As Hugh Grant suggests in Love Actually, the UK and the US share a somewhat “special relationship.” The relationship between England and Scotland can be seen as quite the same. Although there may not be any aggressive looking guards on the borders between the two countries, there are numerous issues that divide the two nations and have always caused tension. To spare you a long and much repetitive history, tensions between Scotland and England have always existed, the first suggestions of independence occurring in 1707 almost as soon as the unification had taken place. However, just recently, the possibility of an independent Scottish State has become more real than ever with plans for a referendum in 2014. After the landslide election of the SNP, they have maintained their election manifesto and just this week the Edinburgh agreement made with David Cameron has ensured a referendum will take place. Although debate still surrounds the wording itself, the question will be put to the people of Scotland who will have to decide simply whether or not they wish to remain part of the United Kingdom.
Should the outcome of the referendum create a new independent Scottish State, the consequences both for England and internationally could be quite dramatic. It ranges from the trivial impacts of England being unable to herald Andy Murray as a national treasure when he wins Wimbledon one day – which he will – and the more serious impacts including that the UK would almost definitely become a Conservative stronghold. Although few of you may actually be able to vote if the referendum goes ahead next year, it is important to understand the arguments in favour and against the vote. Here at HCX we’ve compiled a short list of the key pros and cons to help you make your decision:
· The current system of devolution gives Scotland limited powers over their own affairs – independence would extend their jurisdiction to all powers including foreign and fiscal policy.
· Independence would give Scotland an extra seat in the UN and the EU Council of Ministers meaning Scottish interests (like agriculture and fisheries) would be better represented internationally.
· The UK is currently run by a conservative Prime Minister, which the majority of Scotland has not voted for – Independence is likely to produce a more democratic government in Scotland.
· Scotland is an energy-rich country and would be committed to tackling the environmental problems of the 21st century through green policies.
· Gaining full economic power over Scottish affairs would allow them to cut corporate taxes and encourage the growth of small business leading to a wealthy and prosperous economy.
· England and Scotland could vote for each other in the Eurovision Song Contest!
· Independence could create a dangerous divide between the Scottish people leading to rioting and disorder.
· Scotland would have a bigger influence on the world stage if it remains a part of the UK. There is no guarantee they would retain the same influence if it were independent.
· There is a substantial gap between the revenue brought in by taxes and the public spending in Scotland – either taxes would need to be raised or spending cut as they would loose the subsidy from Westminster.
· Scotland is more economically stable and stronger as part of the union and could loose international backing if it becomes independent. Bigger countries are always better equipped to deal with the economic consequences of globalisation.
· The current devolved system means many Scottish politicians can vote on issues in the UK that do not affect them, they would loose this power if Scotland were independent.
If you are still undecided, hear what some famous faces and fellow students had to say about the issue:
· “The fact that it has been estimated that support for independence is only at 23% show that this is not a move that is popular with the Scottish people: the choice to vote SNP was not a vote for independence, it was a vote away from Labour”, Lauren Hudson, co-President of Her Campus Exeter and native Scot!
· “I’ve talked to over a thousand people in this car & only one wanted independence – & he was drunk!” Quote from an Edinburgh taxi driver from Vote NO to Scottish Independence Facebook Campaign
· “I passionately believe Scotland will be better off in the United Kingdom but also, crucially, the United Kingdom will be better off with Scotland“, David Cameron, British Prime Minister.
· “It may just be easier if Scotland are independent; divorce is better than constant bickering and if Scotland becomes independent its relationship with Westminster will be more co-operative.” Second Year International Relations Student at Exeter.
· “I do believe in independence but don’t think it is really a yes or no issue. There are too many questions that need to be answered first. I’m quite disappointed they have dropped the whole idea of maximum devolution.”, Dave MacCormack, 29, a TV researcher from Hillhead, Glasgow
News Sources: bbc.co.uk, theweek.com, guardian.co.uk, scottishindependenceconvention.org, dailyrecord.co.uk
Image Credits: demotix.com, kelvingilmour.net, the samosa.co.uk