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Time for independence?

Nick Robinson | 11:51 UK time, Thursday, 12 April 2007

Edinburgh: "It's time".

SNP Leader Alex Salmond, pictured in front of Edinburgh CastleSo says the slogan which is staring at me off the cover of the Scottish National Party's manifesto. Dominating the front page is a picture of Alex Salmond in statesmanlike pose with not the merest hint of a smile on his face. The document has the look of a menswear catalogue. This is apt since the SNP have stopped trying to sell an idea - the case for Scottish independence - and are, instead, trying to sell a man.

Salmond says he'd take his orders from the Scottish people and lead "a real Scottish government" - in contrast, he implies, with a first minister who takes his orders from the government in London.

The question which hangs over this launch is 'what is it time for?'. Is it time for Scottish Independence? The polls show no sign of an appetite for it. What they do show an appetite for is to give Labour a good kicking.

This campaign, like every other one, will revolve around a clash between two arguments - "it's time for a change" and "it's not the right time to take a risk on the future". The consequences of Scotland's choice will not just affect who is the next first minister and who forms the next Scottish government but all of us living in the UK.

If Scots decide it's time for Salmond and the SNP - as the polls suggest they will - they'll also be deciding it's time to take a first step on a long journey which could see the break up of Britain as we know it today.

P.S. Out of the window we hacks could just see the home of the Defence Secretary Des Browne, who must be wondering whether he'll soon have rather longer to spend there...


  • 1.
  • At 01:05 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • David Evershed wrote:


How about some information on the local elections in England which affect a far greater number of people than Scotland's elections.

What are the main issues in England?

What are the different types of council having elections?

Why are some wards having elections and others not?

What are the current council compositions?

What are the likely changes in control?

  • 2.
  • At 01:19 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Bill wrote:

Can't agree with the last bit of your article, would also suggest it is not up to your usual standards of impartialty (looks like Labour could have written it). As someone who is indeed keen to give Labour "a kicking", I'm also, like many, still unsure about indepenence. But I am sure that voting SNP will NOT result in independence. It simply means their will be a referrendum and then it will be the people who decide, not the SNP or anyone else.

  • 3.
  • At 01:25 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • JOhn Gray wrote:

Hello Nick,

You state:

"they'll also be deciding it's time to take a first step on a long journey which could see the break up of Britain as we know it today."

An SNP view would be:

"Scotland will move to a position of her choice to proudly join other nations of the world and take her seat in the United Nations."

SNP and other pro Scottish independence parties do not view the future with your pessimistic eyes. They see liberation with the passion and hope that subjugated nations around the globe do. It seems to me Scots who have followed the political route to freedom receive more scorn than those who have chosen violence. Very strange!

From your and others analysis, Scotland is a drain on England and its population are moaning subsidy ingrates. If that be the case (and I contend it’s not), from your perspective you should promote Scotland setting her own future course rather than the negative scare and subsidy argument to tie her in to an outdated union.

When addressing this issue, please try to be more positive and objective. When Scotland leaves the union, all these islands’ nations will flourish. Be proud to be English, there’s plenty to be proud of, but stop delaying Scotland’s departure.




Surely you aren't trying to scare people into not voting SNP?

Scotland could elect a full parliament of SNP MSPs and that still wouldn't be enough for independance, because there has to be a referendum.

Would you like to update your post with some facts?

  • 5.
  • At 01:48 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Chris Rennard wrote:

I can't agree with many people making the same claim about Scottish polls as Nick. The idea that these polls show that Scots believe that "it's time for Salmond and the SNP" is surely wrong when the SNP average share in these polls is about 35%.

I do agree with Nick about the relative lack of support for the SNP's raison d'etre of an independent Scotland. Support for full independence is well below the level of support for the SNP when people are offered the alternative favoured by the Lib Dems of greater powers for the Scottish Parliament.

  • 6.
  • At 01:50 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Ross wrote:

good Nick,

firstly Labour will get a good kicking by the looks of it

Then the long journey will begin on May the 3rd and end with no more illegal wars faught with scottish troups, no more WMD on scottish soil and no more puppet administrations controlled by westminster.

oh and if you do not think that there is an appetite for independence then you obviously haven't been north of the border recently, or if you have ure ignoring it (like tony blair) and hoping it will go away

it wont

  • 7.
  • At 01:50 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Russell wrote:

I think this is a bit of a perfect storm for Labour up here in Scotland. A particularly unpopular point in the elector cycle for Westminster Labour, Tony Blair on his last legs (if not beyond his last legs), unpopular issues with a Scottish slant (Trident, cash-for-honours) and finally a poor First Mininster in Jack McConnell. Even if the SNP do take the largest number of seats (let's face it if they can't now when can they) there is by no means an appetite for independence up here. What do the SNP do when they lose a referendum? Or when their uncosted promises come home to roost? Their whole reason for being will be irrelevant for a whole generation.

It's important to emphasise the big difference between *could* and *will* lead to the breakup of the UK. As you rightly point out, there is an appetite to give Labour a kicking mainly, in my view, because their manifesto and campaign are overwhelmingly negative and uninspiring on it's own merit: Just look at the flyers on their own campaign website - Most are anti-SNP rather than proclaiming their own proposals. What does that say about their ideas for the next four years? Plus they've already had *eight* years, and the single biggest achievement they can lay claim to is the smoking ban...

So it's very important - but I suspect unlikely - that the rest of the UK don't view that a vote for the SNP is a purely a vote supporting independence, and look at the context in which we're voting and possibly supporting the SNP: It's just one of the many policies they have, and that range of policies is the reason for their success. You certainly wouldn't say that every Labour supporter supports PPP or the war in Iraq, nor that every Conservative supporter supports every one of their policies (somebody help me out on that list...). So why imply that every SNP vote is a vote for independence?

Goodness knows I'm seriously considering voting for them, and I'm an "Englishman" (hate that phrase) who considers himself nationally to be British. I just now happen to be living in the beautiful city of Glasgow. Why would I support independence, and why should the fact that I disagree with this one policy preclude my support for them?

So people shouldn't make the mistake that an SNP win is any sort of indication there is an appetite for breaking up the UK, nor that every person living in Scotland and voting for the SNP is rushing to break up the UK.

Also, the SNP won't have made the first step towards the break up of Britain.

That first step was made by the Labour party and their devolution settlement which has left the consitution unbalanced.

  • 10.
  • At 02:53 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Chris Bowie wrote:

Richard Leyton has nailed it. I too am on the verge of voting for the SNP, but not because I want independence. It is because the SNP are the only real (tactical or otherwise) voting choice many of us have in Scotland to get rid of Labour.

  • 11.
  • At 02:55 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Steven Manson wrote:

Surely a little unfair of you to give this article a biased spin.

Independence is this nation's destiny and it ought to have been the birthright of every one of her people down the ages. A lop-sided union settlement 300 long years ago has given Scotland little.

Seccession from the union will, in one act, stop all claims to having lived off the backs of the English.

It is time that we stood tall, took stock of Scotland and how amazing this country truly is and dedicated ourselves to rebuilding the fortunes of this great nation.

  • 12.
  • At 03:01 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Robin wrote:

Why is this being discussed here?

If they want independance let them have it. Alex Salmond can preen away to his heart's content.

There's an old saying; "you don't know what you've got intil you've lost it"

As so many Scots seem to think they could survive without us I think we should let them. Let them waste more money on Parliament buildings ten times over budget.

It's telling indeed of Scotland's self regard that 'the Auld Alliance' - their relationship with the French, is something the average Frenchman has never heard about.

This degree of self regard has now permeated the highest levels of the British Government thanks to the likes of John Reid, Gordon Brown and the Scot's educated Blair. It's something I shall not be sorry to see the back of. They are not fit for purpose, to coin one of their phrases. I am tired of their inept government with its lay preacher ways.

  • 13.
  • At 03:12 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Frances wrote:

Nick, I want to challenge what you said about the polls showing there is no appetite for independence. You must realise that, in fact, the polls have been all over the place on this point. Although the last two have shown majorities against independence, the percentage in favour varied from 28% to 46%, which is obviously a difference that can't be explained by sampling error - it's clearly down to the way the question is framed. You picked up on that yourself in a previous post, but unfortunately your conclusion was that people hadn't 'understood' the question they were being asked in the polls that produced majorities in favour of independence. It's really lazy thinking to assume that only the polls that support your preferred analysis can be considered trustworthy. Your justification was that people apparently don't realise what 'independence' means unless the questioner points out the blindingly obvious fact that it will entail leaving the UK - OK, there are always a few numpties out there, but on the whole I'd have to say that's a deeply implausible proposition. The truth is that there's a large section of the population - perhaps 20-25% - who vaguely know they want considerable self-government for Scotland, but haven't thought in any great depth about how far they'd like it to go. So, when they're asked the most positive form of the question, ie. "Would you vote in favour of Scotland becoming an independent country?", their commitment to self-government comes to the fore and they say "Yes", when they might have said "No" to a different question. It doesn't mean they haven't understood - just that their views aren't well-defined yet (and that would obviously change in one direction or another in an independence referendum).

  • 14.
  • At 03:22 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Tam Muir wrote:

What happens during a referendum depends on the questions asked and the nature of the campaign.

When the Scots were given the opportunity to vote for more power in 1997, they grabbed it with both hands. They took what was on offer, but probably would have voted for even more powers. All surveys since then suggest the Scots want greater devolved powers at Holyrood. Labour and the LibDems pretend that this is all in the name of good governance, but it is not.

Everything that Scotland has gained has been to assuage national sentiment, and to respond to the threat of the SNP.

  • 15.
  • At 03:33 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Steven Manson wrote:

To Robin @ #12: Need I mention the London Olympics budget, need I mention the Millennium Dome?

In fact, need I even talk about Wembley Stadium? I think Scotland's folk are sick to the back teeth of Labour and of the union and I think what we're seeing is an understandable backlash against decisions affecting Scotland being taken far away and a long decade of Labour incompetence and mismanagement.

I think if you look at the facts, Tony Blair was not only educated in Edinburgh but he was in fact born here too.

I will laugh, I will be as smug (insert simile of choice here) when we achieve independence and show we can stand on two feet and be proud.

I'll tell you something, Alex Salmond may be many things but he's got conviction, and I believe he's dedicated to putting the needs of his country first, and there's not many leaders who can put their case as well as he can.

  • 16.
  • At 04:14 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • BlueFlagRevolution wrote:

When push comes to shove, and election day looms, the voters in Scotland will go into automatic mode and end up voting for Labour like they have done in the past and like the will do in the foreseeable future. Scottish elections are always dominated by the people who will always vote for Labour (even if it's leader was a strategically shaven monkey in a suit!)

How Annoying...

  • 17.
  • At 04:37 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Jamie wrote:

I've never considered myself to be Northern Irish, but British. My country is dying by the looks of things.

The problem is that the British parties seem incapable of doing anything about the fraying of relations between West Lothian and Westminster.

Labour opened the door when they promoted devolution and, with it, insular and parochial attitudes. Since then their unpopular war and the lame duck PM have simply flung the door open.

The Tories, well, one MP and no real support in Scotland tells it's own story. If we have moves towards Scottish independence now, how will Scots react when the supposedly "English" party are at the helm in London? It's a great pity that this is the case. That the traditional party of the Union are now seen as a party that could pull our system apart.

The United Kingdom has served all its people well. I simply don't understand why now the Scots feel they could do better on their own.

It will be a sad day if Scotland ever leave.

  • 18.
  • At 05:10 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Ian in Edinburgh wrote:

In amongst all the astroturf there is a significant point being missed here. It's true to say that in the polls there is still a majority against Scottish independence (although support for independence is on the increase). But the plan of the SNP is to get into power first, and in the meantime they are trying to avoid any mention of the "I" word. But once elected, they will be doing everything they can to create conflict with the Westminster parliament - they will be looking for any opportunity where they can say "look how the UK parliament is preventing Scotland improving itself" to stir up nationalism in preparation for the eventual referendum. Hence their slightly ambiguous slogan "It's Time" is a "dog whistle" term for their core nationalist support, but without being overt and alienating the many floating voters.

The trouble for Unionists however is that there is no attractive alternative to the SNP. Scottish Labour have consistently shown themselves to be utterly inept, and Jack McConnell has become something of a national embarrassment. Their Lib Dem partners should in theory be the power brokers given the likelihood of a hung parliament which results from the Scottish electoral system, but they've been quite heavily tarnished by their role in the coalition. Which just leaves the Scottish Tories who are now little more than a fringe party who are seen as a little unsettling, but basically harmless. It actually wouldn't entirely surprise me if the Greens beat the Tories into 5th place given the level of environmental concern.

One thing is certain, if the SNP can't win this election they might as well give up altogether. But if they do manage to form the next Executive there will be turbulent times ahead for the whole of the UK, not just Scotland. No-one should be kidded that they aren't still in this to break up the Union, and for anyone opposed to Independence it would be rather foolish to vote SNP.

  • 19.
  • At 05:35 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Dick wrote:

Personally I'm very pro independence.

I see no other way of improving Scotland's economic performance without getting out from under the dead hand of the Treasury and its sycophantic attitude to the City.

  • 20.
  • At 05:44 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • iain smith wrote:

I can confirm that we are indeed heading for a political earthquake on may 3 Nick.As a scottish voter I will be doing my bit to make it happen as I fully intend to vote for the SNP in the Scottish parliament elections( though not necessarily in the council elections).The reason is that I feel that the Labour first minister is taking his political instructions from Gordon Brown in London and I want someone in charge who is his own boss.

  • 21.
  • At 05:46 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • AMJ wrote:

With reference to Steven Manson number 12:
If smart Alex has conviction why is he an MP in London, when by his own words Westminster is harmful to Scotland. Why not in Edinburgh working for a better Scotland
If smart Alex has conviction why does he not tell Scotland that taxes will rise, or the standard of living will fall, on independence to make up for the lost money from London
If smart Alex has conviction why does he not admit that on becoming First Minister his only job will be campaigning for a yes to independence vote. This after all is the only reason the SNP exists.
If smart Alex has conviction why not tell Scotish people that the Shetland Islanders have already decided to remain with England if Scotland becomes Independent.

With reference to Mr Robinsons newsblog:
Why the cheap shot in the PS, was it another instruction from Conservative Party HQ.

  • 22.
  • At 05:52 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • gavin baker wrote:

Whilst many in England would welcome the idea of Scottish independance, they should not get too excited by any apparent swing towards the SNP.

The SNP knows that even in the context of a free trade and free border EU, Scottish independance would be damaging for its economy. This could be either short term effects of joining the Euro group, or effects of having an independant currency. Not too mention the lack of a 'subsidy' from the UK taxpayer.

There would be other political decisions which could be awkward too, for example the monarchy, defence and any effective foriegn influence. These are decisions and dilemnas that the SNP doesn't have the strength of character for, or political will.

It is most likely that the SNP would demonstrate a degree of independance by increasing the provision of the Welfare State in Scotland, and by having 'show arguments' with Westminster, as they currently do at PMQ's.

The English will continue to pay!

  • 23.
  • At 05:54 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • steven wrote:


I've never considered myself to be Northern Irish, but British. My country is dying by the looks of things.

Your country never existed, except on passports and at the UN's table. It was just a construct. Apart from a few NI Unionists, no one has ever really considered themselves British.

(The English used to say they were English, but that's only because, until recently, they didn't know what the word meant. The rise in English nationalism is a direct result of the rise of separatist sentiment in Scotland and Wales.)

  • 24.
  • At 05:56 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Harvey Unwin wrote:

If Scotland votes for indpendence, and they may well do so , will they be taking their share of the national debt with them? Roughly £50billion.

I ask out of curiosity because I've never seen that mentioned.


I am an AS politics student and would like to take this opportunity to share my arguably extreme views on this issue. I think that if what the SNP are proposing for Scotland is implemented, which, I have no doubt that it will sooner or later, it's effects have been largely underestimated.

Firstly, the way I see it, Scotland cannot become fully independent without the approval of United Kingdom Parliament. After all, it is Parliament that devolved the power to the Scottish Parliament, and constitutionally the UK Parliament must have the legitimacy to take back that power. If this happens, it raises the question of a civil war?

Secondly, when Scotland is independent (as it should be), it will ignite a debate for an English Parliament. Together with the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly (if they push for independence), it would constitutionally undermine the sovereignty of the UK Parliament. I find it particularly fascinating that this debate comes at a time when we are about to see the beginning of the era of a Prime Minister who represents a Scottish constituency.

This brings me back to my last point, that with a overwhelming Labour majority in the commons, will parliament allow for Scotland to be independent? Personally, I dont think so!

A further point to be considered is that once the four countries are fully independent from the UK politically, how is the UK executive to be formed? Is there any need for one? Once these questions have been answered (which i am not going to), it that questions the UK monarchy an d their role.

Personally, I can see no way but for Scotland to become fully independent. I strongly disagree with Gordon Brown's approach to the issue, as I feel he is supporting a minority feeling. Instead I think that he should lead the devolution of the UK, laying out a carefully considered and timed approach, to avoid a constitutional upset.

  • 26.
  • At 06:18 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Nigel Wheatcroft wrote:

What I cannot understand about all this reporting about Scotland and the SNP/Labour battle is that you are missing something.You are stating that the majority of Scots want to vote for the SNP now but do not want Independence.Why do they not vote for other parties which also want to give Labour a good kicking and also want to keep the Union?
The reporting seems a bit blinkered to me.

  • 27.
  • At 07:02 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • john towers wrote:

If Scotland becomes 'independent' the United Kingdom will cease to exist. The peoples of England, Wales and Northern Ireland will, presumably, have to think about what to call this new 'bloc' and, indeed, how it should be governed.

I think it would be a great pity if that was to happen:- and not just for everyone in these British Isles, but also for all those in divers parts of the world who still look to Great Britain as a bastion of freedom and a force for good. Indeed, dare we imagine how the break-up of our United Kingdom would be viewed by all those brave Scotsmen, Englishmen, Welshmen and Irishmen who gave their lives in two world wars in order that the British peoples would be free ?

  • 28.
  • At 07:03 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Restig wrote:

AMJ When were Shetlanders, asked such a thing. I don't know anyone in Shetland who'd want to remain with England if Scotland decided upon independence. We'd more likely go into Union with Norway rather than England, but will remain as we are.

When Scotland gets its independence, have people considered that Scotland will be required to be compensated for its share of the UK assets? We'll be due a share of all military assets, government investments, net property income from abroad, UK shared capital and institutions including embassies and high commissions and intelligence services and institutions. The cost of such compensation will run into the tens of billions, at a conservative estimate. Then there is the Faslane naval base. Are the rUK/English prepared to pay the tens of billions it will cost to repatriate the capital and facilities of that to somewhere in England that will necessitate huge tax rise or swingeing spending cuts.

Independence looks extremely expensive in the short-run, but not for Scotland.

  • 29.
  • At 07:09 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • John McGhee wrote:


I am not entirely sure that the SNP lead is entirely about 'giving Labour a good kicking' although I am sure that is part of it. Two other factors are at play I feel. Firstly the calibre of some of the Scottish MSPs is at best questionable and in some cases utterly shocking. Secondly The SNP policy of allowing a 'time to prove themselves in government' has struck a chord with some. As a SNP supporter I hope that they do prove themselves.

  • 30.
  • At 07:17 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Charles E. Hardwidge wrote:

The best thing Labour can do is get over their internal difficulties, pay attention, and develop better policies. Fighting a negative campaign would give legitimacy to their opponents claims, add to an atmosphere of public squabbling, and cast a shadow over their own alternative. If Labour play to win, they will lose.

The United Kingdom is weak and fractured in many ways but not beyond repair. As with schools, teaching, and other affairs, it has lost its way but the simple, clear, and effective solutions being used to address these can apply with equal effectiveness to individual politicians, party organisations, and political campaigns.

If attention is on acquiring power, status, or wealth, campaigns become twisted parodies, as each opponent joins in a race to the bottom. They may win but the price is heavy. By letting go of the fear of losing, one may act in a more relaxed and positive way, and freely draw the success that is appropriate to the situation.

  • 31.
  • At 07:56 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Allan Andrew wrote:

Unfortunately it looks like the SNP will at last get into a powerful position in Scotland. I have seen a swell in the media on an uprecidented scale which all seems to portray Alex and Nicola is a caring sharing light. This coupled with the abolition of council tax (in scotland this is still refered to as the poll tax) will pretty much see the labour party get the kicking Nick talks about. This is all about timing and I think the SNP must have used an atomic clock to judge when to pounce because they have down an excellent job. Scottish passport here I come :(

  • 32.
  • At 08:15 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • sanddorn wrote:

Nick, your report on "Salmond lays out SNP vision" gave more time to his opponents than to the man himself.

  • 33.
  • At 08:19 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Huw Clayton wrote:

Why oh why is everyone so obsessed with Scotland? One bunch of total fools may lose the odd seat to another bunch of total fools? BIG WOW. Labour will still be in power in Scotland after May because there is no plausible coalition partner for the SNP, while the Lib Dems and the Tories will reflexively back Labour against them.

The REAL story is here in Wales where, for the first time in 90 years, Labour look set to win fewer than 40% of the seats in an election. And, if that happens (and if, as seems possible, the Lib Dems also haemmorage votes and seats and cannot help them in a coalition) we might see, however improbable it may sound, a Plaid/Tory government - and yet the London media ignore it completely. We get one measly blog on the BBC Wales website, no opinion polls (they're only done by ITV and the Western Mail) and official silence. Why? Is it wilful denial? Is it sheer stupidity?

You are paid your exorbitant licence fee to provide your services to all parts of the UK. Go out and earn it!!!

  • 34.
  • At 08:22 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Neil Small wrote:

Too many unanswered questions by Alex Salmond.

What will happen to those who have served in the UK Armed Forces, and more importantly - who will pay their pensions?

What will happen if England switches to CET if Scotland goes independant?

11,000 workers rely on Faslane - who will employ them?

Who will pay of the plan to basically give students free money while studying?

What will he do with all the PFI schemes currently in place? These are worth billions and cannot easily be "paid off".

Most importantly - why was he is Westminster these past four years? If he was so passionate about Scotland he would have stood for the Scottish Parliament.

The SNP are lethal. They display a united front but they have their own factions within the party. How many SNP politicans can the average man or woman in the street name?

  • 35.
  • At 08:54 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Johm Jacj wrote:

You said there was no appetite for Independence. I disagree. More than half the people I work with wish Independence. Trident Illegal war in Iraq, Iranian non diplomacy etc are persuasive but the Big Issue is the anger caused by suggestions that we use a begging bowl. I wish no charity. Independence is a matter of pride and self esteem along with good sense.If 20 other European countries the size of Scotland or smaller can do it then we certainly can.

  • 36.
  • At 09:50 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

When Alex Salmond and the SNP get power in Scotlands parliament his will be the first party to fully implement its ability to govern Scotland for Scotland and the Scots. Unlike Labour a unionist party following Blairs commands.

Salmond will push through so many pro Scottish policies that the English outrage at our being discriminated against further by this devolved inequality that it will be we English that push Scotland into independence.

Barnett formula
Student fees
West lothian question
Cancer and Alziemer medicines
Foundation hospitals
Care holme fees
Scots running English only depts
the list is growing and Salmond will hopefully double it in his first year

Scots stuck around for 300 years taking English pounds then blaming the English for all its woes. We English have had less then 10 years of this inequality and already the voice for independence is growing. You can bet we wont wait 300 years because Scotland has nothing we want.

  • 37.
  • At 10:34 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • david wrote:

Sorry Nick.."the first step" was taken when the devalution was completed in Scotland and Wales.
Step two was when statics and financial data became available that compared the lot of Northern England..the nearest neighbour! The third step is the creation of the Irish Parliament.
The Union has been good for all those involved..many many fine Scots,Taffies and Irish men[and women]have made fantastic contribution to these fair Isles. many have given their lives for our freedom.but it is inevitable that he breakup is nigh.It will accelerate some little while after "Gordon" takes the reins.Gordon was part of the startup of the breakup of the Union some years ago and will probably oversee its demise

  • 38.
  • At 11:00 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Geoff Hunt wrote:

I probably hold a minority view but here it is anyway.
If the Scots (or at least a democratic majority of them) want independence then let them have it.
But they shoukd be made to realise that "independence" means exactly that; "independence".
By this I mean that Scotland should be entirely independent and should not rely on the Westminster for anything.
A Scottish government would then be entirely responsible for:-
their economy;
their social and health services;
their defence requirements;
their legal services;
their education services...
etc etc - need I go on?

However let them beware... it is now probably totally impossible for Scotland to be fully independent of the United Kingdom.
So before they press blindly on down this route, let those who are proposing independence carry out a thorough, honest evaluation of viability of Scotland existing as a true independent nation and have the guts and honesty to provide the full results of any such evaluation to the Scots people and let them decide - once and for all.

One last parting thought; would I be right in thinking that the majority of Scotland's financial income is reliant on tourism, the fishing industry, and the fossil fuel industry (including North Sea oil).
If I am anywhere near right, how would Scotland survive without North Sea revenues which are, I believe, already running out?

Good Luck Scotland, I hope you get the chance to make an informed choice and are not led to disaster by politicians (of whatever persuasion) who do not necessarily have Scotlands best interest on their own private agendas.

Yes Harvey (Unwin) the "share" of the UK national debt is always mentioned!! And is factored into most of the arguments. However, staying in the Union is likely to increase the amount what with Trident 2, the Olympics, PFI's ultimate bills and God knows what else Labour dream up.

  • 40.
  • At 02:00 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Matt wrote:

Surely Scottish independence should be classified as an oxymoron.

What exactly do the SNP and its supporters want 'independence' from?

We have Scottish secretaries of state presiding over portfolios that do not affect Scotland, we have Scottish MPs making decisions that make a fundamental difference to the lives of people living in England but not in Scotland, and we are about to (probably) get a Scottish Prime Minister.

All of the above consequences of devolution were broadly accepted by most English people as the constitutional compromise needed to maintain the Union. A Union no longer bound together by religion, Empire and Monarchy, but a belief we achieve more together than we do alone. It therefore saddens – and angers – me considerably to hear all this nonsense about 'liberation' and 'subjugated' Scotland. If you wish to be a fully self-governing sovereign state, fine. But don't talk to us as if we are some kind of imperial oppressors because, aside from being inaccurate, it is deeply offensive.

  • 41.
  • At 02:22 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Chris Wyatt wrote:

Scottish independence?..well that would save the English taxpayer an awful lot of money.

Likewise I read somewhere that the recent settlement between Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists has been on the back of a £36 billion 5 year development plan for Northern Ireland.Just think what this province of 1.5 million people has cost the Treasury since 1969.

  • 42.
  • At 03:33 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Carlos Cortiglia wrote:

The movement towards Scottish independence was born in England. For so many years England treated Scotland as some sort of province that Scotland started walking towards independence. When the Parliamentary Conservative Party was wiped out in Scotland and Wales the main motivation to vote them out was sheer resentment and that was the first step. With Devolution, instead of having a single country we ended up with four countries with different rights and obligations and political organisations with conflicting interests. The war in Iraq has accelerated the process of division that is so obvious that the Liberal Democratic Party is trying to persuade Scottish voters by telling them that if they do not want independence, but want to reject the Labour Party they must vote Lib Dem. After 18 years of Conservatism and more than 10 years of Labour, will the Scottish voters be tempted to trust their own political parties and forget about those who are seen as English political parties?

  • 43.
  • At 05:56 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

the It's Time slogen used by the SNP has been stolen from the Australian Labour party who used it in their 1970's campaign under Gough Whitlam.

  • 44.
  • At 08:28 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

I was fascinated by those who claimed that a vote for the SNP is not necessarily a vote for independence. As the only Pro Independence party standing in the elections with any chance of getting any votes, it is very difficult to imagine what else a vote for the SNP could be perceived to be. And Salmond and Sturgeon will certainly paint it that way. The protest vote concept is dangerous. If you don't want independence then for goodness' sake don't vote for a pro independence party.

I agree with Nick. The minute that the SNP are elected, the second step (devolution being the first - once the Scots could see that they could govern themselves, they independence movement there was always going to grow) along the independence road has been taken.

There was a poll taken recently amongst the business community in Scotland. Only 12% of the businesses surveyed believed that independence would be good for Scottish business. 76% said it would not. What are they afraid of ? Are they being listened to ?

Labour say that the SNP will cost each family in Scotland £ 5,000 more per annum. Quite where these figures come from is anyone's guess, but if it were true, I can just see the removal vans heading south down the M74.

Then Salmond talks about oil. "Scotland's oil". Who said so ?
Who funded the oil exploration ? Are the oil reserves not in international waters ? Where are the oil companies based ? I doubt very much that you are just going to get this "gift wrapped".

A brilliant point made above covered the share of the national debt. Scotland MUST face up to its responsibilities. Can it afford to take its share with it, when it leaves ? And which currency to use? Salmond has twice changed his mind. Firstly the Euro, and now sterling again. But sterling links you to the Bank of England. You would still, to quote one of the dafter remarks I have read on here, be "subjugated". Does the SNP have ANY idea what it is doing with the economics ?

Another Salmond argument is that "we will be a great nation able to negotiate and contribute on the world scale. I mean, look at Latvia, Estonia, they were able to do it". Exactly. At the moment, Scotland is a part of a global power. An independent Scotland will be just like, well, Latvia and Estonia to be honest. Almost irrelevant globally.

The biggest danger for the Scots is that they do something, maybe as a protest vote, maybe out of conviction, probably out of a bit of both, that they can't undo, once done. Remember, that once independent, you are stuck with it. If it works, then that is great. If not, then it can't be undone. And if it doesn't work, you will all be a lot worse off afterwards than you were before.

But, as Ghandi said to the British Governors, "that will be our problem, not yours".

I love Scotland, spend about four weeks a year there. I don't see a majority for independence. But I do see more self confidence than ever before.

But please, think very very carefully who you vote for and why. Otherwise you might just get something you didn't really want or deserve.

  • 45.
  • At 09:38 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Johnny wrote:

At the moment, Scotland is a part of a global power.

surely, Mark, you mean "a part of a former global power with delusions of grandeur"?

  • 46.
  • At 10:27 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Anne Kelly wrote:

The economic and Union warnings to Scotland seem very tired and unrealistic given the success of small and now very successful small countries (most notably Ireland which has the highest per capita income in the world!). Scotland has a chance now to make its own future which having lived there I am sure will be very successful.

Unfortunately here in the North of England we don't have such an opportunity and probably never will have.

Scotland take this while you can.

  • 47.
  • At 11:18 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Richard wrote:


Why would Alex Salmond taking his orders from 'the scottish people' be any different from taking his orders from London ?? Blair, Brown and Reid are all scottish anyway !

  • 48.
  • At 11:18 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • ron headridge wrote:

having lived around the world, usa, spain, england & scotland, over the last 41 years or so! i've came into contact with a lot of different people. most could brush their own teeth, tie their own shoelaces and most did not belive that monster's lived under their beds! why is it then? that if anyone starts talking about "independence in scotland" that people think, scots would suddenly lose the ability to "tie our own shoelaces?"
NEWSFLASH it's easier to control 5 million people than it is 60 million! it's easier for politicians to hide in a crowd and shout alot and achieve nothing!not so easy in a small country! westminister has forgotten who employs who? MP'S are our employee's, and when i ask my employee a question i expect an answer! not hidding for weeks on end till the issue all die's down! it's time to reverse the control of the distant bureaucracy! i like 99% of scots don't belive in father christmas! but i can tie my own shoelaces, brush my teeth and can vote knowing there are no monster under my bed! because ! there mostly in westminister & whitehall!

  • 49.
  • At 11:24 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • James wrote:

Quebec separatists have traditionally gained power on a platform of better governance. It is only after showing some competence in government that independence becomes an issue. A string of PQ governments has led to two referenda in 30 years.
That Scotland's separatists should gain power the same way seems reasonable. Presumeably any serious action about independence would wait until they have proved they could handle running a country.

  • 50.
  • At 01:32 PM on 16 Apr 2007,
  • Mr. J.L. Todd wrote:

The United Kingdom is now a quasi-federal State in everything but Constitutional name! The centralised British State is long Gone With The Wind! The U.K. may well be a constitutional monarchy but in the 21st Century the only way forward is a loose con/federation for the Home Nations? Unless this is fully recognised, the call for Scottish Independence will never cease! The British State either keeps Scotland within this unitary state as a devolved partner like the Welsh and Northern Irish, or it will ultimately secede from this Union! England, the largest part of the U.K. which by political and military means founded this unitary state does not require any form of devolved government unlike its smaller partners, as it has always had full representation at Westminster! Many forget after Partition, the very first devolved government sat at Stormont and this form of government is nothing new in U.K. history! The realpolitik that all Unionists must face is that Devolution is now the status quo! Lachie Todd.
Lachie Todd.

"This is apt since the SNP have stopped trying to sell an idea - the case for Scottish independence - and are, instead, trying to sell a man."

This is quite simply not the case. Yes, the SNP are pushing their leader's profile because they know it is higher than his opponents however they have put independence at the heart of their campaign.

Let's remember for most of the world independence is normality. If Scotland wants its unique voice heard on international affairs then independence is the only logical option.

The two options are Labour's negative scaremongering which suggests the world will fall in with independence, or the SNP's positive case for taking the Scottish parliament to the next logical level. Hope will win over fear and we are seeing that fact in this election.

  • 52.
  • At 03:32 PM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • cd8jbr wrote:

The idea of an independent Scotland is one that is welcome in many ways throughout England. The West Lothian issue of Scots MPs voting on English matters but not vice versa was always going to lead to problems. At the last election we were faced with England voting Tory, Scotland and Wales voting Labour - without Scotland Labour will never again hold power. Which, from the shambles of this present administration has got to be music to most people's ears.

I hope Scotland does gain independence so England too can be free.

  • 53.
  • At 09:44 PM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • Michael Macmillan wrote:

Why can so few of your correspondents spell independence?

It is no longer a case of independence from a union with England but independence from a union with the USA that a union with England brings Scotland. There will be no dividend in anyway for the Scottish people to go down this road. Make no mistake about it Scotland`s future will be more and more decided in the White House then it will in Westminster. England has decided to go down this road. Far better for Scotland that it follows successful countries like Sweden/Iceland/Ireland/Norway. Scotland is already a member of the small countries block within the European Union that is where Scotland`s future lies not in more instability in employment/housing/medical treatment/pension swindles and the awful lies that right wing thinking has and is given us all in a society based on greed where only the strong grow stronger and we the people and our children grow ever weaker and poorer.

  • 55.
  • At 06:13 PM on 29 Apr 2007,
  • Fred Searlr wrote:

Fully support the Scots in their desire for independence. The sooner they achieve this the sooner the English will get theirs.

  • 56.
  • At 03:17 PM on 01 May 2007,
  • Cliff wrote:

I would support the case for Scotland's independence if they were going to be truly independent. However the Scottish want to be still part of the EU. The EU's main goal in the end is to disband countries and have no borders, national identity, flags etc. There will be regions but no countries. We need to be united and ditch the EU first as the nations we care about are not assured under the on-going EU plans. Hence constituations.

  • 57.
  • At 03:23 PM on 01 May 2007,
  • Keith Wright wrote:

What surprises me about so many of the unionist respondents to this blog is how they worry that Scotland could never stand on her own two feet. Our nation has considerably more in terms of natural resources, education, industry and development than many of the countries that became independent in Eastern Europe in the 1990s and even though some of them went through a war I don't believe any of them are unable to exist or show any enthusiasm for re-unification. Surely Scotland can perform at least that well.

  • 58.
  • At 05:03 PM on 01 May 2007,
  • Stuart wrote:

I must say I am very disappointed with Nick Robinson - with regards to the Scottish election he has shown himself to be completely out of touch with Scottish politics.
I saw him on the BBC 10 o'clock news last night trying to run a scare story that only the tabloids are still running with (bringing up passport requirements and the likes...). The fear factor of the SNP winning is something that the New Labour party have been trying for the whole campaign and finally, with consistent facts, the nationalists have gone a long way to showing the nation that these are simply unfounded.
Sorry Nick but there is a large bunch of well educated people north of the border as well so it would be appreciated if you could try to be a bit more impartial for future coverage in Scotland.
Quite simply the people of Scotland don't want to be associated with nuclear weapons or illegal wars, our economic growth is slower than it should be and there is a well founded concern of the growth in the rich / poor gap. These are the issues that the SNP wish to address.

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