    If there is a difference between Scottish and Irish nationalism, it is that the minority who opposed devolution in Scotland were prepared to accept the will of the majority, which the opponents of home rule in Ireland were not.

    The concept of the sovereignty of the people is just as central to Scottish nationalism as to Irish nationalism – from the Declaration of Arbroath to the Claim of Right of 1998.

    The English press from time to time likes to publish horror stories about the obtuse treatment of English residents in Scotland by the locals.

    One could selectively put those examples and other issues alongside the United Irishmen, Young Ireland, and the modern Republic and conclude that it is the Irish who are the civic nationalists and the Scottish who are the ethnic nationalists.

    That of course would be a cheap trick, but there are many people in England today, who think they face more resentment from the Scots than from the Irish.

  • Greenflag

    paddyreilly ,

    ‘Do not make a union with us, sir, We should unite with you only to rob you. We should have robbed the Scotch if they had had anything of which we could have robbed them ‘

    Dr Johnson was referring to a bankrupt Scotland which lost one third of it’s investment capital in the Darien ‘venture’. England offered to pay Scots back their ‘losses’ . The price was the Union and an end to Scots ‘independence’. After all an Empire on the make abroad has to ensure that it’s home island base is first of all ‘secure’.

    100 years later the same tactic was used in Ireland . A degenerate and somewhat fearful political ascendancy (post 1798) were easily bribed by Lord Castlereagh and his minions to ‘join ‘ the Union and reap the benefits 🙁

    As we can see at least in one part of the island of Ireland they are still ‘reaping’ the benefits of said Union or so some would have us believe .

    To be fair Scotland did well out of the Union for 200 years much more so than any part of Ireland ever did . During that time the Scots contributed much to what has been called the ‘enlightenment ‘ . But these are different days . An Empire on the make is a different kettle of fish from a post imperial situation .
    Scotland’s choice will be interesting for it’s own sake .

  • kensei

    “and the notion that the Irish state should predominantly reflect that “nation/people”, complete with its own set of values, historical readings, “culture” (read “music/literature”) etc.”

    How quaint the Irish would expect the same thing as EVERY other nation in the world. Seriously, find me a reasonable counter example.

  • George

    IJP,
    ”The unwillingness even to countenance that Britishness (or “British-Isles-ness”) is obviously part of Irishness (“German-ness” being obviously part of Austrian-ness)

    You are displaying with that comment what your average Austrian would call typical “preußische Vormachtsstellung-Denken” – that roughly translates as Prussian supremacy tendencies.

    The Prussians were the great advocates of one German-ness – Deutschtum, especially after they crushed the Austrians.

    As I outlined in my post of Apr 03, 2007 @ 05:42 PM, what you refuse to accept is that there is no diminuition of Britishness by giving Irishness equal status – even if it’s just on a map. If there is, it’s a funny kind of Britishness.