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"After Brexit, Scottish independence returns to the fore" - Alex Salmond



"If Northern Ireland can have a referendum every seven years, why can't Scotland?"

Alex Salmond the tenacious politician introduces his new independence party, Alba.


Alex Salmond (born 1954, Linlithgow) was close to winning Scottish independence in the historic 2014 referendum, agreed with the Westminster government.


After the defeat, he resigned as leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), but left the party at its peak popularity; Salmond had a political career full of successes, such as becoming the first pro-Scottish independence First Minister ( 2007) or being the first to achieve an absolute majority (2011). Considered in the day as the "Braveheart of the 21st century" he now returns with his own party, Alba, with which he aspires to generate decisive 'momentum' in the current independence movement.


The Supreme Court has ruled that Edinburgh's devolved Parliament does not have the authority to hold a new referendum without Westminster's consent. But he is not willing to throw in the towel and this Saturday he called on the entire independence movement to draw up a new road map.


Question:

In the historic 2014 referendum, which you yourself admitted was once in a generation, 55.3% of the electorate voted to remain part of the UK. Right now, when many households have to choose between eating or heating their homes, independence is not a priority, according to surveys. What is the reason why we have to keep talking about independence?


Salmond:

Because of Brexit. The United Kingdom has withdrawn Scotland from the European Union against the wishes of the Scottish people. It is a substantial change that brings independence back to the fore. On the other hand, if you look at the case of Northern Ireland, one of the four countries that make up the United Kingdom, in the Good Friday Agreement [which in 1998 sealed peace between Catholics and Protestants] there is a provision that, if a series of requirements are met, the Northern Irish can hold a referendum every seven years [on reunification with the Republic of Ireland]. If that is the proper calendar that was determined for them, why can't we Scots have a similar one? Eight years have passed since the 2014 referendum.


Question:

But the terms of the union of Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom are very different from those of Scotland...


Salmond:

They are not completely different. Both are countries that make up the United Kingdom. And if London has accepted this as a reasonable schedule in Northern Ireland, then the question becomes why is it not a reasonable schedule for Scotland, particularly when people have shown in both the general election and the Edinburgh parliamentary election that they want such a chance.


Question:

The Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, current leader of the SNP, wanted to hold a new independence referendum on October 19, 2023. But the Supreme Court in London has ruled that Edinburgh's devolved parliament does not have the powers to organize a new referendum without the consent of central government. Does this leave any option open to the independence cause?


Salmond:

The Scottish Government has hit a snag and needs to get over it. Because of this we have made the call for this Saturday, to find a new route. There are many things that can be done to put pressure on the central government, such as initiatives in both the Edinburgh and Westminster Parliament, peaceful demonstrations, and mobilizing international opinion. There is no magic wand to achieve independence, but there are a variety of options that can be made to bring about these circumstances. Since the Supreme Court ruling, support for independence in the polls has risen. The enthusiasm of the people for this Saturday's Assembly indicates that the Scottish national movement is alive and well. We cannot forget that the United Kingdom is a voluntary union of four countries, so one party would not have to have the permission of the other to exercise their right to self-determination.



Question:

What Nicola Sturgeon has raised is presenting the next UK general election, scheduled for 2024, as a “de facto referendum”. Why don't you approve of that strategy?


Salmond:

Nicola has many qualities, she is an excellent communicator, but strategizing is not her strong point. Many elected politicians from the SNP itself disagree. The upcoming Westminster elections will be about who will be the next prime minister, Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer. If you want to raise with them Scottish independence as the main issue, you would have to persuade the TV commentators, and everyone else, to say that this is the main issue. And if you succeed, you have to explain that it would not be a normal election with normal political parties. There would have to be only one pro-independence candidate in each constituency. All I'm telling you is that that strategy has to be thought about. When you bring up an idea you have to think about the implications, ask yourself what your opponents are going to do, and come up with an effective response.


Question:

Are you going to stand for Westminster in the general election scheduled for 2024?


Salmond:

Time will tell.


Question:

Stephen Flynn has just been elected as the new leader of the SNP in Westminster. He is very critical of Nicola. Can it be interpreted as her losing power within her own ranks?


Salmond:

That's what the Scottish press says.


Question:

But I'm asking what you think about it


Salmond:

Fortunately, I am no longer in the position of having to talk about the SNP. I now speak for Alba.


Question:

In any case, don't you think that with your party the only thing you are doing is dividing the independence vote, thus weakening the independence cause?


Salmond:

I have supported independence for as long as I can remember. The reason I created a new party is because independence is now more popular than the SNP. When I was the leader of the SNP, the party was more popular than independence. There are many people who are in favour of independence, but no longer support the SNP, which is receiving criticism, some unjustified, some justified, for how it is managing other matters, such as health. That's why I think it's useful to have a number of pro-independence parties in order to have a parliament in Edinburgh with a pro-independence majority.


Question:

When there are many pro-independence parties, but each one has its own strategy, things don't go too well either. Look what happened in Catalonia.


Salmond:

I have enormous sympathy for the people of Catalonia. But Scotland is not Catalonia and Catalonia is not Scotland. If the parties in Scotland find a way to work together it will clearly be to their advantage. If a single party encounters an obstacle on the way to independence and does not have the ideas to overcome it, it is good to have after proposals.


Question:

Would you follow the Catalan model of holding an illegal referendum under any circumstances?


Salmond:

I don't think it was a good tactic and I don't think it's necessary either. I think there are many better ways to hear what people have to say. The option is to make sure that the referendum that is held is legal. The Scottish Parliament could hold a referendum, for example, on the extension of its powers rather than directly on independence. You don't have to limit yourself to doing this or that, there are many ways. But now we need a fundamental reassessment of the way forward. Over the last 25 years, the Scottish National Party has developed one of the most successful strategies in European politics. It has taken the SNP from practically nothing to a majority position. It has taken Scotland from having no parliament to having a parliament with a pro-independence majority. But right now that strategy has hit a roadblock and it would be a good idea to engage with the entire movement, not just one political party, to see how it can be circumvented and moved towards independence.



Question:

Some consider that the Supreme Court has come to do them a favour because, if a new referendum is held now, the most likely thing is that the union would win again. And if that happened, the independence movement would be finished.


Salmond:

The latest polls after the Supreme Court ruling, removing the undecided, give 56% support for independence. In any case, when in 2012 I negotiated with David Cameron's government to hold the 2014 referendum, support for independence was 30% and although we did not win, support increased to 45% and a week before the referendum it was above 50%


Now that he mentions David Cameron, the former prime minister confessed in his memoirs what was an open secret: fearing that the nationalists would win, he asked Elizabeth II herself for help, who approached after mass parishioners and said, "I hope people think very carefully about their future." Nothing else was needed.


Question:

How did you deal with that?


Salmond:

At the time, they assured me that this was not the case. But the 'No to Independence' campaign's attempt to involve the monarchy in politics was totally discredited and exploited Her Majesty's enormous popularity. Throughout her reign, Elizabeth II was extremely meticulous not to get involved politics. We could tell that she was not amused by Cameron's request.


Question:

The Royal Houses of England and Scotland were united after Elizabeth I's death in 1603, when James VI of Scotland also became James I of England. Political cohesion did not come until a century later, with the Acts of Union of 1707. Should Scotland gain independence, would you advocate monarchy or republic?


Salmond:

When I was the leader of the SNP, I advocated returning to the model of political independence but maintaining the union of the crowns. But not now. During the reign of Elizabeth II it would not have been raised, but after the death of the Queen, who was held in high esteem, I think it is a good time to reassess the position of the monarchy in an independent Scotland and ask whether the people want to maintain the unelected position.


Question:

Nicola Sturgeon's followers will be able to buy duvets, blankets and even shower curtains this Christmas through a new website, which has nothing to do with the SNP. Do you have any plans so that people can also get pyjamas with your face on them?


Salmond:

(Laughter). At the moment it is not on my list for this Christmas. There are no plans in this direction.


The original article is here:


Alex Salmond: «Tras el Brexit, la independencia de Escocia vuelve al primer plano» (larazon.es)

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