The Future of Scotland and the UK
Do you support or oppose Scottish independence?
Aren't we living in an interesting time? Just months after Donald Trump is elected president of the United States and Brexit, calls for a second referendum on Scottish independence are starting to resonate in Edinburgh. The prime minister is about to trigger article 50, which will effectively begin to withdraw the United Kingdom from the European Union.
All this is leading to worries about the state in which the union is, and is leaving with questions that need answered :
-Why have second referendum when we voted "no" less than three years ago?
-If independence is to be the next step for Scotland, how can be sure of the well being of our public services, higher education, healthcare...?
-As we asked the last time, what currency would be used?
-Would Scotland be able to rejoin the EU?
There other questions than this of course, but theese are a few examples. Whether you are for or against the idea of Scottish independence, I think everyone will agree that theese questions will have to be answered.
Holyrood is the location of the Scottish parliament, which was created in 1998 through the Scotland act. Over the years powers have been devolved from Westminster to Holyrood, such powers include: law and order, environment, education, transport, tourism and economic development. The parliament was created after calls for independence were all but silenced by devolution (the transfer of power), although now some people are not satisfied by this and are demanding self determination.
The parliament is run by a majority of the Scottish National Party (SNP) who are the largest group in favour of independence and are backed on the issue primarily by the Scottish Greens, all of whom face opposition on the matter by the main unionist parties: the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party, Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
Support for independence at a new high
In November of 2016 it had been found by the financial times that support for independence had plunged and was no longer at 45%, which is what had been achieved in 2014. Since then it has seen a resurgence with the prospect of Brexit going through. Whatever arguments that were given two and a half years ago, leaving the Eu has cast doubt amongst nay sayers, with 56% of Scottish people who voted leave, who are beginning to regret the last year's decision. Although this might not definitely mean much, it is surely an encouraging sign for those in favour of a new referendum.
Support for Scottish independence
Identity in Scotland
According to the Scottish census in 2011, "62% of the total population stated their identity was ‘Scottish only’. That proportion varied from 71% for 10 to 14 year olds to 57% for 30 to 34 year olds.
The second most common response was ‘Scottish and British identities only’, at 18%. This was highest in the 65 to 74 age group, at 25%.
‘British identity only’ was chosen by 8% of the population. The highest proportion stating this identity was the 50 to 64 age group (10%)."
In the 2014 referendum, identity was used by "no" parties, stating that the vote should not be decided solely on the national identity of the Scottish people.
A few arguments in favour of independence
Decision making: One of the first arguments in favour of independence is that the government in Westminster, more often than not, does not reflect the views and wishes of the Scottish electorate.
Welfare: In the case of self determination, the Scottish government would have the ability to set its own rules for welfare, which is currently tied to the UK government.
Getting rid of trident: Banishing nuclear weapons from Scottish soil is a clear commitment from the SNP. Critics say moving the submarines to England will make little difference, but anti-nuclear campaigners believe Scotland’s refusal to house them could be the catalyst for deciding against renewal of the weapons. It would also save money.
Immigration: Scotland needs an increase in the working population to balance the growing number of older people. Campaigners also argue it is losing out on overseas students because of the tough line on immigration from the UK government. Under independence, Scotland could adopt an immigration policy more suited to the country’s needs, including a return to the Fresh Talent initiative introduced by Labour’s Jack McConnell, allowing overseas graduates to stay on and work here for a couple of years once their studies were over.
A few arguments against independence
The UK: Many believe the has been a successful social and economic union over the last 300 years.
Economic security: People opposed to the idea of an independent Scotland argue the integrated UK economy means risks are pooled and opportunities shared within a home market inside one of the world’s largest economies. It offers a single market and barrier-free trade which has secured investment and trade.
Research funding: Much pioneering medical and science research in Scotland is backed with funding from UK research councils and charities. Indeed Scotland currently wins a disproportionate share of such finding. Anti-independence campaigners say that could be at risk, shrinking Scotland’s research community.
Anti-independence campaigners say a Yes vote would mean breaking up the BBC, which they say is the best public broadcasting service in the world and vital to sustaining a common culture and identity.
They say that it also offers a range of information and entertainment at least ten times wider than what Scotland could hope to produce alone.
I have done my best to remain unbiased on this issue but I would imagine that I might not have succeeded.
All opinions are welcome and I encourage you express as you may.