Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Natalia Eremin: Referendum in Scotland as a crisis of British identity – a REGNUM

16.09.2014 14:07

The forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence has finally put an edge all the issues that have arisen in the British political agenda after the end of World War II, but that the British government (in parentheses note that during the XX century., it was basically a conservative, a continuation of what was the beginning of the century XXI) preferred not to notice. Among them was the basic question of what the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland after the war.

War always puts fundamental questions before statehood. So, let us remember that it was after the First World War intensified as the Irish (in 1921, was formed Irish Free State), and the Scottish National Movement. After the First World War, Britain had to change the relationship with their dominions. Was signed the Statute of Westminster, which gave all members of the Commonwealth of equal opportunities. In the future, after the end of World War II, Britain was forced to grant independence to a number of controlled territories covered by a powerful national movement. This whole process has been a bright name “sunset of the British Empire.” In this case, all are about when it started, but do not indicate whether he graduated. Apparently, he still continues. For the United Kingdom it is expressed in the phenomena of Celtic nationalism (Irish, Welsh, Scottish), which periodically question the existing control system and even the state itself. Catholic population of Northern Ireland is obvious after some time will require a referendum, and the population of Scotland is ready to answer the question on the possible independence. Incidentally, one of the compelling reasons for the desire to separate the Scots, was the collapse of the British Empire, which led to a decline in the status and the loss of economic opportunities, but at the same time keep the pressure of the English Center, who care little for the problems of national Celtic periphery.

In the imperial period, the Scots were given the opportunity to feel the British partners. So, they have acquired an equal trading rights with the British, the Presbyterian Church, although received as head of the British monarch, remained independent and inviolable, and the judicial system has been recognized as an independent from the British. But the most important thing here – is that cultural and legal distinctiveness of Scotland from England has always been obvious to everyone, including the British themselves.

Economic Development Scotland really long time been associated with the Empire (mostly to the presence of sea coast, through which flows of colonial goods, rather than systematic policy of the authorities). Scottish ports serving the colonial trade (import of tobacco and cotton, while the North American colonies won their independence). Wealth was so much that they have enabled many enterprising people to do the production. With this in Scotland itself any industry, developed metallurgy and engineering thought. So to the XIX century. Scotland has become a part of the advanced industrial countries. Two world wars and the loss is still possible within the framework of the empire completely changed the picture and showed that in fact the attitude of England to Scotland as to the periphery of the state has not changed, and in the absence of economic and financial rights in the region of its economic and social decline was guaranteed.

For example, the northern regions of the country and, in particular, Scotland and Wales, during the XX century. remained in the area of ​​distress, as reflected in the volumes of production and, consequently, the income of the population. Thus, the average income per capita in the north of the country is the lowest in the United Kingdom, as well as the mortality rate is the highest it is in the national regions of the state. Moreover, referring to the figures, the Celtic regions for a long time claimed that England bases its policy on the basis of the colonial status of these territories (apparently, they finally replaced the lost colony), which was an important feature of the administration of the country in the period of Margaret Thatcher, who led a party conservative (ie, there was a shift to vykachku resources of these areas, rather than to invest in production).

In the 80-ies. XX century. regional imbalances seriously intensified. British economists M. Hart and RT Harrison believed that it was the result of decision-making solely from the perspective of London and the formation of a rigidly centralized economy. It was only in the 90s. XX century. situation straightened, but not thanks to the policy of the Centre, and thanks to the massive influx of investment and integration of Celtic regional economies in the overall market.

It’s interesting that in the interwar period strengthened the national movement in Scotland, which led to the formation of the Scottish National Party . It over time has become a major participant in all political processes in the region and the main irritant Center in dialogue with the regional population, which is representative of this party saw their real political partners and advocates, as was demonstrated in the regional elections to the Scottish Parliament in 2007 and 2011 Then .. Scottish nationalists were able to form a government and implement their ideas. By the way, their support and those voters who do not perceive ineyu Scottish independence, but are aware of the benefit of having the leaders of the nationalists, who can always make the Centre to make concessions to the rebellious region.

So it is clear that the United Kingdom as a state education gained momentum and finally confirmed as a single, albeit varied integer due to the active foreign policy activities and rapid economic growth. This alliance meant a boon for the elites and to some extent to the average citizen. The value of this Union decreased significantly in the XX century., Even in spite of the world wars. The decline of the British colonial power led to geopolitical changes and exacerbated the problem of identity for all inhabitants of the Kingdom. The division of Ireland and the creation of an independent Irish state was obvious signal of breaking this state structure. All subsequent government policy was aimed at preserving a single state and the satisfaction of at least some of the claims of national regions. 1970s and 1990s was a milestone in this process. Since 1998 marked the beginning of Devolution reforms, during which the Scottish Parliament has been restored, and region were transferred to the center of some competence, including tax.

It is interesting that many British constitutionalists, for example, V. Dicey, felt a threat to the United Kingdom by the Celtic periphery and, therefore, advocated the preservation of the British constitution in terms of the rule of Parliament and proper “English institutions of power”, which represent the unity of the state in terms of cultural and territorial plurality. However, maintaining anglotsentrichnogo view of constitutional development of the UK does not meet the requirements of time. Obviously, the entire evolution of the British constitution testified to form a single decision-making center, despite the recognition of a number of legal differences between regions. The principle of parliamentary sovereignty that distinguishes the British public and political development, objectively impedes “deep” devolution. Preservation of this principle leads us to say that constitutional changes are bound to be unstable, as Westminster may cancel any previous decision. It goes granting institutions other rights it provides a nationwide Parliament, ie Devolution has been carried out in such a way that Westminster has reserved the possibility to resolve all issues in relation to Scotland, regardless of whether they are administered by regional institutions or not. Preservation of the principle of parliamentary sovereignty remains a major constitutional tradition, ensuring the unity of all parts of the state, which created a controversial way for Devolution reforms.

It is understood that many political forces did not get to meet in the course of devolution. For conservatives, devolution has become a nightmare for the Labour Party – a way to strengthen their position, but with the preservation of this reform, the Liberal Democrats believed it necessary to further federalization. For Scottish nationalists devolution was a step toward independence. The problem of identity after the referendum, but even now, has become urgent for the British and, in the first place, for the English themselves. After all, with the voice of the Scots all clear, and their choice in the referendum will show who they feel primarily – Scottish or British. Otherwise deal with the British. In addition, the Scottish nationalists to speak confidently about the future independent Scotland.

According to official documents, prepared by the Scottish National Party (SNP), Scotland ready to be a full-weight member of the European Union. Thus, the SNP published a 670-page white paper “The Future of Scotland” in November 2013 Pedestal Scottish independence there designated shelf of the North Sea, in particular, the Scots claim to 96% of oil reserves and 52% of gas, accounting for about 57% of oil resources EU (except Norway, which is not an EU member). SNP representatives claim that there are still a monetary union with the rest of the United Kingdom and the British pound sterling left as the base currency. However, this alliance will undoubtedly impose some restrictions on economic and fiscal policy in Scotland. In addition, the Scots are ready and after the referendum in the case of independence, consider Elizabeth II head of the state. Thus, the SNP strongly emphasizes that independence entails a big change not for the Scots, and for the British, and it was in front of them put a lot of questions that they will have to find answers. London is the capital of the ever-decreasing since the collapse of the British Empire state. And that London would have to meet face to face with the problems of identity, rather than Scotland. Care Scotland connotes a deep crisis of British identity.

In addition, he even cast doubt on the possibility of Britain to cooperate fully with the United States and NATO, because the base of Trident should be withdrawn from the territory of Scotland in the case of approval of the idea of ​​Scottish independence. Therefore, the government of the United Kingdom to face the dilemma: to conclude an agreement with Scotland, or look for a new deployment in the event of a positive outcome of the referendum. Since the first is not feasible, and the second is feasible with great difficulty, it means for the United Kingdom, another loss of status, including the status of nuclear power, which is also accompanied by a fear of change of a special relationship with the United States.

Free Press

According to new polls conducted in 2014, it is clear that the number of those who oppose independence, decreased from 46% to 42%, and given the fact that the number of those who can not decide, as high as 19%, we can say that there are clear opportunities for growth of the electorate to support the idea of ​​independence. Moreover, the difference between the two points of view is not so important. Periodically, the number of those who favor independence is practically equal to those who speak out against it. Scottish dialogue, which began the leader of the Scottish Nationalists A. Salmond, has affected all layers of circles and Scottish society and urged all to this issue. Active discussions led to the fact that society is possible independence is no surprise, everyone is discussing the details and nuances of the process, speaking for and against. The idea of ​​Scottish independence, thus became completely legal and sustainable. And it confirms the long-term strategy of the Scottish National Party. So now it is safe to say that no matter what the outcome of the referendum 18 September 2014, Scotland will become an independent state in the future. And this referendum can be considered a starting point, because in the course of his idea of ​​independence finally acquire flesh and blood. From this point it will grow, develop and become stronger, especially in the context of prevailing political conservatives, and their threats to bring the country out of the EU.

Natalia Eremin, Ph.D., Doctor of Political Sciences, Associate Professor St. Petersburg State University .


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