In Scotland, the three parties that favour independence (the SNP, the Greens and Alba) are on course between them to win a clear majority this week. If Westminster permits a second referendum, and allows it to be conducted fairly, the likely result is the end of the union.
Until a few years ago, Welsh independence looked like an eccentric hobby; those in favour tended to peak at about 10%. But a poll in March showed that, of those who expressed an opinion, 39% of Welsh people said they would vote to leave the union. Plaid Cymru and perhaps the Greens, both of which favour independence, should make some gains tomorrow.
Northern Ireland’s centenary this week is almost certain to be its last. Reunification is likely to happen slowly: it could be disastrous if rushed. But, prompted by the chaos of Brexit and a customs border in the Irish Sea, it has begun to look inexorable. A poll last week showed that a small majority of those with an opinion in Northern Ireland believe reunification will happen in their lifetimes. That creaking sound? It’s the ship of state starting to break apart.
That two parts of this main island should break free and independent is assumed to be both likely and a good thing. But that the unification of the two parts of the other main island would also be a good thing.
Logically we could run either way. That people who share an island but have different societies, cultures, should be allowed to rule themselves as they wish. Or, the other way, an island is an island and should be united.
Yes, I know, at least a century of insistence that Ireland must be united and all that. It is different. Politically it is different that is.
But still that breach in the insistences is interesting, isn’t it? No one at all thinks that the 6 counties could or should go independent. But also that Wales and Scotland could or should. It’s an interesting difference.
The – bare – majority in the 6 counties is arguably more different from the other 26 than Wales is from England. Certainly more different than Glamorgan is – say. Hawick is more like Otterburn than it is Glasgow. Even got the same landowner, Buccleuch owns it all in both doesn’t he?
Even I can think of reasons why they’re not in fact the same situations. But why is it that the general assumption is so different? Why is Welsh independence a good thing and Ulster independence so ridiculous as to not even be considered?