Scottish vote - Protest or Independence ?

Second part of the analysis of the Scottish election results

, par Anonymous

Toutes les versions de cet article : [English] [français]

Scottish vote - Protest or Independence ?

It is difficult to assume that the Scots voted SNP as a protest to Tony Blair’s Labour Party or even to Jack McConnell’s Scottish executive which brought modest but not poor results over the last four years.

The protest vote days of the Iraq war are well over. The people had a choice between four major parties. If the Scottish vote was merely a protest, then the Liberal and Conservative votes would have increased rather than decreased, and the Labour votes would have been spread more evenly among the parties. Instead, it was the SNP which gained – an extraordinary 20 seats more than the previous elections. So why did the votes all concentrate on the SNP – the only party campaigning for Independence ?

The answer can only lie in the fact that popular support for Independence is higher than ever. If people wanted to punish labour but rejected Independence, this feeling would have been manifested in the increase of the liberal vote, and to an extent, the conservative vote. This however did not happen.

Implications for the UK

Gordon Brown, the most likely MP to succeed Blair, is incidentally Scottish. Opinion polls have recently shown that around 30% of the rest of the UK would be against a Scottish Prime Minister, following the nationalist results in Scotland. Maybe someone should tell the English that they already have a Scottish Prime Minister, since Tony Blair was born in Scotland, though few of them are actually aware of that !

Will Alex Salmond work constructively with London ? Or will there be constant controversy and confrontational attitude between the two executives ? The SNP have promised to work in favour of the Scottish interest and work co-operatively with Gordon Brown. However, this remains to be seen.

Should the SNP manage to form a coalition and pursue their referendum goal, the sovereignty and integrity of the British state will be at risk. The SNP would have to prove their abilities to govern Scotland before they can ask the country to support their plan to break away from the Union. With around 30% of Scots in support of Independence, a referendum is undoubtedly justified. And who is to say that this figure will not rise if the nationalists prove themselves in Holyrood ? Gordon Brown surely has a lot to think about…

Implications on Europe

The Euro is in the SNP’s agenda. The party has made it clear that when they would break from the Union, they would immediately commence procedures to join the single currency.

The Party was divided on the European Constitution, but Sir Neil McCormick ex nationalist MEP was an influential member of the Convention on the future of Europe and a key promoter of the Constitution, in the UK. It is likely that they would have supported the treaty, were Scotland independent. In addition, Scotland was the British ‘region’ most in favour of the Constitution, according to various polls carried out in 2005.

Scotland has generally been a pro European nation. It has historical ties with many continental countries, notably France and has welcomed for decades immigrants from countries such as Italy, with who they developed close ties and who became part of the Scottish society.

An independent Scotland in the European Union would not imply the arrival of a eurosceptic state but rather a country ready to become part of the construction of Europe, leaving England isolated as the sole promoter of ‘economic europe’.

It is likely that an independent Scotland would have to apply as a candidate state to join the EU, as breaking from Britain would also mean breaking away from the EU - not unless it managed to come to a reasonable compromise with Brussels over its transition. Europe should therefore be ready to face such a situation in the foreseeable future.

Conclusion

From now, and for the next four years, devolution will be seen in action, and may work more efficiently with a governing party in Scotland different from the one in Westminster. The nationalists will demand more power from London, and we wont be short of disputes and tension between the two capitals. What is certain, is that both will try to persuade Scotland that independence is either positive or negative. By the time a referendum comes, the arguments for and against will most certainly be clear !

For the time being, Scotland is enjoying this revolutionary and historical moment ; many that see it as another step towards ‘freedom’. It is time. It is time for Scotland.

Image :

- ’How to win votes and influence people’, source : Flickr

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