View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Monday, 9 May 2011

Monday 9 May

Quite a nice day, although there was a distant threat of showers or even thunderstorms. None of this bothered us here in Lewis; I discount the dozen drops that fell around 4.30pm. Went for a walk round to Goat Island (across the water from my position), and provided some moral support to some people who were at the receiving end of internet bullying.


Within the next five years, the population of Scotland can expect a referendum on independence. The Scottish National Party (SNP) have gained a majority in the Scottish Parliament, and their primary aim is an independent Scotland.

It is interesting to look back over the past twelve years or so to follow the trail of consequences that has led to the current juncture. A referendum on devolution in 1999 led to the re-establishment of the Scottish Parliament. The voting system for the Parliament had been designed so that no party could be expected to gain an overall majority.

In 2007, the SNP came to power following an election which was so poorly conducted that 110,000 Scots were effectively disenfranchised. This was the result of a badly designed ballot form, which people couldn’t make head nor tail of. It lead to a 10% rate in spoiled ballot papers, a percentage that normally runs at around 0.1%. In my opinion, that election should have been re-run. However, the result stood.

In 2010, the UK general election was a hung parliament, with no one party in overall control. However, in the run-up to the election, party leaders had engaged in three prime-ministerial debates. The participants included the leaders of Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. The latter party went on to lose seats at the polls, but ended up being kingmakers, projected to a higher status by the TV debates. The Lib Dems chose to get into bed with the Conservatives.

This coalition is proving impopular, with the junior partners (the Lib Dems) taking the rap for the unpopular cuts in public services. This was reflected in last week’s poll in Scotland, where the Lib Dem voters defected en-masse to the SNP; Labour and the Conservatives also lost, again to the SNP - leaving the latter with a majority of 4 in the Scottish Parliament.

Whilst I am in favour of further devolved powers to the Scottish Parliament, I am against full independence. I am even more against independence in view of the adversarial nature of the SNP’s stance towards England.

I will go so far as to point to several instances in recent decades, where bringing up grievances from the past (the Battle of the Boyne (1689) in Ireland, and the Battle of Kosovo (1389) in Yugoslavia) has had catastrophic consequences. I would hate to see the Battle of Culloden having similar consequences.