September 1, 2008


A Spat in the Family (GRAHAM BOWLEY, 8/31/08, NY Times)

Last year, on the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union between England and Scotland, Scottish nationalists became the dominant party in Scotland. A month ago they trounced Britain’s ruling Labor Party in a formerly Labor-dominated inner-city Glasgow district. Now, they promise to hold a Scotland-wide referendum on independence from England by 2010, and believe they just might win — so lowering the curtain on a union that is older than the United States.

“For the first time, the union is perceived to be in danger,” said Robert Hazell, professor of government and director of the constitution unit at University College London, though he cautioned that the obstacles to Scottish independence were such that he didn’t think it would happen, at least not yet.

Polls in Scotland show support for independence running at no more than a third of the population. But newspapers in Britain are printing headlines — believable or not — like “The Union of England and Scotland Is Over,” while the news media chatter is about who has benefited most from the three-centuries-old marriage and how the assets would be divided when the divorce is complete.

Learned academics are writing papers on the lessons of the breakup of Czechoslovakia — albeit to point out the messiness of such divorces — but they are troubling nonetheless for a Briton like me who always thought national dissolution happened only in exotic, faraway lands. Suddenly, Britain seems to resemble Belgium, another European nation that could come unglued.

“We feel that the union has had its day frankly,” said David McCann, secretary of the Scottish Independence Convention, a crossparty independence group. “We have a totally different attitude on lots of things in Scotland.”

We can't keep one of the most developed and mature states in the world together and people think Georgia, Russia, China, Lebanon, Pakistan and Iraq have to be preserved in their current form?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 1, 2008 11:40 AM
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