Some Final Facts on the Union: Why Hungarian citizens in Scotland should vote ‘No’ to Separation – for the sake of European integration and the next generation.   Leave a comment

Malcolm greeting Margaret on her arrival in Scotland. Detail from a mural by the Victorian artist William Hole

Tomorrow, thousands of Hungarians will be given a right I have never had in Hungary in the ten years I have lived here as a UK citizens, married into a Hungarian family. They will also have a right denied by Scotland’s First Minister to hundreds of thousands of Scots living in the rest of the UK or as ex-expatriates elsewhere. Many will perhaps feel embarrassed to vote as non-Scots, particularly when Scots themselves do not have a say in the future of their homeland. Of course, this is part of the Nationalists ‘Team Scotland’ ploy to suggest that anyone who is not a Scot resident in their home country, should be excluded as far as possible on the grounds of non-residency, even if they qualify to represent Scotland in a whole range of sporting and cultural competitions. For example, I went to school with the Scottish Stewart family who won Commonwealth medals for Scotland in the 1970 Games. I well remember how popular Ian, Peter and Mary were both north and south of the border. However, because they lived in Birmingham, they were not allowed to vote in the 1978 Referendum, and the same would be the case today (I don’t know where they live now), even though Alex Salmond acknowledged on Sky News last night that he could easily have changed the rules. However, Hungarians living in Scotland MUST turn out and vote.  If they abstain, the polls suggest that they will be narrowing the gap between the two camps, so effectively voting ‘Yes’ anyway.  Of course, some Magyars may have already decided to vote ‘Yes’ anyway, because they support the ruling Nationalist, Citizens’ Party (Fidesz) in Hungary which has a similar sort of populist, right-wing social democratic stance (not to be confused with the left-of-centre German Social Democratic Party)  which Alex Salmond claims to hold. Notice how neither Viktor Orbán nor the Scottish First Minister describe themselves as pro-liberal democracy. In fact, the Hungarian PM has recently gone on record as wishing to build an illiberal state in Hungary. However, as long as Hungary remains within the EU he has to operate according to the democratic principles of the Union, even within Hungary itself. Hungary cannot simply derigate (opt out) from these principles. It would have to vote to leave the EU in its own referendum. Worryingly, Alex Salmond has begun to talk already of a new form of ‘Team Scotland’ politics in which the existing UK political parties would cease to be relevant, leaving the Nationalists as the main populist political force, exactly what is already happening in Hungary. What he really means is that there would be no Socialist, Social Democrat, Liberal or Conservative parties to choose from. Only Nationalists, like him and a few ageing Stalinists like Jim Sillars, who has called for a day of reckoning against all those business people who have dared to warn of the very real economic consequences of leaving the UK.

But an Independent Scotland’s case would be very different from that of Hungary. Yesterday, the Spanish PM (who has good reason to be concerned about the effect an independence vote would have on the Kingdom of Spain), said that he thought it would take a minimum of five years for Scotland to gain accession as an independent country. Even if the European President, Parliament and Council wishes Scotland to join earlier, Spain would have a veto under the current constitution, and, given the current Catalonian demands for a referendum on independence, would be foolish not to use it. Of course, if Scotland decides to leave both the UK and the EU tomorrow, and a ‘Yes’ vote is for withdrawal from both, neither the basic laws of the UK Parliament, passed over the centuries, at least since 1707, nor any EU legislation will apply to Scotland. The Scottish Nationalist Party, which will not be dissolved (again, according to Salmond) will continue to carry forward its right-wing policies without any checks and balances on those which current exist within the British Constitution, dating back to the 1689 Bill of Rights, or scrutiny over human rights matters by the EU. This is not scaremongering. It will the factual status of Scotland for the lifetime of at least one Scottish Parliament, until 2020 at the earliest. Even then, without a Sterling Currency Union, which has been ruled out by the Premiers of the UK, Wales and Northern Ireland, Scotland would be forced to join the Eurozone on joining the EU as an accession country, adopting the Euro as its currency. Hungarians living in Scotland would first of all have the pound’s exchange rate against the forint set by the Bank of England, with no say from Scotland, and then see their savings and pensions plummet in value as Scotland joined the Euro at a far worse rate of exchange than even the uncontrollable pound. However, these factual circumstances are not the main reasons why Hungarians living in Scotland, should, positively, vote no. These are given here:

Firstly, because voting ‘No’ means staying in the EU.  In the meantime, all EU citizens living in Scotland will be classed as immigrants having no special work or residency rights, unless they are married to a Scottish citizen, and can prove that their husband or wife has sufficient income to support them, or that they have a sufficient joint income. This was my wife’s situation during our fifteen year residence in the UK and mine during the 1990s in Hungary. Had I not, like many othe ex-pats, had an official UK-sponsor during this time, as well as being married to a Hungarian citizen, it would have been impossible for me, and many other Brits, to remain in Hungary, except on an extended tourist visa. Staying in the UK means staying in the EU, and the freedom to move across the Union, unrestricted and without visas and work permits. Leaving the EU means going through all this bureaucracy again. No wonder Salmond talks about this being a once in a generation decision. Many of the current EU migrants have no idea what these restrictions meant for the previous generation in terms of their negative impact on our lives. Imagine having your baby tested for HIV in order to get a work permit, or smuggling your wife across multiple borders because her transit visa has expired and the consulate is closed!

This brings me to my second reason. The next generation. Many central Europeans from within the EU are settled, with children in state schools in the UK, including Scotland. They are thriving members, growing up bilingually, a real potential asset to their future countries. They have no say in this decision, except through their parents, yet it may either make or wreck their lives, because, as both campaigns have said, they will not be able to change it until they themselves have their own children. Why should they have hard-won civil rights taken away from them by this generation? Further integration within the EU can only bring more rights, fewer opportunities for individual governments to derigate, as the French did over immigration from central Europe a decade ago. Plus, a Nationalist victory in Scotland would pave the way for withdrawal by the rest of the UK from the EU in 2015, against the wishes of the Welsh and Northern Irish, as well as the majority of those in the North and Midlands of England, whose jobs depend on manufacturing sales within the EU. This is likely to have a major impact upon a central European automotive industry, highly integrated with other manufacturing regions of Europe. JUst look at Mercedes, Opel, Suzuki and others! Why would we want to limit the ability of the next generations to migrate across the single market?

My third reason is no less heartfelt. Politicians come and go with relative rapidity in most countries. Few leave us with any enduring legacy. I have only two British political heroes, Churchill and Attlee. Perhaps one Hungarian, although perhaps tainted with anti-Semitism, like nearly all of his generation, but the only one to resist the Nazi’s by surrendering his own life, Pál Teleki. However, although once a moderate republican, I became a monarchist when I realised how much the monarchy means, both to Britain and in countries like Hungary, once a proud Christian Kingdom. The fact is that we need to feel, even more in the shifting societies of the modern age, that our roots go deep into our own soil. We need to feel that someone in the Establishment has the long-term interest of our families close to their hearts. Presumably, that’s why the majority of our European states have chosen to retain monarchies and royal families, where they have had any measure of choice in the matter. In Britain, we also have a connection with the Commonwealth, which provides an international dimension to our English-speaking heritage within a family of nations. These real relationships matter to us as families and individuals, as they matter to our monarchy. They go to the core of our values.

Therefore, the Queen’s message to her Scottish subjects to think very carefully about their future extends, by definition, to all the residents of Scotland. With all due respect to the countries of the Commonwealth, keeping the Queen, along with the pound, and EU membership, in the same way as she is Queen of Canada or Australia is as unconstitutional and unworkable as the other two. Australia, for example, has evolved its dominion status to that of full independence within the Commonwealth, from its foundation as a colony. Scotland has never been a colony, despite some narrow nationalist mythology. Her Majesty’s role as dual monarch of Scotland and England was carefully crafted by James VI and I in making Great Britain into a political as well as a geographical reality when he succeeded Elizabeth I in 1603. A great deal of integration had already taken place across the two kingdoms by the time of the Civil Wars, and the Act of Union of 1707, although resulting in part from a Scottish colonial and banking crisis, was the product of a century of interaction, not all of it connected with the wars of the three kingdoms (including Ireland, which did not complete the Union until 1801). Her Majesty is directly descended from James I through his eldest daughter, Elizabeth Stuart, who became Princess of the Rhineland Palatinate and Queen of Bohemia rather than Queen of England and Scotland, because at that time, boys came first, no matter how weak by comparison! Fortunately, recent legislation has now corrected this, so that an eldest female princess can now succeed to the throne before her brothers. The Queen of Hearts, who spent most of her adult life in exile in the Hague, but returned after the Restoration to live, and die, in England, had a grandson, George I, who may have spoken little English, but was just as British by lineage as the Stuart pretenders, including Bonnie Prince Charlie, who also lived out most of their lives on the continent. At the Battle of Culloden, most of those fighting against the Highlanders and for George II were lowland Scots, despite all the romantic tales.

Much mythology has built up around the personality of Robert the Bruce in the year of the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn of 1314, painting him as the hero of Scottish Independence and Edward I, King of England, the so-called Hammer of the Scots as the villain of the piece. Our current Queen’s claim to the Scottish throne is said to be through her link to the Bruce family. However, she has a much stronger claim to both thrones which can be traced back to the marriage of Matilda of Scotland to Henry I of England, William I’s grandson in 1100. Matilda’s mother was Margaret of Scotland and Wessex, born in Mecseknádásd in Hungary, to Edward the Confessor’s heir to the English throne, Edward the Exile (he was exiled by the Danish usurper, Cnut) and Agatha, the daughter of István (King Stephen I of Hungary) and his wife Gisella. When Edward returned from Exile with his children, he was murdered and Agatha and her children were returning to Hungary via Hamburg when they were forced into port of the coast of Scotland. Malcolm III (Canmore), KIng of Scotland, came to greet them. He married Margaret and supported Eadgar, her brother’s unsuccessful attempt to regain the throne. They had eight children, including the eldest daughter, Edith (born 1080), who became Matilda, Henry I’s Queen, and David I (1083), from whom the Bruce claimed descent. As the daughter of a Princess of Wessex, granddaughter of Edmund Ironside, the last truly Saxon King of England, Matilda gave ancient Saxon legitimacy to both the English and Scottish royal families, as did David I, who was the fifth of her brothers to rule Scotland, from 1124 to 1153. It was through David’s offspring that Bruce claimed their royal heritage. So, Hungarians have a stake in Royal British heritage, through Margaret of Scotland, and HM Queen Elizabeth II is just as much part of Scottish royal heritage as she is part of an English royal family. The two thrones are dependent on each other’s lineage, and are therefore inextricable. Therefore, Hungarians who vote ‘No’ tomorrow will also be voting to uphold the legacy of Istvan’s granddaughter, who was also made a saint for her service to the Scottish people, over the mythological figure of Robert the Bruce, and in so doing to keep the dual monarchy established by the Stuart Kings, rather than substituting an equal monarchy with some kind of Australian-style Governor- General.

No thanks! God Bless Her Majesty and Save the Union! Then we can get on with the business of creating a more equal confederation of self-governing countries within a renewed United Kingdom. A ‘No’ vote is a positive vote for Home Rule and UK-EU integration; a  ‘Yes’ vote is a vote for withdrawal, separation and ultimate isolation on the fringes of Europe.

Appendix: Some Notes on the role of Robert the Bruce in the Wars of Scottish Independence: 

King Alexander III of Scotland died in a hunting accident in 1286, leaving his 3-year-old granddaughter Margaret (called “the Maid of Norway”) as his heir. In 1290, the Guardians of Scotland signed the Treaty of Birgham agreeing to the marriage of the Maid of Norway and Edward of Caernarvon, the son of Edward I, who was Margaret’s great-uncle. This marriage would not create a union between Scotland and England because the Scots insisted that the Treaty declare that Scotland was separate and divided from England and that its rights, laws, liberties and customs were wholly and inviolably preserved for Edward agreed to meet the guardians at Norham in 1291. Before the process got underway Edward insisted that he be recognised as Lord Paramount of Scotland. During the meeting, Edward had his army standing by, thus forcing the Scots to accept his terms. He gave the claimants three weeks to agree to his terms. With no King, with no army ready, and King Edward’s army at hand, the Scots had no choice. The claimants to the crown acknowledged Edward as their Lord Paramount and accepted his arbitration. Their decision was influenced in part by the fact that most of the claimants had large estates in England and, therefore, would have lost them if they had defied the English king. However, many involved were churchmen such as Bishop Wishart for whom such mitigation cannot be claimed.[1]However, Margaret, travelling to her new kingdom, died shortly after landing on the Orkney Islands around 26 September 1290. With her death, there were 13 rivals for succession. The two leading competitors for the Scottish crown were Robert Bruce, 5th Lord of Annandale (grandfather of the future King Robert the Bruce) and John Balliol, Lord of Galloway. Fearing civil war between the Bruce and Balliol families and supporters, the Guardians of Scotland wrote to Edward I of England, asking him to come north and arbitrate between the claimants in order to avoid civil war.

On 11 June, acting as the Lord Paramount of Scotland, Edward I ordered that every Scottish royal castle be placed temporarily under his control and every Scottish official resign his office and be re-appointed by him. Two days later, in Upsettlington, the Guardians of the Realm and the leading Scottish nobles gathered to swear allegiance to King Edward I as Lord Paramount. All Scots were also required to pay homage to Edward I, either in person or at one of the designated centres by 27 July 1291.

There were thirteen meetings from May to August 1291 at Berwick, where the claimants to the crown pleaded their cases before Edward, in what came to be known as the “Great Cause“. The claims of most of the competitors were rejected, leaving Balliol, Bruce, Floris V, Count of Holland and John de Hastings of Abergavenny, 2nd Baron Hastings, as the only men who could prove direct descent from David I.

On 3 August, Edward asked Balliol and Bruce to choose 40 arbiters each, while he chose 24, to decide the case. On 12 August, he signed a writ that required the collection of all documents that might concern the competitors’ rights or his own title to the superiority of Scotland, which was accordingly executed. Balliol was named king by a majority on 17 November 1292 and on 30 November. He was crowned King of Scots at Scone Abbey. On 26 December, at Newcastle upon Tyne, King John swore homage to Edward I for the Kingdom of Scotland. Edward soon made it clear that he regarded the country as a vassal state. Balliol, undermined by members of the Bruce faction, struggled to resist, and the Scots resented Edward’s demands. In 1294, Edward summoned John Balliol to appear before him, and then ordered that he had until 1 September 1294 to provide Scottish troops and funds for his invasion of France.

On his return to Scotland, John held a meeting with his council and after a few days of heated debate, plans were made to defy the orders of Edward I. A few weeks later a Scottish parliament was hastily convened and 12 members of a war council (four Earls, Barons, and Bishops, respectively) were selected to advise King John.

Emissaries were immediately dispatched to inform King Philip IV of France of the intentions of the English. They also negotiated a treaty by which the Scots would invade England if the English invaded France, and in return the French would support the Scots. This became known as the Auld Alliance, remaining in place until the time of Mary Queen of Scots in 1560. It was not until 1295 that Edward I became aware of the secret Franco-Scottish negotiations. In early October, he began to strengthen his northern defences against a possible invasion. It was at this point that Robert Bruce, 6th Lord of Annandale (father of the future King Robert the Bruce) was appointed by Edward as the governor of Carlisle Castle. The movement of English forces along the Anglo-Scottish border did not go unnoticed. In response, King John Balliol summoned all able-bodied Scotsmen to bear arms and gather at Caddonlee by 11 March. 

 

 

Above: The dethroned King John, whom a Scottish chronicler dubbed ‘toom tabard’ (’empty coat’)

The First War of Scottish Independence can be loosely divided into four phases: the initial English invasion and success in 1296; the campaigns led by William Wallace, Andrew de Moray and various Scottish Guardians from 1297 until John Comyn negotiated for the general Scottish submission in February 1304; the renewed campaigns led by Robert the Bruce following his killing of The Red Comyn in Dumfries in 1306 to his and the Scottish victory at Bannockburn in 1314; and a final phase of Scottish diplomatic initiatives and military campaigns in Scotland, Ireland and Northern England from 1314 until the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton in 1328.

 

 Above: Notable figures from the first War of Independence as depicted by the Victorian artist William Hole

 

 

King Robert the Bruce: 1306–1328

 Above: Bannockburn Monument plaque

On 10 February 1306, during a meeting between Bruce and Comyn, the two surviving claimants for the Scottish throne, Bruce quarrelled with and killed John Comyn at Greyfriars Kirk in Dumfries. At this moment the rebellion was sparked again.[

Comyn, it seems, had broken an agreement between the two, and informed King Edward of Bruce’s plans to be king. The agreement was that one of the two claimants would renounce his claim on the throne of Scotland, but receive lands from the other and support his claim. Comyn appears to have thought to get both the lands and the throne by betraying Bruce to the English. A messenger carrying documents from Comyn to Edward was captured by Bruce and his party, plainly implicating Comyn. Bruce then rallied the Scottish prelates and nobles behind him and had himself crowned King of Scots at Scone less than five weeks after the killing in Dumfries. He then began a new campaign to free his kingdom. After being defeated in battle he was driven from the Scottish mainland as an outlaw. Bruce later came out of hiding in 1307. The Scots thronged to him, and he defeated the English in a number of battles. His forces continued to grow in strength, encouraged in part by the death of Edward I in July 1307. The Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 was an especially important Scottish victory.

 

 

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Posted September 17, 2014 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

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