Why Scottish Independence is different from Regional Secession in Spain

22 Nov

1.   Scotland has never ceased to be a country, despite the Treaty of Union (1707). The United Kingdom is not a country but a state created by the union of constituent sovereign nations within a treaty. (Ireland was also part of this Union from 1801 to 1922.) Catalonia and the Basque Country were absorbed into the Kingdom of Spain as regions with varying levels of autonomy over the centuries. Were Catalonia to secede from Spain, Spain would continue to exist as a Sovereign nation whereas should Scotland gain independence, the United Kingdom will cease to exist as a nation state.

2.  The borders of the Kingdom of Scotland have not fundamentally changed since the 14th century (with the exception of the loss of Berwick-upon-Tweed to England in 1482). The boundaries of Catalonia and the Basque Country, which used to straddle both France and Spain, have been divided between those two countries, which further complicates secession.  The border between Scotland and England is internationally recognised as national.

3.  Every monarch of the UK has to swear a Scottish coronation oath (in recent times the night before the coronation at Westminster) and the Scottish regalia (Crown, Sceptre and Sword of State – which are older than those of England) are still used to represent Her Majesty in the Scottish Parliament. The King of Spain does not make explicit oaths to Catalonia, the Basque Country or any other specific region of his realm, nor are there royal regalia for them.   There are no such regalia extant for Catalonia, the Basque Country or any other region of Spain.  Furthermore, The Treaty (and Acts of Union) states that The Great Seal of Scotland would be “always kept and made use of in all things which only concern that Kingdom” whereas the Great Seal of England was replaced by the Great Seal of the UK.

4.  Unlike the Irish Parliament, which was abolished when Ireland joined the UK in 1801, the Scottish Parliament was merely adjourned in 1707 (as was the English Parliament, which remains dissolved). The Scottish Parliament was reconvened by HM Queen Elizabeth on 12th May, 1999 – albeit only with devolved powers. Felipe V abolished regional parliaments when he centralised the legislature under his direct sovereignty in Madrid between 1707 and 1715.

5.  Westminster like to debate the “West Lothian Question” of whether it is right that the 59 Scottish MPs at Westminster can vote on entirely English matters without ever raising the “Mid-Chilterns Question” of whether it is right for English & Welsh MPs (573) to vote on purely Scottish matters (eg TV in Gáidhlig). This geo-political imbalance annuls Scottish democracy. This is demonstrated by the fact that, despite the majority of Scots being opposed to nuclear arms, the UK’s nuclear submarine fleet is based less than 50km from Scotland’s largest city.

6.   Scotland has retained her own state religion (of which the Queen is not Head), legal and educational systems, which were (and remain) separate and different from the rest of the UK.This is not true of Catalonia and the Basque Country.  Furthermore, Scotland has a separate National Health Service – another indicator that Scotland is a country and not a region.

7.  Scotland (like the other constituent parts of the UK) has its own Football Association (SFA), Rugby Union (SRU) – both founded in 1873 – which are recognised as national teams by the respective world governing bodies of these sports. Catalonia and the Basque Country do not have their own national associations and so play for the Spanish National Team.

8.  The 1707 Treaty of Union has often been broken by Westminster to suit other parts of the UK, while Scotland is expected to adhere to all of it. As Catalonia (1714) and the Basque Country (1199) were absorbed into the Kingdom of Castile by military conquest, there is no treaty to breach. Also, Scotland is not subject to a formal Constitution (as the UK has never had one), unlike Catalonia and the Basque Country, which are subject to the 1978 Spanish Constitution (for which they voted).

9.   The independence movement in Scotland is about reestablishing the democratic right to have the government one votes for and a more equitable society, ie rooted in an embracing and inclusive “civic nationalism”, rather than devisive identity politics.   Catalan and Basque independence is as much about identity as equity.

10. Calls for Scottish Independence are not new. They started, alongside calls for Irish Home Rule, in the mid   1880s. Ireland gained their independence in 1922 without causing mass secessions elsewhere in the world. Now it is Scotland’s time to tear up the 1707 Treaty of Union and, without being overshadowed by England, take her place again on the world stage.

© WRBCG 2012

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: