Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Monday Question: With the Scottish National Party Tipped to Triumph in Thursday's Scottish Parliament and Local Elections, Is It Time for Scotland to Go It Alone

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Monday Question: With the Scottish National Party Tipped to Triumph in Thursday's Scottish Parliament and Local Elections, Is It Time for Scotland to Go It Alone

Article excerpt

The 300th anniversary of the Act of Union between England and Scotland is marked this year, but at no point in recent times has the constitutional bond between the two nations been under such fierce scrutiny.

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have made clear their determination to preserve the union, but the historic link-up could be under renewed threat if the Scottish National Party sweeps to power in this week's elections for the Holyrood Parliament.

The SNP is promising a referendum on independence if it wins power, either alone or in coalition, and many are asking if the time is now right to allow Scotland to sever its ties with England and go it alone.

Ironically, a new ICM opinion poll yesterday showed that support for Scottish independence is higher among English voters than those north of the Border.

A majority oppose higher spending on Scots' households and votes for Scottish MPs on English-only issues, and 56% believe it is now time to end the 300-year-old union. But in Scotland itself only 41% back the move.

The two nations' voters also disagree about the continued justification of Scots receiving more public funding per head, 53% against in England to 55% for in Scotland.

But they are in agreement over the so-called West Lothian Question, with a majority of both wanting Scottish MPs banned from deciding English policy at Westminster. In England, 68% back the change with 58% supporting it in Scotland.

Yesterday, on the streets of Morpeth, there was little public support for retaining the historic union between the two nations, with most people questioned being in favour of independence for the Scots if they want it.

Ex-RAF man Isaac Arris, 71, of Stobhill, Morpeth, said: "I have always believed in the union, but now there is a lot of anti-English feeling in Scotland, where many people have jumped on this bandwagon for independence. …

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