Friday, May 06, 2011

Scottish Independence Is More Likely Than Not

The SNP have had a sensational result in Scotland winning an overall majority in a parliament designed to prevent anyone winning an overall majority. Labour's rout has been incredible and the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have gone backwards from an already weak position.

The polls suggest independence is very much a minority position within Scotland-, especially after the financial crisis hurt small European nations like Iceland & Ireland- so the SNP might like to avoid the issue for now. However with an overall majority Alex Salmond will have to hold some kind of referendum or admit that they are abandoning the idea.

However while independence isn't popular yet, a campaign will be headed by Salmond who has demonstrated that he is by far the best campaigner in Scottish politics. It will also be opposed by relatively unpopular Conservative and Liberal Democratic parties and a Labour party led by the hapless Ed Miliband. There is a real opportunity for the Nats to win independence.

Even if independence is a bridge too far for Scotland right now, the SNP would surely win any referendum on anything short of independence such as more powers for Holyrood- a situation which would put more pressure on the Union in the long term.

The reason for the SNP's success is surely at least in part because it is the one party whose focus is purely on Scotland- Labour's best politicians (a relative term) go to Westminster hence their campaign was largely directed against the irrelevant Conservative Party, the Scottish Tories have flat lined in the polls for the best part of two decades and the Scottish Lib Dems have no real reason to exist as a 3rd party already does very well.

Meanwhile the SNP march on.


Umbongo said...

Self-referential I know but, as I commented on another blog, the popularity of Scottish independence would die a sudden death if the national parties in Westminster stated their intention that the flow of English money to Edinburgh would stop on the day Scotland became independent (or, more to the point, quasi-independent per your 4th paragraph). Actually, had the present government any balls the immediate cessation of English subsidies for Scotland should occur today. Letting the SNP get away with, for instance, free NHS prescriptions and non-imposition of tuition fees (on Scottish students - not English students natch!) at the expense of taxpayers south of the border is scandalous.

BTW "independence" as used in the phrase "Scottish independence" is meaningless since Salmond can't wait to submerge Scotland in that great democracy, the EU. After all somebody has to pay for SNP profligacy: God forbid it should be the Scots.

Ross said...

They'd argue that oil revenues would make up the shortfall. This is more plausible with rising oil revenue.

Personally I think in the long term it would be better for the Scotland (and the North of England) to stop receiving subsidies anyway as it sustains a culture of dependence.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's time that the Scottish diaspora (to England especially)get their faux kilted arses back to where they belong to vote in their ain Government and to f*** up Scotland in the way that they f****d up England.

Umbongo said...

"They'd argue that oil revenues would make up the shortfall. This is more plausible with rising oil revenue."

Certainly they would. However, unfortunately for Scotland, (1) just because oil is landed in Scotland doesn't make it "Scotland's oil", and (2) since the border between England and Scotland slopes steeply north-east, under international law much of "Scotland's" oil fields are in English waters.

Even so, let them have the oil (or what's left of it). Since Salmond will most likely go down the road of spending the oil receipts on keeping his client voters in idleness (as benefiterati and/or "workers" in the public sector) "independent" Scotland will soon be looking for more handouts from London or, more likely, Brussels. Unfortunately also for Scotland, the culture of dependence is deeply ingrained. I can't see Salmond even trying to change it since it's been so useful for the SNP (and Labour) to nurture that culture.

Jim said...

The most compelling argument for cutting the Scots loose is that without the 40 odd Labour MPs they send us down to Westminster, its unlikely Labour would ever be able to form a government again. Even if we had to forego the oil revenue (what's left of it anyway) it would be worth every penny!!!!

Ross said...

Jim- if we lost Scotland, Labour would adapt to the new Scots free electorate.

Umbongo- I do think that relying on oil revenue is a very bad thing in the long term- "Dutch disease" and all that.

Yaffle said...

"Labour's best politicians (a relative term) go to Westminster..."

I was up in Scotland and caught ScotLab deputy leader Johann (sic - a woman) Lamont take the rap on the BBC as the results came in on Fri morning. She was terrible - a real rabbit-in-the-headlights performance. It may yet be a YouTube hit.

Labour have a huge job ahead to reclaim their former dominant position in Scotland, and a dearth of man(+woman)power with which to do it.

With the other two main Scottish parties having largely withered away, the Nats have been given a clear run in - without, as you say, there being any great support for their whole raison d'etre. Strange times.