Friday, April 13, 2007

Wheatcroft the Sinn Feiner

It seems Geoffrey Wheatcroft has become a Sinn Feiner. In an article in Wednesday's Guardian he offers as a model, for the solution of the "Scottish problem" the Austro-Hungarian "Ausgleich" of 1867. The Augsleich establshed a "dual monarchy" but the two countries were - Wheatcroft argues - "distinct in their internal government" with two separate parliaments united under one monarchy. This was the model adopted by Arthur Griffith, the founder of Sinn Fein, who was attracted by the policy of abstentionism, adopted by the Hungarian nationalist Franz Deak, who organised the abstention of Hungarian representatives from the Imperial Diet at Vienna, in order to bring about the re-establishment of a separate Hungarian Parliament. Griffith enthusiastically championed this policy, and abstentionism (but not of course "dual monarchy") was inherited by "the second Sinn Fein" in 1919 and became part of Republican doctrine thereafter. Wheatcroft is not, I think, advocating that Scottish MP's refuse to attend the Westminster Parliament (although that might not distress him) but he does think that the Augsleich model "must seem increasingly attractive". Politaholic knows little about the Augsleich (as did Griffith) however, in Ireland Since the Famine (a book that stands up well after all these years) F.S.L. Lyons remarks that Griffith "underestimated the complexity of the Augsleich and failed to realise how the existence of common ministries of war and foreign affairs and the retention of close economic ties between the two parts of Europe diminished Hungarian autonomy..." . In any case, leaving aside Hungarian parallels, if the two countries are to have complete self-government then what is the point of keeping a single (hereditary) head of state?Is it - for those who like this sort of thing (not me) - sentiment? And if Wheatcroft has in mind something less than separate government in mind, then there is no need to talk of Hungarian parallels: its called "devolution" and it won't satisfy the SNP. As an aside, Wheatcroft also says that Alec Salmond is "happy to keep sterling as the Scottish currency" but I have just visited the SNP web-site and they plainly favour joining the Euro. I can find no mention of the Euro in the SNP Manifesto for the forthcoming election "It's Time", but a quick search of the SNP web-site turns up plenty of material (admittedly some of it a bit dated) attestng to the SNP's eagerness to join the Euro. Salmond may be back-tracking on his for tactical reasons at the moment, but - unless I've missed something - I doubt that he is "happy" to keep sterling.


Blogger skipper said...

Good post and shrewd point re SNP and the euro

4:42 pm  

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