Inveterate gambler Salmond may have his bluff called
It seems that the Scottish Nationalists bluff is about to be called.
The Scottish Nationalist game plan was to prepare for a referendum on full independence in 2014 in the hope that England would offer to buy them off. If that failed, they still would have DevoMax to fall back on. DevoMax is an interesting concept that assumes the English are so desperate to keep the United Kingdom together that they would continue to subsidize Scotland, increase subsidies and offer the illusion of independence.
That strategy is now under threat with a vengeance.
A poll conducted, after Salmond announced an independence referendum in Scotland for 2014, showed that Scots are strongly in favour of remaining as they are today, but proportionately more than twice as many English and Welsh voters think Scotland should be expelled from the United Kingdom, giving a strong majority in favour of full Scottish independence and demanding that the referendum should cover the whole of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland.
Even worse for Alex Salmond is the growing appreciation that any vote is not about Scotland but about the future of the United Kingdom and that a referendum must include every UK voter.
The real killer though is the growing view that Scotland has to be correctly defined and that it comprises four regions that should be able to vote independently. This means that Galloway and the Borders, not originally in favour of an Edinburgh Parliament, should be given its own vote on the matter of leaving the United Kingdom. Similarly, Orkney and Shetland should be given an independent choice and again enthusiasm for an Edinburgh Parliament was notably absent when there was a referendum on devolution. The Highlands and Hebridean Islands should also have a vote on their destiny, leaving the fourth region as the Lowland area. No one is sure how the Highlands and Hebridean Islands might vote as an independent region, but this four region approach could mean that the Scots Nationalists would be left with the Lowland rump, very little oil or fish, but with most of the devolved national debt based on population and economic factors.
There are attractions for other UK political Parties except for Labour.
The LibDems stand their best chance of Government if the Highlands and Islands set up their own independent Parliament, free of London and Edinburgh. Northern Ireland MPs would become more important at Westminster. For the Conservatives, the best position would be for a Lowland Rump to be expelled from the UK, taking with it all hopes Labour might have in ever becoming the UK Government again.
In a four region vote in Scotland, even the Lowland rump might have trouble achieving a majority in favour of leaving the Union and the matter would be decided by Northern Ireland, Wales and England. On current voter intentions, that would result in the Lowland Rump being expelled from the United Kingdom.
The Coalition Government is already planning for this situation and the MOD are deciding which military bases in England and Wales will take the units that would be moved out of Scotland with a decision close on moving the nuclear submarines to either Devonport or Portsmouth. It is understood that Northern Ireland politicians have already staked a claim to hosting some military units and boosting their economy. The more difficult decision will be in respect of Scots serving in the UK armed forces. One suggestion being considered is to let the forthcoming spending cuts to focus on making Scottish personnel redundant first
With the great uncertainty over Scotland’s future, investment that was originally considering Scotland has now switched to England and Wales.