Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 6-May-07
Scottish National Party (SNP) victory threatens divorce from England

Web Log - May, 2007

Scottish National Party (SNP) victory threatens divorce from England

Scotland and England were united on May 1, 1707, 300 years ago, and winner of Scotland's midterm elections wants to end the Union in 2010.

Scotland may be part of the United Kingdom, but the relationship between the Scots and the English hasn't always been smooth sailing.

Like many other things, sex and money are heavily involved in the history.

If you've been watching the HBO TV series, The Tudors, then you know that King Henry VIII wanted to dump his wife, a Spanish princess, for the lovely Anne Boleyn. But the Catholic Pope refused to grant the divorce, so Henry made himself head of the Church (later known as the Anglican Church) in England, and granted himself the divorce. He married the lovely Anne Boleyn in 1533 (and later beheaded her, but that's another story). After six wives, Henry finally died in 1547, leaving no male heir.

After much intrigue, by the 1560s we had Henry's daughter, Elizabeth I, as the Protestant (Anglican) Queen of England, and Henry's grand-niece, Mary Stuart, as the Catholic Queen of Scotland. So you had two chicks running two different countries, favoring two different religions, ruling peoples that didn't like each other. There's no way that this could have ended well.

Mary, Queen of Scots, ended up in Elizabeth's dungeon for many years, and was finally executed in 1587. The death of a Scottish Catholic Queen at the hands of an English Protestant Queen triggered one of the most memorable crisis wars of the last millennium: The attack of Spain's huge Invincible Armada, an attack whose failure has been commemorated for centuries in mythic rhyme and song.

The fault line between the English and the Scots simmered for decades until 1638, when a war between the English and the Scots triggered the English Civil war of the 1640s. Relations between the two remained completely unsettled, and in 1701 when King Louis of France began a major war of conquest (known as the War of the Spanish Succession). Scotland was allied with France in this war, and it looked as if England's entire empire, including the American colonies, was in danger, and that a new English Civil War was about to begin.

England miraculously and unexpectedly defeated the French army in the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, slowing Louis' plans. (Louis' final defeat came in August 1709, at the battle of Malplaquet, the bloodiest battle in Europe for the entire eighteenth century.)

However, having lost its ally, Scotland was finally forced to unify with England, and on May 1, 1707, almost exactly 300 years ago, to the day, the Act of Union was signed.

The idea of returning to pre-1707 status with an independent Scotland has never died. The Scottish National Party (SNP) was formed in 1934, but never did very well until the generational Awakening era of the 1960s, when it began to grow. It gained its first real victory in 1997, with a "devolved" Scottish Parliament (Holyrood), meaning that Scotland had a Parliament with some independent powers for the first time since 1707.

The recent election gave the SNP a plurality in the Scottish Parliament for the first time, beating out the Labour party by one seat.

SNP leader Alex Salmond immediately said, "It is very clear indeed which party has lost this election, and the Labour party no longer has any moral authority left to govern Scotland. Scotland has changed for ever and for good. Never again will we say that the Labour party assumes it has a divine right to rule Scotland."

Salmond can't get what he wants without allying with other parties, and it's far from clear that the other parties are as interested in Scottish independence as he is. It seems fairly certain that, even though international leaders are fearing a period of political chaos, chaos is inevitable.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, what's interesting about this whole thing is how it illustrates that differences across fault lines almost never seem to heal.

I saw a feel-good news story a few days ago about two women, one Palestinian and one Israeli, who had gone on a diet together, and "learned that they had much more in common than they had thought." A while ago I saw a similar story about Israelis and Palestinians playing basketball together. The moral is that just a few more basketball games and diet programs, and all the differences will be resolved.

Here in North America, it's been centuries since the invasions by Spain and France. European settlers have been intermarrying with indigenous peoples for all these centuries, and they all speak the same language. And yet, there's still a major simmering fault line between descendants of Europeans and indigenous people (Aztecs and Mayans) in Mexico. The bloody Mexican Revolution of the 1910s was fought along that fault line, and the level of political conflict still exists today. A similar fault line between European and indigenous Amerindian peoples exists throughout Latin America.

Although not as severe any more, the fault line between Europeans and native American Indians still exists today, and is maintained with Indian reservations.

June 2005: Jean-Claude Juncker, Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac
June 2005: Jean-Claude Juncker, Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac

So, some fault lines eventually disappear, but many continue for centuries and even millennia, resulting in one crisis war after another.

Generational Dynamics predicts that there'll be a new West European war, as has happened so many times in the last millennium, and it looks as if a component will be a new war between England and France.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel

The bitter feelings between the French and "Anglo-Saxon society" became apparent in June, 2005, at a bitter EU summit meeting, reminding everyone of the 1066 war when the Norman French conquered the Saxons in England. In March of this year, Europe commemorated its 50'th birthday, but a renewal of the vitriolic arguments was prevented only by means of the feminine touch of Germany's Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

So what does the fault line between the Scots and the English mean today? Assuming that the war between the Normans and the Saxons is re-fought once more, which side will Scotland be on? The sudden success of the Scottish National Party at least raises the question. (6-May-07) Permanent Link
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