The Not-So-United Kingdom

This Thursday, September 18th 2014, could see the division of Great Britain, as of today comprised of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Island. The Scottish people will be gathering at poll booths across their country to decide whether they want to stay in the United Kingdom, or proclaim their independence. Voters have split into two camps, “Yes” voters or “No” voters, based on the following question: Should Scotland become an independent country or not?

Over the final weekend before the referendum, thousands of protestors and demonstrators for both sides took to the streets to voice their opinions on whether Scotland should remain a part of the United Kingdom or become its own nation, free from British ties. As of the 13th of September, excluding undecided voters, 53.5% opposed Scottish independence, while 46.5% supported it. Although this gives the “Better Together” movement confidence, the lead is in no way decisive. Come Thursday, the pendulum just may swing in the opposite direction.

Flags_outside_Parliament

What would Scottish independence even mean? What repercussions would the devolvement of their 307 year-old union with Great Britain have? One of the possible results that is worrying the English is the uncertain financial situation. The dissolution of the British union could see London’s standing as one of the most eminent financial capitals of the world diminish. The pound, Britain’s form of currency, sank last Monday after a poll declared the “Yes” voters in the lead.

The UK’s defense could potentially be in jeopardy, as well. Scotland is home to nuclear weapons owned by Great Britain, and its independence would mean nuclear weapons relocation. But, it’s not just Great Britain’s future that could be negatively effected, an independent Scotland would no longer be included in the European Union, and would have to reapply for admission. If the vote on Thursday is for an independent Scotland, the proposed date of independence is March 24th, 2016, theoretically giving Scotland a chance to be accepted back into the EU even before its established independence, but without certainty of fast-tracked, rapid admission.

Voters have also been wondering if Scotland does secure independence, will the country succeed as an independent nation? Scotland has received more benefits from the UK than it has paid in taxes. Anti-independence activists cite the economical argument, as well as the fact that Scotland is amply represented in British parliament, even retaining their own Scottish Parliament in Scotland. Instead of being part of the United Kingdom’s 64 million, they will only stand with 5 million people. But, to some, a smaller, culturally-connected community is appealing, and would enhance their national identity. Scottish animosity towards England has historical root that still prevails today. Although during the Commonwealth Games, hosted in Glasgow this past summer, the Scots cheered as loudly for England as for every other country during the opening ceremony, the long-standing Scottish resentment for England may play an important role in the vote.

Scotland has also lowered the voting age to 16 for the referendum, which has reportedly amazingly engaged Scottish students in the debate; there have been 10 million Facebook exchanges regarding the referendum, reports NPR. Although many believed the young 16 to 17 year old voters would undoubtedly support the independence faction, it actually seems a slight majority would rather remain within the union. Their research has been as impassioned as adult voters’ own involvement, and although only 3% of the voters will be 16 to 17, their say will, like everybody’s, play a part.

The Scottish referendum will take politics, culture and economy into consideration. Voters will be tasked with either devolving from Great Britain or solidifying their bonds to the rest of United Kingdom. Either way, Scotland’s future could be changed forever. In fact, the world’s future may be changed forever. If Scotland obtains independence on September 18th, other countries may be inspired to do the same. Spain’s Catalonian province, Canada’s Quebec province, and the French Mediterranean island of Corsica are all interested in the Scottish vote, and may even be inspired to conduct their own referendums in the future. No matter the decision on Thursday, Scotland may have just started a ripple effect that could change our world as we know it.

 

–Megan Evershed, World News Editor

Posted by on September 18, 2014. Filed under World News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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