Tag Archives: Scotland

Bagpipe bandits: how the English blew Scotland’s national instrument first

VIVIEN WILLIAMS, University of Glasgow 
February, 2016

Simon Fraser University Pipe Band at the World Pipe Band Championship, Scotland, in 2011. Photo: Simon Fraser University

Simon Fraser University Pipe Band at the World Pipe Band Championship, Scotland, in 2011. Photo: Simon Fraser University

The Great Highland bagpipe is as central to Scottish identity as tartan and Robert Burns. Walk down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and you’ll hear that familiar wail, while pipers gather each year to empty their lungs at everything from local competitions to the famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The pipes were not invented in Scotland, though. In fact, they are part of a much older tradition that some may find unpalatable: the English were playing the pipes hundreds of years before the Scots got their hands on them.

Bagpipes are actually a family of instruments, and most countries from India to Scotland and from Sweden to Libya boast at least one indigenous variety. They date back over 3,000 years, but appear to have been developed from the hornpipe, which goes back even further. Through the millennia, bagpipes have appeared in an incredible number of varieties – big like a zampogna gigante; small like a musette; droneless, or with two or more drones (or reeds); and with either one or two chanters (or pipes).

The drones can be vertical or horizontal, compressed into a little barrel or dangling on the piper’s back, and the bag can be inflated by a mouthpiece or by bellows. The bag can be covered in brocade or tartan, left as a tanned skin, or even made of Gore-Tex. Each has its own scale, tone and sound, all of which tells a tale about their home country.

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Bag-innings

Early documents about bagpipes are scarce. Though literature featuring bagpipes in Ancient Greece is dubious, sources confirm that the instrument was known to the Romans. The ancient historian Dio Chrysostom described Emperor Nero as being able to play the pipe both with his mouth and by squeezing a bag under his armpit. According to the most widely accepted opinion, the Romans brought the instrument into Britain after their invasion in AD 43.

It is not until the Middle Ages that the bagpipe tradition took off in a significant way, however. By that time there are copious references all across Europe. A remarkable episode in British bagpipe literature is the Exeter Riddles, a manuscript containing Anglo-Saxon riddles possibly collected by bishop Leofric (1016-1072). Riddle 31 tells of a beautiful, noble bird resting on a man’s shoulder, with its beak facing downwards and its feet in the air. The answer to the name of the bird is the bagpipe, since its beak is the chanter and its feet are the drones.

The first time the term “bagpipe” appears in its English-language form is several hundred years later, in 1288 (albeit modified for a Latin text). It appears in an entry in the Book of the Treasurer of King Edward I, “cuidam garcioni cum una bagepipa pipanti coram rege de dono ipsius regis, ij s.”. This translates as “a certain servant with a bagpipe who piped before the king was given two shillings” – a good sum, roughly the weekly income for an agricultural worker at the time.

Wha’s like us?

The first unquestionable appearance of the bagpipe in Scotland is not until the 15th century, in carvings in Rosslyn Chapel and Melrose Abbey, respectively of an angel-piper and a pig-piper. It is reasonable to think that the tradition was absorbed into Scotland from the south, before developing its own characteristics. By the 16th century it was Scotland’s military instrument, and a carrier of public events.

Much 18th-century Scottish material about the bagpipe is linked to Jacobitism, the movement that sought the return of the Catholic Stewart kings to the British throne following the removal of James II in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The Jacobites saw the bagpipes as an icon of Scottish national belonging and military pride, while their Hanoverian opponents used the instrument in propaganda to caricature the Jacobites.

This politicisation of the bagpipes led to a common belief that they were banned in Scotland. Partly the source of the confusion is the Disarming Act of 1746, to which a passage added two years later ordered “restraining the Use of the Highland Dress”. It included tartan and plaid, but never the bagpipes. The misconception was probably strengthened by episodes such as the hanging of piper James Reid of Dundee. He was captured in 1745 in Carlisle and sentenced to hanging for treason, having taken part in Jacobite rebellions. He may have been a piper, but his hanging had nothing to do with disobeying the Disarming Act.

The bagpipes have been banned – but in Poland during World War II. Original research from the Ethnographic Museum of Warsaw in collaboration with Poznan’s Museum of Musical Instruments shows footage documenting how Germans ordered Poles not to play their version of the pipes, perhaps threatened by the instrument’s ability to stir nationalist spirits. Such is the information that comes out of bagpipe studies, which has been undergoing a revival of late – and is indeed the subject of a paper at a conference in Glasgow on February 26-28. So while the Scots may have made the instrument their own over the centuries, they share the piping tradition with the hands of many nationalities – including the English. Widdye credit it?

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Vivien Williams is a Research Assistant (Musicology), University of Glasgow. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Haggis, neeps and badness: Robert Burns’ dark side

COREY E. ANDREWS, Youngstown State University
January, 2015

Robert Burns may have lost some of the nationalist charge behind his popularity since Scotland voted No in last year’s referendum. But the celebrated poet continues to be fêted internationally during annual Burns Suppers from Glasgow to New York, from Toronto to Calcutta, in a ritual that has been honed since the early 19th century.

Portrait of Robert Burns by Alexander Nasmyth, 1787

Portrait of Robert Burns by Alexander Nasmyth, 1787

All speakers at Burns Night celebrations, myself included, are expected to reflect on the poet’s continuing significance in a world that he likely would not recognise as his own. So where did this practice originate, and why was a poet with so many character flaws elevated into the pantheon of Scottish national icons like William Wallace and Robert the Bruce?The story of Burns’s sudden success in 1786 is well known, along with his nom de plume of “the heaven-taught ploughman” – a rather unlucky persona created for him by the critic and novelist Henry Mackenzie. Burns frequently found himself invited by the Edinburgh literati to play this role of the inspired rustic, a stock figure much in vogue in those days.

His unsurprising dislike of this role led not a few literati to deride Burns’ manner as rude and coarse, while he described their spotlight as a “glare” in his letters. Yet the process of reconfiguring the man into a national icon had begun – a role he undeniably desired. And the advance publicity stuck, despite Burns’s efforts to withdraw from the public eye and spend the remainder of his brief life with his family, collecting Scottish songs (for which he famously refused both payment and acknowledgement, seeing it as a service to Scotland).

Succeeding generations of Burnsians would excuse or censor the poet’s many indiscretions, which were usually prompted by excessive desires for sex and drink, along with his penchant for radical politics and free-thinking in religion. The image that emerged of Burns in the 19th century and is still exceedingly popular was that of a sentimental peasant.

Here’s an early example from James Currie’s first edition of Burns’s Works (1800):

Robert Burns was, in reality, what he has been represented to be, a Scottish peasant… The incidents which form the subjects of his poems, though some of them highly interesting and susceptible of poetical imagery, are incidents in the life of a peasant who takes no pains to disguise the lowliness of his condition.

One of the key figures in developing this view of Burns was Walter Scott, (the two met when Scott was 15) who played a much wider role in helping to create a sanitised and patriotic sense of Scotland in the early part of the 19th century. We have long been encouraged to think of Burns as a man of great talents and virtues, a flawed genius whose errors could be repressed in the interests of maintaining him as a national icon that would unite Scots the world over. He would be the Poet of Scotland, for better or worse.I say for worse because it has led to long-lasting falsifications of his actual life and works, as well as severe distortions of his character and its relevance to his writing. In truth, he was a deeply flawed man.

His shabby treatment of the women in his life, especially his long-suffering wife Jean, cannot be defended on any grounds. Despite the efforts of many biographers over the years, it is also difficult to explain away his penchant for excessive convivial pleasure; he may not have been an alcoholic in today’s parlance, but he clearly enjoyed drinking a lot.

He was also particularly ungenerous to other labouring-class poets who sought to follow his example and enjoy a taste of literary fame. In a letter he derided their efforts as the writhing of a “shoal of ill-spawned monsters”.

Contrary to ideas about his unstinting radicalism, Burns could be sycophantic and hysterical in his efforts to retain his position at the Excise, asserting his loyalty to Great Britain by joining the Dumfries Volunteers late in his life to fight the French should they invade. All of these facts have been actively suppressed to protect Burns’ reputation, as were some of his works for many years, not least the bawdy Merry Muses of Caledonia.

This process, one that is reinvigorated every Burns Night, began less than ten years after the poet’s death in 1796. A group of devotees in Paisley near Glasgow created the first Burns Club in 1805. This included the poet and songwriter Robert Tannahill, who wrote the first club verse about Burns’s “immortal memory”.

Burns clubs then grew exponentially, emerging all over the world throughout the 19th century. Many notable literary figures were among their ranks, including the Scottish poet Thomas Campbell and the American writers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (among many others).

Religious Scots expressed some ambivalence about such veneration, leading the Reverend William Peebles in 1811 to coin the rather lame term “Burnomania” to describe the cultural “insania” surrounding the poet. Other religious critics sought to defend Burns from such charges. The Reverend Hamilton Paul mounted one such defence, writing an exculpatory preface to his edition of Burns’ works in 1819. By that time, the poet’s “immortal memory” was already well established, even though the more orthodox of Paul’s colleagues may have wondered if he too suffered from “Burnomania”.

In the present day, our understanding of Burns has been enriched by the thriving scholarship that has grown in the late 2000s, especially in the wake of the first Scottish Homecoming and celebration of Burns’ 250th birthday in 2009. That said, his reputation is still bedevilled by long-standing misinterpretations of his life and work. In particular, he is still misappropriated to aid the causes of endless warring parties (political, religious, cultural, you name it!).

But that doesn’t prevent his name and legacy being an opportunity for social pleasure once a year (twice if you count New Year), when the slightly absurd rituals governing the Burns Supper are re-enacted around the world. Whether the poet’s works are much read beyond such occasions seems immaterial when considering his popular cultural esteem as the enduring Poet of Scotland.

But the real challenge is to appreciate him in this role while still recognising his very human weaknesses. That is the only way to understand his lasting legacy truthfully, in a spirit that the poet himself might appreciate were he alive today.

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The Conversation

Andrews_Pic

Corey E. Andrews is Associate Professor of English at Youngstown State University, Ohio.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Britain’s New World

Photo by Moyan Brenn, Creative Commons via Flickr Kilchurn Castle, north of Glasgow, Scotland, in Loch Awe

Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe, Scotland. Photo by Moyan Brenn, Creative Commons via Flickr

By Deborah Jones
September 19, 2014

Britain will never be the same. The day after Scots voted 55-45 to support the United Kingdom, on promises by unionists for a new range of Scottish powers, Prime Minister David Cameron set in motion a process to empower not just Scotland, but also Wales and Northern Island — and potentially to remake the British political system.

Meantime, First Minister Alex Salmond, who devoted his life to Scottish independence, shocked Scots by resigning, which he had earlier said he would not do if his Yes campaign for independence failed.

“For me as leader, my time is nearly over,” he told reporters in Edinburgh. “But for Scotland the campaign continues and the dream shall never die.”

United Kingdom prime minister David Cameron said he was “delighted” at the referendum result, and in a speech Friday rejected Salmond’s assertion that the campaign continues. “There can be no disputes, no re-runs – we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people.”

Cameron appointed Lord Smith of Kelvin to oversee devolution in Scotland, and  William Hague to oversee plans for a system allowing more powers for citizens in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, developed at the same pace as Scottish devolution.

“Now it is time for our United Kingdom to come together, and to move forward,” said Cameron. “A vital part of that will be a balanced settlement – fair to people in Scotland and importantly to everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well.”

Salmond  called on Britain’s leaders to honour that settlement, and the 11th-hour promises made in the last weeks of the campaign, promptly.

Wrote Salmond: “The unionist parties made vows late in the campaign to devolve more powers to Scotland. Scotland will expect these to be honoured in rapid course. Just as a reminder, we have been promised a second reading of a Scotland Bill by the 27th of March next year and not just the 1.6 million Scots who voted for independence will demand that that timetable is followed but all Scots who participated in this referendum will demand that that timetable is followed. ”

Excerpts of Salmond’s blog post on the Scottish referendum site: 

Alex SalmonImage © Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body – 2012. Licensed under the Open Scottish Parliament Licence v1.0.

Alex Salmond, official photo

It’s important to say that our referendum was an agreed and consented process and Scotland has by majority decided not at this stage to become an independent country. I accept that verdict of the people and I call on all of Scotland to follow suit in accepting the democratic verdict of the people of Scotland.

But I think all of us in this campaign say that that 45 per cent, that 1.6 million votes, is a substantial vote for Scottish independence and the future of this country. Let us say something which I hope that unites all campaigns and all Scots. I think the process by which we have made our decision as a nation reflects enormous credit upon Scotland. A turnout of 86 per cent is one of the highest in the democratic world for any election or any referendum in history. This has been a triumph for the democratic process and for participation in politics.

For example, the initiative by which 16 and 17 year olds were able to vote has proved to be a resounding success. I suspect that no one will ever again dispute their right and ability to participate fully and responsibly in democratic elections.

So we now face the consequences of Scotland’s democratic decision. Firstly, Clause 30 of the Edinburgh Agreement is now in operation. On behalf of the Scottish Government I accept the results and I pledge to work constructively in the interest of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Secondly, the unionist parties made vows late in the campaign to devolve more powers to Scotland. Scotland will expect these to be honoured in rapid course. Just as a reminder, we have been promised a second reading of a Scotland Bill by the 27th of March next year and not just the 1.6 million Scots who voted for independence will demand that that timetable is followed but all Scots who participated in this referendum will demand that that timetable is followed.

I’ll be speaking to the Prime Minister shortly after this statement but can I return thirdly to the empowerment of so many Scots entering the political process for the very first time. It is something that is so valuable it has to be cherished, preserved and built upon…

Whatever else we can say about this referendum campaign, we have touched sections of the community who’ve never before been touched by politics. These sections of the community have touched us and touched the political process. I don’t think that will ever be allowed to go back to business as usual in politics again.

Excerpts of Cameron’s speech, posted on the UK government site:

360px-David_Cameron_official

David Cameron, official photo

So now it is time for our United Kingdom to come together, and to move forward. A vital part of that will be a balanced settlement – fair to people in Scotland and importantly to everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well.

Let us first remember why we had this debate – and why it was right to do so.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) was elected in Scotland in 2011 and promised a referendum on independence. We could have blocked that; we could have put it off, but just as with other big issues, it was right to take – not duck – the big decision. 

I am a passionate believer in our United Kingdom – I wanted more than anything for our United Kingdom to stay together.

But I am also a democrat. And it was right that we respected the SNP’s majority in Holyrood and gave the Scottish people their right to have their say…

Scotland voted for a stronger Scottish Parliament backed by the strength and security of the United Kingdom and I want to congratulate the No campaign for that – for showing people that our nations really are better together.

I also want to pay tribute to Yes Scotland for a well-fought campaign and to say to all those who did vote for independence: “we hear you”…

To those in Scotland sceptical of the constitutional promises made, let me say this we have delivered on devolution under this government, and we will do so again in the next Parliament.

The 3 pro-union parties have made commitments, clear commitments, on further powers for the Scottish Parliament. We will ensure that they are honoured in full. 

And I can announce today that Lord Smith of Kelvin – who so successfully led Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games – has agreed to oversee the process to take forward the devolution commitments, with powers over tax, spending and welfare all agreed by November and draft legislation published by January.

Just as the people of Scotland will have more power over their affairs, so it follows that the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland must have a bigger say over theirs. The rights of these voters need to be respected, preserved and enhanced as well.

It is absolutely right that a new and fair settlement for Scotland should be accompanied by a new and fair settlement that applies to all parts of our United Kingdom. In Wales, there are proposals to give the Welsh government and Assembly more powers. And I want Wales to be at the heart of the debate on how to make our United Kingdom work for all our nations. In Northern Ireland, we must work to ensure that the devolved institutions function effectively.

I have long believed that a crucial part missing from this national discussion is England. We have heard the voice of Scotland – and now the millions of voices of England must also be heard. The question of English votes for English laws – the so-called West Lothian question – requires a decisive answer.

So, just as Scotland will vote separately in the Scottish Parliament on their issues of tax, spending and welfare, so too England, as well as Wales and Northern Ireland, should be able to vote on these issues and all this must take place in tandem with, and at the same pace as, the settlement for Scotland.

I hope that is going to take place on a cross-party basis. I have asked William Hague to draw up these plans. We will set up a Cabinet Committee right away and proposals will also be ready to the same timetable. I hope the Labour Party and other parties will contribute.

It is also important we have wider civic engagement about to improve governance in our United Kingdom, including how to empower our great cities. And we will say more about this in the coming days.

This referendum has been hard fought. It has stirred strong passions. It has electrified politics in Scotland, and caught the imagination of people across the whole of our United Kingdom.

It will be remembered as a powerful demonstration of the strength and vitality of our ancient democracy. Record numbers registered to vote and record numbers cast their vote. We can all be proud of that. It has reminded us how fortunate we are that we are able to settle these vital issues at the ballot box, peacefully and calmly.

“Now we must look forward, and turn this into the moment when everyone – whichever way they voted – comes together to build that better, brighter future for our entire United Kingdom.

 

Copyright Deborah Jones 2014

Further reading on Facts and Opinions:

Scotland Votes, Frontlines blog post

Scotland Decided: what the experts say 
An expert panel looks at what happened, and where it leaves the UK and Scotland.

ALEX SALMOND: The Independent Scot. By Murray Leith
If there’s one figure that anyone anywhere would associate with the Scottish referendum campaign it’s Alex Salmond, first minister of Scotland, leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), and the man who could be responsible for the break-up of the United Kingdom. But who is he, where did this political whirlwind begin and where will it take the man and his party?

Scottish leader downplays difficulties of independence. By Jonathan Manthorpe, April 2014 (Subscription)
Scots  will vote in a referendum on September 18 on separation from the United Kingdom. But the division of assets and liabilities in the break-up of a country is complex and vexatious – and in the case of Scotland, these matters are particularly difficult. The latest polls in Scotland, with the undecided vote discounted, shows 52 percent of respondents support staying with the United Kingdom while 48 per cent want independence.

Further reading elsewhere:
Salmond to resign after Scotland rejects independence, Agence France-Presse 

Scotland’s pro-independence leader Alex Salmond said Friday he would resign after losing a referendum that left the United Kingdom intact but opened a Pandora’s box of demands for more autonomy across Britain.

Scotland is staying. London’s headaches are just starting, Christian Science Monitor 

British leaders are relieved by the Scots’ vote against independence. But devolving new powers to Scotland – and perhaps to England – may be a bigger challenge for Westminster than the referendum was.

Queen Accepts Scotland’s Apology (Satire), Borowitz Report, The New Yorker

In the aftermath of Scotland’s “no” vote in the referendum on becoming an independent country, Queen Elizabeth II, of Great Britain, took to the airwaves on Friday morning to inform the people of Scotland that she “graciously and wholeheartedly” accepted their apology. “Although the matter of independence has been settled, one question remains very much open,” she said in an address televised across Scotland. “And my answer to that question is this: yes, I forgive you.”

 

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Scotland Decided: what the experts say

In its independence referendum, Scotland voted to remain in the United Kingdom by 55 versus 45 per cent. An expert panel looks at what happened, and where it leaves the UK and Scotland.

 

Thistle. © Deborah Jones 2014

Scottish thistle. © Deborah Jones 2014

Neil Blain, Professor of Communications, University of Stirling

The main problem was the currency. The doubt over the currency led to doubt about quite a few other things that were connected with it. One of the things it’s done is persuaded a lot of people that we are inextricably entangled with the union and can’t do without it.

But I do think it’s remarkable that Yes polled 45%, given the onslaught, particularly from a media that was almost entirely hostile and given the offer of more powers at the last minute.

If further powers for Edinburgh now become entangled with the question of devolution for England, the debate could go on until 2050. It’s important that Scottish politicians try to preserve the separate argument here, though if I’m hearing David Cameron correctly that’s going to be difficult. Whatever the make-up of the next Westminster parliament, I don’t see how it can be bound by any pledges which are made just now.

One of the signals I would be looking for in the next day or two is where the press stands. The Scottish media may get behind the pledges in a similar way to what happened in the 1990s. But at my more pessimistic, I still think we could be heading for the long grass. I would love to believe that nothing will be the same again, but another part of me says, “in your dreams”. There are a lot of people in the Labour and Conservative parties who for different reasons don’t want a federal England. If the Scottish question is closely associated with that, it would get in the way.

Nicola McEwen, Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of Edinburgh

Although the referendum produced a clear victory for the No campaign, the UK government and the UK parties may want to reflect on what is an historically significant level of support for independence. As much as 45% of the population did not give their consent to the union. That should make politicians sit up and take notice, and should ensure that the issue of Scotland’s constitutional future continues to be the subject of debate.

It’s perfectly possible for the UK government to fulfill the campaign promise to give Scotland more powers. But if that was to happen in the timescale set out in the campaign, it would likely mean a set of proposals that looked more like the Labour party devolution commission’s more modest proposals than the more ambitious Conservative or Lib Dem proposals – it’s easier to settle on the lowest common denominator. It would be extraordinarily difficult for Labour’s internal party politics to go much further.

Of course now that the SNP government seems set to be involved in these discussions too, we can expect them to push for a more extensive set of devolved powers. The SNP will not abandon its commitment to independence, but we will see the party revert back to a more gradualist strategy, in keeping with its recent political history, trying to push the UK parties further down the road of Scottish self-government.

The debate over Scotland’s place within the UK won’t go away. It’s perfectly feasible that there will be another constitutional referendum in my lifetime, but I think it would emerge in a different way: not as a result of a top-down initiative – a political opportunity created by an election victory – but more because there is popular demand for a referendum from the bottom-up. The first minister, Alex Salmond, talked about this referendum being a once-in-a-generation opportunity. I don’t expect the SNP to put another referendum in their manifesto in 2016.

It’s interesting to see how quickly the debate has moved on to thinking about the English question. We know from the “Future of England” survey that there is growing discontent in England with the way it is governed, and in particular of the fact that Scottish MPs can continue to vote on areas like health and education, despite these responsibilities being devolved to Scotland. Indeed, there appears to be a greater sense of grievance about the way that England is governed than there was in Scotland before the referendum.

Paul Cairney, Professor of Politics and Public Policy, University of Stirling

The referendum didn’t go wrong. It was as good if not better than expected. It was 60-40 in favour of No for such a long time, so 45% Yes seems OK to me.

I think 45% is a good number because it’s not so close that people are bitter about how indecisive it was, but it’s also powerful enough to make progress, especially since the three major UK parties got together and said they would hand over extra powers to Scotland and keep the Barnett formula.

That has to be part of the explanation for the gap between Yes and No. There is some sort of onus on the UK parties to deliver what they were talking about now.

Saying that, I don’t think the extra powers to Scotland will be that extensive. It will be more income tax, more powers over welfare, and they will emphasise that we’re getting more responsibility.

Barnett will be tricky. The thing about it is that the UK government kept it over the years because no one talked about it, but it becomes harder now that it’s the focus of attention. They have to satisfy two audiences, one in England and one in Scotland. The problem for the English audience is that Barnett is supposed to help economic disparities to converge, but there has been no difference in the gap in per-capita spend since the 1970s. That means there is a strong argument to get rid of it.

But Barnett means that the two governments don’t have to negotiate spending every year, which keeps it out of the public spotlight. I think they’ll do whatever they can to keep it, even if they have to rename it. It’s the least worst option for holding everything together. Otherwise it becomes a broken promise to Scotland that stores up potential tensions, so it’s going to be very difficult.

What does 45% mean for Scottish independence? You can’t have another referendum for at least ten years. Five years would be long enough to find out if the maximum devolution that Scotland gets is adequate in people’s eyes. That then gives you the opportunity to put it back on your manifesto again.

But remember that the only reason the referendum happened is because the SNP has a majority in the parliament. So you’ll need to have a majority of pro-independence parties if it’s to happen again. That’s the main obstacle.

Arthur Midwinter, Visiting Professor of Politics, University of Edinburgh

My view all along was that it would come down to whether people felt they would be better off or not. Even though there was that wobble in the middle, it came back to that in the end.

The Yes campaign never made a coherent economic case. There were too many big guns against them. I know the campaign wasn’t just the SNP, but really it was Salmond and Sturgeon against the world. The bankers and business and the bulk of academics didn’t believe their figures.

I never understood why the vote narrowed a few weeks ago. I always thought there would be many people that would vote No that would not tell pollsters if they were asked. One side was very noisy and one side was very quiet. It’s what you call the silent majority. I didn’t have a single neighbour in Falkirk who said they were going to vote Yes.

Brown was just magnificent these past few days. Is he going to run the show now over extending powers? He certainly made the difference. I don’t know if he saved the union, but the poll figures certainly suggested that either side could have won. Brown made the case for more devolution in a much more coherent way than anybody had until that point.

I would love to see Brown standing for the Scottish parliament. Whether he will or not, I don’t know. His whole life has been politics. Brown against Salmond would be exciting, that’s for sure.

But there is the issue that it doesn’t make sense to devolve a lot more powers. If your working assumption is that it’s an integrated economy, devo max is just not possible. Labour originally wanted to devolve all income tax control, but all the advice in the Calman consultation was that it wasn’t possible.

So I don’t know how negotiations will go, but I’m fairly confident that the agreement will end up being the Labour position from earlier this year with a few changes. That will make it difficult to navigate in Scotland, but it can be done if the country is governed differently. If the Conservatives had remained a one-nation party, they would still be doing much better in Scotland.

Karly Kehoe, Senior Lecturer in History, Glasgow Caledonian University

Westminster will have to look at this result and address the fact that 45% of people are unhappy. The three main UK-wide parties are now going to have to deliver on the promises they have made.

I was so impressed with the voter turnout. Approximately 84% is extraordinary. If I was the No campaign I would be grateful for the result, but not elated because it’s not an enormous victory. About 45% of people voted for independence – that’s a clear indication that something is seriously wrong.

Alex Salmond’s speech was very good, saying it’s important for the nation to come together, to recognise that this is what the people who live here want, and to focus on moving forward so that we can have the best society. You can feel very sad or you can think, right, now what do we do ensure we get the kind of society we want?

David McCausland, Head of Economics, University of Aberdeen

The United Kingdom has had a lucky escape. The economic effects of independence would have been damaging and irreversible. In the short term the increased uncertainty would have pushed up the cost of the borrowing, undermined trade, and reduced investment.

One of the biggest headaches avoided is the currency question. All of the possible configurations would have had a serious disruptive impact at least in the short term. The mismatch between spending ambitions and variable revenue streams may have led to permanent austerity.

So with the cloud of independence now lifted, what for the future? Increased powers over taxation and spending, and the retention of the Barnett formula, through which Westminster sets Scottish spending, have all been promised: devo max by proxy.

Scotland could therefore have come out quite well. But calls for political reform and a hardening of attitudes south of the border may eventually erode the influence of Scottish MPs in Westminster. And the political fallout may have a substantial impact, not just on the governing elite in Westminster, for whom polls in the last few weeks were a bit too close for comfort. But closer to home, also on Scottish Labour, and where they position themselves. In short, this was a close shave (though not as close as predicted), and a welcome outcome for Scotland’s economic future.

John McKendrick, Senior Lecturer, Glasgow Caledonian University

The turnout was phenomenal. That makes me optimistic. It got close for a nanosecond when Dundee came in followed by West Dunbartonshire, but then it slumped back to that familiar pattern. It was just a matter of time after that. You can look at it wryly and say it’s almost another one of those glorious Scottish defeats like the ones we get in football, where we pride ourselves on never quite getting there but celebrating coming close.

It was always going to be the case that the work starts now. The vote was only a constitutional matter at the end of the day. The issues that were there for the people of Scotland are still there. There is a cynical view that some of the offers might begin to unravel because after all, it was politics and not a firm policy commitment. There is certainty a degree of uncertainty there.

But I don’t think that Westminster or the Scottish government will be able to shirk the fact that they have to do more now. We can talk about devo max, but we’re also going to have to learn to do more with the tools that we have.

Gavin Phillipson, Professor of Constitutional Law at Durham University

After the night’s events and David Cameron’s statement this morning, the proposal that Scottish (and perhaps Welsh and Northern Irish) MPs should in some way be debarred from voting on legislation affecting only England has rapidly shot up the political agenda.

The “English votes for English laws” solution is attractive because of its simplicity: a single procedural change would effectively bring into being a new, but intermittently existing English parliament within the Westminster parliament; the latter would morph into the former whenever an “English bill” was being considered.

The problem with Scottish MPs’s presence in Westminster is that legislation that fails to command a majority among English MPs can sometimes still be passed with Scottish votes. This is precisely what happened with to two notoriously controversial pieces of legislation introduced by the Blair government: foundation hospitals and top-up university fees. Because of large Labour backbench rebellions, the then government needed the votes of Scottish MPs to get these policies through – even though neither would apply in Scotland.

Since much of the important work of Westminster consists of dealing with bills mainly or exclusively affecting England, this, it is said, would fatally undermine any government that depended on Scottish votes for its overall majority.

However, this problem has been overstated. The scenario would only really arise with the election of a Labour government (or Labour-led coalition) with a very small majority. More importantly, however, the objection is wrong in principle. If a government cannot muster a majority of English MPs for legislation that only concerns England, why should it be able to pass it?

In reality, all this objection amounts to is the observation that a Labour government with no majority among English MPs (which has only rarely happened) would no longer be able to impose legislation upon England without the support of a majority of its representatives. This sounds like an advantage rather than an objection.

There are obviously many practical problems to consider, but at least as a temporary and easily implemented measure, “English votes for English laws” could be a simple and economical solution to the West Lothian question.

Thom Brooks, Professor of Law and Government at Durham University

The referendum vote is a great result for Scotland and for the United Kingdom. It is easy to see the appeal of independence at first glance. Dissatisfaction with politics is high, and there are widespread calls for more consideration for local concerns.

One major problem for the independence campaign from the start was making a clear and compelling case for Scotland to go it alone in an increasingly interconnected world.

So while it may be popular to challenge immigration policy as the SNP have done, such matters can still often be impacted by other sovereign states: one country alone cannot dictate whether there are controls on either side of every border, for instance.

Or take defence and security: it may be popular to argue against retaining Trident in order to find savings to fund other programmes, but this raises issues about whether Scotland would be more secure as an independent country than it would as part of a united country sharing security services.

The Yes campaign failed for many reasons, but among them, it found out to its cost that launching a new independent country is far more difficult than its leaders might have thought (or wanted to think) in our globalised world.

Meryl Kenny, Lecturer in Government and Politics at University of Leicester

Thursday’s No vote – while closer than many commentators had initially anticipated at the start of the referendum campaign —was decisive. But it does not represent an end to the matter, nor does it represent a return to the constitutional status quo.

Record numbers of Scots turned out to vote in the referendum; the majority of them favour enhanced powers for the Scottish parliament, and almost half of them voted for full independence on the day. The outcome of the referendum, then, is still a vote for change, albeit change within the structure of the Union.

Indeed, this is what the No campaign promised in the end stages of the campaign – with the three main parties (pushed by Gordon Brown) committing to a fast-track timetable towards new powers for the Scottish Parliament in the event of a No vote.

David Cameron pledged to honour these commitments immediately after the referendum, promising draft legislation by the end of January 2015. Questions remain, however, as to whether he will deliver. There are significant differences between the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrat proposals for new powers – and it is difficult to see how they could be resolved in the short space of time offered.

Cameron will also probably face significant backbench opposition to further devolution. Worryingly, and in sharp contrast to the more inclusive processes that existed in the run-up to devolution in the 1990s, this expedited legislative timetable also leaves little to no scope for public consultation. That has prompted calls for a citizen-led UK-wide Constitutional Convention.

Questions also remain for Labour, and for the future of left politics more broadly. Much of the coverage of the independence referendum has reported on the debate through the lens of political nationalism, but this fails to acknowledge the numerical reality: there simply were not enough nationalist supporters to win a Yes vote on their own.

The relative closeness of the outcome, along with Yes victories in traditional Labour strongholds such as Glasgow, suggests that a significant proportion of Labour voters also voted for independence.

Meanwhile, as part of his proposals for a “new and fair” constitutional settlement, David Cameron has pledged that English matters will only be voted on by English MPs, a proposal that could effectively undermine a future Labour majority in the House of Commons.

Uncertainties remain, then, as to what lies next for Scotland and the UK – but all sides are agreed that the status quo is no longer an option.

The ConversationCreative Commons

The experts are: Paul Cairney, University of StirlingArthur Midwinter, University of EdinburghGavin Phillipson, Durham UniversityJohn H McKendrick, Glasgow Caledonian UniversityKarly Kehoe, Glasgow Caledonian UniversityMeryl Kenny, University of LeicesterNeil Blain, University of StirlingNicola McEwen, University of EdinburghThom Brooks, Durham University, and W David McCausland, University of Aberdeen

As an adviser to Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, Arthur was appointed chair of the party’s Welfare Commission, which is putting together a series of proposals for the future of Scotland.

Gavin Phillipson, John H McKendrick, Karly Kehoe, Meryl Kenny, Neil Blain, Nicola McEwen, Paul Cairney, Thom Brooks, and W David McCausland do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article. They also have no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

Facts and Opinions is a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is sustained entirely by readers: we do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.  Why? We appreciate, and rely on, your interest and support:  for $2.95 (the price of a cheap brew) you can subscribe to F&O for a month. If that breaks your budget, a one-day pass is $1. A subscription is required for most F&O original work. Subscribe for free to Frontlines by entering your address in the form on the right of this page (we won’t share your address), or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

 

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Scotland Votes

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Photo by Maria Navarro Sorolla, Creative Commons, via Flickr

Opinion polls put the result of today’s Scottish vote on independence on a knife’s edge, but no matter the outcome the referendum will have fundamentally changed Britain’s modern balance of power.

The United Kingdom has been together for better, and worse, since 1707 when Acts of Union formalized a union that was already in many ways in effect, through a century-old joint monarchy. A Yes vote will lead to the hard work of disentangling it. Custody battles will be fought over assets and liabilities, from British nuclear arms to the national debt to North Sea oil. But a No vote — given 11th-hour promises for far more Scottish autonomy, made by the pro-union side in the last frantic days of the referendum campaign — will also fundamentally change  Britain.

Of all the analyses that tried to pick out the strands of history that drew Scotland to this precipice, one consistent is that Scots and most other residents of the U.K. have a fundamentally different view of society. Scottish politics are consistently more communitarian than in England, where individualism and hard-edged capitalism tend to reign. As a profile in Der Spiegel of Scottish independence leader Alex Salmond noted, he “became political during the 1980s because of Margaret Thatcher — as a result of her cuts to social welfare, privatizations and the poll tax that was introduced in Scotland one year earlier than in the rest of Great Britain. The Iron Lady inspired an entire generation of Scottish patriots.” Canadian political scientist James Laxer called the Scottish referendum the “World’s first vote on economic inequality.”

Alex Salmond © Scottish Parliament

Alex Salmond Photo © Scottish Parliament.

The man at the centre of this sea change in the U.K.’s status quo is Salmond, First Minister in the Scottish Parliament and the architect of the referendum.  An economist, former student of medieval history, and a consumate politician, Salmond has devoted his life to his country’s independence. F&O offers a short profile in Dispatches, Players — ALEX SALMOND: The Independent Scot, by Scottish political scientist Murray Leith. An excerpt:

If there’s one figure that anyone anywhere would associate with the Scottish referendum campaign it’s Alex Salmond, first minister of Scotland, leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), and the man who could be responsible for the break-up of the United Kingdom. But who is he, where did this political whirlwind begin and where will it take the man and his party?

His political opponents may label him everything from “driven” to “smug” but among them a common theme is that Alex Salmond is intensely private; a man “difficult to know”, and about whose private life very little is known. Many in Scotland could probably not confirm if he is even married. He is, although his wife Moira is 17 years older than him, they have no children, and she rarely appears in public. He likes the horses and gambles on races, likes his golf too, and knows his history. He is considered a natural politician by many, although some dismiss him as cold and calculating, but he is certainly the face of Scottish nationalism today. … read ALEX SALMOND: The Independent Scot.

In case you missed it, F&O posted earlier this week a “Cole’s Notes” sort of guide to the referendum by Coree Brown, a Scottish PhD student — Scotland’s independence referendum: a beginner’s guide:

Voters in Scotland will go to the polls on September 18 and answer the question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” The result will be determined by a simple majority vote, and is expected to be announced on the morning of September 19. … read Scotland’s independence referendum: a beginner’s guide

F&O International Affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe’s column in April addressed the complexities of a breakup, for Britain but also for  Europe. An excerpt of Manthorpe’s column Scottish leader downplays difficulties of independence (subscription):

Scotland’s First Minister and Nationalist Party leader Alex Salmond is generally reckoned to be the canniest politician in the British Isles.

So it was entirely in keeping that he chose today, the day when the English patron saint St. George is celebrated, to cross the border to the northern English city of Carlisle to promote Scottish separation.

Salmond’s aim, with the campaign for Scottish independence heating up ahead of the September 18 referendum, was to calm anxieties. Little will change when Scotland becomes independent, Salmond underlined as polls show pro-separation supporters significantly narrowing the gap on the “no” vote’s slim majority …

It is in Salmond’s interests to minimize the implications of Scottish independence, which might come in 2016 if there is a majority for separation in the September referendum. But the potential fall-out not only for the United Kingdom, but also for Europe and the European Union is profound. …  read Scottish leader downplays difficulties of independence (Subscription or day pass required*)

Much of the world is transfixed as Scots take their future into their ballot boxes today, with the tally expected Friday morning. But keep in mind that the Scottish quest for independence is ancient: two millennia ago fierce Scots not only kept their lands free but put the Romans on the defensive, and in 1320 Scottish leaders wrote the Declaration of Arbroath and sent it to Pope John XXII, claiming Scotland’s status as an independent, sovereign state. (You can watch a video of  professor Ted Cowan speaking of Arbroath on YouTube, here.) Deep history suggests that today’s Scottish referendum on independence will not be the last of the matter.

 — Deborah Jones

UPDATE September 19: The pro-union “No” campaign won the referendum by about 55 to 45. Nearly 85 per cent of eligible voters made a choice on one single clear question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”  The results by late Friday Scottish time,  55.25 per cent No and 45.65 per cent Yes, are on this Scottish site. Alex Salmond resigned the day after the referendum.

*Facts and Opinions is a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is sustained entirely by readers: we do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.  Why? We appreciate your interest and support:  for $2.95 (the price of a cheap brew) you can subscribe to F&O for a month. If that breaks your budget, a one-day pass is $1. A subscription is required for most F&O original work. Subscribe for free to Frontlines by entering your address in theform on the right (we won’t share your address), or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Alex Salmond: The Independent Scot

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond with Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, at a press conference in the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle. Photo from Scottish Government

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond with Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, at a press conference in the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle. Photo provided by Scottish Government

By Murray Leith, University of the West of Scotland

Alex SalmonImage © Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body – 2012. Licensed under the Open Scottish Parliament Licence v1.0.

Alex Salmon, official photo © Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body 2012.

If there’s one figure that anyone anywhere would associate with the Scottish referendum campaign it’s Alex Salmond, first minister of Scotland, leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), and the man who could be responsible for the break-up of the United Kingdom. But who is he, where did this political whirlwind begin and where will it take the man and his party?

His political opponents may label him everything from “driven” to “smug” but among them a common theme is that Alex Salmond is intensely private; a man “difficult to know”, and about whose private life very little is known. Many in Scotland could probably not confirm if he is even married. He is, although his wife Moira is 17 years older than him, they have no children, and she rarely appears in public. He likes the horses and gambles on races, likes his golf too, and knows his history. He is considered a natural politician by many, although some dismiss him as cold and calculating, but he is certainly the face of Scottish nationalism today.

When Alex Salmond became active in politics while studying economics and medieval Scottish history at St Andrews university in the early 1970s, it was a conservative institution, and the SNP had remained a fringe party for most of the period since its formation in 1973. Yet it was to the SNP Salmond immediately flocked, becoming vocal, very active, and honing his skills for the future.

Interestingly, the story of how he came to join the SNP illustrates his propensity for controlling his public image. It is habitually said that he did so after an argument with his Labour-supporting English girlfriend, although his biographer, David Torrance, notes that this story is “not exactly solid”. Whatever the impetus, his passion for the nationalist cause has remained strong; strong enough to fuel a constitutional revolution in a country where such things just don’t happen.

After leaving university Salmond worked as an economist for the government and then the Royal Bank of Scotland but remained active in the SNP. As the party went through turmoil in the late 1970s, as the first fight for a Scottish legislature was fought and lost, he became a leading figure in the “79 group”, advocating a more active, left-wing approach. This led to him being expelled, briefly, in 1982.

Returning a few months later, he would be elected to the Westminster parliament in 1987, and leading the party within three years. After devolution he retired as leader, only to return in 2004 after the party suffered losses in the Scottish elections. Nor did it take him long to turn the party around, becoming the first minister of Scotland in 2007, and leading the SNP to form the first majority Scottish government in 2011.

This journey from expelled rebel to triumphant leader only illustrates his political capacity for winning battles others might abandon or avoid. In a few short years he first brought an end to internal feuding within the SNP, then united the party behind a more gradualist approach, leading it to supporting a less idealistic form of independence within the EU. His tenacity is clearly effective.

Yet he is often criticised for that tenacity. It has been claimed that there is no “lightness of touch” in his debate. Considered a skilled debater, he is fierce and relentless, but perhaps better in the rough and tumble of the parliamentary chamber than in the light of a TV studio. After performing badly in the first head-to-head debate in the referendum campaign he returned to what many see as a solid win against Alistair Darling, leader of the Better Together campaign.

Salmond never actually achieved the knockout blow many expected. All the same, he has brought the SNP to the brink of their ultimate goal, and in doing so, clearly divided a nation. With opinion polls showing Yes neck and neck with Better Together, he has had to fight to overcome some of the personal dislike he clearly raises among many Scots. The Yes campaign has often felt the need to emphasise that a Yes vote is not support for the SNP or even one man, even though we all know who the man and his party are.

Any vote could be seen as a win for Salmond and the SNP. If not independence, more powers have been promised by the other parties. And with a reported registration rate of over 97% the people of Scotland have engaged with politics and could be voting in numbers most western democracies have not seen in over a generation.

Salmond has said he will not resign as first minister should he lose, and the next elections for Holyrood are not scheduled until May 2016. It seems unlikely he will disappear from the Scottish political scene anytime soon. But one thing about Alex Salmond: he often does not do what is expected. And even when he moves on, his legacy certainly will not.

The ConversationCreative Commons

Murray Leith is Senior Lecturer in Politics at University of the West of Scotland. He does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Further reading:

King Alex: The Man Behind Scotland’s Independence Movement, By Christoph Scheuermann, Der Spiegel

When Alex Salmond is nervous or restless, he scrapes his right thumbnail over the back of his left thumb as though scratching an itch. It’s a minor tic, one that only becomes apparent after spending some time with him. Salmond has been Scotland’s first minister, a position akin to prime minister, for seven years and is fighting to split off from the United Kingdom. This Thursday, the Scots will vote in an independence referendum and polls indicate that Salmond is closer to his goal than ever.

Perhaps not surprisingly, he has developed a callous on his left thumb.

Scottish referendum: World’s first vote on economic inequality, by James Laxer, The Globe and Mail

When the Scots vote in their historic independence referendum next Thursday, Canadians, especially the Québécois, will be watching closely. Having held two sovereignty referenda, the Québécois may feel that they are the masters in such enterprises and that the Scots are their apprentices. In 1980, the Québécois voted No to sovereignty by a 60-40 margin, and in 1995, the No side prevailed by a mere one percentage point of the votes cast.

In fact, the Scots are not replicating the earlier exercises in Quebec. Dressed in national garb, the people of Scotland are voting in the world’s first referendum on economic and political inequality.

Scottish Vote Weighs Pride Against Risk, by By Steven Erlanger and Katrin Benhold, The New York Times

EDINBURGH — The people of Scotland decide Thursday whether national pride outweighs economic risk.

The vote on independence is taking place without any of the usual factors that drive the dissolution of great nations: no war, no acute economic crisis, no raging territorial dispute. In fact, the situation is quite the opposite: peace, a slowly recovering economy and a central government in London that promises to grant more powers over taxing and spending to the Scottish Parliament.

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Scotland’s independence referendum: a beginner’s guide

The main chamber of the Scottish Parliament. Photo by Martyn Gorman, geograph.org.uk, Creative Commons

The main chamber of the Scottish Parliament. Photo by Martyn Gorman, geograph.org.uk, Creative Commons

By Coree Brown, University of Edinburgh

What is Scotland voting for?

Voters in Scotland will go to the polls on September 18 and answer the question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” The result will be determined by a simple majority vote, and is expected to be announced on the morning of September 19.


Who can vote?

The 4.1m people eligible to vote include UK citizens, EU citizens and qualifying Commonwealth citizens currently resident in Scotland. Scots living outside of Scotland (with the exception of those in the military or diplomatic service) are not eligible to cast their vote.

The voting franchise has been extended to 16 and 17-year-olds.


What do the polls say?

In a “poll of polls” conducted in autumn 2013, the average support for Yes was at 32%, with no at 49%. When accounting for undecided voters, this translated into to 39% for Yes, and 61% for No.

But in the most recent poll of polls, the difference has narrowed to four percentage points, with 48% polling Yes and 52% polling No. Early polls indicated a gender gap, with women more likely to be in favour of the union, but this gap appears to have closed in recent weeks.


Why the sudden excitement?

For most of the campaign, polls suggested a strong lead for the No campaign – but that now appears to have narrowed significantly.

A poll published on September 7 by YouGov indicated that the Yes campaign had in fact pulled slightly ahead in the polls. A survey by pollster TNS BMRB, published late the next day, showed that both sides were polling at 41% for those definitely going to vote, with the rest of the electorate undecided.

As far as the polls go, the referendum is now considered too close to call.


Who is who?

The official campaigns are Yes Scotland (with party support from the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Greens) and the unionist Better Together (supported by Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and the Conservatives).

First minister of Scotland Alex Salmond has been the primary face of the Yes campaign on the trail and in debates, while Alistair Darling, Labour MP and former chancellor of the exchequer, has headed up Better Together (No to independence).


What are the key issues?

The campaign has largely revolved around the economic implications of independence, with much being made of independence bonuses and union dividends – the questions of whether Scots would be financially better of within or outside the union.

Other major issues are provisions for health, social services and pensions, currency, defence, and EU membership.


Would independent Scotland be in the EU?

There isn’t a precedent for the division of an EU member state, and it’s unclear whether an independent Scotland would need to reapply or would automatically be granted entry.

The pro-independence campaign has maintained that Scotland would automatically be an EU member; experts differ on how this accession process might occur. Questions remain over whether Scotland would receive the same terms as the United Kingdom, which include a budgetary rebate and opt-outs from the eurozone and Schengen – which gives freedom to cross internal borders in Europe.


What currency would it use?

The Scottish government has pledged to negotiate a currency union with the rest of the United Kingdom in the event of a Yes vote, allowing Scotland to continue to use the pound sterling – even though, in a statement last year, chancellor George Osborne ruled this out.

However, there are questions over whether this is a negotiating tactic. Currency options for Scotland should a currency union prove unworkable include adopting sterling without a currency union (a “dollarisation” model), using an independent Scottish currency, or adopting the euro. Essentially, it is not yet clear exactly what would happen.


How would it defend itself?

The proposals for a Scottish defence force put forth in the Scottish government’s white paper suggest a smaller, more modest force focused on maritime defence and peace-keeping, with a particular focus on the High North. The white paper proposes a defence budget of £2.5 billion (a reduction from the £3.3 billion Scotland contributes to the UK defence budget) and 15,000 regular and 5,000 reserve personnel.

Following independence, the withdrawal of the UK’s nuclear submarine programme from Scotland would be negotiated. The Scottish government also foresees membership of NATO, though an independent Scotland would apparently have to apply.

The UK government has critiqued these proposals in its own analysis, arguing that Scotland is more secure within the United Kingdom and questioning whether an independent Scotland would be welcomed by NATO.


What would Yes vote mean internationally?

The rest of the world has been relatively quiet on the topic of independence, watching instead of intervening. For his part, United States president Barack Obama has said that he hopes that the United Kingdom will remain a “strong, robust, united and effective partner”, although noted that it would be up to the Scottish people.

As the vote nears, there are more signs of international concern about the outcome, not least in financial markets, with the pound falling after publication of the YouGov poll which indicated a close race.

Meanwhile, substate nationalist parties such as those in Quebec, Flanders, Catalonia, and the Basque Country are all expected to be watching especially closely.


What happens next if Scots vote No?

All three unionist parties have promised more powers for the Scottish parliament should voters reject independence at the polls. However, each party has proposed different models. There has been a recent flurry of activity on this front, with Gordon Brown introducing a timetable for a bill which would transfer significant powers to Scotland following a no vote. His proposals were backed by prime minister David Cameron, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, and Labour leader Ed Miliband.

 

 

In the event of a no vote, the Scottish National Party would remain in office in Edinburgh until the next Scottish parliamentary elections in May 2016.


What happens next if Scots votes Yes?

Negotiations over the creation of an independent Scotland would likely begin immediately after a Yes vote, with a wide range of issues to be covered: currency, the division of assets and liabilities, borders, the movement of people, EU membership, the removal of Trident, and the distribution of pensions and welfare agreements.

To manage such a process, Salmond has called for a Team Scotland negotiating team, which would include leaders who campaigned against independence.

The timetable for transition envisioned by the Scottish government includes 18 months of negotiation, with a declaration of independence taking place on March 24, 2016. The election of the new Scottish parliament would then take place that May. Until formal independence, the laws currently in place will remain so.

The actual progress of the negotiations and the outcome of the 2015 UK general election, of course, might have a major impact on this timeline. Some issues may be negotiated immediately with interim agreements put into place for the rest.

The Conversation

Creative Commons

Coree Brown is a programme researcher for The Future of the UK and Scotland.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

 

Facts and Opinions is a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is sustained entirely by readers: we do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes.  Why? We appreciate your interest and support:  for $2.95 (the price of a cheap brew) you can subscribe to F&O for a month. If that breaks your budget, a one-day pass is $1. A subscription is required for most F&O original work. Subscribe for free to Frontlines by entering your address in theform on the right (we won’t share your address), or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Scottish Independence: complex and vexatious

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World Pipe Band Championship, Scotland, 2011 Simon Fraser University Band, photo courtesy of SFU Vancouver

 Scots  will vote in a referendum on September 18 on separation from the United Kingdom. But the division of assets and liabilities in the break-up of a country is complex and vexatious – and in the case of Scotland, these matters are particularly difficult. The latest polls in Scotland, with the undecided vote discounted, shows 52 percent of respondents support staying with the United Kingdom while 48 per cent want independence.  An excerpt of International Affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe’s column:

Scotland’s First Minister and Nationalist Party leader Alex Salmond is generally reckoned to be the canniest politician in the British Isles.

So it was entirely in keeping that he chose today, the day when the English patron saint St. George is celebrated, to cross the border to the northern English city of Carlisle to promote Scottish separation.

Salmond’s aim, with the campaign for Scottish independence heating up ahead of the September 18 referendum, was to calm anxieties. Little will change when Scotland becomes independent, Salmond underlined as polls show pro-separation supporters significantly narrowing the gap on the “no” vote’s slim majority …

It is in Salmond’s interests to minimize the implications of Scottish independence, which might come in 2016 if there is a majority for separation in the September referendum. But the potential fall-out not only for the United Kingdom, but also for Europe and the European Union is profound.

Log in to read the column, Scottish leader downplays difficulties of independence (Subscription or day pass required*)

Click here for Jonathan Manthorpe’s page, with all of his columns for F&O.

*Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O serves and is entirely funded by readers who buy a subscription or a $1 site day pass. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from non-journalism foundations or causes.

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