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Sunday, 8 May 2011

The Scottish People

Douglas writes

Alex Salmond wants a referendum on Scottish independence but who should vote?

Should the whole UK vote, should it be confined to Scotland or should it be confined to the Scots? 

It can’t be said that only the Scots have an interest in the matter but would the SNP accept that others are concerned?  

If all the UK voted it wouldn’t necessarily mean that it would be defeated.  There are many in England would say “Good riddance” as they think they would be well rid of Scots MPs at Westminster. 

If confined to Scotland, you would have a vote and I would not but it would be a matter of great concern to me. 

If it were to be confined to Scots, how would they tell who were and who were not? 

I don’t expect you would wish to find yourself living in a foreign land any more than I would.
Salmond is very fond of the phrase the Scottish people. Recently there has been talk of Scotland being an ordinary country. And of course people speak of the Scottish nation. But which of these different concepts equate to the Scots and how do they relate to an electorate?

If ever a Scottish nation state within the present boundaries were to be established, then I would think it fair that people resident in that state should comprise the electorate — just as people within the present entity are subject to Scottish Law and enjoy certain privileges vis-à-vis the NHS, university fees, professional teaching qualifications etc. 

But how could Scotland become a nation state? The usual method is by hostile breakaway, which seems inconceivable as things stand now. Yet if the residents of Scotland voted in a referendum for independence, they wouldn't be able to secede peacefully without the cooperation of the rest of the UK. I suppose that would be the time for a UK-wide referendum.

Another word to consider is citzenship. In the remote event of a velvet divorce, could Douglas and I choose to be citizens of one country and electors of another, while remaining British subjects?


  1. I see from this BBC report that the present UK Government would not oppose the holding of a referendum on Salmond's terms. But I don't see how they could ignore the rest of UK opinion after a Scottish (by residence) vote.

  2. "If confined to Scotland, you would have a vote and I would not but it would be a matter of great concern to me."

    Douglas are you soth of the border now?

    I can't imagine living without the West Lothian Question any more!

  3. Constitutionally, the dissolution of the Union would have to be agreed by all members of the Union. Whatever the result of a referendum in Scotland, there would have to be another encompassing the whole of the UK - if, that is, we accept as axiomatic that referendums (sic) are the constitutionally proper way to proceed.

  4. Yes, Mal, I've been living in England for about sixty years but they haven't made a Sassenach of me yet.