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Even if there is no UI in the medium term… what of an UK without Scotland but with NI? March 20, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Where does that leave Northern Ireland should an Independence referendum in Scotland succeed? Peter Geoghegan in the IT argues that:

Independence would represent a seismic tear in the fabric of the United Kingdom.
Overnight, Northern Ireland would become a rump state, psychologically and politically unmoored from its closest relatives.

And that:

Would the UK survive without Scotland? Almost certainly, at least for a while.
But as English nationalism becomes ever more the centripetal force of British politics, Irish interests are likely to become even more marginal.

What sort of life would this United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland have? It’s worth keeping in mind that on the most basic logistical level the connections, other than flight, are most directly through Scotland. That wouldn’t end in the context of Scottish independence but one has to imagine that they would change. Perhaps, and this is a big perhaps, if the UK is able to strike a deal with the EU/ROI in relation to this island and the border it is possible that a fairly permeable frontier will exist. Indeed it may be that this island serves as the dry run for future Scottish independence and the technical and logistical aspects of same.

What a strange patchwork quilt the islands would be too. With the south of Ireland the north of the island of Britain most likely both in the EU. The psychological effect of all this cannot be understated. And there would be other implications. Much has been made of the centrifugal dynamics of Brexit to the EU. But what of the same dynamics in relation to the Union. If a member can leave in the 21st century suddenly that union looks shaky, fragile. The irony of Northern Ireland still being in the Union after a Scottish exit is fascinating. But perhaps that is to misread the dynamics there. For Irish independence, even the truncated version currently in play, has obviously had a long term effect on attitudes in Scotland.

And more than passing strange that the EU should provide a sort of glue which would cement the UK together into the modern era. I’ve always been dubious about those who talk about single nationalisms or national identities (my own direct experience suggests that it is a lot more complex than that), but in an odd way despite there being no real European identity I wonder if on some level the linkages to a Europe (not, by the way, necessarily an EU Europe) has had interesting effects too in terms of smoothing away some of the harder edges of more local national identities on these islands – at least for some.


1. sonofstan - March 20, 2017

“For Irish independence, even the truncated version currently in play, has obviously had a long term effect on attitudes in Scotland. ”

Is that true?
I think Irish and Scottish nationalism are very different beasts and we make too much of the similarities. We might overstate the post-colonial dimension of independence, but it has traction, whereas it would be absurd in Scotland.


WorldbyStorm - March 20, 2017

Absolutely, I wouldn’t overstate matters – but I do believe that the fact of Irish independence and perhaps the more recent success of the RoI (at least for a while) did have a soft effect. But in terms of the different dynamics impinging directly in the different polities yes they are different. Not least that Scotland remains in the union with very direct frictions ensuing.


2. sonofstan - March 20, 2017

Been reading David Keenan’s This is Memorial Device, his fictionalised account of post punk Airdrie and it’s noticable in passing how separate the undercurrents of Irish republicanism and the occasional flashes of Scots Nationalism are. For a start, there was a sectarian faultline for a long time. Excellent book btw. Not a million miles from Lanark as mentioned by Anarchaeologist the other day.


3. benmadigan - March 21, 2017

surely the underlying cause of Irish and Scottish nationalism is the same? Dissatisfaction with living in the UK Union?
They may manifest in different ways (1916 = physical force republicanism; 2014= civic nationalism) but their ultimate aims are the same.
can anyone make a positive case for the Union, showing it has benefitted and will benefit the people of NI and Scotland?


WorldbyStorm - March 21, 2017

Interesting question that Ben. What are the yardsticks one might use?

Liked by 1 person

benmadigan - March 21, 2017

physical and mental health, wealth and well-being, poverty, education,employment and de-population indices,? just for starters?


shea - March 21, 2017

Scotish nationalism is cool with the whole crown thing, some tendencies with it are republican. Civil war over it here and the pro monarchist side of that war weren’t that enthusiastic with it.

The dominance of the SNP its easy to imagine that scottish nationalism was always like dominant but i don’t think it is fair to say it was.

its argued that in the early 19th century catholic emancipation campaigners were in favour of the act of union prior and for a short period post that union and that by extension that opinion represented popular opinion. No way to know if that is accurate or not but even if it is it would appear that ireland has a longer history of popular support for self government with in and outside that union what ever was possible.

Ireland and Scotland are similar but they are not the same.

If nationalism is just being dissatisfied with the british union then its fair to say they are similar but they have different paths. The SNP might be a vehicle for people in scotland to defend themselves from the evolving processes of post tatcher britain or maybe not.

Having said all that the irish community in scotland have a tendency with in it and a tradition of giving support and people who play an active role in irish republicanism. its not once a year paddywackery. Its a noticable feature of all the republican groups today back to the fenians. its not unimaginable that there is some transference from that into scotish nationalism. Not predending its a dominant feature, scotish nationalism is parliamentarian.

Liked by 1 person

benmadigan - March 21, 2017

agree Shea – have often thought I would like to trace the impact of irish republicanism (through the diaspora) on the Independence movement in Scotland. Pity there are no grants going as far as i know – Would love to have a sabbatical doing just that!!!

“Scotish nationalism is cool with the whole crown thing”,
Am not entirely sure that they are. Monarchy vs Republic is just something that has not been brought up much a) so as not to scare off potential supporters and b) too much else to focus on in trying to get majority for independence. if Scotland gets Independence look forward to a lively debate as she writes her constitution

“Ireland has a longer history of popular support for self government with in and outside that union” – Undoubtedly! Much longer!

Scottish nationalism is parliamentarian = so was irish nationalism from 1867 to 1916 and is today. parlementarianism in irish nationalism/republicanism seems to go in cycles


shea - March 21, 2017

should have said solely. There doesn’t appear to be a comparable to fenianism which in 1867 marched thousands of dubliners to tallaght for a failed rebellion. Had a cold rationalist view of the limitations of parliaments.

but you are right and i was wrong. Ireland also has a parlimentarian tradition. Worth nothing on their goal of self government their record in zero, one of the reasons for the fenians logic. Think salmond is meant to be a bit of a fan of parnell. Maybe people looking for parallels could look on that tract.


FergusD - March 21, 2017

The way Scotland entered a union with England was obviously very different to Ireland and I think that has mattered. After the Scottish king became king of England both countries kept their own parliament for a while and I suppose were run independently. The Scottish ruling class was then bribed by the English ruling class to abolish their parliament. The immediate bribe was cash, the longer term deal was to gain from the British Empire. Now that Empire has gone and with it much of the benefit of the UK, all that heavy industry in the central belt of Scotland. So why stay in the UK? I do think that in some kind of unconcious way Scottish independance is driven by the end of Empire, but as a drawn out process.

Ireland on the other hand was always a colony, even after the Act of Union, just different types of colony in the North East and the rest and the wealth of Empire wasn’t shared to teh same degree as Scotland. Hence the anti-imperialism of the Fenians/IRB I suppose. Not from the Home Rulers though, the IPP leadership seemed to want Ireland as more of an equal partner in the British Empire, maybe like Scotland!

As WBS noted I think many small countries, and regions/nationalities, in Europe hoped that the EU would weaken the dominant nation states and give them breathing room. That doesn’t seem to have happened. Large capital would probably also be happy to see nation states dissolve in a EU “state”, but that doesn’t seem to be possible under capitalism. Germany has emerged again as the continental power. Various forms of nationalism seem to be on the rise. I don’t see nationalism as the answer but internationalist socialist movements are hardly to be seen.


sonofstan - March 21, 2017

“The way Scotland entered a union with England was obviously very different to Ireland and I think that has mattered.”

That’s exactly it.

Liked by 1 person

4. Enzo - March 21, 2017

Anyone for a Union of Ireland & Scotland? Would make the domestic football leagues a bit more interesting 😉


sonofstan - March 21, 2017

Cork City V Aberdeen would be an epic away trip alright.


5. Albert Trotter - March 22, 2017

All of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales would be an internal passport free-zone. However, one negative consequence of this compromise would be a hard customs border in the Irish Sea. But that would be better than one across the land-mass of Ireland.

Another effect would be a hard customs border between Scotland and England. If all of Ireland and Scotland remain in the EU there cannot be a single market in the UK, as defined by the EU, and therefore a customs barrier will have to exist. But a hard customs border will materialize in any case if a Scottish referendum led to independence.


6. Albert Trotter - March 22, 2017

Ireland, North and South, and Scotland could not join the Schengen agreement because that would mean that England and Wales would lose the control over immigration which was emphasized by the leave side in the referendum. But then, they are not part of Schengen at present, and there is no evidence that a majority in any of the three countries wants to be.


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