I wrote an article in February 2012 entitled “Scotland Independence bid; no help for Artsakh” which was written at the time that the UK Government consented to a referendum on Scottish Independence. In the last week a 670 page report has been issued by the Scottish Government which details how independence would be achieved. This article is an update to reflect the content of this report and to make comparison with the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.
I still remain bemused as to why people in Nagorno-Karabakh identify with the Scottish independence activity as though it is, in some way, similar to their situation and can act as a form of precedent. This is simply not the case.
– There is no popular support for this action ( at present only 33% are in favour of it in Scotland)
– The people of Scotland, which includes a substantial proportion of English (400,000), Welsh/N.Irish (50,000) and 200,000 non-UK nationals out of a population of 5.3 million are not being oppressed by the UK Government. There are no humanitarian issues. In fact on average the people of Scotland are better off than those in the rest of the UK. ( by way of note -800,000 Scottish people live in England – such is the level of integration)
The movement in Nagorno-Karabakh in 1988 ( to move from Azerbaijan SSR to Armenia SSR), and the independence vote in 1991 resulted from at least 2 key issues:
– A wish to be liberated from Azerbaijani control – governmental / economic.
– To improve humanitarian conditions for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh
One of the driving political forces behind the independence movement in Scotland is to secure the UK North Sea Oil revenues ( all off which is off the coast of Scotland) for the sole benefit of Scotland. The Scottish Nationalist Party would assert that this should all be “Scottish revenue” and not used to contribute to expenditure elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Needless to say there is much industry which is based elsewhere in the United Kingdom from which Scotland benefits, through employment, taxes, social conditions etc
Another concern of the Scottish people is whether the Westminster government is in touch with the whole of the UK or does it just serve London and the South East of England. This is actually a concern for many areas within England as well. In order to address this in the last 15 years, a significant amount of power has been devolved from Westminster to Scotland, including the establishment of a Scottish Parliament. With independence, they are seeking full devolution of power.
The issue for independence is actually about government structures and control and not about conflict between nation states. This is one of the major differences with the situation in Karabakh.
In order for Scotland to be truly independent there is a massive amount of “unpicking” to take place as, today, the UK is seamlessly integrated. The report issued by the Scottish Government this week is surprisingly weak on its aspiration for the key attributes of independence. For example – Scotland will still keep the UK Pound ( although this has not been agreed by the UK government) – this means that a lot of fiscal policy will, necessarily be controlled by London. It also means that should any Scottish Banks fail ( which has been the case in the last few years) then the taxpayers of the rest of the United Kingdom will have to pay to rescue their finances. Also, they will still have the Queen as their Head of State.
The people of Nagorno-Karabakh would never consider that using the Azeri Manat as their currency, and having Aliyev as a Head of State would be any form of acceptable independence.
Whilst I am very pro-self-determination, this has to be based on a viable plan. Unfortunately the report from the Scottish Government picks out all of the inherent good points and assumes that the rest of the UK and Europe will consent to their preferred options for the difficult points. For example, they have not considered if:
– The UK government does not agree to a Sterling currency zone
– The EU does not automatically grant them membership – in which case they will have to join and take the Euro as their currency
– They may not get automatic membership of NATO.
The people of Scotland have a right to know how bad it could be if the negotiations are not successful. We are all very used to this integrated country, and don’t take much notice of the individual nationalities – we are a multi-cultural nation with over 150 different ethnicities. The real issue for me is that I genuinely can’t see the positive points that depend solely on independence for them to be achieved ( much has, and could be achieved through the current union), however there are many possible negative consequences, primarily, for the people of Scotland, and possibly for the rest of the UK which could make the next 10 or 20 years considerably worse than they need to be. For what purpose – the vanity of a few politicians in Scotland!
Finally, is the situation so bad that the people of Scotland would go to war to fight for their independence? NEVER! NEVER! NEVER! That, ultimately is why it’s different to the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh – it is not actually that important to them.
POSTSCRIPT: The summary in The Economist magazine November 30th 2013 ended by saying that the report was “….more like a corporate prospectus for a share offering than a blood-tingling cry for freedom”
Categories: Self-Determination Cases