The Language of the Protestant community in Northern Ireland is called Ullans or Ulster Scots. The plantation of Ulster, in what many view as the First British Empire, started under Britain’s first King, James I, who was, before he ascended the English throne, known as James VI of Scotland. Earlier English plantations had been concentrated around Dublin, but he sent Scots to form “plantations” in northern Ireland, whose troubles since have been about ownership of Land. To this day, most towns in the province are overwhelmingly protestant, with the Catholics being more rural. What happened is perhaps not dissimilar to the Israeli settlements of the West Bank, something the Israeli government might like to ponder.
Culturally, Glasgow and Belfast share the footballing loyalties, sectarian troubles and culture. You can look across the Irish sea from the Giant’s causeway in County Antrim in Ulster and see Islay and the Mull of Kintyre, a phallic and legally distinguished peninsula in Scotland.
Northern Ireland therefore is in a Union with England & Wales mainly because of the latter’s union with Scotland. Shouldn’t an Independent Scotland therefore get Ulster? (yes, I know the 6 counties are not the same as Ulster, but the word is often so used) Do the Northern Irish who wish to remain British, wish to remain in a Union with England, or Scotland? Shouldn’t they get a say?
Ultimately unpicking a Union as close as that between Scotland and the Rest of the UK is going to be a constitutional and practical nightmare. Ultimately, whatever happens to Scotland, something like the Anglo Irish Agreement will mean that Scots or English can choose either Nationality at will.
Much of the Nationalist rhetoric, particularly about the Oil, where they think the maritime border should run east-west along the sea bed, rather than follow the line of a relatively straight border, is nonsense. As is their plan to annex the Scottish Regiments of the British Army. The idea that Scotland subsidises the rest of the UK is laughable. It is clear that Scotland would have been bankrupted by the financial crisis, in a manner worse than Ireland. As for the EU, Spain will veto Scotland’s automatic membership, and she will have to apply in her own right, and be seen as another mouth to feed. Once these practicalities are made clear, the appeal of independence is reduced to an emotional one. Bannockburn was a long time ago, and we’ve been through a lot together since.
For these reasons, devo-max makes sense to me, and appears to be the favoured option of most Scots. I for one would LOVE to see Scotland standing on its own two feet. It might even provoke a round of healthy tax-competition to all our benefits. For at present Scotland has a version of the Dutch disease, where they farm subsidy from London, without having to earn anything themselves. The state therefore crowds out private industry, anyone with any drive or talent leaves, Scottish politics becomes that of the shit that’s left behind, and ever more insanely socialist as a result. Tax-raising powers and fiscal independence would be the making of Scotland by skewering their pinko mindset and forcing them to pay for policies such as “free” prescriptions and tuition.
Ireland, who left the Union in the early 20th century still enjoys a “most-favoured nation” status and despite rankles at the top of government, Brits and Irishmen get on pretty well, and it’s always been so. There were more Irishmen who died on the first day of the Somme than took part in the Easter rising in 1916. The Irish Rugby team, plays as All Ireland, completely (and magnificently) ignoring brute politics. Irishmen can vote in British elections, and serve in her army. Whatever happens to Scotland, we’re never going to be totally independent of each other. Perhaps a loose federation of the Isles, including an independent Scotland, Wales and a United Ireland whose citizens are broadly able to choose who they want to belong to and where they want to live is where we will end up. In the meantime, Scotland cannot just wash her hands of the responsibilities she shares as a result of her membership of the United kingdom, and that includes the troubled province of Northern Ireland.
Ultimately though, I don’t mind so long as my Scottish relatives are not made foreigners in any meaningful sense, and nationalist violence is restricted to that happening in February between 20-stone props at Lansdowne road, Murrayfield or Twickenham.