January 30, 2012

Scotland: Moving towards Independence?

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond  (Photo: Getty Images, The Telegraph)

According to an exclusive poll for the Sunday Express a clear majority of people in Scotland (51 per cent) now back independence. It’s the first such result since the Scottish National Party came to power in 2007.

If such a dramatic result were repeated in the autumn of 2014, the First Minister would have an absolute mandate to negotiate an end to the Union with England.
Angus Robertson, campaign director for the SNP, said the poll result came as a “huge boost”. He added: “It shows that voters understand the Scottish Government policy is for an independent Scotland with the Queen as head of state.

“Scotland and England would become united kingdoms – equal friends and neighbours – rather than the United Kingdom.

“Support is growing for Scotland gaining the full range of job-creating powers we need to boost jobs and recovery, and becoming an equal and independent country.”

Read the rest. See also here to learn about discussions over the referendum question.

The EU Is Dead, Long Live the Euro?

What a fine mess we are in! It seems that Greeks have reacted furiously to a German proposal—made after mounting speculation that international lenders will have to stump up yet more money for Greece—of appointing a European “budget commissioner” with veto powers over Greece’s spending, which would partially suspend the country’s national sovereignty over its budget.

As far as I can tell, even though being no expert in the field (but then again, isn’t it true that the crisis, and the failure of the so-called experts, made us all a lot more “aware” of financial issues?), it seems to me that there is something seriously wrong with this whole bailouts/no bailouts thing. Perhaps the Germans are a bit out of control, so to speak, but, at the same time, it would be unfair to say that they have no excuse. And yet they are the target of criticism from all sides, almost as if they were the main cause of the crisis, which is definitely untrue, even though they have their part of responsibility in the eurozone debt crisis, as this BBC article shows (a very interesting read indeed).

OK, reading news such as that which provoked the above mentioned anger and indignation of the Greeks, one cannot but wonder, “What is left of the European project?” But, to be honest, how many Europeans still believe in “the European project?” As for myself, I have never liked “this” Europe: a-Christian, if not anti-Christian, in tendency, “libertarian” in ethical issues, bureaucratic in its approach to a number of issues and operational schemes, slightly, if not blatantly, anti-American. Well, I loved the Europe the Founding Fathers—Adenauer, De Gasperi, Schuman, Monnet…—wanted to build, but let’s be honest with ourselves, what is left of that dream? The Euro?

That being said, let me just say that I, and I know I’m going against the mainstream, as a citizen of a country named Italy, am … slightly grateful to those EU countries whose stubbornness contributed to paving the way for a new era of Italian politics. It was exactly what Italy—a country with enormous potentialities—needed. Of course, it would have been better if there would have been no need for that, but in life you have to make the most of what you have got. In today’s EU leaders summit in Brussels, discussions over Greece and the permanent rescue fund will dominate the talks. I hope the results won’t be frustrating with regard to the actual, not the “perceived” needs of EU countries.