By B. William Alexander
Photo credit: Bob the Lomond
What would a post-independence Scotland look like, and would the SNP retain a majority?
The Scottish Problem, for the Unionists is embodied by the Nationalists who use the Scottish National Party (SNP) as their voice in Westminster. As professor Vernon Bogdanor aptly put it: “they are in a sense being sent to Westminster to say (as loudly as possible) that they do not want to be there”. This is the case for all independence parties whether it be the SNP, Sinn Fein or Plaid Cymru.
With that in mind a relevant question to be asked, in the Scots' case, is that of how many people will continue to vote SNP post-independence? To even begin to answer that you have to have an idea of how many people are currently voting for the SNP, because they are the largest Scottish Party and are pro-Scottish independence. Those of who like myself, vote SNP because they themselves have, as Jacob Rees-Mogg put it, certain immovable principles, the first of which being the restoration of an independent Scottish Republic and as the SNP are the main body for that lone principle, I give them my vote.
Bearing in mind also that the Unionist minority remaining in Scotland will also need a new party in whom to entrust their suffrage. This will undoubtedly lead to the formation of new parties to effectively represent the people. I note this because it is far easier to assume and some do, on both sides (Unionist & Nationalist), that Scotland’s future is written, That we will win our independence, we will rejoin the EU and that they will accept us. I hope sincerely they do not.
The first assertion, I believe, is closer than ever to being true. However, I think this scenario where we leave the known enemy of the Union for the unelected bureaucrats of the EU is quite rightfully seen as a skelp in the face to many of the Unionist persuasion. As while I cannot bring myself personally, to call Britain ‘Great’, in any sense of the word, nor our ‘Kingdom’ united; I could also never say Britain was not once either of those things. So, for me or anyone to say that the Union has always been a wholly negative thing for Scotland would be a blatant lie. In the same vein it would seem to me that the future altered Britain would much rather trade and interact with a truly independent Scottish Republic, who at the very least could be respected rather than a neighboring state; whom to them are nothing but a hypocritical clone of what they have escaped, that being the EU, and of who they are happy to be rid, Scotland that is. But done right and a more sustainable relationship between the English and Scots could be forged, even to the extent of how many Scots and Irish see each other today, dare I say. I am of the belief that one can only be found guilty of their own actions not those of someone who flew the same flag as them hundreds of years ago. It is the Union that holds all the grievances between our peoples now. Not the geographic or historical factors.
However, given the chance the SNP will attempt to water down Scotland’s hypothetical independence the very same day it is fully restored to us by using the 2016 EU referendum and Scotland’s 62% to 38% outtake as grounds to re-shackle us without another vote by beginning to re-apply Scotland to the EU, and in doing so giving the peoples of England a rightful resentment to replace the old one, thus, continuing the dogmatic, overdue chapter of our peoples history. However, this time both nations are in a much more vulnerable position than they would like. To me and to many, independence means full independence, not leaving an auld enemy for an unelected one. And as the EU is not likely to collapse before the restoration of Scotland’s complete sovereignty, although weaker it is, there is another Brexit like debate in our people’s midst. Yet still many of the Unionist persuasion continue to form their arguments regarding Scottish independence from their false presupposition that a debate of this sort will not arise. And thus, answer the question put forward previously of how many people will continue to vote SNP post-independence… to many Unionists the answer seems to be a majority’s worth. I would not be so sure.
Another important question to prune over is what happened between the famous Scottish lib-lab MP Alexander Macdonald (1821-1881), two years before his death, declaring to his constituents that “the Conservative Party have done more for the working class in five years than the Liberals have in fifty” to what you see now which is cross border disillusionment with the Tory party, that is no longer all that conservative. And while I don’t feel quite as strongly as Peter Hitchens does regarding the action the party need take as a result of their far stretched diversion from what they claim to be but have long since been. And after all, this is no longer a Scottish phenomenon. Hitchens proposition being that ‘the Conservative & Unionist party’ should commit seppuku as it were. Mine being that it should be reformed in an independent England as presumably just ‘the Conservative Party’. The answer to how this happened however, would be a book all on its own - one I am not yet qualified to write but can assure is necessary. If it had been written earlier perhaps us Scots would not have stopped being useful to the Tories over fifty years ago. However, what keeps the current state of the Tory Party from being addressed is ironically the increased weakness of the feeble, opposition ‘Labour Party’. There is no need for them to revert to being a conservative party if they can win with simply the banner of Conservatism draped around them. This statement really rings true when you consider that many Scots no longer give them their vote either, when for so long Scotland was a Labour stronghold. More so when considering that the Scots Tories are now more popular than them - a humorous statement even as I read it back now. It is with this in mind that I optimistically and conversely state that Scotland is as Conservative a nation as any other, but we are also the people who have longest known of the Tory Party’s various misgivings; and thus we have the predicament we find ourselves in now.
To conclude The Scottish Problem, for both the Unionists and the Nationalists is actually a host of questions to do with the abundance of static and moving parts within the independence debate, some of which I have begun to address. Those being, what will the English and Scots' relationship look like post-independence? To what extent will each nation show good will and what reasons would there be for that? Will the SNP retain power, and if so for how long? And if now who will take it from them? And also the allusion to the failure and corruption of the Conservative Party itself somewhere along the way, as well as reaffirming the pitiful state of the Labour Party. Some I have deliberately saved for future pieces, such as the question of exactly how independent Scotland could be, in relation to currency and our economy, and many more which have been and will be discussed in their abundance by Scottish Nationalists, Unionists and intrigued neutrals dead, alive and unborn.