Independence in Scotland grows in popularity…

It’s hard to enter any conversation about UK politics without someone singing the praises of Alex Salmond, whether they be unionist or no. As one old friend put it last night, he’s the man who made Scottish non independence Independence.

Changing the terms of the debate has been one of his cleverest achievements. David Maddox

SUPPORT for Scottish independence has risen to its highest level for six years, with almost a third of Scots now backing separation from the rest of the UK, according to a new survey.

The results of the annual Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (SSA), presented today, show 32 per cent are now in favour of independence, up from 23 per cent last year to a level of support not seen since 2005.

The poll also found support for all decisions being made in Scotland has leaped 15 points to 43 per cent, while 29 per cent backed control over everything apart from defence and foreign affairs being passed to Scotland – the option often referred to as “devolution max”.

For now at least, Salmond and the SNP ‘own’ both major options. And even the social union concept is designed as a comfort blanket for those ‘unionist’ voters still unsure of his longer terms aims for independence.

  • lemonheadIII

    From speaking with Scottish friends, there has definitely been a palpable shift towards independence in recent years. I would go so far as to say that it is almost certain to come about within 10-15 years. The constitutional ramifications of such an event for Ireland (which, let’s be honest, is why we all care about the subject) are intriguing.

    My take is that if the Scots secede, with them goes the British state. With the demise of the British state, goes the very raison d’etre of Irish unionism.

    IMHO, a rump union involving the Welsh, English and partitioned Irish wouldn’t last very long before a rise in English nationalist sentiment jettisoned the parts which they see themselves as paying for.

    Therefore, NI is going to have to strike out on its own and become an independent country or agree to a constitutional relationship with Dublin.

    There is no palpable appetite that I can identify for an independent northern state, whereas there is for Irish reunification (or, provisionally – pun absolutely intended – something a bit short of that).

  • Comrade Stalin

    My take is that if the Scots secede, with them goes the British state. With the demise of the British state, goes the very raison d’etre of Irish unionism.

    I love republicans. They think that one or two things will happen and unionists will simply throw up the white flag and go home.

  • Drumlins Rock

    lemonhead, or Northern Ireland could join with Scotland and form a new Union there, maybe the south would join in too…
    Just as likely as what you have suggested. Lokk at Qubec which had 49% vote for independance in the 90s but which has now dropped to just over 30%.
    A tory government will feed the SNP, but if Labour regenerates its-self then they will drain that support too, atm we are just tiny pawns on the big stage no-one knows whats round the corner.

  • john

    ”I love republicans. They think that one or two things will happen and unionists will simply throw up the white flag and go home.”

    To be fair to Lemonhead Scotland leaving the UK is a pretty big thing and will change Northern Ireland more than any Unionist or Nationalist could. The UK without Scotland would be finished! The Unionists wont be waving any white flags they will just become Ulster nationalists (pretty much what the DUP are these days) it also means the Stormont crowd suddenly have to start delivering and not look to London with the begging bowl. Our politicians would have to start doing real politics (dear god we are f##ked) and the general public here will be a lot worse off. The main thing that will hold back Independence for the Scots is fear of change because once they break away thats it I dont think England would have them back if at all went wrong

  • john

    Drumlins Rock – like your tongue in cheek idea of some sort of Celtic Union. Where would your parliament be though?

  • Professor John Curtice, research consultant for independent research body ScotCen, said: “The appetite for a more powerful parliament, including independence, has grown in the last 12 months. However, support for independence is still no higher than it has been on previous occasions since the advent of devolution.

    “If the SNP are to persuade a majority of Scots to back independence they will need to convince them of the economic case for leaving the Union – that debate is still to be won or lost.”Maddox article

    Perhaps the survey was carried out before this leak about the Nordic model:

    Lib Dem Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore, said: “If the SNP want us to look to the Scandinavian example then they have to look at all the facts.

    “The tax rates there are much higher than the current situation in the UK. Would they be recommending that we move to that sort of tax regime?

    “Are they saying that Scots should be paying anything up to 60 per cent in income tax and 12 or 14 per cent VAT on food where they currently pay none?”

    The Scottish Government refused to be drawn on the issue of how high taxation would be in an independent Scotland.

  • Johnny Boy

    Even in the unlikely event of full Scottish independence, is there really going to be appetite in London to impose dissolution of the union with NI if the local populace is against it? Dublin certainly wouldn’t want anything to do with cleaning up the mess in the North in those circumstances.

  • Obelisk

    “lemonhead, or Northern Ireland could join with Scotland and form a new Union there, maybe the south would join in too…”

    I don’t see why not. I could go with that sort of Union. A Union of Celtic states with a common heritage. That’s imaginitive thinking.

  • Scáth Shéamais

    A major question for Scottish independence will be who controls the North Sea oil.

  • Drumlins Rock

    John, it should be at the ancient cross-channel capital, Dunseverick 🙂
    Or the other option is Liverpool…. think about it, there is great warped logic, most of ther population is from the Celtic regions, retaining strong ties, it is English, but different from the rest, could become a “Capital Teritory Region” like Canberra, Washington or Ottawa, and provide a economic powerhouse to drive the rest.

  • DoppiaVu

    “A major question for Scottish independence will be who controls the North Sea oil.”

    Definitely. And also how much more is left. And what will take its place when the oil runs out.

    Out of curiosity, anyone know how it all works economically? Clearly the oil is extracted by independent companies – do they pay a tariff per barrel to the exchequer?

  • lemonheadIII

    Do you guys really think the Scots are going to break the link with England after all these centuries only to immediately squander it with some hammy, half-a-union with the north? There’s not a hope.

    IMO, the north will come down to a choice between going it alone as an actual country in itself or coming to an agreement with Dublin, in some shape or form.

  • Drumlins Rock

    With regards North Sea oil, production will have dropped dramatically by the time independance comes about, even at the shortest timescale, and remember much of the oil is off the English coast. Possibly renewable energy is a good export potential, but with high environmental costs.

  • There’s this clichéd elephant (now with extra panda eyes) in the proverbial room: why can’t we recognise it? The scary Big Lie told by the Tories at the last General Election was that Britain was bankrupt. As long as folk believe that, of course there is a rush to alternatives. And, north of the Border where all the other political parties have attempted seppuku, that gives Salmond & co. sole bragging rights (and ownership of the pandas).

    Unlike John Edmonds of the GMB, I was quite taken by the notion of Scotland as a Scandinavian state (see Fran Abrams’s piece in last Saturday’s Independent):

    Scotland could break away from the rest of the United Kingdom and align itself with Scandinavia unless the Government radically reforms itself, a Whitehall planning paper has predicted.

    Why not other parts of the archipelago as well? Almost as if the Battle of Stamford Bridge (and others) had never occurred. Even now, in “England”, there are two distinct societies, dialects and politics — something recognised by the Emperor Severus dividing Britannia Inferior and Britannia Superior (note that even then the “inferior” bit was the northern one).

    With devolution, even the full-strength version, what’s to be afraid of? Unless one is a monarch who cannot ride a bicycle.

  • “the Battle of Stamford Bridge”

    Keep Chelsea out of this, Malcolm! Dewi, it appears, is from the land that God forgot – the wild west: Britannia Prima Donna – or something like that 😉

  • Taoiseach

    Events which are hard to imagine happen all the time. It’s hard to believe that only about twenty years ago we had the Iron Curtain in Europe, Apartheid in South Africa and the Troubles here. Things can change quickly. Independent Scotland; something happening to the monarchy (Catholic marriages?) and we’ll see just exactly what Loyalists are loyal to.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Taoiseach, might I point out things are happening even quicker over the border, the Germans run the Republic now! Dictating the budget, and therefore most government policy. Scottish independance is still unlikely given 50% opposition in most surveys. But even then it would be decades before it would force NI to pick or choose while things bed down. Even scrapping the monarchy wouldn’t make a big difference, marriages are certainly not a big issue. As they say there are the Known Unknowns you have mentioned which form a marginal risk, and as for the Unknown Unknowns, who knows so why guess?

  • ayeYerMa

    John, the new capital would be in Belfast, given it to be the most central part of the 3 nation Celtic Union 😉

  • ayeYerMa

    On the topic of the SNP framing the question for an independence vote, I think it would be wise for Scottish Unionists to make sure that the options of repatriating powers to Westminster and reinstating direct Westminster rule to be options. Failing to include these options will give the SNP the psychological advantage in voters’ minds as having the “false middle”.

  • ayeYerMa

    … the middle position being taken by the obvious option of “leave things alone”

  • Framer

    What about the minorities within the new majority? The Orkneys and Shetlands will want separation and perhaps even the Western Isles while the reduced UK will share large swathes of the North Channel’s territorial waters with Emperor Salmond’s Scotland..

  • Oh, and by the by, there was a neat piece by Alan Cochrane (Torygraph‘s man on things Caledonian) to go with the Spectator‘s Parliamentarian of the Year supplement for 19 November. As far as I can see, it’s not on line — but it’s worth checking out.

    It argues why Salmond is “untouchable”, “unassailable” and “dominates”. His 69 MSPs (out of 129) mean the SNP has all the convenorships and committee majorities, plus the office of presiding officer (who doesn’t have the ‘gumption’ to keep [Salmond] in order):

    His favoured tactic is to answer questions he hasn’t been answered and to then attack the questioner. And if that doesn’t work, to then waste time by making mini-speeches. However, there is no doubt that his seeming omnipotence is also helped by the fact that his supposed tormentors don’t have the ability to get to grips with him.

    What I hadn’t spotted was this:

    The hours worked at Holyrood — if that’s not too generous a term — are also conducive to the presidential style favoured by Salmond. After decades of badgering for home rule, the devolved Scottish Parliament sits for only nine hours a week — Wednesday afternoons and Thursdays from 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.

    Cochrane makes two further points:

    ¶ The SNP is now disciplined:

    From being one of the most fractious political groupings in a famously disputatious nation, the SNP nowadays exhibits a ferocious, almost Stalinist, discipline. There are no policy differences, no tactical differences. Everyone is united behind the Dear Leader.

    ¶ The referendum is all. Its wording would be dictated by Salmond alone. Else it will allow further and later salami-slicing. Salmond’s struggle with Cameron on that:

    … is, as yet, barely underway. But it is this battle that will determine whether the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland remains as we know it now.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Malcolm, was just wondering how much of the SNP case is built round one man, and the article seems to answer that question, it is a weakness, but can the “unionists” take advantage in time?

  • Drumlins Rock @ 3:27 pm:

    Instinctively I would concur with the presumption there.

    Wee Eck is just a man. He has, I’d reckon, as much as a decade of front-line political life ahead of him.

    He is, for the time being, lucky in his opponents, in the times in which we all live, and with the lack of wannabes in his own party. That confluence of circumstance cannot reasonably persist, whereupon the great axiom of John Enoch cuts in:

    All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Malcolm, I take there is no Robinson to his Paisley behind the scenes? It still seems it is up to the Unionists to lose any future referendum, but I have to give it to Salmon he plays it brilliantly, throwing in lots of banana skins, from lowering the age to 16 to have it the second question (ie. get them to vote yes for no 1 then they are more likely to vote yes for no 2) trying to lure the other parties onto fighting the legitimacy of the vote (which is questionable as it has no legal standing whatsoever) but they know if they fight those battles instead of the main one it only helps him. Is there any credible “Unionist” group outside the 3 parties that can get a few big brains on the job and play him at his own game?

  • JR

    The most important thing Salmond does is instills a sense of belief in the Scots. If Norway, Denmark, Holland, Slovenia Austria etc can manage their own affairs, why can’t Scotland?

  • Drumlins Rock

    If Estonia, Bahrain, Maurisis, Cyprus can, why not Northern Ireland? Salmond instills in the Scots a sense of belief in HIM, they the have to choice of being part of a small country on the edge of the world, or remain a very infuencial part of what is still an important nation. Do people forget that an Independant Scotland would probably rank alongside Iceland as a result of its banks?

  • Congal Claen

    It confuses me no end why Irish nationalists seem to think GB as a landmass can be split into separate countries. Yet, Ireland should be one…

  • Republic of Connaught

    It confuses me, Congal, how Northern unionists live in a perpetual fantasy land that Ulster nationalists don’t exist. There are four provinces in Ireland, no? How many in the province of Ulster regard it – or six of its counties – as a “country”? A minority, is the answer. Which is why Ulster itself is partitioned. Though not for rugby or GAA.

    There are five million Scots and three million Welsh. How many native born Scots or Welsh want unification with England and to be called English? Little or none, is the answer.

    See if you want to declare a “country”, Congal, it would help to have the vast majority of the people living there to be in agreement with you.

  • Congal Claen @ 6:40 pm:

    It confuses me no end why Irish nationalists seem to think GB as a landmass can be split into separate countries.

    Am I just being dim? Or is some explication needed?

    The “GB landmass” never has been, and is increasingly unlikely ever to be a single “country”. Or am I confusing nation states (a tired concept, which belongs to 19th-century history) with a state-of-mind?

    Whereas Ireland is no single political nation state, but (like it or not) very much a shared state-of-mind, albeit with shades of emphasis.

    By the way, thanks to network problems and neophyte iPaddery, I never responded properly to Dewi‘s thread about Norman Davies’s Vanished Kingdoms, which has relevance here. Such enclaves may be swallowed, or carved up by potent, aggressive rivals, but the psychology remains.

  • Comrade Stalin

    IMO, the north will come down to a choice between going it alone as an actual country in itself or coming to an agreement with Dublin, in some shape or form.

    Why ?

    What makes you think that NI is dispensable in the way that, say, the Falklands, was not ?

  • JoeBryce

    The Armed Struggle was the moral and spiritual glue that kept the 6 counties within the UK.

    The Armed Struggle has been over for nearly 20 years and the glue is dissolving.

    If the guns remain silent, the direction of history is clear.

  • Comrade Stalin

    If the guns remain silent, the direction of history is clear.

    As I said earlier, republicans really need to get over their love of mantra. That said, it’s certainly an improvement on “the only language the Brits understand”.

  • Comrade Stalin

    On the subject of the article itself, Salmond is certainly impressive – and persuasive.

    I’ve yet to be convinced that real independence is likely in the short term. It’s not even clear to me that the SNP want to jump straight into independence themselves given the dire economic situation they have right now. And what currency will the new Scottish state use ? Going for the Euro seems like a bit of a legal minefield; go with sterling, and the various rounds of QE and interest rate raises that are likely over the coming years may cause people to question what the whole exercise was for in the first place.

  • JH

    I can’t see any possible outcome if Scotland claims it’s independence than the 6 counties forming a new state under an Irish confederation or federation, with a staggered economic withdrawal by the rump of the union that would mimic that of Scotland.

    It compromises both the Republican desire for reunification (and, perhaps, an actual Federal Republic – depending on the retention of the monarchy) and the Unionist desire to remain in the UK (which no longer exists), but would provide the acclimatisation necessary to evolve into a sustainable economy.

    Personally, knowing Scots from both ‘traditions’, with those of an Orange Order background being the most staunch supporters of independence, I could the referendum being passed.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I can’t see any possible outcome if Scotland claims it’s independence than the 6 counties forming a new state under an Irish confederation or federation, with a staggered economic withdrawal by the rump of the union that would mimic that of Scotland.

    Why ?

    People keep saying Scotland’s departure means the union is doomed. I still haven’t seen some sort of reason why this would be the case.

  • Republic of Connaught

    CS,

    You don’t think English taxpayers, with Scotland and most of Ireland independent, might decide they don’t need to be paying £8b a year to partition Ireland?

    As an aside, what exactly makes you think you’re so entitled to the English tax payers’ money for as long as you desire it?

  • Barnshee

    “As an aside, what exactly makes you think you’re so entitled to the English tax payers’ money for as long as you desire it?”

    Removal of the subvention would be the best thing to happen for generations. Choke off the endless numbers of bureaucrats and hangers on in NI. Can`t wait to see the back of it.

    Same for Scotland Independence ASAP (or fuck off as I prefer it)