Mike Vickers' Blog

January 11, 2012

Independence – Referendum Date

Filed under: History in the making, Personal, Scotland — derryvickers @ 12:09 pm

 Lesley Riddoch, a regular columnist to the Scotsman this week wrote a column on the popular discussion that Alex Salmond would choose to go for the Scottish Government’s referendum on Independence on 24th June:  the 24th June is the date of the Battle of Bannockburn when Robert the Briuce defeated Edward II Kind of England in front of Stirling Castle.  Lesley felt that the choice of such a date would be ‘inappropriate’ as it would focus on the wrong reasons for Scottish Independence from England.  Well more correctly the seceding of Scotland from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  You can read Lesley’s column at noreply+feedproxy@google.com; on behalf of; Lesley Riddoch chris.kit.smith@gmail.com.

I felt the need to comment – here it is:

Looking at appropriate dates for the referendum, not Bannockburn and not Flodden, it seems to me that neither is that significant.  Robert the Bruce was no more Scottish than Edward II was Anglo-Saxon; both were descendants of Norman Barons imported by William the Conqueror .  If we look at Flodden, it was a disastrous day for Scotland but I understand that the Scottish rout was masterminded by Catherine of Aragon – hardly an English lady – Henry was involved elsewhere trying to defend English territory in Northern France and not very successfully.  If Salmond wants a significant date then why not 23 August when Wallace was hung, drawn and quartered by Edward I.  And as Lesley says 25 January the birthday of Robbie Burns – along with ‘A man’s a man’ for the national anthem.  Or if we want a less contentious date go for 8 October when Linda Norgrove was killed by a US grenade in Afghanistan as an aid worker helping the common good.

But more seriously Lesley suggests the reason for not choosing a patriotic date is so that Scots are more likely to make a more considered decision based on all the good things that the Unionists keep on trying to come up.  I suggest this is just wishful thinking and these are unlikely to be determined one way or the other until after the Referendum is long gone – the best that one can come up with is ‘the feeling good actor’ that brought Salmond his parliamentary success.  Far more likely, Scots will take a decision based on the heart rather than the head. Lesley states that the Norwegians set up their constitution after being broken up from Denmark and ceded to Sweden after the Napoleonic wars but didn’t become a separate counrty till 1904.  I suggest that that the separation was less to do with the head than the heart – no doubt there was a build-up of nationalism between 1814 and 1904 – witness their voting.  People don’t work on purely financial terms as commercial firms – even commercial firms appear to work on very dubious commercial terms – witness RBS taking over ABN AMRO – more for RBS’s-aggrandisement.

To today’s war of words between Cameron et al and Salmond, I note particularly that Cameron has conceded that he will honour a Scottish decision for Independence even though any ratification to a breakup of the Union must inevitably be in the gift of the UK parliament.  This to me is a very significant concession.  Not one granted to Northern Ireland as I recall for the setting up of their Power Sharing Executive.

Finally who are the Scots who will be allowed to vote: anyone living in Scotland or must they be born in Scotland?  I note there is now a discussion for allowing all people born in Scottish, wherever now resident, to vote – this smacks of the West Lothian Question!

Footnote: Alex Salmond has subsequently declared that the date of the referendum will be in the Autumn of 2014 – just may be 8 October – a Wednesday.

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