Despite the intensity of the British establishment’s campaign against the proposed independence referendum in Scotland, with it’s focus on First Minster Alex Salmond in particular, the numbers are slowly slipping away for the British Unionist cause. According to the Scotsman newspaper:
“SUPPORT for Scottish independence has risen to its highest level for six years, with almost a third of Scots now backing separation from the rest of the UK, according to a new survey.
The results of the annual Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (SSA), presented today, show 32 per cent are now in favour of independence, up from 23 per cent last year to a level of support not seen since 2005.
The poll also found support for all decisions being made in Scotland has leaped 15 points to 43 per cent, while 29 per cent backed control over everything apart from defence and foreign affairs being passed to Scotland – the option often referred to as “devolution max”.
Meanwhile, the survey found the price of independence is just £500 – with 65 per cent in favour if everyone was a few hundred pounds better off as a result.
The results of the survey appear to be a major show of confidence in the SNP since the party was returned to power with an historic majority this year.
While the survey shows more Scots still oppose independence than support it, it also provided a blow to the unionist parties by suggesting that the Calman reforms for more devolution, including boosting income tax powers, currently in the Scotland Bill, are not enough for most Scots.”
Meanwhile the London-based British Nationalist parties are attempting to spin the unwelcome news, news that has clearly taken them by surprise given the ferocity of the orchestrated anti-SNP drive in the British press. This is not the agreed narrative. Yet the modern SNP have repeatedly proved themselves adept at writing their own narrative. Something they are doing again, as reported in the Independent:
“An independent Scotland would shift much of its attention away from the UK to become a member of the Scandinavian circle of countries, with its own army, navy and air force modelled on its Nordic neighbours, according to detailed plans being drawn up by the SNP.
Senior SNP strategists are compiling a “prospectus for independence” which they hope to use to sell the idea of separation to Scots ahead of the referendum in 2014 or 2015.
The document is not due to be published in full for another year but SNP insiders have disclosed key extracts.
They reveal that SNP leaders want an independent Scotland to look north and east in Europe for partnerships, trade and key defence relationships, rather than continuing to focus on western Europe and the Commonwealth, as the UK does now.
Senior Nationalists, including Alex Salmond, have made several trips to Scandinavia over the last couple of years, meeting ministers and officials in an attempt to pave the way for greater co-operation if Scotland becomes independent, particularly on energy. Indeed, initial plans have already been drawn up for an electricity super-grid between Scotland and Norway.”
With British nationalist politicians and journalists promoting the opinion of a handful of tame “constitutional experts” that an independent Scotland would need to apply for membership of the European Union as a “successor state”, the SNP’s policy of an alliance with the Scandinavian block of nations (and the non-EU Norway) is an interesting – and perhaps particularly astute – one. Which raises an interesting question for those of us here: where is Ireland in all this?
If the arguments for joining a Scandinavian arc of prosperity are great, the economic, environmental, security, cultural and historic reasons for closer ties between the two surviving Gaelic nations at the edge of north-western Europe are surely even greater. Maybe Enda Kenny, instead of kowtowing in the halls of Brussels, Berlin and Paris would be better employed reaching out the hand of friendship and co-operation in Edinburgh? Perhaps a “Celtic” and “Scandinavian” block of nations, working closely together, would do more to off-set the powers of Middle Europe and the former “Great Powers” than any amount of glad-handing and treaty tinkering?
And one final point. If an independent Scotland was required to apply (reapply?) for membership of the European Union where does that leave the former, so-called “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”? What are the international implications for the new sovereign national entity to be known as the “United Kingdom of England and Wales, and Northern Ireland”? Will it, per force, have to reapply for EU membership too? One cannot imagine so, or Berlin and Paris running the risk of losing the “UK” from the European fold altogether (simply think about the opportunity given to the Euro-sceptic cries for a referendum created by the scenario above). Similarly would a Reunited Ireland, in essence a new state, need to reapply for European Union membership? Did a Reunited Germany?
The claims that a pro-independence Scotland would find itself cast out from the EU are dubious to say the least. The reality is simply this: in the European Union it is the bureaucrats and politicians who decide what the rules are, not lawyers and academics.