Balkan future

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Brian Wilson (Perspective, 
16 January) makes an interesting point in relation to the possibility that the Western Isles may join with the Northern Isles to form ­a 
united front on constitutional ­issues.

Since the Northern Isles, especially Shetland, have long asserted that “it’s Shetland’s oil” and there are reserves in the waters surrounding the Western Isles, that would severely impact on the claims the SNP makes about ownership of most of the oil and gas reserves belonging to the UK.

The problem that I can ­envisage is that this is an ever-­decreasing circle.

If the SNP was to obtain a small majority in favour of a break-up of the UK, then there may be 
interesting challenges presented to it. The Northern Isles and (if Mr Wilson is right) perhaps the Western Isles, may favour separate status within the UK. Both have distinct histories as entities separate from Scotland, when under Norse rule.

The danger the SNP presents is not simply to the unity of the United Kingdom, though that is bad enough. It is that its divisive campaign may lead to a Balkanisation of Scotland itself, as Mr Wilson’s article highlights, since Scotland is an artificial construct of many different peoples and cultures. It should be remembered that “Scotland” used to be 
the name for the lands south of the Forth and Clyde, while ­“Scotia” was the area north of it.

South of those two rivers were two kingdoms, neither of them “Scottish” and both with well-
defined identities.

Clearly, the debate about ending the Union may lead, inexorably and quite unexpectedly, to the break-up of the awakening entities which formed Scotland as it is today.

Both Strathclyde and Lothian, to define the western and eastern entities south of those two rivers, may not vote for a split with the rest of the UK.

If so, surely we have as much right to self-determination as Shetlanders and ­Orcadians?

Andrew HN Gray

Craiglea Drive