Standort: / Meldung: "Scotland the brave?"

Joanna Bostock

Reading between the headlines.

9. 1. 2012 - 15:27

Scotland the brave?

Reality Check: Scottish independence, opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim acquitted in Malaysia, South Sudan humanitarian crisis, US Republican Primaries.

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As someone who was born and grew up in Scotland, I am regularly asked what I think about Scottish independence. But, as someone you might now describe as a “Wahlösterreicherin” who’s lived in Austria for a good part of my life, I’m not sure that I’m really qualified to pass judgment. Having said that, I tend to agree with the Scottish National Party when it accuses David Cameron of “meddling” over his most recent remarks about a Scottish referendum on independence. The British Prime Minister says Scotland should hold an independence referendum as early as next year. That might seem like he’s accepting the SNP’s promise to hold a referendum, but the devil is in the detail. The SNP has always said it would hold the vote sometime between 2014 and 2016, but the British government is expected to announce this week whether any Scottish vote for independence would be legally binding, and it looks like the condition will be that the vote must be held in the next 18 months for it to have that legal force. The result of a later referendum would only be “advisory”, i.e. the government would not be obliged to accept it.

Observers are quick to point out that holding the referendum later rather than sooner gives the SNP time to drum up more support, which at the moment wouldn’t be enough for a “Yes” vote. There are also a couple of events in 2014 which could lend vital momentum to the independence movement: the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the symbolically important 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. This was the decisive battle of the First War of Scottish Independence, in which the Scots defeated the English (and which is also the subject of the unofficial Scottish national anthem “Flower of Scotland”).

Cameron’s argument, as he put it in a TV interview: "If (SNP leader) Alex Salmond wants a referendum on independence, why do we wait until 2014? This is very damaging for Scotland because all the time business is asking: 'is Scotland going to be part of the United Kingdom? Are they going to stay together? Should I invest?'" I got the SNP’s side from Angus Robertson, an SNP member of the British Parliament in London and the campaign director for the independence referendum:

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Gennie Johnson asked Professor Murray Pittock from the University of Glasgow and author of "The Road to Independence?" for his take on David Cameron's words.

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Anwar Ibrahim acquitted of sodomy in Malaysia

It must feel a bit like history repeating for Malaysian opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim. For over a decade he has been fighting against sodomy charges in one way or another. The first time was after he was jailed for abuse of power in 1999. His imprisonment led to huge street protests, and in 2000 he was convicted of sodomy with his wife's driver. In 2004, the Supreme Court overturned the verdict. He was released from prison and rapidly emerged as a formidable opposition leader, achieving unprecedented gains in the 2008 elections, and almost toppling the government. Just a few months after the elections, he was charged with sodomy again, but nevertheless voted in as a member of parliament. The trial, which lasted nearly 3 years, started in February 2009 and ended yesterday with a full acquittal.

Now, Anwar is pledging to challenge the government again at the next elections. Our Kuala Lumpur correspondent, Jennifer Pak, looks at how the sodoly charges have been seen by Malaysians, and how they could now boost Anwar's chances of election later this year.

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South Sudan refugee crisis

Since declaring independence last year, South Sudan has been torn by a bitter tribal battle in the Jonglei province. The United Nations has just launched a major aid operation to help those displaced by the violence. Chris Cummins has been looking at the situation on the ground with Andreas Papp from Ärzte ohne Grenzen.

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US Elections - the republican candidates

As the republican primaries get underway to select the republican candidate to face President Obama in November, this week we are profiling the key candidates.

After Iowa last week, tomorrow sees the second test in the New Hampshire Primary.

Today, Riem Higazi looks at one of the favourites, Mitt Romney

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