A Tale of Two Unions

Once upon a time way back in 1707 , 125 Lords and Commissioners outvoted 102 Lords and Commissioners to pass the Scottish Act of Union with England.
the Duke of Queensberry was largely responsible for the successful passage of the Union act by the Scottish Parliament. In Scotland, he received much criticism from local residents, but in England he was cheered for his action. He had received around half of the funding awarded by the Westminster treasury for himself. In April 1707, he traveled to London to attend celebrations at the royal court, and was greeted by groups of noblemen and gentry lined along the road. From Barnet, the route was lined with crowds of cheering people, and once he reached London a huge crowd had formed. On 17 April, the Duke was gratefully received by the Queen at Kensington Palace.

In Scotland, some claimed that union would enable Scotland to recover from the financial disaster wrought by the Darien Scheme through English assistance and the lifting of measures put in place through the Alien Act to force the Scottish Parliament into compliance with the Act of Settlement.

The Alien Act provided that Scottish nationals in England were to be treated as aliens, and estates held by Scots would be treated as alien property,making inheritance much less certain. It also included an embargo on the import of Scottish products into England and English Colonies – about half of Scotland’s trade, covering goods such as linen,cattle and coal

The Act contained a provision that it would be suspended if the Scots entered into negotiations regarding a proposed union of the parliaments of Scotland and England. Combined with English financial offers to refund Scottish Lords losses on the Darien scheme, the Act achieved its aim, leading to the Acts of Union uniting the two countries as the Kingdom of Great Britain

Many Commissioners had invested heavily in the Darien Scheme and they believed that they would receive compensation for their losses; Article 15 granted £398,085 10s sterling to Scotland, a sum known as The Equivalent, to offset future liability towards the English national debt. In essence it was also used as a means of compensation for investors in the Company of Scotland’s Darien Scheme, as 58.6% was allocated to its shareholders and creditors (Which became the Royal Bank of Scotland, at time of Union)

Even more direct bribery was also said to be a factor.£20,000 (£240,000 Scots) was dispatched to Scotland for distribution by the Duke of Queensberry, the Queens Commissioner in Parliament received £12,325, more than 60% of the funding.  modern research has shown that payments were made to supporters of union that appear not to have been overdue salaries. At least four payments were made to people who were not even members of the Scottish Parliament.) Robert Burns referred to this:

We’re bought and sold for English Gold,
Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation.

Some of the money was used to hire spies, such as Daniel Defoe; his first reports were of vivid descriptions of violent demonstrations against the Union. “A Scots rabble is the worst of its kind,” he reported, “for every Scot in favour there is 99 against”. Years later Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, originally a leading Unionist, wrote in his memoirs that,

(Defoe) was a spy among us, but not known as such, otherwise the Mob of Edinburgh would pull him to pieces.

Defoe recalls that he was hired by Robert Harley.

The Treaty could be considered unpopular in Scotland: Sir George Lockhart, the only member of the Scottish negotiating team against union, noted that “The whole nation appears against the Union”and even Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, an ardent pro-unionist and Union negotiator, observed that the treaty was “contrary to the inclinations of at least three-fourths of the Kingdom”. Public opinion against the Treaty as it passed through the Scottish Parliament was voiced through petitions from shires, burghs, presbyteries and parishes,as they petitioned against it.

That it is our indispensable duty to signify to your grace that, as we are not against an honourable and safe union with England far less can we expect to have the condition of the people of Scotland, with relation to these great concerns, made better and improved without a Scots Parliament.

Not one petition in favour of an incorporating union was received by Parliament. On the day the treaty was signed, the St Giles  Cathedral in Edinburgh, rang the bells in the tune Why should I be so sad on my wedding day?  widespread riots and civil unrest in Glasgow and Edinburgh resulted in Parliament imposing martial law.

And so it was that the Union of Parliaments began, with no agreement of the populace of Scotland, but through the machinations and treachery of a handful of Scottish Lords encouraged by English bribery, threats and the use of spies such as Defoe to spread their propaganda.
The same methods of achieving Scottish acquiescence are evident to this day, as witnessed during the Scottish Independence referendum of 2014 and its aftermath.

In no sense can this union have ever been described as consensual, mutual and equal, nor can it ever be.

In 1707 Scotland had 45 representatives out of 558.
Today Scotland has 59 representatives out of 650 in the commons.

“Since the Union was to take effect from 1 May 1707, the Treaty declared that the first Parliament of Great Britain was to last for the duration remaining of the current parliament at Westminster.   Members of the Scottish parliament who had opposed the Union pressed for a general election in Scotland to elect the 45 Scots MPs.  But it was agreed instead that the first Scots MPs should be chosen from, and elected by, the existing parliament in Edinburgh rather than run the risk of allowing Scotland’s small electorate an early opportunity to elect an anti-union majority.   Virtually all the peers and commoners selected had supported the Union and most could be counted on to support the Court in the new Parliament.”

“Scots MPs accustomed to the ponderous formality of proceedings in Edinburgh found it necessary to adapt to the cut and thrust style of debate at Westminster.   The general election in 1708 gave Scottish voters their first chance of electing representatives to the united Parliament.   But the years immediately ahead saw Scottish MPs frequently at odds with British ministers over failure to honour vital aspects of the Treaty.”

At no time since, has any majority Scottish opinion held sway, as we shall be reminded again of today on the vote for renewing Trident nuclear weapons, hosted at Faslane.
Only one Scottish MP out of 59 is certain to support this, the vast majority of Scots MPs and MSPs are implacably opposed, but it will make no difference.

Where Westminster claims that we cannot decide our own future, or to even vote on a Scottish Independence referendum without their permission, and where they take us out of the EU despite Scotland voting by a substantial majority to remain, this is no Union, but a prison, and we are the captives.

The EU is an entirely different Union, one that is voluntary, where if you wish to hold a referendum on staying or leaving, they will not Interfere, nor endeavour to Influence your decision, unlike the British government who stated that in 2014 it was for Scots to decide to stay or remain, then proceeded to do everything in their power, by bribery (The Vow) Threat (Old folks pensions) and propaganda (Media) to prevent such a thing happening.

As part of the UK Union, Scotland is limited to 6 MSPs to represent us, as an Independent country, based on size of population we would have 12MEPs , double the amount that we have now.
Under the UK for instance, we are not given any voice at all in government consultations,but are represented by UK government, which has led to us having no say on quotas etc for our fishing Industry which is the largest white fish producer in Europe. Our own Scottish Agriculture and fisheries minister in Holyrood has never been let in the room to argue our case, Instead we were represented by an English Lord responsible for farming who knows not very much about fishing, nor adequately express our fishermens  concerns.

How EU law is decided is consultative and not arbitrarily imposed.

EU law is divided into ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ legislation. The treaties (primary legislation) are the basis or ground rules for all EU action.

Secondary legislation – which includes regulations, directives and decisions – are derived from the principles and objectives set out in the treaties.

How EU decisions are made

The EU’s standard decision-making procedure is known as ‘Ordinary Legislative Procedure’ (ex “codecision”). This means that the directly elected European Parliament has to approve EU legislation together with the Council (the governments of the 28 EU countries). The Commission drafts and implements EU legislation.

EU treaties

The European Union is based on the rule of law. This means that every action taken by the EU is founded on treaties that have been approved voluntarily and democratically by all EU member countries.

The Treaty of Lisbon increased the number of policy areas where ‘Ordinary Legislative Procedure’ is used. The European Parliament also has more power to block a proposal if it disagrees with the Council.

Regulations, Directives and other acts

The aims set out in the EU treaties are achieved by several types of legal act. These legislative acts include regulations, directives, recommendations and opinions. Some are binding, others are not. Some apply to all EU countries, others to just a few.

Application of EU law

EU law – which has equal force with national law – confers rights and obligations on the authorities in each member country, as well as individuals and businesses. The authorities in each member country are responsible for implementing EU legislation in national law and enforcing it correctly, and they must guarantee citizens’ rights under these laws.

The European Union is by no means perfect, but at least through consultation and working with allies with similar concerns, our voice can be heard. Nor are we tied into such a union under threat, coercion, blackmail, or bribery, nor subject to propaganda in the way the UK union has enfolded, and continues to enfold.

In a tale of two unions, I know which one I prefer, and I know which one it wouldn’t take over 310 years to get out of, if it doesn’t suit.


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About auldacquaintance

I am not a member of any political party. I am however a strong supporter of Scots Independence. Any views which I express in this Blog are purely my own. This Blog intends to be a place where I will be putting my views on Scots Independence. It will primarily concern itself with the upcoming Referendum In Scotland. However It will also be somewhat diverse in the range of day to day issues which are evident to me in modern day Scotland. Not all of it will be political, and indeed may take me off into avenues I am not even aware of yet. Please come and join in on this journey, and any comments are welcome provided they are not abusive! All the best from a new acquaintance! Rod
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8 Responses to A Tale of Two Unions

  1. Mike Jeffress says:

    Splendid, splendid analysis my Auld Acquaintace. If only those who voted to leave the EU could have been so informed prior to the disastrous vote, then things may have been quite different.

    • I don’t believe for one second that either side of the Tory squabble over the EU was meant to inform. What is important now is that the Scottish populace is fully Informed before Indy2..

  2. Jim Morris says:

    One factor of the Referendum of 2014 not mentioned was IMO the fiddle of the Postal Vote, which may also have been active in the EU Referendum as well.

  3. bringiton says:

    History now tells us that England doesn’t do unions.
    It is either their way or the highway,except of course for Scotland who can only do the highway option if England says so (or so they claim).
    Scottish Unionists are now overtly supporting a xenophobic undemocratic system of governance in London and the fig leaf of “partnership” has finally been blown away to reveal English nationalism as the dominant force in these islands.
    UK no more,union no more,Europe no more…….

  4. Pingback: A Tale of Two Unions | pictishbeastie

  5. BampotsUtd.wordpress.com says:

    Reblogged this on Bampots Utd.

  6. Scotland voted yes in 2014 it was Ml5 that voted no…

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