At some point in the next four years we are certain to see a referendum on Scottish Independence. Will that vote be the end of the United Kingdom?
No. The United Kingdom remains as strong an institution as it has ever been. Devolution, a process started and finished by the last Labour Government has ensured that the outcome in that referendum will be a “no” vote. Now that there is a Tory – Liberal Government in Westminster, which will inflict spending cuts which will disproportionally affect Scotland a vote for independence would seem to be inevitable.
That would be true, if it were not for the Scotland Act, Devolution and the Scottish Parliament. These institutions allow Scots to protect themselves from a relatively hostile Westminster Government. Alex Salmond is the man that Scots have supported in this difficult time for Scotland. The Scottish National Party, having won an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament after an election in which they barely mentioned independence for Scotland. The SNP must be careful not to be overly hubristic after their success. They have one a victory. They will not win another in the fight for the future of the United Kingdom. As things stand, the Scottish public are overwhelmingly against independence. This will only potentially change for one reason.
The Conservative and Unionist Party.
If that Party now uses Scotland as a way of meeting their targets for spending cuts, they may be the force that causes the Union to collapse. Of course, the smart move politically would be for the Tories to support Scottish Independence. At the last General Election, Labour won 41 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats. Without those seats, Labour would have only just won a majority in the House of Commons in 2005. Scotland has been called the “Jewel in Labour’s Crown”. The Tories could never win in Scotland. They could however, stop Labour from winning. The Tories could easily find themselves in a position where they could rob Labour of that Jewel, and Crown forever. Labour as a governing Party could be consigned to the history books. Scottish independence would be significantly less advantageous for Scotland than having a national Labour Government. A Scottish Government would find it near impossible to maintain valuable Scottish services such as the NHS at their current levels. Devolution will protect Scotland in the years to come. Independence would destroy it.
For Labour to win the next General Election, and for Scotland to maintain it’s standing the Union must remain intact.