Posted by: marymarthatours | September 18, 2014

Scottish Independence – Today is voting day

Flag_of_Scotland.svg

 

“Should Scotland be an independent country?”

That is the only question on the ballot today, as the people of Scotland vote on whether or not to end the 307 year union with England.  Four million Scots, age 16 and older, are eligible to vote.  The referendum needs only a simple majority to pass.

The most recent polls suggest that the result is “too close to call”.  Originally the “No” side, those wishing to remain a part of the United Kingdom, had a substantial lead, but as the voting day got closer, the “Yes” side, those wanting independence, has pulled up to even.  I wouldn’t want to bet on which side will prevail.  We’ll know in a few days.

For non-Scottish and English readers, I will attempt to summarize the main pros and cons that have been put forward in the attempt to inform and convince voters.

For Indepence (vote “Yes”) talking points:

  • Scotland would control its political destiny.  While the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh has control over some areas of Scottish life, most decisions, including the use of Scottish resources, are made by the UK Parliament in London.
  • Scotland has a different political identity.  Scotland is considerably more liberal in its politics than England.  Only 15 of 129 members of the Scottish Parliament are Conservative, and only 1 of the 59 Scottish Members of the House of Commons in London is Conservative.  So the Scots are effectively governed by a majority Conservative government in London.
  • Scotland would be able to utilize its oil reserves.  Approximately 90% of the UK’s North Sea oil fields are located in Scottish territorial waters.  Scottish politicians argue that London has used Scottish oil reserves for its own benefit, and that Scotland could use oil wealth to build its economic independence.
  • No more nuclear weapons in Scotland.  The UK’s supply of nuclear weapons is stored in Scotland, and the Scottish National Party is resolutely anti-nuke. 
  • Scotland would be a more democratic nation than England.  The Scottish Parliament is more democratic than the UK Parliament because it uses a proportional electoral system and does not reserve places for bishops purely because they are members of the Church of England as is done in the House of Lords.

Against Indepence (vote “No”) talking points:

  • Unity is strength.  Together Scotland and the UK are a very powerful, rich and influential state.  Becoming independent would lessen Scotland’s global presence and influence.
  • Scotland would have to rejoin the European Union.  The status of Scotland as an independent member of the EU is unclear.  It might have to attempt to rejoin and agree to the use of the Euro as its currency.
  • The currency issue.  Scottish politicians want to continue to use the Pound Sterling as their currency, but London is not in favor of that.  No one is clear on whether the new Scottish currency would be the Pound, the Euro, or a new Scottish monetary unit.
  • Businesses may leave Scotland.  Already several large banks have announced that they will relocate their headquarters to England if the referendum passes, and other businesses may consider doing the same when faced with an uncertain economic future (at least in the short run) in Scotland.
  • Huge economic risk.  Combining the lack of a plan for its currency, the loss of current business, and this time of recession and rising unemployment, an independent Scotland faces a very difficult economic future.

So those are the “rational” arguments put forth by the pro- and anti- Independence camps.  What I don’t see written about, and to me, the huge unknowable factor, is the emotional argument.  Have the Scots, after 307 years of the united experience, simply gotten sick and tired of being the poor relation, dominated and controlled by the richer, stronger partner in the union?  They are a proud people with a rich history and culture.  We wish them every good thing in the future – whichever way they vote in today’s referendum.

(by Mary) 

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Responses

  1. from our quilting friend Jan in England:

    Oh dear Mary! As a Scot living in England, I am dreading it if the vote goes the “Yes” way! Also anyone living in Scotland has the right to vote, be they Scots, English, Afghan, Chinese, etc! Scots living outside our lovely country get no say in the matter. Will I become an illegal immigrant if the YES campaign succeed? I hope not!

  2. Scots living outside Scotland have made a choice not to live in Scotland. Why should their vote be considered? My ancestors were Scots — they moved abroad 300 years ago and I don’t expect to vote. People living in Scotland (whatever their genetic history) should be encouraged to vote to build the country that their heart desires. This the the “local versus national” control issue and “control” is the key word. Given the power and pillage from mega-corporations, there is much to be said for local control. Given the nastiness a powerful local family or business can generate, there is much to be said for national standards.
    Let’s hope that Scots and all the rest of the world can find the right balance point.


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