Scotland

Tony Barber

The No victory in Scotland’s independence referendum demonstrates, once again, the wisdom of the aphorism about historical change contained in The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel about Italian unification in the mid-19th century: “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.” Read more

Gideon Rachman

By Gideon Rachman
Until recently, I thought I did not much care if Scotland voted for independence. But, now, as the prospect becomes very real, I am surprised by how upset I feel. I follow the polls obsessively. I fume at the incompetence of the No campaign and the insularity of the Yes. And my sense of foreboding grows as the day grows closer.

Marina Silva, a political outsider who is threatening to end the 12-year reign of Brazil’s powerful centre-left Workers’ party, is quenching Brazilians’ thirst for change.

Qatar’s foreign minister has rejected claims Qataris are funding Isis in Syria and tells the west to back moderate Sunni fighting the Assad regime.

• Islamist extremists such as Isis are exploiting the conventions of X-rated movies in their own hardcore film productions, writes The Atlantic.

• Russian academic Sergey Karaganov argues that the delusions of a west that has become a directionless gaggle are responsible for triggering the conflict over Ukraine.

• An independent Scotland would face running a gauntlet to gain admission to the EU. Read more

Scottish referendum outcome too close to call
A late surge in support for Scotland’s pro-independence camp a week ahead of the referendum has set alarm bells ringing among politicians in London. James Blitz is joined by Michael Stott and Mure Dickie to discuss the arguments being used to sway Scottish voters

Tony Barber

In his 2011 book ‘Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe’, the historian Norman Davies writes: “That the United Kingdom will collapse is a foregone conclusion. Sooner or later, all states do collapse… Only the ‘how’ and the ‘when’ are mysteries of the future.”

A ‘Yes’ vote in Scotland’s September 18 referendum is a distinct possibility. According to Peter Kellner, one of Britain’s foremost opinion poll experts, the pro-independence forces were, by the start of this month, gaining about four votes for every one lost, whilst the unionists were losing about two supporters for every one they were winning. Read more

With Scotland to vote on its independence from the UK on September 18, the outcome is no longer looking so certain.

  • The pro-independence side is enjoying a late surge in what heralds a long fortnight for the pro-union camp, writes the FT’s John McDermott
  • In an ironic twist to the campaign, ‘No’ activists are using patriotism against the nationalists in a “bloody fight about emotions”
  • The BBC has been accused of timidly letting SNP leader Alec Salmond “off the hook” in the independence debate
  • Who is right about the future oil riches held by the North Sea, a bitter bone of contention in the independence debate?

 Read more

♦ A potential split from Kiev is dividing the 200,000 miners around Donetsk whose livelihoods depend on Ukraine’s demand for coal.

♦ Anti-Assad rebel Abu Omar’s darkly comedic ‘Blockade Meals’ blog contains tips and recipes to help Syrians survive life under siege.

♦ Syria is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. More than 60 have been killed there since the current conflict began and many others have been kidnapped as they become pawns in the conflict.

♦ Simon Schama argues that Scotland‘s exit from the ‘splendid mess’of Britain’s multicultural union would be a disaster.

♦ The town of Chibok, deep in the northeastern Nigeria bush and down the most Boko Haram-dense road in the country, is gripped by fear and pain after the terror group kidnapped more than 200 of its daughters. Read more

Gideon Rachman

As diplomatic discussions with Russia get underway, the fate of Crimea looms large. An obvious question is whether the west could or should accept the de-facto annexation of Crimea by Russia. Beyond simple appeasement of Russia, the argument to do this would be that Crimea has long been an oddity in Ukraine. It was part of Russia, until it was gifted to Ukraine by Kruschev in the 1950s. It is the only bit of Ukraine that has a Russian-speaking majority. Why not just hand it over? Read more

By Gideon Rachman
Some years ago, I made a futile attempt to persuade a Chinese diplomat that Taiwan should be allowed to declare independence – if that is what its people want. “If Scotland voted to be a separate nation,” I argued, “England would not stop it.” The diplomat smiled sceptically, like a man recognising a particularly crude falsehood. “I know that’s not true,” he said. “England would never accept Scottish independence. It would invade.”

Will Scotland go it alone?
The referendum on Scottish independence takes place in seven months and if the Scots vote to go it alone, they will break up a union which has existed for over 300 years. On Friday, Prime Minister David Cameron made an impassioned plea to Scots: “We want you to stay.” But Mr Cameron’s intervention has been treated by the Scottish Nationalists as a sign of panic from the government in London.