European Integration Emboldens Europe’s Separatists
Scotland’s referendum has galvanized national movements across Europe. The irony is that this has been made possible in part by the European Union, for decades the driver of economic and political integration across a once war-torn continent.
In the past week, Edinburgh has been like a magnet for politicians across Europe who regard their regions as nations. Representatives from Wales, the Basque Country, Flanders, Catalonia, Galicia, Corsica, Sardinia and Friesland visited the Scottish capital.
They have been emboldened in part by the safety net that the EU is perceived to offer to small countries. The institution that was created to make national borders irrelevant may perversely play a role in creating new ones.
Even as voters in many European countries register growing dissatisfaction with the EU, membership offers smaller nationalities the hope of separation with a minimum of disruption.
Today, “separatism has a spring in its step,” says Charles Grant, director of the London-based Centre for European Reform.
Europe’s borders have already fractured in the last 20 years. With the exception of Czechoslovakia, which split in 1993, these changes have been born out of the violent breakup of the former Yugoslavia.
What is seducing nationalists these days is what Michael Desch, professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, calls the prospect of Velvet Divorce: a gentle segue into an independent state while preserving membership of institutions like the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and retaining the same currency.
But governments across the continent have viewed developments in the U.K. with growing alarm, as support for Scottish independence appeared to strengthen. Europe’s other capitals, surprised that London has appeared to sleepwalk into a potential constitutional crisis, are unlikely to succumb meekly to the phenomenon.
Their reaction, should Scotland become independent, will be instructive. Scottish Nationalists have portrayed Scottish membership of the EU as a foregone conclusion, suggesting it would be waved into the bloc with little fuss. (Source: Wall Street Journal)
LETTERS to the EDITOR
In my lifelong reading of The Spectator, I’ve never been shocked by a cartoon until now. The editorial cartoon of Friday, Sept. 19 was funny to a point. That point was the last cell of the multi-celled cartoon. The real life events upon which it was based are horrible. The Spectator doesn’t need to embed these events, even more, into the Zeitgeist by depicting them as the punch line of a cartoon. It was insensitive, tasteless and thoughtless. You went too far. — B. Kish, Hamilton
Insensitive cartoon disappointing – September 22, 2014: Sorry, Graeme MacKay. I’m really disappointed but that was as insensitive as anything you’ve ever done. I only hope and pray that no family members of these victims ever lay eyes on it. — Virginia Coombs, Stoney Creek
Untimely and tasteless trash – September 23, 2014: I was beginning to think cartoonist Graeme MacKay’s work was showing some maturity. After a brief break, some of his concepts were starting to display some intelligence. However, we seem to be back to stuff that portrays the lack of sensitivity and taste that have been his mark in the past. The cartoon Scotland’s Influence Endures is pathetic and the portrayal of an ISIS executioner with a knife at the throat of a prisoner, especially now when people are totally sickened by what has happened to these poor victims, is obscene. It is hard to believe that The Spectator would publish such untimely and tasteless trash. — Roy Coombs, Simcoe
Scottish cartoon went too far with ISIS – September 24, 2014: I am totally disgusted by the editorial cartoon that appeared in The Spectator on Sept. 19. I cannot stomach anything that would include Scotland and ISIS in the same reference. Is this supposed to be funny or witty? What part of a drawing showing someone being beheaded is in keeping with decency? In this case, cartoonist Graeme MacKay has offended many. It is indefensible that your paper can continue to publish his work. — David McIntyre, Hamilton
Commentary by Graeme MacKay
Last week the above cartoon in advance of the day the world was to find out the results of the referendum on Scottish independence. Of course, no one knew how the final numbers would turn out, but the pollsters said it was to be close. The choice for me therefore was to draw something that would work with either a yes or no victory. There was an overwhelmingly negative reaction to the cartoon (see above), yet with all the thumbs down communicated to me through social media, I’m still not clear why this cartoon is so repulsive to so many… continued