And a richt guid 2015 to all!
With 2014 now well and truly history, with its ups and downs like the highly successful Commonwealth Games and the contentious No result from the Referendum, folks' minds will inevitably turn to thoughts on what 2015 could bring for Scotland.
Foremost is how a strengthened nationalist party would perform in the coming General Election, with its chief opponents, who supposedly won the Referendum, in disarray and scoring very low in the polling stakes. Should the May vote see the Labour Party lose the bulk of its Scottish seats to the Nationalists, the prognosis has already been made by Iain Martin, a political analyst,writing in the Daily Telegraph, that that would spell the end of the Union. In the same vein and from the same stable, Liam Halligan, a leading economist, predicted another Referendum before too long. Both are staunch Unionists, but also sufficiently realistic to see the writing on the wall.
What occupies centre stage at the moment is of course the Smith Report and the only partial implementation of its recommendations. Those were basically the same as put forward in the Cullen report of 2008, but never acted upon. Why did Scotland need an expensive Referendum to bring us full circle here? If the current impasse continues unresolved beyond the May elections, the likelihood of a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) by March 2016 by the Scottish Government, cannot be ruled out. Representing the sovereign will of the people of Scotland, they are in terms of the UN Charter fully authorised to call for a referendum, its voting from beginning to end to be monitored by the Council of Europe (CoE) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), something the Westminster government was derelict in not doing so for the past one, considering its seriousness of potentially dividing an established state.
To verify Scotland's status in international law, see http://www.electricscotland.com/independence/intro.pdf. outlining how its devolved Parliament came to be. Once independent, how should Scotland relate with its former UK fellow constituent nations? A senior SDA member, a very well informed source with international contacts, has mooted a strategic goal of a confederation of constitutionally independent states within the British Isles, including the whole of Ireland, with decision making on common issues on a basis of consensus, not by diktat laid on from above.
Another development is that of the drop in the price of crude oil and its repercussions for the UK finances. Quite apart from a real oversupply, there is also a political aspect at play, where the Saudis by keeping the price low by not cutting production, aim to eliminate the USA as a main competitor. The promotors of the US shale oil and gas production which accounted for a considerable size of the new oil that came to the market, wanting the USA to oust the Saudis as main producers, overextended themselves in the expensive and marginally economically profitable extraction of fracking the oil bearing shale. The drastically lowered oil price cannot sustain their debt repayment obligations and they are forced to cease operations, resulting in less oil coming to the market and will cause the oil price to rise again in due course. It is reckoned that the US energy sector by having indulged in cheap credit, is now burdened by close to 2 trillion USD in derivatives and loans, way over the sub prime mortgage debacle.
Meantime, the prospects for the declining Euro have not been improved by the decision to revalue the exchange rate of the Swiss Franc, which for years has been kept to an artificial rate of 1.2 SF in order to support the Euro. Eurozone investors in Switzerland have taken enormous losses, but the Swiss, in their own interests, were unable to carry on supporting the Euro indefinitely at their own expense.
Congratulations are due to Greece, which has taken the first step on the long road to reclaiming full sovereignty by saying NO to imposed austerity. However, by stating that they wish to stay in the EU and keep the Euro, they are repeating the same mistake the Yes campaign made with its "indy-lite" proposal of staying in the EU and keeping the pound. To form a clear idea of what it takes for Greece - and Scotland! - to be a truly independent and sovereign state, see 'Economy' with all its sub-sections under our Policies on this website.