THE 2014 polls foretold that the result of the Yes/No referendum would be a close-run race. It was, which may be a reason for trusting them until more evidence casts doubt. Nobody now seems to doubt that seven weeks hence the General Election will give the SNP about 50 Westminster seats, the nine other Scottish ones going to the Greens and Independents, with not a single Conservative or Liberal.

Nicola Sturgeon said she would listen to future proposals from English party leaders but did not suggest a Labour-SNP coalition. Edward Miliband has been bounced by his colleagues into rejecting that idea, so the election’s most likely outcome is a Tory-Labour Coalition. This would have a popular Ukip wing, and a less xenophobic, nicer “liberal” wing. The BBC and private television networks have prepared for this by giving Nigel Farage much more broadcasting time than Alex Salmond or Nicola Sturgeon. They obviously think Farage more important to their United Kingdom.

Ireland’s struggle for independence and its thwarting by partition should be heeded by Scots home rulers as a warning of troubles to come

So England will return to the two-party system Tony Blair abolished when he built on Mrs Thatcher’s privatisation schemes instead of reversing them. This government will exclude what most Scots voters want. For three centuries Scots MPs in Westminster have only influenced it when voting with a major English party. They will now be unable to do even that. They can only assert themselves by doing what the majority of elected Irish MPs did in 1919 and making the capital of their homeland a seat of truly independent government. This must happen before or after signing a treaty of Union and/or Separation.

Ireland’s struggle for independence and its thwarting by partition should be heeded by Scots home rulers as a warning of troubles to come. For five years before 1919 the partition of Ireland had been planned by Unionist supporters of the British Empire.

Separating an offshore part of a potentially independent Scotland was quietly arranged in the 1970s by Tory and Labour supporters of the global market. If we start by considering Ireland, the parallels with Scotland will be clearer.

For more than six centuries the Irish had struggled against English government, which had to be re-asserted every century or two by sending in another armed force of settlers, because the previous lot kept tending to become as Irish as the natives. This proves that nationality depends less on racial origin than on geography, though I prefer to call it geology – the thinking forced on a country’s people by natural barriers of coast, hills and rivers. The sixth James Stuart, first undisputed king of the British mainland, worked with Westminster to pacify Ireland by giving much of the north to a new lot of British landlords, many of them Scots Presbyterians. Most of the other Irish stayed Catholic, but this did not wholly reconcile the North to English control, partly because, like Catholics, the Presbyterians did not recognise the Church of England.

The Irish Independence bill was shelved but revived by Irish MPs, some Liberals and the newly formed Labour Party, which then wanted Scots Home Rule too.

By 1775 the Irish parliament in Dublin only represented Church of England landlords. They formed a United Irishmen Association which aimed to represent other faiths. Several subscribed enough money to build in Belfast the first Catholic church there for well over a century.

The English struggle to manage Ireland took a new form in 1800, when Westminster abolished the Dublin parliament by absorbing Irish Lords and Commoners, as they had done in 1714 when they abolished the Scots parliament. An Irish stripe or two was added to the Union Jack.

For more than a century the Irish MPs chiefly worked for their homeland by disrupting UK parliamentary business, and did it so successfully that in 1883 Prime Minister Gladstone tried pushing through the Commons a bill restoring the Irish parliament. This was opposed by a Liberal-Tory coalition who called themselves Unionists. Since Ireland had been England’s first oversea colony, the Unionists thought the rest of the British Empire would crumble if it got Home Rule.

The Irish Independence bill was shelved but revived by Irish MPs, some Liberals and the newly formed Labour Party, which then wanted Scots Home Rule too. Before the end of July 1914 the bill was twice passed by the Commons, twice rejected by the Lords, who would have to accept it if passed by the Commons a third time.

Two things caused delay. Edward Carson, Ulster lawyer and politician, led a faction of Unionist MPs in a propaganda scare. The four northern counties with Protestant majorities also held Ireland’s most profitable heavy industries where (unlike mainland Britain) employers and their workers shared fraternal clubs, the Orange Orders.

These excluded Catholics and helped to ensure that the poorest jobs were reserved for them. Carson was no democrat and had no respect for the working classes, so it was only in private that he told fellow Unionists: “We’ll have to play the filthy Orange card.” They spread the story that British Army officers stationed in Ireland would disobey orders if all Ireland were given Home Rule.

For almost 30 years, war between English- and German-speaking empires had been prepared through a network of treaties, some of them secret, with Russia and smaller European empires. When an Austrian crown prince was shot at Sarajevo what became the First World War broke out, so the British government promised Ireland its own government when the war ended. After it Westminster raised so many objections that in 1919 a majority of Sinn Fein MPs returned home and started their own parliament in Dublin.

The only situation I foresee in which a UK government might order armed forces to overturn Scottish government is a determined effort by Holyrood to get rid of British nuclear bases

The British Government sent in armed forces to maintain order in what the Irish Republic call their War of Independence. Sinn Fein extremists shot some of these soldiers. Their comrades reacted by burning and looting villages and towns. This shocked many in parts of the Empire also working for independence, and British Conservatives who had hoped Ireland would become a British dominion like Canada or Australia. A humane English Tory said such British government terrorism was a sure way to achieve the opposite. He was right.

The only situation I foresee in which a UK government might order armed forces to overturn Scottish government is a determined effort by Holyrood to get rid of British nuclear bases. There may be other situations. For its small size the London-based government commands the most powerful armed forces outside the US, China and Russia. Since no longer governing an empire it has still kept bombing and killing in wars with weaker European and Asian lands, always in support of the USA and global corporations. Would the European Union keep the most militarised part of the UK from threatening to do such things in Scotland? I do not know.

The Irish War of Independence ended in 1921 when Irish president Eamon de Valera sent Michael Collins to London, where a Treaty of Union with Britain – and Separation from it – was negotiated with Lloyd George. This split Ireland along mainly religious lines. The four counties with Protestant majorities were given their own parliament in Belfast, which was made more secure by roping on to it two counties where Catholic and Protestant numbers were almost equal.

When signed, the treaty was supposed to be a temporary division. The line between the two states was so irregular that on both sides it was still being debated in 2005.

When Collins returned to Dublin, he and the treaty were repudiated by de Valera and the Sinn Fein movement. A year-long Irish civil war broke out, ending when Sinn Fein stopped fighting for the Northern counties, so the partition remains. Many writers and politicians of Anglo-Irish Protestant stock helped the Southern Republic into being, but under de Valera the Dublin parliament declared it an officially Catholic nation, and the Republic’s hierarchy felt safer with Protestants who practised contraception outside their border. Former member of Sinn Fein Bernard Behan said the southern Republic’s tragedy was the absence of the strong Protestant minority who would not be bullied by bishops. The Northern tragedy was the creation of a perpetual Protestant government, leading to the Civil Rights Movement and the brutalities that suppressed it.

This division of Ireland was not inevitable. No British Army officers had threatened to mutiny if Ireland was granted total independence. It is now admitted that none would have done so, just as British secret security agents openly admit how, with US colleagues, they toppled the elected government of Iran and installed a Shah who restored the nation’s mineral resources to Anglo- American oil companies. That such officially secret crimes have led to constant dictatorships and warfare upsets few politicians nowadays. Broadcasters and journalists take them for granted. But Iranian oil fields should remind us of those nearer home.

In the late 1960s, when many British industries were still nationalised, the British Gas Board discovered oilfields under the North Sea. This was discussed by British party leaders when companies wanting to exploit these announced they were too small, and would not last long enough to be very profitable.

In 1974 Edward Heath’s Tory cabinet ordered a confidential report on the fields. A year later Harold Wilson’s Labour cabinet received it and learned there were huge oil resources under the North Sea that would last far into the 21st century.

What should they do about this? They rejected Norway’s example of making the nation’s government the main shareholder in their oil fields, and using the profits to pay for more social welfare. The fields were in Scottish waters, but they also rejected giving an oil fund to Scotland, though oil-producing states in the US and Canada had been given such funds by their central governments. Texan universities are now largely funded by taxing local oil and gas companies.

But these trans-Atlantic states had their own federal governments. Scotland’s nearest thing to a government was the Scottish Secretary of State, chosen by UK Prime Ministers and never disagreeing with them. Margaret Thatcher’s Scottish Secretary was the only member of her cabinet who she never replaced. During nine years of Wilson’s government the Secretary was Willie Ross, who combined the worst traits of the dictatorial Scots dominie he had once been. Ross deserves consideration, being a pure example of the Labour MP who has destroyed the party in Scotland. When facing a crowd of Scots trade unionists arguing for a separate government he announced: “YOU don’t need an independent government! I AM your independent government!”

The SNP had now seats in Westminster, which was partly a reaction to failing industries, and higher unemployment in Scotland. This had increased since American and British nuclear submarine bases came to the Firth of Clyde, near which most of Scottish heavy industry was based. These bases must have been detrimental to investment in west Scotland, but there was a greater cause.

For a century and a half Clydeside factories had made steam ships, locomotives and other coal-fuelled machines. These industries could only be modernised by a carefully researched, well-organised transition to oil-fuelled technology. Could a Scottish oil fund have financed that? Wedgewood Benn suggested that it might. Willie Ross said Scotland did not need it, supported by the rest of Wilson’s Cabinet.

Nobody objected to the Shetland Islands being made an exception. The local government there would receive a penny a barrel for each one filled by its closest oil rigs. This was done to ensure that if the rest of Scotland became independent, the Shetlands would choose to stay in a Westminster-dominated UK.

These facts were not made public since the Cabinet ruled that the McCrone Report be kept top secret for 30 years. In 2005 it was once headlined in the Glasgow Herald, but few journalists and broadcasters have discussed it except in occasional SNP publications. Most folk in Britain think it unimportant. Meanwhile, the tax of one penny a barrel for Shetland’s local government has made the general standard of living there not only better than most of Scotland, but better than most of London.

A few years ago I read the first pages of a dystopian fantasy about an independent Scotland which began after the first act of the new government had exterminated the independent Shetlanders. I am not sorry that I cannot remember the author or the novel’s name.

In the 1970s, incautious Labour Party pre-election publicity had suggested the North Sea oil fields would bring some extra prosperity to Scotland. After the election SNP members in Westminster raised the matter and were briskly told: “You’re not getting your snouts into the trough!” The two main party leaders were determined that only the snouts of private Labour and Tory swine would have access to that rich swill. I believe that was the time when the Labour Party abandoned Socialism, though in Scotland this was not openly admitted for nearly another 40 years.

Next Monday I will speculate about how an independent Scottish government might deal with Shetland in a less than genocidal way.