Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Stuart Agenda and Scottish Nationalism

Authors shouldn't really have favourite characters in their own books but I can't help admiring Angela Brown, the feline Scottish Independence Party politician in my novel, The Stuart Agenda. As leader, she finally steers Scotland to independence in the 2030's, at the same time anointing Robert Stuart as King of Scotland, displacing the Hanoverians in a new constitutional settlement. In my story, the UK Conservatives, weary of a generation long set of coalitions and compromises, ditch their unionist principles to achieve unencumbered political power in England where they have always been the natural majority. 
 The current crop of Tories haven't yet reached that point and are sticking up for the Union. At least the debate is now alive as the political system begins to take the wily Alex Salmond and his SNP seriously. That means being difficult about what questions might be asked in a referendum. The canny Mr Salmon wants to cover his options with two questions. Do the scots want outright independence? Or might they prefer 'independence light' where many more powers would be devolved? Mr Cameron wants it kept simple, a straight yes/no on full independence, knowing that the answer is likely to be no, after which he will devolve a few more crumbs as yet undefined.
The London propaganda machine has also whirred into action, highlighting all the difficulties of separation- The currency; still in the pound but without fiscal union, a recipe for a re-run of the Euro problem? How long will north Sea oil last to maintain a Scottish treasury?The Faslane nuclear submarine base- The SNP want rid but at what cost and who will pay? Would Scotland have to apply to join the EU? These are all valid questions that have been faced by many fragmenting empires and this one isn't very different.
But the Scots also have serious questions to ask of the SNP. The first is this. How do they propose to keep the lights on. Meeting Kyoto obligations, forbidding nuclear power stations and building acres of windmills is  an energy death sentence. Scots surely don't want to live with such a naive policy made in the days when the SNP never dreamed that they might have to impliment it. Let's hope that they are big enough to change it. Angela Brown certainly does in The Stuart Agenda.
For me it makes the point that Scottish nationalism is too important to be represented by a single party, restricting Scots to vote for only one vision of the future. We need more independence parties to give a broader range of options for the kind of country that Scotland might become. In due course this might be achieved by some of the mainstream political parties in Scotland opting to represent the nationalist cause from their political perspectives, be they left, right or centre. 
Alex Salmond is also being ultra cautious in stating up front that the Queen and hence her Hanoverian descendants would remain as sovereigns of an independent Scotland. That policy is of course challenged to destruction in The Stuart Agenda, where the people of Scotland are consulted on who their future Head of State should be. When Norway split from Sweden in the early twentieth century, they kicked out the Swedish monarchy and appointed a Danish Prince as King. When the Irish split off they formed a republic.
So the story has a long way to run but needs more passionate input from the Scots. The Westminster establishment will be more moved by a million Scots taking to the streets of Edinburgh than by all the speeches of Alex Salmond.  

The Stuart Agenda by Alan Calder published by Willow Moon. E-book and paperback at and amazon

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