Feb 10, 2012

Scottish independence: Salmond still swimming upstream

There are two important questions arising out of the possibility of a Scottish republic, writes Keshia Jacotine, who researches and writes about European and Scottish politics.

Last month, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond announced plans to hold a referendum on independence some time in Autumn 2014. And not a moment too soon; the campaign for Scottish independence has been in existence since the 1700s when Scotland was unified with England. Even then it was all fiscal; England and Scotland saw this as a marriage of convenience as both countries were in desperate financial situations.

England was about to embark upon the War of Spanish Succession, and had neither the funds nor the manpower to fight wars while expanding their empire and continue manufacturing. Scottish political elites feared English invasion and were also bankrupt from a failed attempt to set up a colony in Panama. The Treaty of Union was signed in 1707, and despite attempts by the English to portray it as an act of altruism to rescue Scotland from economic ruin, the reality was the treaty was highly unpopular among the wider Scottish population. It was widely believed at the time that those who signed the treaty were bribed, and thus began the campaign for Scottish independence.

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5 thoughts on “Scottish independence: Salmond still swimming upstream

  1. Jackson Harding

    A Scottish Republic is not on offer here. While sentiment within the SNP is predominantly Republican, the stated policy on offer right now is for an independent Scotland, remaining part of the Commonwealth, an equal member of the EU (but retaining the pound in monetary union with the remainder of the UK) and retaining the monarchy. Essentially Dominion status, with strong social and monetary union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. All of this is on the SNP website. An incremental policy and no doubt ditching the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Windsor-Mountbatten’s will come later. Seriously Keshia, you could have done a better job on the basic facts.

    Alba gu brath!

  2. kd

    There are two really fascinating things that I find about the Scottish independence movement (having lived there for 8 years and being married to a Scot). Firstly how many of the English (and most Australians too) don’t understand the independence of Scottish culture from the other side of the peninsula. Secondly that the poisonous legacy of the Thatcher years (along with the aftermath of finding out that the great hope Blair was in fact a miniature poodle) is what has lead to the current situation. It would all have been unimaginable when I moved to Scotland in the dying days of the Thatcher regime.

  3. Puff, the Magic Dragon.

    The idea that an island that small should cut itself up into two or three or four different countries is nuts.

    It all smacks of racism to me.

    Me big English, Scots, Welsh, Calathumpian wingnut needs big white line down middle of island coz those others are descendents of the barstools who slaughtered our villagers while our ancestors were away slaughtering their villagers.

  4. kd


    [ It all smacks of racism to me. ]

    See, it’s all rather more complicated than that. Scotland is actually quite a resource rich country. England by contrast isn’t so much. The population structure and geography of the country is also quite different (less so once you get north of Yorkshire).

    Both countries have a terrible problem with a large disaffected underclass with a lack of economic opportunity though – mind you Scotland handles that problem rather better than the English do as evidenced by the lack of Scottish riots in 2011.

    Finally the population of Scotland according to Wikipedia is somewhere between that of Finland and Singapore. So your ‘ever smaller slices’ argument seems invalid too – neither of them are particularly small or insignificant countries. Don’t go denying national cultures, especially from this medium-sized, short historied, relatively homogenious geographically massive, isolated island-continent.

  5. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    As the world globalises, boundaries between nations blur. The further the boundaries blur the closer we imitate villagers. Rock on Scottish independence. Back to the village!

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