THE US government has made a dramatic intervention into Scottish politics after a senior diplomat said the Bush administration would “probably” prefer independence not to happen.
Lisa Vickers, the new US consul in Scotland, questioned the effect of separation on American energy firms and criticised the SNP’s anti-Nato policy. She also speculated about whether an independent Scotland would become a member of the European Union.
The official’s comments are controversial because independence looks set to be one of the key issues during next year’s Holyrood election campaign.
An opinion poll last week found a majority of Scots favoured breaking up Britain and revealed the SNP was ahead in the popular vote.
The Nationalists’ flagship policy is to hold a referendum on independence during their first four-year term in government. Their election hopes were boosted in recent weeks by a £100,000 donation from businessman Sir Tom Farmer and encouragement from the leader of Scotland’s Catholics, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who said he expected independence “before too long”.
SNP leader Alex Salmond accused Vickers of “inexperience” and criticised her comments.
“I am sure the US consul doesn’t have to be reminded of diplomatic protocol. It’s a curious position to put so much stress on your own country’s self- determination, and not to think it is important for other people. Maybe it’s time for her to get out of the cocktail party circuit and around the country.
US consul questions wisdom of Scottish independence, Paul Hutcheon, 5 novembre 2006
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