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Thread: Introduction

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    Introduction

    This is a forum for us to follow the writings of Michael Hamilton on Scottish Independence. Hopefully you'll enjoy reading his thought provoking articles and do feel free to respond with your own thoughts and ideas.

    Alastair

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    Re: Introduction

    Who is Michael Hamilton? Where can we find a profile of this man and some more examples of his pronouncements?

    If his Draft Constitution of Scotland is an example of his vision for Scotland we’re all doomed.

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    Re: Introduction

    He is going to send in a proper intro to himself shortly which we'll post up.

    The point of this is to get feedback and criticism. As it happens I agree with not being a member of the EU should we get independence. I also agree with an unelected Senate.

    Alastair

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    Re: Introduction

    Thanks for that Alastair. Judging from what I’ve read so far by Mr. Michael Hamilton I fear that he has nothing to say that will bring succour and solace to those of us who call the regions beyond the Highland Line home. There is much to be said for the view held by many from those parts that though London ignores us and would rather forget we exist, Edinburgh hates us and would stop at nothing to deprive us of the few blessings we already have.

    Last year a Crofter’s Bill was introduced into the Scottish Parliament with the sole purpose of weakening the crofter’s security of tenure. Anyone with any knowledge of Highland history will not need reminding how hard fought that security was got. A delegation was sent up to the crofting communities to try and persuade them of the merits of what was being proposed. This delegation was not warmly received anywhere, I think they were thrown out of Applecross altogether. The Bill passed into law earlier this year but with most of the proposed changes thrown out.

    The hospital in Stornoway has been reduced to such an extent that only minor ailments can be treated there. Serious ailments are transferred to Inverness. Battling through a Highland winter to get to Inverness is no picnic, I can tell you.

    Several years ago a government department with its own board was set up to promote Gaelic in Scotland. For over a year now Gaelic Bibles have not been available for sale anywhere in Scotland. That means none, anywhere. It is estimated that it will be at least another year before any become available. Never, since the introduction of the printing presses about five hundred years ago, has this state of affairs existed in Scotland.

    The EU designated the Highland and Islands Region of Scotland as a deprived area requiring special assistance. Years, decades, of neglect by London and Edinburgh can be thanked for us getting that dubious distinction. In the 70s, 80s and 90s money and grants started to pour in, mostly from the EU, or as a result of EU directives. Home improvements, land improvements and infrastructure improvements were undertaken with vigour for the first time ever. Instead of one tractor per village every croft that wanted it fair bristled with the latest in agricultural machinery. The standard of living was raised from that of a Third World country to one that can match the best anywhere.

    Griping and whinging from Edinburgh and London has now resulted in most of those grants going to central government, to be distributed as it sees fit, instead of to the regions that need it. As a consequence precious little of it is now seen in the Highlands and Islands. I’m sure that it is merely a coincidence that the estates of the gentry and the lands of gentlemen farmers have not been as prosperous since the Clearances.

    Every person in Scotland is at present represented by eight MSPs; one constituency MSP and seven regional MSPs. Those MSPs are elected using a form of proportional representation called the Additional Member system. Few know them, fewer chose them and even fewer want them. God only knows what they all do to justify salaries that are four to five times an average working man’s salary. I’m sure two or three of them from each region could organise themselves into some form of second chamber if such were deemed necessary. Common sense is not a high priority in Edinburgh and, anyway, it’s not their money they’re spending.

    On top of all this we have local councils manned by thousands of useless bureaucrats; we have MPs to represent us at Westminster, more to represent us in the EU. Another Senate and tier of representation in my own opinion is the last thing Scotland needs.

    Forgive me if I seem to be coming across as a ‘tad’ disillusioned.

    Much is being spoken and written of late about an independent Scotland. But many of the complications involved in achieving this end are not grasped, not addressed, or simply misrepresented or ignored. It is all very well calling for an independent Scotland and putting forward all sorts of arguments for it, but those arguments have to be based on reality.

    Therefore the procedure necessary to achieve it must be the first consideration and that is easy enough to say but not as easy to do. The first point to consider and get straight before going any further is where stands Scotland now, what her position is vis-à-vis the United Kingdom.

    Usually when we talk of countries we mean sovereign states, the USA, Canada, Australia, NZ, etc, are all sovereign states, countries in their own right. Scotland, not being a sovereign state, is therefore not a country in the same sense of the word, and does not actually constitutionally exist, in the same sense of the word.

    On the 22nd July 1706 The Act ratifying the Treaty of Union was passed by Parliament:

    Article I of the Act of Union says:

    I. That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England shall upon the first day of May next ensuing the date hereof and forever after be United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain And that the Ensigns Armorial of the said United Kingdom be such as Her Majesty shall appoint and the Crosses of St Andrew and St George be conjoined in such manner as Her Majesty shall think fit and used in all Flags Banners Standards and Ensigns both at Sea and Land.

    This clearly states that Scotland and England will cease to exist as separate Kingdoms. They will be united into ‘One Kingdom’ and that Kingdom will be called ‘Great Britain’. Constitutionally, therefore, they are not now separate countries or sovereign states.

    In 1801 an Act of Union was passed uniting Great Britain and Ireland and the new state thus created was called, by statute, the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland’.

    In 1922, apart from the counties of Ulster, Ireland was granted independence forming the Irish Free State. To reflect this change the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act was passed in 1927 changing this countries’ name to ‘The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’. That is the name of the country in which we are living now.

    Since, constitutionally, Scotland and England do not exist as separate entities apportioning land and sea and air to them would be futile.

    So, to create a country, a sovereign state, called Scotland it would be necessary for a start to repeal the 1707 Act of Union, the 1801 Act of Union, and the Act which led to the creation of the Irish Free State, and an Act passed to reinstate Scotland as an independent country.

    Another Act would have to be passed to reinstate England as a sovereign state and give a legal authority to all Acts passed from the date of the Union of 1707 to the date of its dissolution.

    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as a sovereign state would cease to exist. The position of the Queen as head of state would cease to exist when the sovereign state of which she is head ceases to exist. If the position of the Queen ceases to exist her position as head of the Church of England ceases to exist, leaving it, where? More Acts would need to be passed to sort all that out.

    All Acts, Treaties, agreements etc relating to the UK and its involvement in international affairs and bodies like the Commonwealth, the EU, the UN, NATO, etc, would have to be repealed and others negotiated and passed by the two newly created countries separately.

    Would those Acts be passed in Edinburgh or at Westminster? Would England feebly acquiesce in granting Scotland everything she wants? Would other sovereign states feebly acquiesce in granting Scotland, or England, all their desires and demands, when they may feel that they may now have more clout and influence than when they were initially negotiating with the UK as one whole?

    If the Western Isles, the Orkneys and the Shetlands, vote overwhelmingly to remain in the Union, would they be allowed to do so? It seems that Michael Hamilton, in his ‘Draft Constitution’ has already designated those areas to ‘Semi-Shire’ status. Quite some cheek; already reduced to second class citizens and we haven’t even got independence yet. Looks to me like the population of the Isles have got little to look forward to.

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    Re: Introduction

    There is a similar situation in Canada with Quebec wanting to become a separate country. However the Inuit in Northern Quebec have said if Quebec ever separated from Canada then they would separate from Quebec and retain their ties with Canada.

    So what you are saying is that the EU was good for the Western Isles and you have considerable doubts about how they would fair in an Independent Scotland?

    I confess to not knowing too much about the Western Isles of Today. The reason I run such a large history site is that I have unlimited information to draw on all out of copyright. When it comes to Scotland of Today no-one seems to want to provide any information to me and most of what I find is in copyright and I can't get permission to use it.

    I have emailed to the local council in the Western Isles asking for information but never get a reply. Mind you that's not to say I fair any better with any other council in Scotland. I'm really not sure what it is about the people of Scotland as they seem unable to communicate these days.

    I've been trying to take an actual community in Scotland and turn it onto a kind of virtual community. That means of course that I need the co-operation of local people to make it happen. Wherever I've attempted this it's ended up being a dead project as no-one wants to help or contribute. I tried to engage the Gairloch and Loch Maree area. The only pictures I got sent were pictures taken by a Canadian who was on holiday in the area and saw my request for pictures so took some and sent them in. Not one local contributed anything.

    Unless we know of situations like you have discussed above we are simply not in a position to take that into account.

    Alastair

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    Re: Introduction

    On the 25th September 1237, the Treaty of York was negotiated between Henry III of England and Alexander II of Scotland. Among other things this Treaty addressed several feudal issues between Scotland and England concerning several nobles who held lands in both. The Bruce family is a good example of such a family. The question of where the Anglo-Scottish border should be was also settled. Bear in mind that what we now call the Highlands and Islands were not a part of Scotland at this time.

    Resolving those issues then, however, left the Scottish Kings and nobles free to concentrate on extending their possessions and authority to the North without having to watch their backs. From 1237 to 1266 the scheme looked to be succeeding, but events were to take a drastic turn that had not been envisaged. A whole new chapter of Scottish history was about to begin.

    By the 2nd July 1266 the ‘magnificent and illustrious princes the lords Magnus IV, by the grace of God illustrious King of Norway, with his solemn envoys..., on one side, and the lord Alexander III, by the same grace illustrious King of Scots, personally compearing there with the clergy and greater magnates of his realm, on the other’ were in a position to sign the Treaty of Perth.

    This Treaty transferred overlordship of the Kingdom of Man and the Isles, which included the Western Isles and parts of the West Highland Mainland, from the King of Norway to the King of Scotland.

    It stipulated that the rights of the local rulers and the inhabitants should not be infringed, they should be treated in the manner to which they had become accustomed, and that there should be no punishments for past activities.

    It was also agreed that Scotland should pay 4,000 merks down and 100 merks annually to Norway. The Orkneys and the Shetlands were to remain in the possession of the King of Norway. The Pope was to arbitrate in the event of any breach of the Treaty.

    The Macdonald Lords of the Isles continued to rule after that for over 200 years like kings. After them, the Macleods and the Macleans and others ruled their various territories like kings, answerable to no-one. Up to the 19th century, and in some cases into the 20th, those Isles were privately owned.

    Over the years and centuries since the provisions of those Treaties were breached, not least the three provisions mentioned above.

    Now the first question is: Should there be any redress?

    In English law, to this day, they have something called ‘Conflict of Law’. This means that the laws of any other country, or territory, outside the current borders of England and Wales are classed as ‘Foreign Laws’. Consequently, Scottish law is foreign law as far as English courts are concerned and they are not obliged to entertain it in their courts.

    I do not know if Scotland has such a provision. Scottish law is subordinate to UK and EU law by statute in most areas.

    Now the second question is: Where stands Scotland now?

    What law, what court, could we use to test our rights or the legal position, England, Scotland, Norway, the Vatican?

    I stand 100% with anyone whose desire it is to see a fully independent Scotland stand on her own and take her place among the sovereign countries of the world, do so as a result of her own exertions and achievements, and be able to sustain her position.

    However, Scotland is not ready, able, or I suspect, willing at the present time and in the present circumstances to go it alone, especially when one considers that many of the established countries of Europe appear to be disintegrating and going to the wall, their citizens on the verge of open rebellion. Even the USA is said to be on the verge of bankruptcy.

    In the meantime I do not feel constrained. I see no point in demanding freedom when I already have it. I have never met anyone who feels that they are not free now. Nobody has ever attempted to stop me coming and going as I please and the only block on my hopes and aspirations is my own ability and capability.

    I find it strange that anyone should think advocating Scotland’s suicide a mark of their patriotism.

    Ever since 1266 the Highlands and Islands have had to be wary of the machinations of their Lowland and Southern neighbours. About 800 years of our history is strewn with examples. This should go a long way towards understanding why the Highlander will politely refrain from blithely getting involved or going along with requests for information or suggestions of any kind. The lesson learnt of old is that it is more likely than not that they would live to regret it, so best to leave it. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule.

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