Independence within the United Kingdom?

These are exciting times in Scotland, whether you are an supporter of Scottish independence, a devolutionist, or a unionist. In their first 100 days in power, the SNP Scottish Government has come forward with a series of policy changes that signal quite clearly that Scotland is "under new management".

The biggest policy document of the lot has just been published. It is the SNP government's proposals for a referendum on independence, with the launch of what it calls
Scotland's Future: A National Conversation.

Even among those opposed to independence, it seems that there is a growing consensus for the need to, at least, fine tune the outcome of the devolution settlement. Even the main unionist political parties seem agree that the
Scottish Parliament should assume more powers, to a greater or lesser degree.

The interesting bit, of course, is that the party in power, the SNP want to go the whole hog with Scotland resuming its status a sovereign, independent nation.

Although they are the biggest party in the
Scottish Parliament, the proportional representation electoral system, means no one party is likely to have an overall majority. So that means the SNP have a mountain to climb if they ever want to put their independence referendum to the public. Indeed, the three other main parties - Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservatives - have already formed an alliance to block it.

But the SNP have shown that they are clever tacticians. They know that many people out there oppose the idea of independence because they don't want to break up the United Kingdom.

Aha! But that might not be the outcome!

First Minister Alex Salmond points out in his foreword to the document that our union with the other nations in the United Kingdom has two bases:

  • the Union of the Crowns in 1603 (which united Scotland and England under a Scottish king)
  • and the Act of Union in 1707 which resulted in political union and the establishment of the UK parliament at Westminster.

Alex Salmond makes the point that amending, or repealing the 1707 Act of Union,
would still leave the Union of the Crowns intact and leave us, presumably, as... a nation within the United Kingdom.

There, you see, that's not too big a leap to take into the unknown? Or is it?

It will be fascinating to see how this conversation develops over the coming months.
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