A big talking point of late is the upcoming Scottish Referendum, due to be held on the 18th of September 2014. This vote will determine whether Scotland decides to once again be a country in it’s own right, or stay part of the union and gain some fancy new powers. I will be sharing my thoughts on what I think scotland should do, but first I will briefly discuss how the Union came to be.
The United Kingdom first came to be in the early 1700’s. The law brought in was called the Treaty of Union and when it was passed the parliaments of Scotland and England ceased to exist. There would now be a Parliament of Great Britain. The majority of the Scottish people did not want this but it was believed by the Scottish Parliament that it (Scotland) could no longer survive on it’s own. Despite losing it’s Parliament, Scotland kept her identity. It was to keep it’s own Church, Legal System, Education System, Royal Boroughs and Courts and of course it already had it’s own culture and history. But the seat of government now moved 400 miles south (to London). In June 1713, Scots peers introduced a bill to repeal the Union. It was narrowly defeated.However, Scotland would regain it’s own Parliament (through a democratic vote) in 1997 with some powers devolved from the UK parliament in London. In it’s current form, Scotland has got a Parliament, with it’s own Member’s of the Scottish Parliament, and various powers. However, most of the power remains in London, in the British Parliament.
What Scottish people are voting for is whether to dissolve the union or not. On Thursday, all people who live in Scotland (including English, Welsh and Irish citizens who live in Scotland) aged 16+ will go to Polling Stations and vote whether or not Scotland should stay in the Union or regain total independence and be it’s own man. As you’ve likely seen in the news, the vote is very split.
The way I see it. It is a vote of the head vs. the heart. On the side of the heart ‘I’M BORN SCOTTISH, I AM SCOTTISH, AND I’LL DIE SCOTTISH’. But on the other hand ‘If we leave the union, we won’t have the support of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We’ll lose the pound and all our business will move to London’. Now both are very valid points. It makes sense to live in a Scotland ran by Scottish people. On the other hand, Scotland is interdepndent on the rest of the UK. If they lose the pound, we’re ll going to suffer, and it could set back the recovery from the 2008 financial crisis we had.
Also, if Scotland leave, there’d be problems in the long term. Once oil has gone, Scotland’s welfare state will either have to get less generous, or taxes will have to rise. Scotland might relish having more control, perhaps putting the revenues aside to make a small Sovereign Wealth Fund. But that would mean austerity for a long time to come, a hard sell politically. The only viable currency option Scotland has is to set up its own central bank and issue its own currency, either fixing against Sterling, or floating and following an inflation target.
Also, the Scots could lose out if they vote no. They won’t have another referendum in our lifetime over independence, if they decide to stay with us. But, Business will stay, more devolved power will be given to their parliament, and the SNP will likely have little to fight for when and if they lose this vote. There’s a lot of stuff to go into about this, and I could write 3 essays. But I am not capable of all that, because I myself have little knowledge, only what they give me on the news.
I feel, Scotland should stay. But If they want to go, then I won’t lose sleep. It might be a good thing for Wales and Northern Ireland. It could lead to more devolved power on their level, and might even legitimise calls for a northern and Cornish Parliament. Politically, this is a great and exciting time. I bet Year 12 Politic students are peeing themselves with all the AO1 knowledge being thrown at their feet. Good luck Scotland. I hope you make the right choice first time.