Devolution was meant to give Scotland the ability to solve its own problems. But since getting its own parliament, Scotland's dependency on England seems to have increased. A former Scots Tory explains why he has come to see independence as the solution—and why it would benefit England tooby Michael Fry / December 16, 2006 / Leave a comment
Published in December 2006 issue of Prospect Magazine
The latest opinion poll in Scotland shows a slim majority, 51 per cent, now supporting independence. No need to get too excited, perhaps. We have been here before. The last time was in 1998, when the imminent resurrection of the parliament in Edinburgh brought support for independence to 56 per cent on a wave of nationalist euphoria.
Scottish nationalism has always risen and fallen in waves. Once the parliament was actually established, that earlier wave of euphoria splashed harmlessly against the rocks of Scottish unionism. But in recent months, support for the SNP has been edging up from its usual 25 per cent, thanks it seems to disillusionment with the Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition that has governed Scotland since 1999—and even with the parliament itself. Far from sorting out all of Scotland’s problems, as it was meant to, the parliament does not even appear to have made the Scots feel better about themselves. Subterranean tremors from deep inside Scotland can be sensed once again.
They may not lead to a political eruption, but they are at least likely to cast a shadow over the celebrations planned for the 300th anniversary of the union of England and Scotland on 1st May next year. When the union came into effect, England celebrated briefly then forgot about it. Scotland momentarily fell silent, and then never shut up about it. It is a sign of the times that the Scottish executive seems uncertain how to play the event. Of course there will still be the Queen, the march past of the one Scottish regiment (in place of the six that used to exist), the fireworks over Edinburgh Castle. But will celebration of the union make Scots feel more British? Or will the blaze of the tartans and the skirl of the pipes reawaken emotions that lie buried in every Scottish breast, the old grudge against England and the dream of freedom?
Just two days after the anniversary, on 3rd May, the next election to the Scottish parliament takes place. If the current nationalist surge is sustained and the SNP performs well, Scotland and Britain could be plunged into a constitutional crisis.