The Scottish Independence Debate, Put Simply

In 2014, the Scottish population were gripped by the political phenomenon that was the vote to decide the future of the nation’s relationship with the Union. On the 18th of September of said year, the historic vote to decide whether or not the country would continue or end its 300-year union with the rest of the United Kingdom took place. In the early hours of the next morning it was confirmed the Union as we knew it would stay intact.

Dubbed at the time as a ‘once in a lifetime’ vote by leader of the Yes campaign and SNP, Alex Salmond, it was thought the question of Scottish Independence had been put to bed. However, since June 23rd of this year, and the vote for Brexit, the SNP – now led by Nicola Sturgeon – are pushing for a second referendum. With recent polls still showing a divided nation on this issue, it is constantly in the political arena and doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. In this article, we will consider both sides of the argument and the key areas both sides continue to try and put across.

Reasons to Leave the UK

  • Decisions about Scotland are best made by the people who live here- With currently just one Conservative MP representing a Scottish Constituency (out of 59 Constituencies), and the vote of Scots in General Elections only directly effecting the result of the General Election once since the Second World War, Yes voters argue that it is only democratic to give the nation Independence as currently the Scottish people could be deemed to have very little political power.
  • On top of this, Yes voters believe that an independent Scotland would make decisions that reflected Scottish priorities- Devolution has allowed Scotland to make decisions which suit the nations issues in areas such as health and education, and it is believed that Independence would allow the Scottish Government to extend this approach of looking after the nations issues across the board.
  • Scotland wouldn’t be dragged into policies and wars that they did not agree with- Given Independence, Scotland could remove Trident from Scottish Soil, this would not only save money for the nation but would be hugely popular with the country’s population who are largely against nuclear weapons. Whilst the vote would also mean Scotland would not get dragged into wars they didn’t support, such as Iraq, with the SNP promising to never become involved in such wars.
  • As mentioned in the introduction, another, new factor behind ‘Yes’ supporter’s belief that Independence should become reality is the large support for Remaining inside the EU in Scotland. There is a large discontent across the nation at the way Scotland is being ‘forced out’ of the EU against their will and therefore a feeling that Scotland should be able to stay. Since the vote for Brexit, Nicola Sturgeon has been in discussions with large powers inside the EU to discuss the viability of Scotland remaining in the organisation, and is projecting a positive picture to the Scottish people as to how these discussions are going. However, cynics of this will argue that due to issues such as Catalonia trying to gain independence from Spain, member states will never allow an Independent Scotland to gain entry – so as not to suggest to their own ‘breakaways’ that their own potentially independent state could get the same deal.

Reasons to Stay in the UK

  • Being part of the UK offers more economic security- The Better Together campaign consistently raise the issue of the uncertainties that Independence would bring to the Scottish economy and argue that the nation would be financially worse off post-Independence. The ‘Yes’ Campaign, throughout the whole debate have stated that Scotland would continue to use the Pound, despite many experts rejecting this claim that an independent Scotland could do so, and the lack of ‘Plan B’ as far as this was concerned was an important factor behind the initial No vote.
  • Uncertainties about the sustainability of North Sea Oil revenues – A large part of a Post-Independence Economic Plan that the SNP created in their ‘White Paper’ (which set out all their policies after their hoped-for Yes vote) was dependence on the North Sea Oil revenues. However, Better Together supporters are sceptical regarding whether this would be viable as an option. There was a strong feeling that the uncertainty around this would lead to a large chance of increasing tax rates in order to plug the gap in the economy which stuttering Oil Revenues would bring.
  • Scotland could be left in the wilderness of International Politics- Despite the UK leaving the EU, the Union still has a large say in International Politics and Better Together campaigners argue it would be foolish to give up such a position of power. If Scotland were to leave the Union, the country would lose its share in the seat at the G7 and on the UN Security Council. This fear of isolation and a loss of a voice on the International Stage is crucial to many people opting to support a No vote.
  • Scotland would be more secure within the UK- With a new wave of modern terrorism now spreading across the West, it is believed by Better Together supporters that Scotland would be safer in the Union. UK security chiefs have warned that an independent Scotland with smaller, less developed security systems would be hindered in their attempt to fight this new threat. It is feared this new nation would be deemed as weak and therefore could be exposed.

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