Friday, 13 January 2012

Independence Referendum - A Few Links

I thought I would post a few links relevant to this week's headlines for my overseas readers. Not all reflect my own views but it's only right that all sides of the debate are given equal publicity.  If you know of any others, please put the link in the comments.

A generous offer to Scotland could keep the Union safe

London: very cross and not amused

Interviewing Alex Salmond, the man who wants to break up Britain

Salmond fishing

Why Devo Max will be on the ballot.

Only a fool would call the Scottish independence referendum at this distance

The perils of referendums

Referendum - the missing middle way

Clare Galloway (this is a Facebook link and I'm not sure if it is accessible to everyone).


microdave said...

Some thoughts from a fellow Scot, in relation to renewable energy:

pa_broon74 said...

I find the comments in news paper articles to be the most depressing thing about it all.

So much misinformation flying around. It seems you can't be pro-Scottish without being anti-British or English which just isn't true.

Plus the notion that we'd be weaker apart, realistically, other than self-determination, how far apart politically & economically are we actually likely to be?

subrosa said...

Thanks for the link Microdave.The writer has a few points wrong though. The failure of the Darien affair was because the Spanish and English blocked all access to the Scots.

But I wouldn't mind having a coffee with the writer. Some of their points I understand.

subrosa said...

That's why I picked blogs mainly pa-broon. There will be continual misinformation from both sides. The skill is sorting it out.

footdee said...

Thanks for the link Microdave.The writer has a few points wrong though. The failure of the Darien affair was because the Spanish and English blocked all access to the Scots."--------------yes thats true ,the Scottish govt [the monarchy] was based in london ,listening to courtiers pushing the English interests aka the East india company who did`nt want a rival trading company --the parliament in Edinburgh was managed by a privy council which did what it was told ----------A lesson to us not to be ruled by a govt with different interests from Scotlands

subrosa said...

Footdee, I know the Darien affair was far more complex than the one sentence in which I explained it, but thanks for confirming it in more detail.

Michele said...

Darien? Far more complex Subrosa! I would say so, but rather than investigate the realities of the 1700's it seems many just want to blame the English for everything.

What about the choice of location? The problems with the location were huge, the area was mostly conquered by the Spanish and they didn´t fancy cutting anyone else in on their prize. King William had a agreement with the Spanish and Scotland was a foreign nation, certainly not an ally and so he was not obliged to offer any assistance; to do so would have invalidated the rather touchy agreement with Spain. So really,why should he have done so?

In addition the area was dense jungle, with a humid climate and rife with disease.

The colonists undercut the Spanish prices (who were the colonial power in residence - NOT the English, regardless of some Scottish accounts) and they were unsurprisingly, soon attacked by the Spanish.

Their problem, and one they had not organised at all, was resupply. They seemed to have every expectation that the English would be eager to come their assistance - but again I ask, why would they? You were a foreign power intent on damaging our trading and colonial interests - so what on earth made you think that we owed you anything?

Surprisingly, you have never pointed the finger at the one nation that took active action to destroy the colony, merely wanting to heap the blame on the English again.

And what about YOUR actions? Bad planning, inadequate funding, stupid location and unrealistic expectations! Stand up and be counted.

And such was the Scottish sense of aggrievement that in 1705 an English ship called the 'Worcester' docked at Leith in Edinburgh. Such was the determination to blame everyone but themselves over the failure of Darien project that the Secretary of the Company of Scotland (perhaps keen to deflect attention) suggested they were pirates who had attacked a company ship off the coast of India.

The unfortunate Captain Green and a couple of his crewmen were executed on what even the Scottish historians call flimsy evidence and what the English call no evidence at all.

Some would say that the failure of the Darien project rested solely on the intransigence of the Scottish organisers, the real Spanish opposition to its location, and the English holding to their agreement with Spain. You may call it 'fear of Spain' if you will and if it makes you feel better, it makes not difference.

That the East India Company was opposed to the project in not in dispute, of course they would be. Your SNP has been equally ferocious about fighting off projects that would damage their perceived special interests. The situation is not unique.

Seems to me, that some Scots' determination to place the blame for the destruction of the ill-fated project firmly at the feet of the English is just another example of a national antipathy for a larger and more successful neighbour. And if so, that is your problem and not ours.

Michele said...

PS - while William was defacto King of Scotland, we share a monarchy NOT a government. Scottish government was based in Scotland not in London.

It was the merchants who tried to raise money in London, which was the home of the East India Company for heaven's sake. It's about a realistic as me trying to raise money to invest in a Whisky business for England in the Scottish capital. It aint gonna happen!!

subrosa said...

It is indeed Michele. I've three books about it!

Your summary is excellent although I never formed the opinion - from the few books I've read - that the Scots actually expected the English to help them directly - more that they didn't expected the English to play the part they did.

Oh I will stand up and be counted. It was a daft project altogether and the population were lied to by their leaders, who - like all leaders- were looking only at the financial rewards they'd receive. I would go as far as saying the instigators of the project didn't even look to the short term, only the immediate.

No that doesn't make me feel better at all, but I stick to my one sentence, off the cuff remark I gave to Microdave, because that is the reason it failed - rescue and/or supplies were blocked. It was to correct part of an article if you've read it.

But I appreciate your knowledge of the subject. I found it fascinating - particularly to note just how easy sensible people can be so easily manipulated.

Perhaps a lesson to remember in these political times. :)

Michele said...

Hi Subrosa - I tried to post this comment earlier, but it appeared to disappear into limbo, so my apologies if it appears twice, or something similar.

If you are interested in the topic may I recommend the Glasgow University's special collections department (link

This contains some of the original manuscripts and a fine outline of the unfolding events. The English were are war with the French at this time thanks to William, and his agreement with the Spanish meant that he didn't have to watch his back. It was William through Parliament that issued the order to the governors of the West Indian colonies not to support the Scottish Colony. In 1699 communication from the colony did not mention any hardships whatsoever. The problem started in the hot season when the heat and disease decimated the colony. It was disbanded and the colonist found refuge with the Dutch, French and English plantations owners.

The only record that I can confirm where support was withheld was from a ship in the second immigration fleet that put into Montserrat and the Governor refused to resupply it; however, as the original manuscript goes onto to say:

“The Governor by noe means would suffer them to bring one bottle of water telling them he was discharged to give any aid or assistance to the Scots Collony, But their being some particular "Gentlemen upon that island which were intimatly aequant with some of oure officers which went ashore entertained them kyndly & complemented them with some oranges, rum and suggar & lykways told them the collony was deserted & dispersed themselves amonge the Dutch, France and English plantations which was not at all beleeved by us.”

So the break-up of the colony was already known.

Seeing as the resupply of the colony was the responsibility of the Scottish company; and not that of the English it seems very ingenious to blame the disaster solely on the English. A sort of nationalist avoidance of blame. It is that which I take exception to. There may be authentic records of the English actually refusing to help the suffering of the first colony, but I can't find them. There was no English naval action to prevent the resupply ship arriving from Scotland in 1699, it was wrecked through bad weather; and the second resupply ship reached the colony too late to be of use.

There are some really interesting stories relating to this enterprise, like the two brothers who were authorised to support the colonists but made off with the ships and turned to piracy - but that is a story for another day!!!!

PS - I find it difficult to find older posts unfortunately without an archive - so if I miss some of your comments on previous occasions, it's because I can't find them not because I don't care!!

subrosa said...

Hi Michele. I do appreciate the time you've spent writing your comment and must also thank you for the link as it's one I didn't know existed.

It's some years since I studied events so it's good of you to recall them and refresh my memory.

My recollection, or impression from reading one of my books, is that the Spanish were the first to block the seas to avoid any aid reaching the colony. By that time many of the original colonists were dead - as you say because of the heat and infected water in the main.

I reiterate, my point was not made as an attack on the English but what I saw as a statement of fact from my limited knowledge. If I was incorrect I apologise. It is not my habit to be an England-basher, no matter how tempting it is at times for it to be the easy response. :)

Now you've rekindled my interest in the subject - and I know have the internet at my disposal - I will do some more reading.

I do have an archive Michele, it's in the rh column but now as a drop down menu. Also there's a search widget which works reasonably well (for me anyway!)

Michele said...

Yippee - found the archive; doh, it only needed looking for!!

One of the reasons that I like reading your blog is that I find you are one of the moderate commentators; alas not all supporters of the 'cause' *grin* are so circumspect, and abuse of the English seems almost de rigeur! And one of the cudgels to beat the English as a nation has been the Failure of the Darien project. I wanted to set the record straight.

The link, I think, will give you much pleasure, and do look out for the story of the two brothers and the purloining of the supply/support ships - it's a classic, Sir Walter Scott could not have imagined a tale so twisted and comedic. Though I think, to be perfectly honest, It may have been a delinquent Englishman who set them on their course to piracy on the high seas.

Have a great day now. regards

subrosa said...

Michele, you have me agog with anticipation. Would you mind giving me the link to the archive please?

Thanks for your kind words. I've been involved in the formal political scene and didn't particularly like what I saw at times, but it did give me an insight into that world. Maybe that's why I'm less tolerant of some behaviours. :)

I look forward to reading your link. Meanwhile I'll have a wee search for it myself, although my skills with Google are basic.

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