Scottish Secession? (update 2)

19 September 2014. It's a "NO" for Scottish independence with 55% vote but the political fallout will still be substantial?

Also interesting to note that Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland, voted for "yes."

Scotland votes 'Yes' to a United Kingdom – what's next? 19 September, 2014  by Moneyweek: "The final count showing a 55% 'No' vote to a 45% 'Yes', and on a massive 86% turnout, it was a comfortable win for the union.....However, it would be a mistake to think that this is all over, just because the votes are in and counted. There will be political fallout – potentially quite substantial. And that's something investors at least need to be aware of.  The debate has stirred up a hornets' nest of questions about the way Britain is run, one that had largely gone ignored. The promise of more power for Scotland – even in the event of a 'No' victory – means that Britain's whole political structure is going to need a rethink.  While plenty of 'Yes' voters seem concerned that the UK parliament will back down from 'Devo-Max' promises, that seems unlikely. After all, whatever Alex Salmond said about this being a once-in-a-generation opportunity, he'd easily be able to argue the case for a re-run if anyone reneges on the deal.... And Scotland is already on track to get major new powers. From April 2016, the Scottish government will be able to move income tax rates by up to ten percentage points, for example.  The big risk with that is very similar to the threat posed by an independent Scotland remaining in currency union with the UK. It's the danger of having part of the country with almost total control over revenue-raising and spending powers, and the reassurance of a bigger neighbour to bail it out if it over-reaches itself.  As Melanie Baker of Morgan Stanley put it in the FT, this "might end up having broader implications for the health of the UK's fiscal finances". At a time when we're already very heavily indebted, that's not a pleasant prospect..... Expect a lot more political turmoil ahead...  Meanwhile, we'll move that bit closer to having a separate English parliament. David Cameron has said he plans to address the problem of Scotland-based MPs being able to vote on issues that only affect English voters...."

WSJ says: "...The "No" vote—on a heavy turnout—spared Mr. Cameron, who could have faced calls to resign had Scotland opted to leave. But we note that the Conservative leader's fight is far from over. With a general election looming in May, Mr. Cameron already faces fierce criticism for his handling of the Scottish vote. "There's a sense that Cameron misjudged this vote, took his eye off the ball and was complacent when the details were first hammered out with [Scottish First Minister] Alex Salmond," noted a university politics lecturer. The vote's outcome boosted sterling, lifted stocks and reset market expectations for the path of the country's interest rates, but also left investors with gnawing doubts about the long-term political outlook...."

Early results fall in favour of the union;
Blows for Yes camp in Clackmannanshire and Western Isles
• Orkney and Shetland vote strongly in favour of remaining in UK, as forecast
• National turnout anticipated to be around 85%, with some areas topping 90%

18 September 2014. Recent polls and background on Scottish move.

Scotland’s yes campaigners are voting to leave the Titanic - The British state is an imperial behemoth that can only look on in panic as Scots scramble for the lifeboats  by Adam Ramsay,, Thursday 18 September 2014 09.00 BST;'
But in the internet age, officials don’t get to write the stories any more. There were always people who had little time for flags, tartanry and shortbread, but who wanted to escape a political system that has made Britain one of Europe’s most unequal counties. And it is these people – a better organised and vastly more powerful version of the Occupy movement – that the Westminster parties and their media partners failed to consider... It’s against this self-organised network that the British state is flagging. Research from Edinburgh University shows that the more information people have, the more likely they are to vote yes. In the face of mass peer-to-peer education, the puffed-up power of elites melts away: polls show most Scots no longer believe what Westminster MPs say. As David Cameron and George Osborne and Ed Miliband huff and puff and woo and cajole the people of Scotland, more and more simply look these politicians up and down, shrug, and say: “You have no power over us any more.” It’s their own fault. Westminster’s parties have made conventional politics so bland that people barely pay attention. To win elections they have got used to flashing simplistic messages in front of our eyes – we don’t notice or care that we’re being patronised. And because they destroyed their pesky grassroots, they failed to spot that the referendum isn’t an election. People are paying attention, are thirsty for information, and don’t take kindly to their leaders treating them like idiots or trying to bully them...  Final poll of Scottish referendum campaign shows six-point lead for no; Ipsos Mori reports slight strengthening of no's lead, with yes voters mainly motivated by hope and no voters by fear... All the leading pollsters have now issued final polls suggesting either a four- or six-point lead for the no campaign, but Labour officials remained cautious, saying it was still unclear how undecided voters would break or what impact a high turnout might have. It is now thought that as few as 200,000 votes could be the difference...Majorities on both sides said they would base their vote more on practical consequences than feelings of national identity. Seven in ten (70%) of yes supporters based their vote more on practical consequences, and 78% of no supporters. Overall, 74% said they would base their vote on practical consequences, with 19% basing theirs more on national identity...

Scotland’s Independence Bid By Rodney Jefferson  | Updated Sept. 18, 2014; Scotland claims credit for inventing the telephone, television and penicillin, not to mention modern economics. Its people built ships, bridges and locomotives for the world and, more recently, Grand Theft Auto. Now many Scots say they deserve to break away from the United Kingdom — and the 307-year-old union with England and Wales — to create Europe’s newest sovereign state. Scottish voters age 16 and over are deciding in a Sept. 18 referendum asking the question: Should Scotland be an independent country?... Scotland is holding the 51st independence referendum worldwide since World War II. The first was Iceland’s break from Danish rule, with the latest creating South Sudan. There was a flurry in the 1990s as countries left the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia fragmented. So far, 27 of the votes have been in favor of secession, with 23 against. The French-speaking province of Quebec voted to remain part of Canada in 1980 and 1995, though only by a wafer-thin margin the second time. Independence movements are often about ethnic or linguistic splits, but just as frequently they’re about economics. The U.K. was formed by the Act of Union in 1707, as Scotland faced financial ruin after a failed project in Panama....

Source: Scottish Government, U.K. Department of Energy & Climate Change  

13 September 2014  Big moves and major news against Scottish independence

Scottish independence, UK RIP? Ditching the union would be a mistake for Scotland and a tragedy for the country it leaves behind;

'I hate England': Tartan-loving fashion designer Vivienne Westwood pins 'Yes' badges on her models (despite the fact she's grown rich in London and hasn't got a Scottish bone in her body)
Read more:

Others on secession and self-determination:

Catalans form human V for Vote to seek choice on split from Spain;

Democracy in China - The struggle for Hong Kong. The territory’s citizens must not give up demanding full democracy—for their sake and for China’s; Sep 6th 2014;  |

11 September: I had a chat yesterday evening with a senior historian for the Malay archipelago (the meet up was triggered in part by my updating on the Johor Iskandar-Singapore project and its historical resonance). As we meandered through different topics, he highlighted to me his interest in the Scottish secession referendum, and how this might trigger Catalonia (Barcelona) which is a rich region in Spain to do similar (wiki:; and we also noted that the Crimea is making some noises on the same (news link: Why is there seemingly a wave of secession talk and how will these notions affect us in this part of the world - Southeast Asia?

Handily enough in my email box from a few days ago was a report from a bank on the political betting odds of the Scottish Referendum (which points to a "yes" to remain; which differs from opinion polls results) and how it would affect England.  Do read the article excerpts (see below!), which also discusses recent accuracy of opinion polls versus betting odds in politics and points out how reliant Labour is on its Scottish MP base. Looking at 18 September Scottish Referendum betting odds sites suggested,

Bank of Singapore: Follow the Money in Scotland Vote, 9 September 2014   Economics has plenty of obscure areas of research and sometimes they are relevant to financial markets. One field looks at the predictive power of opinion polls compared to the odds in betting markets. The strong conclusion is that we should “follow the money” as betting markets have a much better track record... This is important now that the opinion polls are suggesting the Scottish referendum on independence will be a close vote. Here ( is a link to a BBC website that tracks how opinion polls have developed. Sterling has fallen sharply after one poll showed a majority in favour of “Yes” in the vote for independence that will take place on 18 September, and others showed a tight contest... In contrast, betting markets (such as Betfair or Ladbrokes) continue to show a strong prediction of a “No” vote. Admittedly the odds have narrowed – until recently the betting market gave the Yes vote about a 25% chance, while now it is up to 34%. That is still a huge distance from the neck-and-neck race shown by opinion polls... Betting markets have an established track record of predicting the winners in US politics. Recent examples were when the opinion polls were showing a close race between Bush and Kerry in 2004 or between Obama and Romney in 2012, while the betting markets were leaning strongly in favour of the eventual winner... The idea seems to be that numerous informed and interested participants express their views through a betting market. It is not one-man, one-vote – the biggest wagers will have the most interest in the outcome. In contrast opinion polls are a relatively narrow cross section of potential voters, where the presentation of the question can also affect the result... There is a high degree of uncertainty about the consequences of a Yes vote. Much would depend on negotiations in the 18 months before independence in March 2016, with national defence, the allocation of government debt and assets, location of financial institutions, the choice of national currency and membership of the EU all to be settled... The direct impact on the remainder of the UK does not appear too large, as Scotland represents less than 10% of the economy. However, there is potentially a large political impact, as Scotland predominantly sends Labour politicians to the UK parliament in Westminster. Currently there are 41 Labour MPs from Scotland (out of a total of 257) and just one Conservative, so it would become harder for Labour to win an election.... It is not clear how a pro-independence vote would affect the next UK general election due by May 2015, as the Scottish seats might not be contested or they could only serve until the split in the Union... From a financial market point of view it would increase the chance of a Conservative government bringing a referendum on continued membership of the EU in 2017. Moreover, without the influence of (relatively pro-EU) Scotland it would make an exit more likely. Whether or not this is negative for GBP is debatable, as it would probably lead to a more free market orientation to the UK, less constrained by the social democracy of the EU. However, markets seem to be viewing such an outcome negatively. If the betting markets are right then these are complications that will not trouble us after the vote on 18 September..."