Independence movements sometimes spawn violent fringes: is Scotland headed in that direction?
Years ago I remember reading an article entitled “49 Wonderful Gifts That Scotland Gave To The World”. Among the contributions made by the Scots can be found:
- Penicillin and insulin;
- The steam engine;
- An understanding of magnetism;
- Telegraph cables;
- The use of the decimal point and logarithms, and;
- Deep-fried Mars bars of course!
Could the next Scottish ‘gift’ to the world be more terrorism?
Before you dismiss this possibility, hear me out. Scotland finds itself in a situation not of its own making and could be subject to political moves it opposes. I am referring to the election of Boris Johnson and his vow to make ‘Brexit’ – the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU) – a reality. Scottish residents of the UK voted 62% against Brexit and the country even held an independence referendum in 2014 which was narrowly defeated.
Many in Scotland, including Scottish National Party (SNP) leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, want to hold a second referendum on splitting from the UK. The folks in Westminster do not seem keen on the idea. But as Ms. Sturgeon stated: “You cannot hold Scotland in the union against its will. … If the United Kingdom is to continue it can only be by consent.”
So now what?
Scotland clearly wants no part of withdrawal from the EU and Mr. Johnson clearly plans to do so. It would appear on the surface that Edinburgh’s options are limited, given that it has been part of the UK since the Acts of Union in 1707.
Is it too much of a stretch to suggest that if frustration grows some may seek alternative ways to protest? This being a blog on terrorism, I am of course suggesting political violence. Like what we have been seeing in Ireland since the 19th century (by the way there are reports of an increase in paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland fed, in part at least, by the uncertainty over Brexit).
Scotland clearly wants no part of withdrawal from the EU and Mr. Johnson clearly plans to do so. Is it too much of a stretch to suggest that if frustration grows some may seek alternative ways to protest?
Some analysts have proposed that the independence issue in Scotland may begin to resemble what has been happening in Catalonia as that region seeks greater autonomy from Spain. Catalonia carried out a referendum in 2017 which Madrid declared illegal and there were violent protests in Barcelona in October after the Spanish government convicted nine Catalan separatist leaders on charges of sedition and misappropriation of funds.
Is this level of extremism inevitable in Scotland?
Not necessarily, but frustration and a sense that far off officials are tone deaf will not help. Mr. Johnson has to tread carefully on this front or he may have revolts in two of the four UK ‘nations’ (Scotland and Northern Ireland) all because of Brexit.
Scots are fiercely proud of who they are. Will some go to extreme measures to defend their identity?
Watch this space.
An End to the War on Terrorism (2018)
This book will discuss what we have collectively done well, what we have done poorly, what we have yet to try and how we get to the point where terrorism does not dominate public discourse and cause disproportionate fear around the world.