On September 18, Scotland will vote to determine whether or not it will become independent from the rest of the United Kingdom. While many arguments are being made for both sides, everything boils down to a simple question: “Should Scotland become an independent country?”
Very rarely has a nation as large and established as Scotland been granted an opportunity for independence without bloodshed, fighting, and a time of intense turmoil. For that reason, this occurrence will be remembered as part of the nation’s history, regardless of the decision. Here’s a basic overview of both arguments.
Due in large part to the abundance of oil, Scotland is one of the richest countries in the world. If Scotland became independent, it could use that wealth to meet the specific needs of the people living there. Independence would create a more direct relationship between the country’s wealth and its citizens’ benefit.
“Yes” voters argue that independence would lead to more equality and social justice, saying that the UK has become the fourth most unequal society in the world and that current practices are widening the income gap. Breaking from the Westminster government is an opportunity for positive change. It would allow the Scottish government to implement tax reforms and increase social support in areas like education, old-age care, and healthcare—programs designed to decrease the income gap.
Supporters argue that a move away from the Westminster political system is necessary because the political parties have become too aligned on policy, there are too many special-interest groups, scandals and corruption are commonplace, and current politicians cannot be trusted.
Independence would also give each citizen more voting power: in the UK, each vote is 1 in 65 million, but in Scotland, it would be 1 in 5.3 million. In theory, this would lead to decisions made that were better for the Scottish people.
Separation would give Scotland more say over when to go to war. It would also mean that Scotland would no longer have to support nuclear weapons—an important issue for many people.
The argument for independence is based on a desire to regain control of oil revenue, move to a more focused government, and support social justice.
The current Scottish government is in clear support of this option:
“With independence we can make Scotland the fairer and more successful country we all know it should be. We can make Scotland’s vast wealth and resources work much better for everyone in our country, creating a society that reflects our hopes and ambition. Being independent means we will have a government that we choose—a government that always puts the people of Scotland first.”
Voting for separation would be a huge move into the unknown, and radical changes come with big risks. The issue of currency is particularly disconcerting: becoming independent could possibly lead to the loss of the UK pound, and the change could increase the amount paid for mortgages, credit cards, and other loans while disrupting the entire financial sector.
Those opposed to a move for independence argue that it would be a catalyst for the departure of large companies and harmful to the job market.
Furthermore, if Scotland becomes independent, it cannot be reversed. If independence fails, there is no safety net. There are concerns that those in favor of independence are acting based on emotion and have not created viable plans in case things go awry.
The “no” argument hinges on the idea that the risks of independence outweigh the potential gains. Instead of becoming independent, it has been suggested that the best option is to create positive change within the current system.
Check out these resources to learn more:
Let us know in the comments below. If you’re Scottish, don’t forget to register to vote in the referendum.