There has been much talk in the EU referendum that a vote for leave would trigger a second Scottish independence referendum. Why? The logic is that support for the EU is highest in Scotland (leave is currently polling at a mere 17%). Indeed, the idea of a second Scottish independence referendum makes sense; if the majority of the UK, and a majority of the other constituent nations, voted for leave, but a clear majority in Scotland voted remain, this would indeed legitimately raise the question of whether the UK still worked for Scotland (if indeed it ever did). Certainly, Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, is fond of raising this point.
As a unionist, yet someone who is strongly for leave, this worries me.
However, two points are worth making.
The SNP’s position is incoherent. On one hand, they persist in calling for independence from the UK (actually, methinks, from England; I reckon the SNP would be happy for Scotland to carry on alongside the other Celtic nations). They say Westminster is too far away and removed from the affairs of Scots, and that being an independent nation would enable politicians in Scotland to much better represent the people of Scotland. Their logic: how could a population of a mere five million make its voice heard in a larger nation of some 65 million? Yet at the same time, the SNP equally firmly persists in the notion that being integrated within the EU, a far larger polity with some 508 million people!, would lead to better representation for the Scottish people. I simply cannot get my head round this, and I have never heard a truly convincing argument for how this makes any sense.
What if a majority of England votes for leave, but the UK as a whole votes remain? Does England then get an independence referendum to leave the UK? I suspect, from anecdotal evidence, that the percentage of Englishmen wanting to leave the UK is higher than the number of Scots who do!
Scotland has decided to remain a part of the United Kingdom, and rather convincingly too: 28 councils ‘no’ vs. 4 councils ‘yes’, 55% ‘no’. Thank <<insert mythical being here>>! But, as the BBC keeps telling us over and over until the words have now lost all meaning, “a vote for ‘no’ is also a vote for change”. So here’s some serious pros and cons as I see it now that Scotland has voted ‘no’ to independence.
The Union has been saved — for now!
A record voter turnout of 86% has permanently re-invigorated the democratic process forever until tomorrow when it will be business as usual.
I won’t need an EU passport that they won’t check anyway because it’s the EU should I travel to Scotland in my life which I never have done so far even though I am thirty years old because it’s so cold and dreary up there and it’s cheaper to go to and stay in Malta or Spain from London than to Scotland which is ridiculous really but there you go…
Spain will carry on pretending to be democratic whilst actually overriding the will of the people at all times, and feel justified in doing so. To the point, Spain will now have greater cause to deny the Catalan people an independence referendum of their own. The cause of national democrats, like myself, has been dealt a blow.
We’ll probably end up re-awakening the Northern Irish question, possibily ending in a vote to see if Northern Ireland should stay as part of the UK or become a part of the Republic of Ireland (perhaps in some kind of concessionary Hong Kong-China style relationship). THEREBY resparking violence in Ireland.
English nationalism and resentment will likely bubble up again, due to the bending-over-backwards to appease the Scots, with more demands for more powers for England… probably resulting in England leaving the United Kingdom, or else England itself breaking up as every city and town decides it wants more and more powers.
The UK will likely now not leave the EU or get a better settlement for the UK (due to the influence of Labour and Scotland).
…wait. Why was I pro-union, again? Oh, shit!! Can we do this vote again please, and this time really irk the Scots so they vote ‘yes’…
I usually now post blog updates to The Doggerelizerevery Monday, four times a month. However, I have to break with that today and write an emergency blog entry.
Tomorrow is the most important vote in this country for a very long time indeed, the result of which will be felt forever — no joke. Tomorrow, Scotland goes to the polls to answer this simple question: Should Scotland be an independent country? If a simple majority votes ‘yes’ (that is, 50.01%), then Scottish independence is guaranteed.
I am on the verge of tears (seriously). I am a patriotic Englishman. But I’m also a patriotic Briton. And the idea of the country I love so much, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, — the country that defeated Hitler, that invented capitalism, that invented almost all sports worth playing, the country of the Beatles, and so very much more besides — breaking up absolutely breaks my heart. I am a unionist through and through. Why? It doesn’t really matter, I just am; why do you like salsa music, the colour red, or football? You just do. The union with Scotland resonates deep in my soul.
But I’m also 100% behind this referendum. I am fundamentally committed to national democracy (see my campaign to force the British government to recognise Somaliland, a campaign which would, ironically, more likely find favour within an independent Scotland). Therefore, any nation which demands independence must be allowed and helped to achieve this, thereby becoming part of the brotherhood of nations. Simply put: if Scotland vote ‘yes’, my heart will be broken, but I will accept it gladly as a national democrat.
I won’t rehash the arguments for us being better together. There are many, and I think both Scotland and the remainder of the UK will indeed be better together. But of course neither will sink into oblivion if Scotland secedes from the Union. Life will go on. But both nations, I feel, will be diminished — albeit, the leftover stump of the UK rather more profoundly.
I won’t go through the arguments, as it will be longsome and you’ve probably already made up your minds. Simply put, though: together, Scotland and England (and, yeah alright, Wales and Northern Ireland, too) have achieved some of the greatest feats mankind has ever seen. The lists of great thinkers, artists, and deeds of these two nations, united in one and joined at the hip as the UK, is almost endless. Scotland is a great nation and has always punched well above its weight. Just look at their amazing thinkers, like Adam Smith, their incredible sportsmen, like Andy Murray, and their wonderful writers, from Burns to Iain Banks. Scotland has nothing to fear from independence. But Scotland and the rest of the UK are so much better, have achieved so much more, and can continue to achieve so much more — together.
I didn’t worry about the referendum’s outcome until the ‘yes’ vote snuck ahead in the polls. Then I felt physically sick. Blasé nonchalance turned into gut-turning nausea and fear.
Please, Scotland, vote to stay with us. This is a beautiful ‘marriage of two mindes’ that should not end and to which we should ‘not admit impediments’. We haven’t even fallen out! It’s like a long-term couple, perfectly at ease and comfortable with each other — but perhaps slightly bored of the sex — who decide to have an open relationship. Except that if that doesn’t work out, the hubbie and wife can just agree to not do it again. Yet if Scotland votes to secede, it really is all over for good.
Two more thoughts before I leave for a restless night of unsleep.
1. Why have the 800,000 or so Scots who live in England been denied the right to vote? This vote will change the fate of their nation (be that Scotland or the UK) forever. This is a despicable travesty, and only Alex Salmond is responsible — well, Cameron is too for agreeing it. Neither clearly care about national democracy and the views of the Scottish (as opposed to “Scotlandish”, if you will). I wonder why Salmond set the vote up this way. Nothing to do with English-dwelling Scots being more likely to vote against independence, is it…?
2. Just heard that, in a desperate last bid to save the Union, all three main British parties (Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat) have voted to change the British flag if Scotland votes ‘no’, so that the saltire is place in the foreground and not the background…
Just a thought. You know what else makes Great Britain “Great”? The vote in Scotland has been condoned by Westminster. So if Scotland votes ‘yes’, it will become independent. This country uniquely understands democracy. Contrast this with Spain, where Catalonia is denied such a vote; and if it goes ahead with such a vote, it will be deemed ‘illegal’. See here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-29234242
Scotland is going to vote on Thursday 18th of September. The outcome will decide if Scotland stays as part of the United Kingdom or becomes an independent nation. If the people in Scotland vote to leave the UK, that means that the left-over part of the United Kingdom might have to change its flag; the Union Jack gets it’s blue, after all, from the Scottish flag.
I came up with some alternative, Scotlandless UK flag designs. I believe this was 2012, but it may have been before. Either way, I posted my ideas up in July 2013, and then again more recently. Check out my posts here and here.
The Metro newspaper had an article (12th Sept. 2014) with what the Flag Institute believes should be the flag of a Scotlandless UK (below). Look familiar? As you can see, I think that qualifies me as a genius: yes, Bryan A. J. Parry invented the British Flag (kind of). I expect the cheques in the post any day now…
As you no doubt know, Scotland has an independence referendum in September 2014. If the vote backs independence, the UK will go on without Scotland, of course (the United Kingdom of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, that would be). But if Scotland does go, what’ll happen to the treasured Union Jack? Surely it will have to lose its blue background which represents the Scottish patron saint, Andrew. Not the most serious implication of Scottish independence, you may say, but it’s not totally insignificant either: after all, the Union Jack isthe main branding of UK plc. Furthermore, the psychological blow of having our flag bleached will surely be great.
But there’s no need for us to have an anaemic flag.
The current Union Jack, of course, is a blend of the flags of the Patron Saints of England, Scotland, and Ireland: that is, the crosses of St. George, St. Andrew, and St. Patrick. Many have proposed properly representing Wales, especially if Scotland leaves the union, by defacing the Union Flag with a welsh dragon (“defacing” is the technical heraldic term, by the way). However, the superimposition of the Welsh Dragon on the remains of the Union Jack doesn’t quite hit the spot from an aesthetic point of view. It also runs against analogy: the Union Jack is made up of the flags of the patron saints of the home nations. So why not incorporate the flag of the patron saint of Wales, St. David, into the Union Jack?
So without further ado, I submit the following as what I think the Union Jack should look like in a Scotland-less UK.
I personally think Scotland and England are both stronger together (surely recent sporting successes highlight this). So I hope Scotland and England remained wedded, in sickness and health, rich and poor, and so on. But if Scotland does become a sovereign natoion, there’s no need for the remainder of the UK to have a radically altered or feeble-looking flag.
We might wish to incorporate St. David’s flag, but leave the yellow out. This would give us a powerful red-black-white colour scheme.
And what if Scotland stays in the UK? We still might want to properly recognise Wales’ contribution to the union by giving us a new flag. In which case, add the yellow cross of St. David’s flag alongside the blue of St. Andrew’s.