How’s that Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland feeling today? July 20, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
I think we can broadly dismiss the stuff from M. Martin and E. Kenny about border polls. It will take a lot more water under the bridge to reach that point. But, in fairness, someday, perhaps sooner rather than later, we may get there.
After yesterday’s Trident debate, the SNP argued that the result underlined how Scotland’s democratic deficit was only getting worse post-EU referendum, with 58 out of 59 MPs north of the border voting to scrap the programme.
Today, Scotland’s politicians are returning their attention to how they might settle that EU democratic deficit, with a cross-party committee of MSPs meeting diplomats from Iceland, Norway, Ireland and elsewhere in Brussels.
Joan McAlpine, convenor of Holyrood’s European and External Relations Committee, describes the trip as an initial fact-finding exercise to investigate what the options are for preserving Scotland’s place in the EU after the UK Brexit vote, and to sound out other countries’ views.
I’m impressed by how the Scottish government is taking this opportunity with both hands, to plant a flag, so to speak, in relation to its future ambitions, and to carve out yet more space independent of the UK.
And I think this is hugely important because unions, of states or nations, depend not merely on constitutional or legal structures but also on sentiment. I’ve long been fascinated by the dissolution of Yugoslavia as a state – in part because the system there was less sclerotic than elsewhere in Eastern Europe, but also because it seems to suggest the dangers of an over-belief in the ability of centralised states to stifle national feeling. I’m not for a moment suggesting that the UK could break up in a similar way – at least I hope not. But what strikes me is how sentiment ebbed away from the very idea of Yugoslavia towards smaller national units and in a relatively short space of time.
Again, that’s not inevitable in relation to Scotland. But… it won’t be for want of trying on the part of the SNP. And I think they’re right to do so. Brexit brings into sharp focus the reality that the interests (or perhaps obsessions is a better word) of Britain are not necessarily synonymous with those of Scotland or Northern Ireland or indeed Wales.
And let’s not forget basic economic aspects underpinning this too:
It’s highly unusual for a committee to meet during the Holyrood recess, so this trip is a mark of the urgency felt amongst MSPs, who all (except Tory abstainers) voted at the end of June to support first minister Nicola Sturgeon in her efforts to try to secure Scotland’s relationship with the EU and its place in the single market.
I think that task is beyond the reach of the Scottish government.
At this time.
But every little effort made by the SNP to increase its profile assists. Speed the day.