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David Cameron for the UK and Alex Salmond for Scotland have signed the agreement that legally paves the way for an independence referendum for the Northern European country.
The vote, which will take place in 2014, under laws issued ad-hoc by the Scottish Parliament, which should fit the common sense terms of this agreement (full text at The Guardian).
In 1603, King James VI of the Scots inherited the throne of England (including Wales, Ireland and other possessions). The religious conflicts that shattered all Europe in those days would fuel the civil war in Scotland first and then in England as well, resulting in gradual annexation of Scotland to England. This annexation was culminated in 1707 with the Acts of Union by which the United Kingdom was created as such.
Ironically the same Scottish Parliament that voted the Act of Union, had voted just three years earlier a law that required of the new Scottish monarch to be a different person to the monarch of England, a law that effectively ensured separation. However English economic pressures managed to secure enough votes in the Northern country for annexation to be passed.
Since then until 1999 Scotland was administered from London as if it was English territory, only a different nation in name and some sports (football and rugby essentially). There were some rebellions in the 18th century but they were crushed mercilessly, followed by land-grabbing by the English and native pro-English aristocrats at the expense of the Scottish people (part of the wider capitalist land-robbery in Britain), which forced many Scots to misery and emigration.
Still Scotland managed to keep enough dignity and self-confidence to play a major role in the Industrial Revolution.
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In 1999, after a long nationalist political struggle, a referendum on the devolution of historical self-rule succeeded and Scotland recovered its long-lost Parliament and distinct Government.
Since then the Scottish Nationalists have pushed for independence, with London eventually acknowledging that right, the same it did, at least formally, with Northern Ireland.
It is unclear whether the Scottish People will choose independence however, with several opinion polls showing high support for total autonomy but not for independence as such.
How different the new congenial attitude of London from the attitude of the Jacobin states of Latin Europe, notably France and Spain but also Italy, which have determined that they are the only subject of sovereignty and stubbornly deny the right of self determination to the peoples annexed to them in circumstances comparable to those of Scotland and that strive to be free.