Opinion: Turn the clock back to 1602?

Union FlagWhat would happen to people living outside Scotland if Alex Salmond succeeds in turning the clock back to 1602?

The origin of our current state as a successful multi-ethnic, multi-cultural entity owes much to the Union.

Following James VI succeeding to the English (and Welsh and Irish) crown people born in Scotland were no longer aliens before an English court and people born in England, Wales and Ireland were no longer aliens before a Scottish court. James recognised the multi-ethnic nature of his state by joining the Scottish Saltire with the Cross of St George to form the Union Jack.

Of course Liberal Democrats should not base a political case on the personal preferences of a Stuart monarch. This would be the exact opposite of their Whig forebears’ role. However, unlike the Union of the Crowns, the 1707 Act of Union was the outcome of a political process. In return for not having a northern border to defend the English agreed to free trade, a currency union and the recognition of two official religions (The Anglican church with bishops and the Kirk without). As the late great Conrad Russell used to say, once the state admitted there was no such thing as a true religion it opened the door to many other radical ideas.  Locke and Mill argued that once the state no longer proclaims a single truth then it has no argument against free speech or even “experiments in living”.

The idea that different peoples, with different national cultures, can work together to form a successful state is something that Liberals should embrace.

Can people living in Northern Ireland and Wales provide the leavening influence on England that the Scots provided? A major risk is that their voice would be lost inside a rump-UK and we will go back to the bad old days when politicians, even Gladstone, said England when they meant the United Kingdom. ‘England’ would become a mono-ethnic, mono-cultural idea redolent of Putin’s Russia, Le Pen’s France, Nigel Farage and Nick Griffin.

Alex Salmond appears to claim that Scots uniquely possess an altruism gene that compels them to vote for left-wing parties, and that therefore an Independent Scotland will be “fairer” than the United Kingdom. (Defying all the normal laws of genetics it appears that despite years of migration and Anglo-Scots marriages Alex thinks this gene has not spread south of the border). If there is an altruism gene afoot amongst the Scottish electorate I hope it will compel them to think kindly on their neighbours in the United Kingdom and not return them to the “one-folk, one realm, one culture” days of yore.

 

* Richard Allanach is a vote less Scot living in England who has been campaigning with Better Together in Aberdeenshire.

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46 Comments

  • Ian MacFadyen 9th Sep '14 - 3:52pm

    Well said.

  • Now then if the vote is Yes how can hold a national Lib Dem conference in Scotland a week or two after. Think we might have to cancel!!!! I am starting to think a Yes vote would be best it would transform the political base of the country and the political parties within it. What a challenging time. What excitement it could engender. How could we even hold a general election next year, unless Scotland is excluded, but would that not require legislation? Oh this is great to be a constitutional lawyer. They must be rubbing their hands with the thought of it.

  • “a vote less Scot living in England”.

    The forgotten people in this whole affair.

  • Alex Dingwall 9th Sep '14 - 4:13pm

    Sorry Richard but this is a very confused article.

    The campaign for a Yes vote is not about Alex Salmond and the SNP, nor is it some backward looking movement. It is about a broad campaign of people from many parties and none .

    The Yes Scotland declaration, signed by over 1 million registered voters, states:

    “I believe it is fundamentally better for us all, if decisions about Scotland’s future are taken by the people who care most about Scotland, that is, by the people of Scotland.

    Being independent means Scotland’s future will be in Scotland’s hands.

    There is no doubt that Scotland has great potential. We are blessed with talent, resources and creativity. We have the opportunity to make our nation a better place to live, for this and future generations. We can build a greener, fairer and more prosperous society that is stronger and more successful than it is today.

    I want a Scotland that speaks with her own voice and makes her own unique contribution to the world: a Scotland that stands alongside the other nations on these isles, as an independent nation.”

    As for altruism? Let me rather ask you how many more Governments should Scots have to endure that they did not vote for?

  • @ Alex

    “How many more Governments should Scots have to endure that they did not vote for?”

    It is a general feature of democracy that people have to endure governments they did not vote for. As Alastair Darling pointed out in the STV debate he (along with a majority of Scots) did not vote for the SNP government in Holyrood. However as a democrat he never the less accepted the legitimacy of the current Scottish government.

    To ask a similar question should the citizens of Edinburgh have to endure independence if they don’t vote for it.

    Democracy has many meanings and results but no democratic process prevents you having to endure a government you did not vote for.

  • @Alex Dingwall

    Apart from the 13 years of Labour government that we just had with two Scots-born and educated Prime Ministers and Chancellors? From John Smith to Gordon Brown, Scots were in charge of the Labour Party for nearly two decades. Of the last six Liberal leaders, four have been Scottish MPs – as is our current Deputy Leader. Scotland has had and copntinues to have a central place in British politics.

    “Scotland’s future are taken by the people who care most about Scotland, that is, by the people of Scotland”

    The people of Scotland don’t just live in Scotland. Some moved to other parts of the Union for work or family reasons and their pride and care for their country didn’t change. It seems in this debate their voice doesn’t matter at all.

  • @ Alex

    Being independent means Scotland’s future will be in Scotland’s hands.

    Not exclusively. Applying to join NATO will mean that Scotland accepts the principle of mutual self-defence. Applying to join the EU will have multiple effects on trade, employment protection legislation, the environment and agriculture [and arguably borders and currency]. Using the £ either as part of a currency union or informally will mean that economic policy will still be strongly affected by the Bank of England.

    Of course as a Liberal Democrat I would argue that joining NATO and the EU are sensible things to do despite the cost in autonomy. Unlike yourself I believe the advantages of the Union in other matters are also worth paying the price in autonomy.

  • paul barker 9th Sep '14 - 4:43pm

    One result of a Yes Vote I would expect is an increase in attacks on outsiders, Immigrants, Catholics, the disabled & above all, anyone who looks or sounds English. Actually even a No Vote will probably generate some violence. This is all apart from any Economic consequences.
    The Establishment seem to be in the grip of a full-blown Panic, perhaps a unique case of “Too little, too much.”
    I am clinging to the hope that the “Polls” are wrong.

  • paul barker 9th Sep '14 - 4:45pm

    Sorry, that should read “Too much, too late”.

  • @ Alex

    “I believe it is fundamentally better for us all, if decisions about Scotland’s future are taken by the people who care most about Scotland, that is, by the people of Scotland”.

    As ATF points out I think there is a confusion here. It seems to me that the terms “Scotland”; “the human beings who currently live in geographical Scotland”; and “the people of Scotland” are being used as if they mean exactly the same thing. They are not all the same.

    Alex Salmond uses the ringing phrase “the sovereign will of the Scottish people” as if there was only one will. As a Liberal I recognise not one will but individual people each with their own will.

  • Ian MacFadyen 9th Sep '14 - 5:25pm

    Alex Dingwall: The article is not confused.

    The campaign for a Yes vote is all about Salmond and the SNP. It follows the classic path of nationalism: degnigrate the people you claim to represent by using words that suggest they are of less worth than they feel themselves to be – examples are “Scotland’s coming of age”, as if Scotland was a child, not the oldest nation in these islands, and “time for Scotland to take its place in the world”, when Scotland has been taking its distinctive place in the world, leading the UK often, as you can see in Canada, Africa and other places; claiming the SNP and a Yes vote as the only way to rise above this denigration; serving up an utopian prospectus; denouncing disagreements, expert alternative views and even friendly criticism, no matter how well-informed and expert the person concerned, as wrong and anti-Scottish, rather than debating, as Salmond and the Yes campaign does all the time; next, whatever the outcome of the vote, will come the recriminations and the targetting of people. That is the way nationalism goes, as Liberal Democrats know.

    I watch all this in great sadness. I too am a voteless Scot.

  • Eddie Sammon 9th Sep '14 - 5:39pm

    I agree with the article and find sadness at the idea of getting rid of the Union Jack. I have to remind myself it is only a flag and to stay fair and balanced.

    Better Together are wrong with their new Gordon Brown advert out patronising Scotland as a bunch of socialists. Part of the appeal of a yes vote is not that it is socialist, but that there is also a selfish element in it. It’s the fairness argument that Alex Salmond uses to win, not the sharing one. A no vote stands for freedom, as well as solidarity.

  • @ Theakes

    “Oh this is great to be a constitutional lawyer. They must be rubbing their hands with the thought of it”.

    I agree absolutely. Whilst the article is intended to be about the principles involved in separation we can include amongst the lesser arguments in favour of a NO vote is that a YES vote would result in a significant transfer of wealth towards lawyers, accountants and consultants – resulting in a less equal society.

  • Richard Allanach needs to get out more if he believes this statement —
    ‘England’ would become a mono-ethnic, mono-cultural idea redolent of Putin’s Russia, Le Pen’s France, Nigel Farage and Nick Griffin.

    Has he ever been to London? Or Leicester, or Bradford, or the multi ethnic multi religious neighbourhoods of any of our big cities. Has he been in Notting Hill during Carnival? Is he unaware of the demographic changes of the last 70 years?
    The idea that England would or even could return to some sort of 1930s all white all christian, all heterosexual illusion is a view based in fantasy.

    Maybe he really believes this. In which case he really does need to travel around England, visit some of the hundreds of mosques, go shopping in Southall or Tooting, watch some premier league football, buy his vegetables in Brixton Market , attend one of the many West African churches which are popping up in various London Boroughs, talk to people in the Polish shops. Which England has he been living in?

  • Keith Browning 9th Sep '14 - 5:57pm

    Anyone who saw the excellent BBC 2 program about the History of Scotland, some 3 weeks ago, will have realised that the ‘Union’ was bought and paid for by the English. The Scots parliament of 1706 had no intention of voting for unity, but after a large investment had gone wrong, many of the MPs were in a poor financial state, and so London offered to pay up their debts. Remarkably, the votes swung around and the Union came into existance.

    It seems that England/London is trying the same tactics now – but will the Scots be fooled a second time.?

    As was said on the radio this morning – ‘fancy being able to get rid of Boris, Nigel and the Tories, all with ONE simple ‘X’ on a ballot paper – it would be a temptation for so many…

  • 5.57 pm last comment posted.

  • So — in other words — Scotland went bankrupt and needed the English to bail them out from the mess they’d made for themselves?

    So exactly what will happen in five to fifteen years, if there’s a ‘Yes’ vote next week?

    My, history does repeat.

  • Phil Beesley 9th Sep '14 - 6:21pm

    “The origin of our current state as a successful multi-ethnic, multi-cultural entity owes much to the Union.”

    Owing to the Romans, Britain was multi-ethnic but Roman culture dominated 2000 years ago. Perhaps not north of a particular wall. My apologies to everyone who perceives pre-Roman ancestry. Cheer yourselves up, because the Romans went home.

    “Indian” and “Chinese” people arrived on ships donkeys’ years ago. I employ quotes because, owing to language difficulties , we may not be sure of origin. The Romans brought over Africans as members of their armies. Shipping companies employed “Indian” and “Chinese” workers but we should not presume too much about nomenclature .

    African, “Indian” and “Chinese” people have been over here for years. A few individuals challenged the right to be free; others didn’t see that there was a problem and married the partner they loved .

    Living on a small bunch of islands with the winningest naval fleet (civil and military) for centuries, we should expect folks in boats to turn up on our shores. It is what happens. Our coastal cemeteries record names that we know but do not know. We are less good about respecting the living.

  • @ Keith Browning

    “The Scots parliament of 1706 had no intention of voting for unity”.

    Odd given that in 1705 they had voted for an Act for a Treaty with England and both Scots and English Commissioners had been appointed to thrash out the terms of the deal.

    I am sure the BBC was right in saying this was a matter of High Politics, skulduggery and the judicious application of cash. The political process has not changed that much. The fact of the matter was that the Scots Parliament of 1706 was prepared to vote for a Union Treaty if the deal was right and this included free trade, the preservation of the Church of Scotland and a financial stimulus for the indebted Scottish economy.

  • @ Keith Browning

    “…but will the Scots be fooled a second time?”

    This implies that Scots suffered as a result of the Act of Union. Undoubtedly some did – for example not all Scottish aristocrats were automatically entitled to a seat in the United Kingdom Parliament. Over time, as the benefits of free trade accumulated, Scotland benefited economically without having to lose its cultural identity.

    As just one concrete example let us take the case of Scottish coal miners. In 1606 a Scottish Parliament had effectively made them the slaves of the mine owners. It was the United Kingdom Parliament in 1775 which freed them from their legal shackles. These Scottish miners were better off in the United Kingdom than they had been in an independent Scotland.

  • @ Phil Beesley

    “Living on a small bunch of islands with the winningest naval fleet (civil and military) for centuries, we should expect folks in boats to turn up on our shores. It is what happens”.

    Absolutely Phil. If you don’t want a multi-cultural society don’t found an empire.

  • Malcolm Todd 9th Sep '14 - 7:07pm

    Are we seriously arguing about the democratic legitimacy of the Union based on whether or not the Scottish Parliament was bribed? Like either parliament — of a few dozen landowners, knights and hereditary chieftains — had legitimacy in modern terms!

    Of course Scotland can choose to withdraw from the Union. You can’t seriously believe that a nation doesn’t have the right to self-determination in the modern world. (Well, you can, but you’d be rejecting a foundational principle of the UN and international law, so I don’t think you’ll get very far.)

    And of course what’s left behind – with about 70% of the territory and over 90% of the population of the whole — will be universally accepted as the successor state to the current UK. Which means that the independent Kingdom of Scotland will be seen as a new state (or if you like, as a continuation of the Kingdom that ceased to be independent in 1707, for all the difference that would make).

    I haven’t seen anyone argue against these rather obvious points; rather we get unfounded assertions that blatantly contradict them, and irrelevant (if occasionally interesting and informative) arguments about ancient history.

  • “Alex Salmond appears to claim that Scots uniquely possess an altruism gene that compels them to vote for left-wing parties”

    The claim is that people in Scotland, for the last sixty years or so, have been more inclined to vote for left-wing parties than people south of the border. The evidence for that is pretty clear, regardless of the weird contortions some commentators get into to try to prove otherwise (“the Tories got 17% in 2010! That’s almost as much as the SNP!”).

    You just made up the bit about altruism and genetics.

  • @ keaton

    “The claim is that people in Scotland, for the last sixty years or so, have been more inclined to vote for left-wing parties than people south of the border … You just made up the bit about altruism and genetics”.

    I was just being kind to Alex Salmond and trying to make sense of his argument which appears to run … since the 1950s more Scots have voted for left wing parties than voted forright wing parties and that therefore if the referendum vote is YES an independent Scotland will support left wing governments for ever and ever guaranteeing a fairer state. Now the idea that because I have flipped a coin heads up five times running it is inevitable that the next time I flip it it will also be heads was debunked by the Scottish philosopher David Hume in the eighteenth century. It will only happen this way if something is constraining it to do so. As far as I am aware Alex Salmond had never explained the mechanism driving left voting so in order to make sense of his argument I stuck in his unarticulated presumption about a gene for altruism.

  • Phil Beesley 9th Sep '14 - 9:13pm

    @Richard 9th Sep ’14 – 6:50pm
    “Absolutely Phil. If you don’t want a multi-cultural society don’t found an empire.”

    I am not sure what you mean. I don’t know whether you bothered to read what I wrote.

  • Martin Land 9th Sep '14 - 9:18pm

    There are so many questions that Salmond is not being asked.

    Come next March and an Independent Scotland, who exactly is Scottish? Just the people who live there?

    So, not Andrew Neil? Sean Connery? The hundreds of thousands of Scots happily living in England? Well, it they are entitled to Scots citizenship who isn’t? Nearly all of us in Britain have some Scots blood; Parents, Grandparents..

    And if you are a Scot living in the EU – in England? You can only work in another EU country as a Scot because you are a citizen of a member state. But it might take two to five years for an Independent Scotland to enter the EU. I can just see UKIP saying ‘jobs for the English’.

    Salmond is trying to portray this as a simple divorce.like the Czech Republic and Slovakia. But this is far more complex and few of these questions have been debated or explored.

  • @Martin Land

    Even discussing any of those matters is, it seems, playing to ‘fear’. Hope is a beautiful and boy do we Liberals need it in our hearts – both philosophically as a driving force and currently as a political necessity! – but anything approaching a warning of the damage that could happen is some wicked, Tory trick.

  • @Martin Land

    “There are so many questions that Salmond is not being asked.

    Come next March and an Independent Scotland, who exactly is Scottish? Just the people who live there?”

    Another one of the many lesser arguments in favour of a NO vote. My family has direct personal experience of this. My grandfather was living in Dublin at the time of the Easter Rising. His personal experience was that Scottish presbyterians were not welcome in the Free State and he relocated himself back to the remaining United Kingdom. Years later he applied for a passport and had to jump through a whole series of hoops demonstrating his continued loyalty to the UK state during his residence in the Free State before being granted a UK passport. I can’t see why we would needlessly want to put human beings through this grief.

  • Have virtually given up expecting to see much liberal thinking here at ldv for now, but pseudo-history does need to be called still … the union of the crowns under James VI and I led to a ‘multi ethnic state’? What on earth can that mean? The Act of Union over 100 years later did follow the Scots aristicracy accepting (shall we be charitable) a bail out following their attem

  • Have virtually given up expecting to see much liberal thinking here at ldv for now, but pseudo-history does need to be called still … the union of the crowns under James VI and I led to a ‘multi ethnic state’? What on earth can that mean? The Act of Union over 100 years later did follow the Scots aristicracy accepting (shall we be charitable) a bail out following their attempt at colonising Darien (Panama). Note – the aristocracy did this and then dissolved the Scots
    parliament. The so-called nobility sold their people out, because they could. I can’t imagine how that sets any sort of precedent for the future!
    By the way, some of the more jaundiced comments above reflect a very odd anglo-centric view and perhaps their authors should reflect on that. Those considering themselves to be liberals might also usefully review the preamble to the party constitution.

  • And finally, there was never was and never will be a ‘Kingdom of Scotland’. Alex Salmond at least understands the constitutional position. The Monarch’s title north of the border is King or Queen of Scots. The present occupant is styled correctly there as HM Queen Elizabeth I and II (since the first Elizabeth was never Queen of Scots). These details matter much more than over-emotive comments.

  • Well, I’ve got a couple of issues with this article.

    One, the English need ‘leavening’? Well, to me that reads as if it’s now the English who, unique among the peoples of th earth, cannot be trusted to govern themselves. And that it is the Scotsman’s Burden to civilise the barbarians south of the Tweed. Yes, I’m reading it negatively, but honestly, the psychology behind this idea that the English are so stark-ravingly out there that they can’t be trusted to run a state is part of what’s corroding our union.

    And second, nobody, least of all Salmond, has suggested turning the clock back to 1602. At worst, one could say that the clock, or at least the constitutional clock, is being set to 1706. But the personal union of the crowns will be restored in place of the single United Kingdom that amalgamated them in 1707. Salmond has been careful to point out that he plans to keep the Queen. And in all fairness, Scotland has fair potential to turn into one of those northern European ‘bicycle monarchies’ that Salmond looks to for inspiration. England, well, in my view it would be better off taking a step away from the monarchical pomp and ceremony that perpetuate the imperial grandeur thing, to rediscover itself anew in the light of the realities of the modern world. A new republic, without the Cromwellian genocide, would be one way to do this and would make a clean break with the past. Not going to happen of course, but there you go.

    Finally, I think the phrase ‘one folk, one realm, one culture’ takes this debate in a direction that neither side really wants it to go. You’re also missing the point that, unlike in Russia but like in France, Nigel’s type have yet to win an election. Nigel does not rule England yet, and with the Labour lead in England narrowing to 6 points as compared to 7 points across the UK, he is extremely unlikely to even if Independence does buck the odds and come out ahead on the day.

    And with the comments, just a few issues as well.

    Paul Barker, we’re, what, ten days out from the vote and so far Scotland has failed to erupt into the sort of sectarian ethnic violence you describe. We’ve had articles here describing what has happened, a Labour politician got egged, people have behaved badly on the internet and somebody threatened to try and kill Alex Salmond. Serious, yes, but we are not looking at a general descent into civil disorder. How do I know? Well, I’m here in Edinburgh and have yet to be lynched, attacked, ostracised or otherwise damaged by the vote or campaign, despite being quite unmistakably English. There are some Scots who have an attitude to me that I can only describe as racist. Anyone who claims otherwise is spinning, lying or ignorant. And the one phrase I’ve heard used the most around me is ‘of course, you’re English so you’ll be voting No..?’, which then results in one version or another of the spiel I’ve been putting up here. But, the campaign itself isn’t racist and the ideas people behind the official Yes campaign and its more radical offshoots have not, in my experience, been racist.

    And also, some people have been suggesting that the independence thing is a boon for constitutional lawyers. I would suggest that perhaps the status-quo, with an uncodified constitution scattered across however many Parliamentary Acts, Royal proclamations, precedents, legal fictions, treaties and other such paraphernalia is the real gift that keeps giving as far as such lawyers are concerned.

    And finally, Martin Land, your question about who is Scottish and who is British has been asked, and answered, already. Anyone who is a British citizens habitually resident in Scotland will automatically be entitled to Scottish citizenship, Scottish born British citizens living outside of Scotland will likewise be automatically entitled to citizenship. Citizenship by descent will be available to those who have a parent or grandparent who qualifies for Scottish citizenship. Those who have a demonstrable connection to Scotland and have spent at least ten years living here at some stage, whether as a child or an adult, will also have the opportunity to apply for citizenship. That is what the Scottish Government has been saying throughout the campaign and its been a recurring issue in discussions and debates. For you to look around a week away from the vote and claim that the question hasn’t even been asked looks absurd.

  • @Richard 9th Sep ’14 – 7:39pm
    “I was just being kind to Alex Salmond and trying to make sense of his argument which appears to run … since the 1950s more Scots have voted for left wing parties than voted forright wing parties and that therefore if the referendum vote is YES an independent Scotland will support left wing governments for ever and ever guaranteeing a fairer state.”

    Fifty years of a different (not “fairer”) political culture would seem to be a reasonable sample size. Should we wait another fifty to make sure?

    This doesn’t mean that “Scotland will support left-wing governments forever and ever”, but once again, that’s your embellishment. It is, however, a fairly good indicator of the foreseeable future.

  • I should perhaps add that I agree that the SNP have sometimes implied that Scotland’s political culture is superior to, as opposed to merely different from, England’s. (Less so in recent times, and I think MacAskill is a more egregious offender than Salmond in this regard.)

    But a feeling of cultural superiority is something I rarely detect in the wider Yes campaign – and ethnic superiority (“an altruisum gene”) not at all.

  • @ keaton

    “Fifty years of a different (not “fairer”) political culture would seem to be a reasonable sample size. Should we wait another fifty to make sure? This doesn’t mean that “Scotland will support left-wing governments forever and ever”, but once again, that’s your embellishment. It is, however, a fairly good indicator of the foreseeable future”.

    I have subjected your proposition that fifty years worth of general elections are a good indicator of the foreseeable future to an empirical test.

    Taking first the eleven general elections between 1859 and 1910 we can see that the Liberals won the popular vote in Scotland in each and every general election. None of the following 23 general elections was won by the Liberals so that period was a pretty rotten indicator of the future.

    Taking next the eleven general elections between 1918 and 1959 we can see that it was pretty much even stevens between Labour and the Tories with the Tories winning the popular vote 6 times to Labour’s 5. None of the following 12 elections were won by the Tories – so yet again this was a pretty rotten indicator of the future.

    The only example of a state separating from the United Kingdom, the Irish Republic, does not suggest that the separating state’s politics will inevitably be dominated by progressive parties.

  • “Salmond seems to claim that Scots uniquely have an altruism gene…” This is just untrue. This so-called gene is recognition of the changes created by Thatcherism over the last 30 years. The market society we now live in. I recall that we all seemed to possess that gene more than 30 years ago and it wasn’t confined to left wingers unless one (plausibly?) thinks of H Macmillan as a leftie. The independence campaign is destructive but the reasons for it are understandable.

  • @ BrianD

    “This so-called gene is recognition of the changes created by Thatcherism over the last 30 years”.

    I would agree that Margaret Thatcher has been a significant recruiting sergeant for the YES campaign. When I was canvassing in Aberdeenshire many of the reasons put forward by YES voters appeared to be generated by Margaret Thatcher’s actions and the poll-tax in particular. People complained about being experimented on by the English. Naturally I did my best to explain that Holyrood Parliament would prevent “England” running any local government finance pilots in Scotland again. Sadly, as with the fear over the future of the NHS, there are some Scots who do not believe that Holyrood is much of a protection for them. If the YES campaign is successful there is a risk that they will shortly come to feel exactly the same about an omni-competent Scottish Parliament.

  • “A major risk is that their voice would be lost inside a rump-UK”

    Could everyone stop using this utterly insulting and misleading term for the remaining eleven twelfths of the UK? It is not a “rump”, it is the vast bulk of the UK. Remainder, if you like, but not “rump”.

  • Yes, RC, it may be eleven twelfths as you put it of the existing UK, but it would be even more dominated by England, which would then constitute over 90% of the population, and would be the only historic Kingdom united by the Acts of Union (as amended by partition in Ireland).

  • If Scotland votes Yes, how can we hold a General Election next year including Scotland. Surely it would have to detach. I know the final arrangements for Independence in 2016 will not have been completed, should that mean we take the unusual step of postponing the 2015 election to May 2016, after all General Elections were not held during the war.
    To avoid Labour accusing the government of clinging onto power, the period May 2015 to May 2016 could be a three way consensus coalition. It would just need some commonsense on the part of all parties involved.
    If an election proceeded in May 2015 there is a good chance that the Scots Nats would sweep the board, not Scottish Labour. Still this all depends on next weeks vote and may not be necessary.

  • @johnmc

    Ethnicity. Who are the Scots? Who are the British? This is a live issue today. You don’t have to look hard on any of the media following the referendum before you come across someone who is saying that they are Scottish but have been deprived of a vote and not much harder to find someone else saying that they can’t possibly be Scottish because they do not live in Scotland.

    “the union of the crowns under James VI and I led to a ‘multi ethnic state’? What on earth can that mean?”

    I agree the words would not have meant much to James’s subjects because the current usage of “ethnicity” stems from the twentieth century. But today politicians and sociologists do use ethnicity in their descriptions of the current state of affairs. Ethnicity is about what we say about our background. On job applications or on censuses what do we say about ourselves? Systematic ethnic monitoring was not part of our C17th state but we can reasonably believe that had officialdom compelled those living on this island to describe their backgrounds that for those who didn’t use a more local term like “from Devon”; “from Atholl” Scots [and its variants] and English [and its variants] would have been the most popular terms. Hence a multi-ethnic state being one which embraced Scots, English [and Welsh and Irish]. A multi-ethnic state which has persisted to this day and which indeed has got richer – for example some of my wealthier UK passport bearing neighbours sometimes describe themselves as “Indian” without any conscious show of irony – for example when criticising their children for not being able to speak “their own language”.

  • “Let me rather ask you how many more Governments should Scots have to endure that they did not vote for?”

    I am sure there were instances under Labour when votes on purely English matters were won with Scottish and Welsh Labour MPs. English MPs have no such influence on purely Scottish matters. For the 13 years of Labour rule, Scots endured a Government in Westminster that they voted for. The current PM is a half-Scot. The previous PM is a Scot. The PM before him is a Scot by birth and education. Three of the last five Chancellors have been Scots. Five of the last nine Defence Secretaries have been Scots. John Reid even held 2 Cabinet posts dealing with primarily English affairs despite not being elected by English voters. Scots have had, still have, an enormous influence, disproportionately enormous influence, on the governance of the United Kingdom. It isn’t really a problem for the English, Welsh, and Northern Irish.

    The Northern Irish have never had a UK Government they voted for. The Welsh get Tory Governments they didn’t vote for. Great tracts of the industrial North of England get Tory Governments they didn’t vote for. The affluent Home Counties got 13 years of Labour rule they had to endure. Until the current Government voted for by 60% of the electors, the majority of the UK got Governments they didn’t vote for. In 2010 in Scotland the current UK government parties scored 36% of the popular vote, compared to 20% for the SNP. At a UK level the Coalition has more legitimacy in Scotland than the SNP.

    Martin Land raises some interesting points. I’ve driven past my clan seat in Kilravock and I guess I could wear the tartan. Can I have a Scottish passport please. But I’ll keep my UK one too if you don’t mind. And there are no guarantees on EU membership, the application for which could be scuppered by any single one of the current members no matter what the route. Thus, presumably, there is no automatic free movement of people and goods between Scotland and the UK post-independence.

    In retrospect this referendum has been wrong. Vote 1 should have been to authorise negotiations for independence. Followed by the negotiations and a firm settlement. Vote 2 should have been to approve or reject the settlement. We all know currency union is a non-starter and Scots will have to allow UK students free tuition in their universities and that EU membership is at best probable not guaranteed and may require use of the Euro, and that the creation of a new country is likely to cost £10bn or more. Yet Salmond can deny and confuse because nothing about the independence deal has been negotiated yet. Scots don’t actually know what they’re voting for other than an emotional sentiment and vague promises with a dubious basis. Hardly fair. I hope the legislation for independence that results from a yes vote contains a reunion clause should there be a change of mind when negotiations are complete. Of course the remaining UK might not be open to reunion…

  • @ johnmc

    All historians are Tories !?

    “Have virtually given up expecting to see much liberal thinking here at ldv for now, but pseudo-history does need to be called still …”

    I wonder if we could agree that John Rawls was one of the most significant liberal thinkers living in the C20th and John Stuart Mill one of the most significant liberal thinkers living in the C19th.

    Now I would readily agree that there was not many overt historical references in the analytical style of John Rawls.

    One the other hand John Stuart Mill’s writings were peppered with history. This took two forms.

    First he used historical instances to illustrate how human beings may react in certain circumstances. For example in “The Subjection of Women” he argued against the mid-Victorian conception that women were biologically incapable of exercising good governance with many examples including for instance those of Hindu princesses who had acted as the regents of their kingdoms.

    Secondly, and more fundamentally to my argument, in “Considerations on Representative Government” he argued that the shaping history of a country should affect the political structures it should adopt for its governance.

    So whilst it may be true, as johnmc argues, that history should have no part in liberal thinking that would mean ruling that John Stuart Mill, contrary to popular belief, was not a liberal thinker.

  • Stevan Rose
    Your statement “The Northern Irish have never had a UK Government they voted for.” is incorrect.
    Ulster Unionists in the 1950s were part of the Conservative and Unionist group in the House of Commons.
    As recently as 1959 the Ulster Unionists won every single seat in Northern Ireland and boosted the Conservative majority in the Commons.
    The clue is in the name– ‘Conservative and Unionist Party’
    You might want to reflect on that when the Orange Lodge marches in Edinburgh.
    Obvious bedfellows for Nick Clegg’s ‘Anchored in the Centre Unionist Party’ ?

  • Building on John Tilley’s comment (9th Sep ’14 – 5:57pm)
    “Richard Allanach needs to get out more if he believes this statement —
    ‘England’ would become a mono-ethnic, mono-cultural idea redolent of Putin’s Russia, Le Pen’s France, Nigel Farage and Nick Griffin.”

    I would suggest that Richard also needs to visit the various devolved regions and the regions that have either gained or are seeking EU “National minority status” and compare and contrast! I suggest the risk isn’t one of England becoming some form of ethnic and cultural ghetto, but the devolved regions…

  • @ Roland

    Travel grant needed.

    “I would suggest that Richard also needs to visit the various devolved regions and the regions that have either gained or are seeking EU “National minority status” and compare and contrast!”

    Up until now I have ignored John Tilley’s ad hominem comments as I did not believe they took the argument forward. For the record however I have visited/lived in Leicester, Bradford and London … including working in Lambeth and Newham.

    I very much like the idea of visiting the regions that have gained/or are seeking EU “National minority status” and reporting back on LDV. Any chance of a travel grant?

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