Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Uniting Ireland

North in ‘united Ireland vote by 2016’

By Shaun Connolly, Political Correspondent

Monday, January 30, 2012

The North should hold a referendum on joining the Republic as early as 2016, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness has said.

In the party’s most explicit outlining of a vote timetable yet, the North’s deputy first minister says it is his ambition to see the referendum held during the next term of the Belfast Assembly.

"It just seems to me to be a sensible timing. It would be on the question of whether or not the people of the Six Counties wish to retain the link with what is described as the United Kingdom, or be part of a united Ireland. It could take place anytime between 2016 or 2020-21," he said.

"I don’t see any reason whatsoever why that should not be considered.

"I think, in all probability, the people who have got the power to put that in place won’t even contemplate it this side of the next Assembly elections, which conceivably could be 2015 or 2016."

The deputy first minister believes the Democratic Unionist Party can be persuaded to agree to such a dramatic move.

Under the Good Friday Agreement, the final say on when a referendum on the future of the North would be held rests with the British secretary of state.

The Nationalist government in Edinburgh has provoked a furious row with Downing St over its plans to hold a vote on Scotland leaving the UK in 2014.

Mr McGuinness does not think the financial and economic crash experienced by the Republic would put Northerners off voting to leave the UK.

"It’s a mistake to think people are going to decide their future on what has been a particularly disastrous period of the handling of the economy by the government in Dublin.

"People will make a decision on the potential that the reunification of Ireland can bring for them in terms of political stability and in terms of having economic levers in their own hands."

Though population experts predict people from a Catholic background will form the majority in the North within a generation, Mr McGuinness said it was "too sectarian" to expect people to vote on strictly religious lines.

In a revealing and wide-ranging interview with the Irish Examiner, Mr McGuinness appears to downplay the significance of Bertie Ahern in the peace process, instead insisting Tony Blair was key to the Good Friday Agreement.

The Sinn Féin chief also markedly softens his stance towards Queen Elizabeth II, who he says has invited him to Buckingham Palace garden parties six times. He says her speech in Dublin Castle in May, when she stated that there were some things "we would wish had been done differently, or not at all" was a direct reference to the Bloody Sunday massacre, the 40th anniversary of which was marked yesterday.

Despite a sympathetic portrayal of the IRA’s ultimate hate figure, Margaret Thatcher, he says he hopes Meryl Streep wins an Oscar for her portrayal of the Iron Lady, as the actress was very "down to earth" when she visited the North.

And continuing his role as a peacemaker, Mr McGuinness accompanied First Minister Peter Robinson to the DUP leader’s first GAA match on Saturday, the Dr McKenna Cup football final between Tyrone and Derry.

This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Monday, January 30, 2012
Read more: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/north-in-united-ireland-vote-by-2016-181985.html#ixzz1kzvUz6p0

Monday, 30 January 2012

Scotland´s 21st Century Hero

Nationalist ambition: Mr Salmond is a supremely driven, canny and unscrupulous political operator

New poll shows independence is neck and neck with the Union

By a Newsnet reporter

An exclusive poll for the New Statesman magazine by polling company ICD research, and published to coincide with the publication of the Scottish government's consultation paper on the independence referendum, shows that the independence case is making strong headway.

According to the headline figures for the poll, 44% of Scots are in favour of independence, with 45% opposed. The result is well within the normal margin of error for polls, meaning that the two options are effectively neck-and-neck as the campaign begins in earnest.

In other good news for the Scottish government, an overwhelming 72% of Scots polled say that they agree that the Scottish government alone should determine the timing and question of the historic referendum. On this issue, public opinion in Scotland is markedly different from opinion in the rest of the UK. Of those polled across the UK, 41% say that the question and timing should be determined by Westminster, with only 34% in agreement with the Scottish government's position that these are matters for the Scottish Parliament and the people of Scotland.

Amongst those across the UK, the poll found a majority in favour of Scottish independence, with 38% in favour as opposed to 34% against. However most voters throughout the UK do not believe that Scotland will be better off as a result of independence, with only 20% of UK voters believing this would be the case, whereas 52% of UK-wide voters believe that Scotland would be worse off after independence. The report in the New Statesman did not give the figures for the response of Scottish voters to this question.

Conversely, 36 per cent of UK voters believe that England would benefit if Scotland left the UK, compared with 34 per cent who believe it would suffer. This finding shows the effect of the "subsidy junkie" myth which has been widely propagated by the anti-independence parties and the UK media. One of the prime tasks of pro-independence campaigners will be to overturn this myth amongst the Scottish electorate.

The survey found clear support across the UK for so-called 'devo max'. Asked if Scotland should be given full control over its tax and spending, 51% agreed with only 32% opposed. Again the poll did not give a breakdown of the Scottish response to this question, although other polls recently have shown that there is widespread support for such a move within Scotland.

The poll confirms the findings of other recent polls which show that Scots are increasingly leaning towards independence and restoring full control of the nation's finances and destiny to the Scottish Parliament. With more than 2 years to go before the decision is taken, the final result is far too close to call and for the pro-independence camp there is everything to play for. With a buoyant SNP up against demoralised and divided anti-independence parties, Scotland is closer to returning to its rightful place amongst the sovereign nations of the world than at any time during the past 300 years.

The poll of 1000 people was conducted by ICD for the New Statesman on 21st and 22nd January.

Welcoming the poll the Director of the SNP's Referendum Campaign Angus Robertson MP said:
"This is an excellent poll result confirming that support for independence is running neck and neck with 44% in favour to only 45% against.

"And coming on the day the First Minister confirmed the question voters in Scotland will be asked on independence this is just the beginning of the campaign and the great debate that we will have across the country.

"Results like this show that independence for Scotland is achievable and with more and more people supporting the principle that decisions about what happens in Scotland should be made by the people of Scotland it is a very welcome result."

Friday, 27 January 2012

Leaving Politics Aside, Scotland Deserves Freedom

In an about turn contemplated over several years, our UK Political Editor Harry Cole sets out why he now supports the notion of an independent Scotland

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever! Ae farewell, and then forever!

Written by Harry Coleon 25 January 2012 at 4pm

Sponsored Message: With characteristic bluster the First Minister chose Burns Night to set out his plans for the promised referendum on Scottish independence. As Salmond said this afternoon, independence would give “a fundamentally better relationship across these islands, and a more balanced one than we have today.” I agree with Alex.

Anyone who ever had the dubious pleasure of hearing me hone my public speaking skills in the debating chambers and drunken dinner parties at Edinburgh University will wonder where my body has been buried by the end of this piece. We will hear the defence of the union between England and Scotland countless times over the next few years, and it’s an argument that five years ago I could give you standing on my head. However, I just don’t believe it anymore.

Having lived in Edinburgh for four years, since returning south my unionist credentials have weakened by the day. It’s not just the much trodden notion that, in political terms, the right would be the biggest victors of a split. That idea doesn’t hold much water anyway. The issue of Scottish freedom goes beyond party politics, though there are plenty of reasons why politicos of all colours should not be scared of the consequences.

Scotland is not well. This is the nation that gave us the telephone, the television, reason, logic, economics and whisky. Yet since the business interests of some three hundred Edinburgh merchants over-ruled the desires of the rest of a nation in 1707, Scotland has been in decline. The brain drain that saw enlightened Scots give America its magnificent constitution has never stopped.

What remains is a nation dependent on the state; a hand out culture and a something for nothing utopia. An insult to its past. And this will never change while Scotland remains the junior partner in a relationship it never asked to be in. According to the 1909 census, Scots were the tallest people in Europe, yet they now have a life expectancy four years lower than the European average. With two thirds of the country living off, or employed directly by, the state, it is clear that dependency is not working.

As is so often the case, the solution to this problem is freedom. Scotland will not recover while dependent on London. This conversion to the cause is not to say I will suddenly be supporting the SNP. Their machine is smothering Scottish freedoms through their continuous feeding of the state machine.

With Devolution Max, the obvious halfway house to full independence, Scotland would be raising its own taxes and will be forced to realise that free prescriptions and free education for life are the perks of a society free of responsibility. Salmond is not the man to lead a free country and his ideas on how to get there are deeply flawed. However, that is not to say he is wrong on the core issue that drives his fight.

The SNP are not yet signed up to the reality based community and they seem to be doing everything to avoid having to tell the Scottish people how it really is.

With Devo-Max, Scotland will take its share of the debt and for the first time their fair share of the pain. With economic stagnation on either side of the border, both Scotland and England need a rival. With independence or Devo-Max these two nations can rival each other.

This mire that blights us both could be solved through two economies competing for trade; two economies forced to reduce tax to attract investment; Edinburgh’s financial West-End slashing rates to challenge the City. The two nations cannot properly compete while one is latched onto the Westminster teat. Two neighbouring nations must become friendly rivals.

And what of the other half of this once convenient marriage? There are those on the English right who support Scottish freedom because of the lazy idea that it would lead to a permanent Conservative majority in the UK. In 2005 there were nearly one hundred thousand more Conservative voters in England, and by May 2010 that figure was closer to million.

As for English Labour, they would learn to adapt to survive. It would probably require a shift further right for Labour in order to win, but that is natural given that they will no longer have the support of their guaranteed Scottish returns. It does not take much to envisage a Labour leader who can eat into the small-c conservative majority that makes up England. Hell, it wasn't too long ago they were winning election after election on those terms.

And all would not be lost for liberals and self-proclaimed progressives either. If Scotland were to separate it would come in stages, with Devo-max the obvious halfway house. Such a break would leave Westminster to debate and decide foreign policy and defence, but England would have to have a separate legislature for its own affairs.

In all likelihood, and rightly so, this new English parliament will be elected by some sort of proportional system. Our First Past the Post system luckily evolved into something better in reality than it looks on paper, but in all honesty even its most vocal supporters could not say that a brand a new system should be built by the same design. The potential for a real role for a fully elected House of Lords would be forced into play by a split, too.

The matter of Scottish independence goes beyond party politics. All sides of the political debate have something to lose from the split, but that is far outweighed by what the two separate countries will gain. Economic revival, cultural rejuvenation and a more a democratic country should be the dream of all parties and Devo-max can provide that. It is a step that makes sense for the futures of both England and Scotland.

The Act of Union served those who wanted it well, but the majority were never asked. The time has come to rectify that, and to take a leaf from Salmond’s book, I’ll let Burns have the last word:

“Ae fond kiss, and then we sever!

Ae farewell, and then forever! “

Harry Cole is the UK Political Editor for The Commentator and the News Editor for the Guido Fawkes Blog. He tweets at @MrHarryCole

Tags: Alex Salmond, Alex Salmond Burns Night, An independent Scotland good for friendly competition with England, Devolution Max, Edinburgh, Harry Cole and Scottish independence, Scottish independence, Should Scotland break away from the Union?, Where would an independent Scotland leave Labour?, Why Scotland must become independent, Will an independent Scotland benefit the Conservative Party?, devolution, harry cole

Hamish MacDonnell - This New Scotland is Slick and Professional

It was no coincidence: Alex Salmond chose the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle and Burns’ Night to launch his consultation on an independence referendum yesterday so he could send out the message that this was about Scotland and nothing else.

From the high, wood-beamed ceiling and the suits of armour in this most impressive of ancient Scottish halls to the lines of verse from Scotland’s national bard which the Scottish First Minister dripped into his speech, everything was designed to impress – and not just the Scots.

There were reporters from China, broadcasters from Spain and bloggers from Russia packed into the hall – all there to find out whether the United Kingdom was about to be broken up.

And because he knew his message would go world-wide, Mr Salmond was most careful too in the impression he gave about his vision for Scotland.

“This is a most prosperous country,” he declared – without pausing to let anybody query that statement.

He quoted Rabbie Burns, he spoke of the history of the Great Hall – the venue for the first recorded meeting of the Scots Parliament 900 years ago - and he spoke of his vision for the future of Scotland as a free, independent, progressive European nation state.

Soon after he started, though, the wind got up – as it tends to do around this rocky outcrop perched high above Scotland’s capital.

The gale started rattling the stained-glass windows and blowing around the grand fireplace behind the First Minister’s back.

“Ah, the winds of change,” Mr Salmond quipped.

In doing so, he both echoed Harold Macmillan’s famous speech of 1960 which heralded the break-up of British colonial Africa but he also showed he is as diligent a student of politics as any leader in these islands.

Apart from his entrance, which was a characteristic 45 minutes late, everything about Mr Salmond’s presentation oozed professionalism.

Every detail seemed to have been considered. The First Minister usually speaks from a lecturn embossed with the website address of the Scottish Government.

Not yesterday. For this big event, even the lecturn had been changed and now bore the web address of the referendum consultation paper – just in case it was picked up by the television cameras.

There was a modern new Saltire logo and everything was branded with the slogan: “Your Scotland, Your Referendum.”

It was slick and professional and it is this, above all, that should worry the UK Government. There may be considerable gaps in the detail of the SNP’s plans for independence but, on the surface at least, they appear unbeatable.

Plaid Leadership Contest

Simon Thomas, Elin Jones, Leanne Wood & Dafydd Elis-Thomas

Cyhoeddi ymgeiswyr Arweiniaeth 2012

Annwyl Gyfaill

Rydw i’n falch iawn i gyhoeddi bod pedwar ymgeisydd yn cystadlu ar gyfer arweinyddiaeth y Blaid. Pedwar ymgeisydd cryf iawn sydd yn awyddus i arwain ein plaid – Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Elin Jones, Simon Thomas a Leanne Wood.

I’m delighted to announce that four candidates will contest the party’s leadership. Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Elin Jones, Simon Thomas and Leanne Wood are all extremely strong candidates to lead our party.

There’s been huge interest in this contest so far. The fact that so many members have chosen to be part of the process to elect a leader and move Plaid and Wales forward bodes well for our party in the future.

We’ve seen a surge in new members in recent months, all ready to play a part in making sure Wales moves forward and reaches its potential.

A series of hustings meetings will take place during February throughout Wales to give our thousands of members an opportunity to meet and put questions to all four candidates.

Whoever Plaid decides to choose as leader, we know that Plaid Cymru has the talent which is capable of inspiring and reaching out to everyone in all parts of Wales and delivering on their ambitions.

For Wales

Rhuanedd Richards

Plaid Cymru Chief Executive

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Burns´ Night


..Scottish leader turns to poet for referendum backing

By Mohammed Abbas
Reuters – 20 minutes ago....

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond launches the Scottish government's consultation paper on an indedependence referendum, in the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland January 25, 2012. REUTERS/David Moir

....EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Scotland's nationalist leader Alex Salmond marked Burns Night on Wednesday, when Scots toast their national poet, by unveiling his plans for an independence referendum in defiance of British government proposals.

Salmond compared Scotland's path to independence to Robert Burns' transformation in the 18th century from a simple ploughman to a literary legend as he set out plans for a vote in late 2014 on ending Scotland's 300-year union with England.

"The people who live in Scotland are the best people to make decisions about their own future. Of that there can be no doubt," Salmond told the devolved Scottish parliament.

"The question we intend to put to the Scottish people in the referendum .... is 'Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?'" the First Minister said, drawing applause from supporters in parliament where his Scottish National Party (SNP) has a majority.

Recent polls indicate only around 30 to 40 percent of the Scottish electorate support Scotland breaking away from Britain.

Others seem happy to support the SNP to lead a devolved government which can wring a good deal out of authorities in London, but do not want to break away from Britain.

Independence for Scotland would have profound economic and political consequences for Britain and its political path is being followed closely by others in Europe, including in Spain where some regions have long eyed independence.

At least seven Spanish news outlets were in Edinburgh to cover Salmond's address. After addressing parliament he was taken to brief international journalists at Edinburgh castle, backdrop to centuries of conflict between the English and Scots.


The government in London, which opposes independence, insists only it can grant Salmond the power to hold a legally binding vote. It wants to force an early poll before Salmond can build support for a breakaway.

The SNP leader wants to hold the referendum in autumn 2014 when he would be able to ride a wave of nationalist sentiment on the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, an historic victory over the English.

The SNP leader would also benefit from the feel-good factor of Scotland hosting the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup sporting events that year. Scotland's population of around 5.2 million makes up a small percentage of Britain's 62.3 million.

Salmond quoted the Burns' poem A Man's A Man For A' That, which contains lines mocking privileged lords, to back his case.

"I'm told there are members of the House of Lords (the upper house of the London parliament) who believe that it is in their province to set boundaries on what Scotland can and cannot do.

"Perhaps they should be reminded that Burns' great hymn to equality has been heard in this Parliament before," he said.

The government also insists on a say in how the referendum is run, including the crucial issue of the type and number of questions asked. #

It prefers a simple "yes/no" ballot while Salmond said he also wanted a third option, known as "devo max," which would devolve to Scotland further powers from the British parliament in Westminster without outright independence.

London says a referendum including that question would be rigged in the SNP's favour because a three-way split in the ballot could give the separatists a win with fewer votes, and a possible consolation prize of more devolved powers if they lost.

(Reporting by Keith Weir; editing by Robert Woodward)

Monday, 16 January 2012

A Few Words on Independence

Scotland´s independence programme is well on track. As predicted the three British parties - Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat are united in their opposition to independence and have been attempting to trap Alex Salmond into holding an immmediate referendum on a clear choice YES or NO on Scottish independence. The Chief Miinister has resisted the temptation for obvious reasons. If the vote were held today it might well be lost. The election will therefore be held in the aurumn of 2014.

With regard to Welsh independence, as this blog predicted the way forward in Wales is to await Scottish independence to be achieved when the dismantling of the Union has become a fait accomplis. By that time the public will have become more accustomed to the changing political scene and will view Welsh independence as a real and viable possibility. The eventual outcome will be the formation of the four nations of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland (united) within the European Community of nations.

Friday, 6 January 2012

A Cornish Resurgence

41% of children recorded as Cornish

The findings of the Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC) show that more and more families are choosing to identify themselves as Cornish.
Last year (2011), 41% of pupils were recorded as Cornish compared to 37% in 2010. A total of 28,584 pupils out of 69,811 said they were Cornish, compared to 23,808 out of 70,275 in 2009.
Schools are required to complete the annual pupil census by the Department for Education. It recommends that parents and guardians should determine the national identity for their children at primary schools, but pupils at secondary schools should decide their own ethnicity.
For many years, families were denied the opportunity to self-identify as Cornish but, following a strong campaign by various cultural, language and political groups, the option was inserted for the 2005 survey. In 2006, 24% of children were recorded as Cornish, which steadily rose to 27% in 2007, 30% in 2008 and 34% in 2009.
It is good to see the growing confidence of so many families, who are keen to record their national identity as Cornish.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

A Call to Nationalists

 Dear Friends and Supporters,

Please call and fax:
Senator Kerry and Senator Lugar

Senator John Kerry

Boston, MA 02114
(617) 565-8519
Washington D.C.
(202) 224-2742
Call and Fax
Senator Richard Lugar
Mark String - Aide
Indianapolis, IN
Washington D.C.

Secretary of State                                                                               
Hillary Rodham Clinton                                                                    
Phone 202-647-5291                                                                         
Fax 202-261-8577                                                                               

Attorney General 
Eric Holder


Campaign for a United Ireland