Monday, May 5, 2008

Quote of the day

"I don't fear the verdict of the Scottish people. Bring it on."
Wendy Alexander.

That's more like it!

But why not really put the fear of God in the assorted nationalists and separatists and call for the same referendum in all four parts of the UK?


The Aberdonian said...

Are you meaning one big referendum or four individual ones?

I remember a few years ago Malcolm Rifkind flying the kite of one big UK-wide referendum on Scottish independence. I think it was Alex Neil who queried if there had been a USSR referendum on the status of the Baltic States would Rifkind have supported a pro-union Russian Federation vote vetoing a pro-independence vote in the Baltic Republics. A bit ouch considering Rifkind's Lithuanian ancestry. He evaded the question.

Of course the USSR did have a referendum on its continuing existence in 1990 - not particularly well publicised in the West. Gorby went out to shoot the various nationalist foxes which had come out of their holes with Perestroika and Glasnost.

With demands for independence from various parts Gorby amended the constitution of the USSR allowing secession if two-thirds of voters agreed to it. He then held a referendum on the PRINCIPLE of the continued existence of the USSR. Nationalist-leaning administrations in the Baltic States, Moldova, Georgia and Azerbajan refused to have this referendum on their territory.

The nine remaining republics voted somewhere between 58-75% in favour of continued union. Gorby also got into cohoots with hardliners - lets call them Neilovitchs - to crack down on the republics which had refused to hold referenda and therfore conceded to the union by default. Most famously in this crackdown was the raid on the Lithuanian TV station where several people were killed.

However Boris now in charge of the Russian FSSR started getting Bolshy (to pardon the pun) and his crowd started passing laws that undermined the union, including trying to take control of defence policy. Gorby stuck between a rock and a hard place therefore proposed a new more decentralised constitution which would be agreed under the auspices of a new "Union Treaty".

(The origins of the USSR is the Treaty of Union of 1922 when the Soviets controlling the various parts of the old Russian Empire finally agreed to unite after defeating the Whites and agreeing - grudgingly - to recognise Polish, Finnish and Baltic independence and the annexation of part of Moldova into Romania and part of Armenia into Turkey - after 1945 much of this land was taken back into the USSR)

Gorby persuaded Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan to sign up whilst others grumbled. The Neilovitchs fearful that Gorby was trying to dismember their country by the backdoor carried out the coup of summer 1991 - and the rest is history.

In effect in their attempts to stop the USSR from breaking up - they destroyed it.

O'Neill said...

"Are you meaning one big referendum or four individual ones?"

I was reading about "radical clarity" eg don't write so that you can be understood, write so that you cannot be misunderstood- I think I've failed my first test!

What I meant is simultaneous referendums in all 4 parts of the Kingdom giving the folk in each part the choice of breaking away from the rest of the UK- so people in England voting for an independent England, people in Wales for an independent Wales etc