We have the Liberal Democrats arguing for yet another referendum on the European Union and now we have the Scottish National Party pushing yet again for another referendum on independence for Scotland. Less than three years ago they held a referendum on exactly that proposition and we were told it would settle the issue for a generation. Constantly pushing for independence for Scotland is of course the whole reason for the existence of the Scottish National Party. I think the Prime Minister was quite right yesterday to make it clear that until we have left the European Union there will be no second referendum.
Who would have thought just a couple of years ago that the question of Scotland becoming an independent nation would seriously be taking up Parliamentary time. It is now. Last week we had a statement as the Government launched a Consultation paper on how to respond to the plans by the Scottish Nationalist Government in Scotland to hold a referendum as to whether Scotland should leave the United Kingdom.
There would of course be a whole host of problems and difficulties. The first would surround the exact nature of the ballot. Who would be entitled to vote? Why should only current residents of Scotland be entitled to vote. There are thousands of passionate Scots who for a variety of reasons are presently living elsewhere in the United Kingdom – or indeed in other parts of the World. What currency would Scotland use? What would the United Kingdom flag look like? ( no blue!) How much of the national debt should the Scots take with them? At the moment there are many more questions than answers.
Politically, the Conservatives – traditionally the Conservative and Unionist Party – are staunchly supporting the preservation of Scotland within the United Kingdom despite the fact that we have only one MP from North of the Border. Labour who have dozens of Scottish MP’s are also and perhaps not surprisingly also keen to retain Scotland and their Scottish MP’s.
I am not surprised that support for the Union is so divided in the England. I think in recent years the failure to properly address the West Lothian question ( that is the fact that Scottish MP’s can vote on matters at Westminster which affect my constituents but not their own! ) has increased the sense of resentment and unfairness among many and I suspect that support for the Union in England would increase if this anomaly was rectified.