Gerry Mooney, senior lecturer in Social Policy and Criminology, and staff tutor of Social Sciences at the Open University in Scotland, spoke Wednesday about Scotland possibly seceding from the United Kingdom.
The program, “Goodbye to the United Kingdom? Contested National Identities, Scottish Independence….and the 2012 Olympic Games!” was part of the Politics and Society Colloquium Series and was sponsored by both the department of government, law, and international relations and the department of history.
Mooney made his presentation in Freed Curd Auditorium to a crowd of over 80 students and professors.
Mooney, prior to his speech in Murray, had been on a three-week tour, visiting several schools, primarily sects of the University of Wisconsin, who are part of the Experience Scotland Program, a program similar to Murray State’s Cooperative Center for Study Abroad program.
Kathy Callahan, assistant professor of Humanities and Fine Arts, was instrumental in getting Mooney to Murray State.
“I think it’s important to understand the relationship between England, Scotland and the United Kingdom,” Callahan said. “Scotland for years has felt like second class citizens. England, because of its population base, is where parliament is and they get first crack at everything. Scotland is beginning to think, perhaps, they’ll be better on their own.”
Callahan said devolution occurred for Scotland, the granting of powers from a central government or sovereign power to a subsidiary government, in 1999, this being its first step toward independence.
In Scotland’s case, devolution meant the establishment of a local parliament. She said some in Scotland, especially the Scottish National Party (SNP), the majority political party, do not think having their own parliament was a far enough separation from the UK.
On Sunday, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron and the First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, signed an agreement at St. Andrew’s House, the Scottish government building, which will allow for a vote for referendum from the UK in the fall of 2014.
If the 2014 vote passes, Scotland would in effect become its own country, independent from the UK.
Mooney’s presentation looked at the effects of the 2012 London Olympics on Scotland’s movement towards independence, specifically at Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony, the Olympics debatable success, its impact on Scottish nationalism and on the image of the UK having one national identity.
“There is no one single ‘Island Story’ that is the UK,” Mooney said, “but multiple and contested stories reflecting multiple and contested histories.”
He spoke about the history that has led up to the 2014 vote, and the vastly shifting political direction in which Scotland is now headed. The next two years he said, represent a hugely historic period for the future shape of Scotland and the rest of the UK.
“There are increasingly political divergences between Scotland and the UK,” Mooney said. “The political- and policy-making landscape of Scotland is becoming increasingly distinct.”
The current debate in Scotland is between which of the four-future paths the country might take.
The first option is for Scotland not to leave the UK.
The second possibility is called “Devolution Plus”, which would result in the UK granting several more independent powers to Scotland, the same premise as when they gained the right to have their own parliament in 1999; they would retain that right, plus gain additional rights.
Another choice is known as “Devolution Max”, sometimes referred to as “Independence Lite”, it is an even more extreme version of devolution which would grant Scotland a vast amount of independence and powers without actually leaving the UK.
The final option would be total independence from the UK of which approximately 38 percent of Scotland favor, and is what the SNP hope to achieve.
Talk of independence raises a number of questions for the UK and Scotland. Would Scotland be able to survive economically and financially if they separated from the UK? What portion of the Royal Navy and RAF would Scotland control? Would the Queen remain head of state, and if not, who then? Would Scotland be permitted or want to join the EU? Would they stay part of NATO? The UK has a vast fleet of nuclear submarines bases stationed in Scotland, the UK’s main nuclear deterrent, what would become of these?
Martin Battle, assistant professor of Humanities and Fine Arts, who also helped in getting Mooney to come to Murray said the consequences of Scotland’s possible seceding from the UK is not only a big issue overseas, but also is important for Americans and even students and citizens of Murray to pay attention to as it will be affecting Britain, one of America’s closest allies.
“This is a very exciting time for Scotland whether they become independent or not,” said Battle, “It is a great day for the people of Scotland as they have asserted their right to make their own history and decide their own future.”
Mooney spoke again Thursday at the department of history’s research seminar, discussing the history of Open University and its relationship with the BBC, not Scotland’s independence.
Written by Ben Manhanke, Staff writer.