- The Washington Times - Friday, May 4, 2007

EDINBURGH, Scotland — Scottish voters appeared to be giving the separatist-minded Scottish National Party a historic victory that would end Labor’s 50-year reign over local politics, according to early results today.

Ironically, the vote fell on a week that marks the 300th anniversary of Scotland’s union with Britain.

The results in the Scottish election suggested that the Iraq war, vigorously supported by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, may have made the union with Britain itself a casualty.

Another irony, Treasury Secretary Gordon Brown, the Scotsman who is expected to succeed Mr. Blair, would face the potential loss of his home territory and will also face the unenviable challenge of building a workable relationship between Labor members in the British Parliament and the SNP.

As the votes tally continued, the outcome of what most have considered the most historic election in Scotland’s history appeared to be living up to its predicted billing.

At the start of the vote yesterday, the biggest question left in the races for the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh National Assembly and about 300 English council seats was how far Labor would fall.

Most closely watched were the races in Scotland, where polls indicated that Labor had closed the comfortable lead that the SNP had enjoyed earlier in the week.

Early yesterday, Labor appeared to receive a boost from a local tabloid papers, including the Sun, which ran a front-page image of a noose — a symbol of what is feared would happen to the country if the SNP wins.

There was a general sense among voters throughout the campaign that the Iraq war and the decision to spend billions of dollars to renew Britain’s nuclear deterrent had damaged the Labor Party’s image in Scotland — even though the Scottish Parliament had nothing to do with the decisions.

That speculation appeared to holding up, with Scottish voters leaning toward the SNP, and the national message.

“I think they are voting a lot for the SNP,” Dishabille Bryan, a 67-year-old Labor supporter told The Washington Times. “That is just what you hear.”

The shift in political power from Labor to SNP opens up an array of possible scenarios in Edinburgh, the home of the Scottish Parliament.

Whatever the case, it is agreed that an SNP win likely will result in stronger criticism of the Iraq war and a heightened debate over severing Scotland’s 300-year-old ties to Britain.

In 1998, the British Parliament gave power to Scotland and Wales to legislate on issues such as education, health care and transportation. The British Parliament continues to control foreign policy.

If the SNP wins, it is poised to spend the next three years trying to garner additional public support for a 2010 voter referendum on independence from Britain or, at least, to push Britain to increase Scotland’s governing powers to include foreign policy and taxation.



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