Sunday, 17 May 2015


Could north of England really break away from the rest of Britain and become part of 'New Scotland'?

Nicola Sturgeon criticised the Conservatives' plan to replace the Human Rights Act

Nicola Sturgeon criticised the Conservatives' plan to replace the Human Rights Act

BY JON STONE – 15 MAY 2015

A petition calling for the North to secede from England and become part of Scotland has got over 28,000 signatures. How practical would this be?

Where would become part of Scotland?

The authors of the original petition have drawn a line south of Sheffield, Liverpool, and Hull.

The new border would run between the River Dee and the mouth of The Humber, with the three UK regions of the North West, the North East, and Yorkshire and the Humber included.

Stoke, Nottingham, and Derby would narrowly miss out on being part of New Scotland.
Why do people want it to happen?

The petitioners feel that the Government of the UK is “becoming increasingly irrelevant to the north of England”.

The only cabinet minister with a seat in the North of England is George Osborne himself, who represents Tatton and Cheshire.

“The needs and challenges of the north cannot be understood by the endless parade of old Etonions lining the frontbenches of the House of Commons. The north of England should join the newly independent Scotland and regain control over its own destiny,” they say.

“We, the people of the north, demand that in the event that Scotland becomes independent the border between England and the New Scotland be.

The petition comes after an election in which Scotland was swept by an SNP positioning itself to the left of the Labour party, a stance apparently appealing to many northern cities. A poll before the election found that millions of people in England and Wales would vote SNP if given the opption.
How could the North join Scotland?

Northern secession to Scotland would face number of significant hurdles. At the very least, there is a precedent that a referendum would have to be held and won.

After a referendum, the results would have to be accepted by both the UK government and the Scottish government.

But even getting to the point at which a referendum was held would be difficult. The north as a whole has no regional assembly or parliament like Scotland in which such a debate could be conducted and separatist politicians elected to.

Realistically, individual local councils would either have to hold referenda, or a vote would have to be organised independently of the state using civil society organisations.

It would be nigh-on impossible to get all the 70+ northern local authorities to agree to the former, while the latter would probably be ignored by central government.

If a referendum was secured it would be a huge turnaround from the one held under the last Labour government where the North East rejected even having a regional assembly.

Border towns could in theory hold local referendums and secede in a piecemeal manner. Other possibilities like unilateral annexation of the North by the Scottish Parliament or armed insurrection are even more remote possibilities.
Has this ever happened anywhere before?

The good news for secessionists is that transfers of territory between states have historically been fairly common. The bad news is that annexations have unfortunately have historically usually involved violence.

The most recent examples tend to involve Russia. South Ossetia, a disputed territory in the caucasus, is being absorbed into Russia after a brief war in 2008. A 1992 referendum held in the region was not recognised as valid by most countries.

The Crimea has also been annexed from Ukraine by Russia, though again under circumstances of conflict. A referendum was held in the territory in 2014, though again, it was not widely recognised.

It could be argued that conversely, many former constituent republics of the USSR were transferred to the European Union after gaining national independence.

Further reading

Sturgeon pumped up for showdown with Cameron as SNP demand 'priority devolution' of powers over welfare, business taxes, employment and minimum wage and welfare

PM open to devolution powers debate

Draft Scotland Bill 'falls short'
Historical Whitewash: Great Britain 

Must be Held Accountable for its Role in the Nakba

By Nu'man Abd al-Wahid

May 16, 2015 "Information Clearing House" - "Mondoweiss" - Nothing more exemplifies the historical whitewash of British rule in Palestine between 1917 and 1948 than the response (or lack of) to David Cameron’s speech in the Israeli Kneeset in March 2014. Therein he briefly propounded the much overlooked fact that Britain was the main western supporter of the Zionist colonial experiment in Palestine from the very beginning.

“From the early pioneers,” boasted Cameron, “the men and women of the Palestine Exploration Fund, who saw the Jewish history in this land and the possibilities for the future to the Balfour Declaration – the moment when the State of Israel went from a dream to a plan Britain has played a proud and vital role in helping to secure Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people.”

Cameron clearly defined the Balfour declaration as the moment Israel went from “a dream to a plan.” This plan was then ‘secured’ which strongly seems to be euphuism for implemented. More so, he then, somewhat self-incriminatory, said that British imperialism “played a proud and vital role in helping to secure Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people.”

Not one commentator in the UK, critical or otherwise, latched on to this crucial point. Presumably, it’s far less taxing on one’s moral conscience to emulate American, Arab and even Israeli commentators on the current Palestinian situation than face up to your own government’s historical criminal culpability – a culpability which Cameron drew attention to at the Knesset of all places?

Obviously, Cameron naturally never outlined how Britain ‘secured’ the homeland for the Jewish people.

However, it was in these years, i.e. 1917-1948, that the “only democracy in the Middle East” as Zionist propagandists lovingly refer to their colonial project was secured by Britain by first, denying Palestinians representative democracy which would have inevitably limited colonial immigration to their country. Secondly, when the first Palestinian uprising finally exploded in 1936 it was the British that led the repression against the Palestinian resistance and in doing so, also educated the nascent Zionist-settler forces on how to military crush and oppress the indigenous population.[1]

By the time the state of Israel was declared on 14th May 1948, 400,000 Palestinians and 250 villages and towns had already been ethnically cleansed by the Zionist forces under Britain’s secured watch.[2] Further ethnic cleansing took place after the Zionists declared their state. Ghassan Kanafani, the Palestinian revolutionary, was to argue that the Zionists in the late 1940’s were plucking “the fruits of the defeat of the 1936 revolt which the outbreak of the war had prevented it from doing sooner.”[3]

Progressive British activists, writers and politicians rarely acknowledge, if ever, the central role played by their Empire in laying the foundations and facilitating the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Cameron’s and Great Britain’s national hero, Winston Churchill on the other hand, specifically justified the “proud and vital role” of the Empire at the Peel Commission on Palestine in 1937 on this basis:

“I do not admit that the dog in the manger has the final right to the manger, even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit, for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to those people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race, or, at any rate, a more worldly-wise race, to put it that way, has come in and taken their place. I do not admit it. I do not think the Red Indians had any right to say, ‘The American Continent belongs to us and we are not going to have any of these European settlers coming in here’. They had not the right, nor had they the power.”[4]

As Churchill strongly implies the Zionist project with its attendant occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine, i.e. the Nakba, had nothing to do with Jewish history as discovered by the so-called ‘Palestine Exploration Fund’ and everything to do with racist colonialism backed by the power of the foreign policy of an Empire that has escaped accountability for its role in this ongoing tragedy.

Nu'man Abd al-Wahid is a UK based freelance Yemeni-English writer specialising in the political relationship between the British state and the Arab World. My focus is on how the United Kingdom has historically maintained its interests in the the Middle East. A collection of articles are posted at .


[1] Laleh Khalili, “The Location of Palestine in Global Counterinsurgencies”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 42, Issue 3, pg. 413-433 and Matthew Hughes, The Banality of Brutality: British Armed Forces and the Repression of the Arab Revolt in Palestine, 1936-1939, English Historical Review, 124 (2009).

[2] Rosemarie M. Esber, “Under the Cover of War”, Aribicus Books and Media, Alexandria (V.A), 2009. This book deals with the ethnic cleansing in final six months

[3] Ghassan Kanafani, ‘The 1936-39 Revolt in Palestine’, Tricontinental Society, London, 1980, pg. 30.

[4]Quoted in Angela Clifford, ‘Serfdom Or Ethnic Cleansing? – Churchill’s Evidence to the Peel Commission (1937)’, Athol Books, Belfast and London, 2003, pg.34

© 2015 Mondoweis

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