The recent events happening in Scotland and England have set the cat amongst the pigeons. There is a great deal of chaos around what should happen next with regard to Scotland becoming independent but retaining EU status or whether it should remain in the UK union of nations.
Of course I may have a slight bias as I grew up and have lived most of my life in Scotland but it seems to me that the media at present are engaged in a game of black is white and white is black with no grey in between.
I really cannot bear to watch all the lies being put forward so have decided that every day I will do my best to counter the nonsense and, although I do not have all the information to hand, I will do my best to do some non-biased as truthful as I can reporting in the form of a news letter on my blog. I cannot promise that it will be totally accurate because I can only go by the sources I find. I will do my best though for the people in Scotland, of course, it is where I grew up, but also for our cousins south of the border who have been misled dreadfully, or it would appear so, and who, although you cannot be sure because we are all told certain tales that are purported to be truth, are following the Conservative Government down a rabbit hole.
I will start over the weekend with the SNP conference and try to find out what the actual speeches and debate are saying. Everything is extremely emotive at present because of Nicola Sturgeon’s speech on Monday and the responses we appear to have had from Downing Street. However this is Scotland and England is England and I am absolutely positive the media have, as they are so good at doing, made up most of the drama themselves to sell their news to the public.
Tonight I am concentrating on one of the main priorities The constitutional argument and Human Rights legislation.
So does Scotland have the right to hold an Independence Referendum without the say so of the UK Government. Shall we start with the Act of Union. I will reference the information at the end of each newsletter.
The Acts of Union were two Acts of Parliament the union with Scotland Act 1706 passed by the parliament of England and the Union with England Act 1707 passed by the Parliament of Scotland. These two Acts created a Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706 following negotiation between commissioners representing the parliaments of both countries. Two states with separate legislatures united partly because they shared the same monarch. The interesting part is that they came together as two equal states with different legislatures to form Great Britain. They were partners. Scotland was not less than England at the time of union. Scotland was an equal partner in the union.
The Acts came into effect on 1 May 1707. Both parliaments became united under the name of the Parliament of Great Britain which was based at Westminster. The historian Simon Schama said about the union “what began as a hostile merger would end in a full partnership in the most powerful going concern in the world.”
The reason the English were looking to unify the states was that it did not want Scotland to choose a different monarch from the one sitting on the throne of England. Seriously, nothing changes does it. Although England and Scotland had shared a monarch for much of the previous century the English were afraid that if Scotland had an independent monarch they might make alliances against England. The Scottish Act of Security 1704 expressly called for a choice of monarch different from the English monarch unless the English were to grant free trade and navigation, in other words, a bargaining counter on the Scots’ behalf to make life a bit easier for the Scots who were at that time, found it quite difficult to get their produce to market because of English restrictions, althouth there was no necessity for England to prevent Scotland (a poorer nation) from using trade routes etc. to get to markets. England because of its overseas territories, it is said, was much wealthier than Scotland.
In Scotland some said that the union would allow the Scottish economy to recover from the financial disaster wrought by the “Darien Scheme,” through English assistance, and the lifting of measures put in place by the English under the “Alien Act” to force the Scottish Parliament into compliance with the Act of Settlement. Alright, honestly, I am looking at these explanations and asking myself what has changed.
The Darien Scheme was an unsuccessful attempt by Scotland at that time to become a trading nation by establishing the colony of Caledonia on the isthmus of Panama on the Gulf of Darien in the late 1690s. The aim was for the colony to have an overland route linking the Pacific to the Atlantic. What the reference states is that the undertaking was beset by problems from the start in respect of bad planning and not enough being provided with regard to food. Ok that’s the Scots’ fault, however, there was poor trade along the route because of an English Trade Blockade, devastating epidemics of disease, collusion between the English East India Company, the British monarchy and the English Government as well as a failure to anticipate the Spanish Empire’s military response. It was finally abandoned in March 1700, following a siege by the Spanish that also blockaded the harbour.
As the Scottish Darien Enterprise was backed by 25-50% of all Scottish money it left the lowlands of Scotland almost bankrupt and was an important factor in weakening Scottish resistance to the Act of Union. The land that belonged to the Scottish colony of Caledonia lies almost all abandoned today, although, recent research has suggested that the trade could have been a major success providing major economic competition to England and Spain. Hmm?????
The combined votes of the Court Party and the Squadrone Volente (The Flying Squadron, the name of a political grouping in Scotland around 1700 under the leadership of the deposed Lord High Commissioner to the Parliament of Scotland, John Hay, second Marquess of Tweeddale), were enought to see the Act pass through the Scottish Parliament. Article 15 of the Union of the Parliaments allowed a payment to Scotland of £398,085 10s in lieu of payment of future national debt to the English Parliament. In actual fact this money was used as compensation for those investors in the Darien Scheme, 58.6% of the payment was allocated to the shareholders and creditors of the company. Bribery? Other sums were provided to the Earl of Glasgow, James Douglas, Second Duke of Queensberry for distribution. The Queen’s Commissioner received £12, 325 more than 60% of the extra sums paid. Bribery again?
Some of the money provided for spies such as Daniel Defoe whose first reports back described violent protests to the union. “for every Scot in favour, there are 99 against.” Sir John Clerk of Penicuik said in his memoirs of Daniel Defoe that no-one had known he was a spy. If they had the Edinburgh Mob would have pulled him apart.
Robert Burns referred to the bribery at the point of the union of the parliaments “We’re bought and sold for English Gold, such a parcel of rogues in a nation.”
The treaty was very unpopular from the start up to three-quarters of the population of Scotland were against the Union. The Convention of Royal Burghs and others petitioned against the Union:
“That it is our indispensable duty to signify to your grace that as we are not against an honourable and safe union with England, far less can we expect to have the condition of the people of Scotland, with relation to these great concerns, made better and improved without a Scots Parliament.”
On the date of the Union the treat of extreme civil unrest caused the Parliament to impose Martial Law.
The provisions of the two acts provided for the political principle of an incorporating union
Scottish Law would remain Scottish Law in all time coming;
The Church of Scotland would remain the main church in Scotland;
There was a ban on Roman Catholics taking the throne; and
There was a customs and monetary union.
A later amendment in 1707 decentralised power to the various districts of Scotland.
By all accounts this union of the parliaments was not wanted by the majority of Scots at the time and given what is stated above it could be said that the English used force and bribery to get the Scots’ elite to agree to the Union.
Lastly in respect of the Union of the Parliaments when you look at the names of those who voted for this Act, there is not one that does not have a royal title on the Role.
Scotland now has a devolved Parliament once more with de-centralised government in respect of:
- Education and Training
- Local Government
- Law, including most aspects of civil and criminal law, the prosecution system and the courts
- Social Work
- Tourism and Economic Development
- Some aspects of transport, including the Scottish road network, bus policy, and ports and harbours
- Planning and the Environment
- Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
- Sport and the Arts
- Miscellaneous matters such as compiling records and keeping public records
Since the Scottish Referendum in 2014:
- Tax Raising powers
- Variation of local Income Tax
- Independent Living budget and certain Social Security Benefits
In conclusion, with regard to the union of the parliaments:
- From the information researched the Union of the Parliaments was a Treaty of Union, not a case where Scotland belongs to England which would appear to be the view of England.
- Up to three quarters of the population of Scotland opposed The Union of the Parliaments
- Bribery appears to have been used to gain the required result
- Perhaps the sum owed to the English Parliament is actually only £398,085 10s in respect of national debt (or the equivalent today). This is the sum stated in the original agreement.
- There is no mention of England having to agree that Scotland can hold a Referendum. That would suggest that constitutionally, Nicola Sturgeon does not have to wait for agreement from Theresa May to agree to a referendum
Human Rights Law
The British Government (In Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales), were one of the founder members and contributors to the European Convention of Human Rights.
- Article 9 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
- Article 10 – Freedom of Expression
- Article 11 – Freedom of Assembly and Association
- Article 13 – Right of Effective Remedy in the European Court
Ok. I have said a bit about what I believe, however, I leave it to you to decide.
The information I have provided in this article comes from:
Wikipedia: The Acts of Union of the Parliaments
The European Convention on Human Rights
Wikipedia: The European Convention on Human Rights
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