Scotland Kicks off Process of Europe’s Fragmentation
Valéry VRUBLEVSKY | 25.09.2014 | WORLD / Europe

Scotland Kicks off Process of Europe’s Fragmentation

The Scottish referendum results show that something is rotten in the state of the United Kingdom. The event has given an impetus to the separatist aspirations in Ulster, Wales and the Island of Maine and even in the tin-rich Cornwall County believed to be the homeland of legendary king Arthur. The idea of getting more preferences from London without offering anything in return has become popular. The referendum has changed Scotland. The turnout was great with people of all walks of life and ages going to polls. 

 The movement for Scottish independence is not dead; it will continue its activities in other ways. The advocates of independence did not suffer a defeat on the day of vote. The original Parliament of Scotland (or "Estates of Scotland») was the national legislature of the independent Kingdom of Scotland, and existed from the early 13th century until the Kingdom of Scotland merged with the Kingdom of England under the Acts of the Union 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. As a consequence, both the Parliament of Scotland and the Parliament of England ceased to exist, and the Parliament of Great Britain, which sat at Westminster in London, was formed. Those days the Scots held their plebiscite. Following a referendum in 1997, in which the Scottish electorate gave their consent, the current Parliament was convened by the Scotland Act 1998, which sets out its powers as a devolved legislature. 

In 2011 the Scottish National Party (SNP) won 69 seats, the most the party has ever held at either a Holyrood or Westminster election. Its goals are not strictly defined. The party has a very special stand on immigration and has a very specific perception of all-European values. The diplomatic rhetoric is often used to avoid saying that Europe has actually turned into a haven for homosexuals and Afro-Arab immigrants. Contrary to widely spread assumptions that ‘nationalism’ is inherently exclusivist and monocultural, the Scottish National Party has articulated what many of its opponents acknowledge as an ‘impeccable’ civic nationalism that welcomes immigrants and ethnic minorities as part of Scotland’s rich «tartan tapestry» of faiths and cultures. Perhaps now the Scottish advocated of independence will reconsider the policy in favor of classic nationalist ideology. 

 Even if the vote were «Yes», her majesty Elizabeth II would remain to be the head of state like in case of many members of the British Commonwealth of nations. Even the leaders of nationalist movement, like recently resigned Prime Minister Alex Salmond and his deputy Nicola Sturgeon, often emphasized that they wanted secession but meant no breaking the ties. That is saying ‘Yes» to independence the Scots would have gained nothing. Now London promises broader autonomy though there are doubts it would keep its word. 

 In reality, Scotland would probably separate gradually and without referendums. The idea enjoys public support. The rigged results only made it more popular. This fact is proven by clashes between advocates and opponents in Glasgow. During its coverage of the results American news network CNN displayed a graphic on the screen which showed that 52 percent of Scots had said they would vote «No» and 58 percent had said they would vote «Yes».

The event will influence the whole European Union which faces the problem of progressive fragmentation that London is trying to use to its advantage. After the referendum on September 18 the «United» Europe will never be the same. The Eurosceptics are growing stronger among the ranks of British Conservatives. In May 2014 the UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party) stormed to victory in the European elections, performing powerfully across the UK. It now has MEPs in Scotland, Wales and every region of England. It is the first time since the general election of 1906 that a party other than Labour or the Conservatives has topped a national election. The party stands for Britain leaving the European Union. 

In Europe separatists are gaining strength in Catalonia, Flandria (Belgium), Corsica (France), Northern Italy and Bavaria (Germany). They construe the referendum results as a victory of independent Scotland because it has asserted its right to self-determination. It’s worth to note that separatism-prone Bavaria is the richest land in Germany. 

On the one hand, separatism could be advantageous. According to German Handelsblatt, Bavaria would be the ninth largest member of the European Union in case of cessation (with the population of 12, 6 million). Its economy is comparable to the Netherlands and Sweden. The same applies to other regions with strong separatist movements, like, for instance, Catalonia (Spain), the Basque country (Spain), Corsica (France), Venice (Italy) and some other parts of large European states where separatism is enrooted. On the other hand, the trend may weaken Germany, the European economy’s driving force and a British competitor. Anglo-Saxons would benefit from the European Union hit by a wave of separatist trend encompassing all its members and probably launched by the autonomous Catalonia where the local parliament has approved the law on holding an independence referendum. The vote to define the Catalonia’s future and its status as part of Spain or an independent state is slated for November 9 if nothing stands in the way.