Posted by: jkirkby8712 | January 31, 2012

Monday, 30 January 2012 – Scotland ‘free’ from England?? [again]

After reading an interesting article in the paper the other day, I enquired of a friend in Scotland [2nd or 3rd cousin actually], via the following query.

Hi Lesley, this was the start of an interesting article in one of our major papers over here, today – is this really a likely outcome within the next few years, and how much do today’s Scots really care?
‘Scots defy Cameron on vote for breakaway – Scottish prime minister Alex Salmond has taken a formal step towards an independence referendum that the government hopes will secure a mandate for withdrawal from the United Kingdom within five years.’……………………….Lesley replied that  ‘A lot of people in my age group don’t want to break away. Scotland would never cope on its own. I don’t like Alex Salmond 😦  Unfortunately they seem to be targeting the group that are almost ready to start voting and they seem to think it’s a fantastic idea. Us adults will need to make sure we get out and vote to stay in UK !’

It’s certainly an interesting question, and I suppose in Scottish history, has over the centuries been the subject of debates, wars, assassinations, and so on between the two ‘states’ [England and Scotland]. It wasn’t until the Acts of Union of 1706/1707 that a more formal and settled unity between the two existed. An article written by a former Melbourne Jesuit scholar who completed a PhD in international and administrative law in 2008, commented on the aspect of the right of self- determination on the one hand, and territorial integrity of states on the other. Part of what he wrote follows:

’Who or what constitutes a ‘people’ for the purposes of self-determination has, in any event, been very hard to define. People have argued for separation on grounds of ethnicity (the Basque conflict), religion (the Bosnian war), political difference (the Northern League in Italy) or a mixture of the above (compare the history of Ireland).

Multi-ethnic post-colonial states, especially those with large indigenous populations, have been particularly reluctant to concede anything like a general right to secede.

Current international law thinking reconciles the tensions between self-determination and territorial integrity by declaring that there is an ‘internal’ right to self-determination (the right to one’s own language, culture, religion and the like) which must be enjoyed within existing state boundaries. It is only when this right is frustrated that a right to ‘external’ self-determination (i.e. secession) arises.

In short, territorial integrity ‘trumps’ self-determination in the absence of exceptional circumstances (such as decolonisation or gross human rights abuses).

The theory, however, gets rather murky in practice and mired in politics. States which recognised Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia on the basis of the right to self-determination did not extend the same recognition to Abkhazia and South Ossetia’s declarations of independence from Georgia, despite the obvious parallels.

(Each case involved a region with a large majority in favour of independence. The majority had historically faced discrimination and had declared independence following a war in which a major world power had effectively carved the region out of the larger country.)

So where does all this leave the Scots example? Scotland is certainly no colony. Nevertheless, it was historically independent of the rest of the UK and, crucially, was merged with it by treaty (the Acts of Union of 1706, passed by the English Parliament, and 1707, passed by its Scottish counterpart).

Scotland retained a measure of independence even before devolution began in the mid-1990s – it has always kept its own legal system and cultural identity.

There is therefore no question of creating a new state from scratch (as there was in Kosovo and the Caucasus). What has been done by agreement can, in principle, be undone the same way. It seems that Westminster agrees.

Whether or not this will actually happen, of course, will ultimately depend on what the Scots themselves decide’.

On the basis of my friend’s comment, it seems there is no clear-cut direction amongst the Scottish people as to where they want to go. I always find it interesting, in sport for example that in some areas, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are all lumped under the heading of the United Kingdom for ‘team’ purposes, yet in other instances, they have separate state teams [World Cup soccer, cricket, etc]. This past week, we have seen Andy Murray the tennis player, officially representing the United Kingdom, yet in many circles, when he is winning, England claims him as theirs, while he is losing, he is ‘the Scot’!!  Anyway, although we don’t here much on the subject out here, there still remains much debate in Scotland on the broad topic amongst writers, commentators, etc. We will retain a bit of a watch on things, particularly because of personal interest in Scottish history.

It was a very noisy day in our street today – after a break for a few days, the workman were back with their heavy machinery, digging up parts of the street, and in fact, all of their time and efforts today were spent in front of my place – I had to request a brief halt and rearrangement of barriers, etc this morning in order to get my car out of the driveway, where I left it around the corner in the adjacent street for most of the day [Susan’s car stayed where it was – it has a dead battery, and she doesn’t seem in a rush to get the problem remedied at present].  My main outing, prior to some shopping was a rather strenuous hour at the gymnasium late morning  – most of my levels were ‘raised’ somewhat, and that combined with a weekend of little sleep, hot nights, and late night tennis viewing, etc, left your correspondent feeling somewhat exhausted by early afternoon, on a day which continued to be hot and humid until a cool change began to move in late in the day.  No chance for an early night this evening either –  finished my radio program at midnight, and while it was quite cool outside by then, I was finding it still quite humid in most of the radio building [apart from the min broadcasting studio]…………………….so, while enjoying my usual Monday show of folk, blues, jazz, country, show and world music, etc, I was not unhappy to be able to finish up when 12 am arrived!! Admittedly, also a little disappointed that I’d not heard from any listeners, because despite not having felt 100% on this and last Monday night, I don’t believe that has come over in any way, but nevertheless a little element of feedback would overcome that occasional feeling that one is simply ‘talking to oneself’ for 3 hours!!

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