I said I doubted that it would be the end of it.
Despite saying that he would accept the result of the Scottish referendum, Alex Salmond isn’t going to:
Alex Salmond has raised the prospect of Scotland unilaterally declaring independence without another referendum as he abandoned his promise to accept the result and claimed that No voters were “tricked”.
Despite it being illegal, the First Minister argued the Scottish Parliament could say Scotland was leaving the United Kingdom at the point at which it had been devolved so many powers it was effectively independent.
The First Minister appeared to blame elderly Scots, who were most hostile to leaving the UK, for holding back younger generations and argued that independence is inevitable after they die off.
In a startling intervention, he also claimed that another referendum may not be required to break up Britain as the Scottish Parliament could unilaterally declare independence after gaining increasing numbers of powers.
Jim Sillars, his former mentor and a former SNP deputy leader, tweeted that the nationalists should “assert” a new rule that Scotland would become independent if separatist parties won a majority of votes and seats at the 2016 Holyrood election.
If I understand this right, Salmond didn’t get the result he wanted from the referendum, so he’s now proposing to dispense with democracy (and law), and have a secessionist majority in the Scottish Assembly declare independence anyway.
But given that we’ve just found out that 55% of Scots don’t want independence, they’re hardly likely to very happy to have independence thrust on them anyway. In fact, it looks to me just the sort of event that could ignite a civil war in Scotland between Unionists and Secessionists. After all, wasn’t it the secession of the American South from the Union that triggered the American Civil War? And isn’t the Ukrainian crisis a secessionist civil war?
And it would be a war that (as in America) the Unionists would almost certainly win, because they’d have not only the support of most Scots, but almost certainly the support of the Westminster government as well. And who would be supporting the Secessionists? When the American South seceded from the Union, no foreign state recognised the new Confederacy.
And, furthermore, that would probably be be the end of any dream of “inevitable” Scottish independence for the next 300 years.
Other secessionist movements have been watching closely:
Each of Europe’s aggrieved clans sent witnesses to Scotland for the vote. Some were nationalities seeking statehood, some more explosively seeking Anschluss with a mother country broken by victors’ cartography after the First World War.
The flaming red and yellow Senyera of the Catalans flew over Edinburgh. The German-speakers of the Sud-Tirol sent a delegation, careful not to violate Italian law by speaking too loudly of reunion with Austria. The Corsicans turned up. Flemings who could not make it lit candles on the Scottish Saltire in Brussels.
And in the case of Catalonia, ZeroHedge has a cartoon that explains the difference:
Madrid has banned Catalonia’s pre-secession vote in November, or the “Consulta” as it is known, threatening “all available means” to stop it. The government has the constitution on its side, but critics say that is to hide behind the law in a political dispute that has already gone too far. At least a million Catalans came onto the streets last week for their “Diada” festival in what sounded like a collective roar of protest. Premier Artur Mas aims to press ahead with the vote regardless, invoking the Scottish precedent. “If it had been a Yes in Scotland, the road ahead would have been clearer, but what matters is not the way they voted, but the fact that they did vote. And we are in a stronger position because we have more social support.”
Not just Britain and Spain, but also Italy:
Eve Hepburn, an expert on secessionist movements at Edinburgh University, said the chain reaction is sweeping through Italy, already under volcanic stress. “Something peculiar is happening in Italy. A country reluctantly soldered together in the late 19th century looks like it’s beginning to come apart at the seams,” she said.
The rich Venetians – with their own ancient republic until Napoleon – have already had an online referendum. In June the regional council approved plans for a real vote.
The ruling Volkspartei in the Sud-Tirol just to the north threw down its own post-Scotland gauntlet on Friday, demanding fresh powers and a “real Europe of the Regions” on radically different foundations.
None of these stresses are eased in any way, of course, by the eurozone’s continuing recession, which impacts southern European states the hardest, and probably feeds secessionist tendencies throughout the EU.