On September 18, about 4.1 million Scotland-based voters will decide on a crucial question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?” Scottish Independence inches closer to reality and will have enormous ramifications for the U.K. and its place on the global stage.
This won’t be the first time voters have decided on Scottish Independence. In 2004, a similar referendum was presented to the people of Scotland, but the answer was “no.” One of the leading arguments against independence was that it would do little more than produce more politicians, according to BBC News.
Politicians in the U.K. have rested easy, believing that the upcoming vote would end in a similar way, until now. A recent poll from Yougov has shown that the percentage of voters leaning toward “yes” rose to 42 percent, while the “no” voters are down to 48 percent in a weighted measurement of 1,063 potential voters making it almost too close to tell, factoring the margin of error. The poll not only scared the U.K., it showcased the deep-rooted split between Scots and the English, with 78 percent of participants born in Scotland in favor of Scottish Independence.
Campaigners for Scottish Independence seem to have struck a chord by using the narrative that the current government neglects the North and the borderlands.
Proponents have cited poor infrastructural investments and the elimination of Regional Development Agencies as proof of that fact. Then there is the agenda for after Scottish Independence.
Government officials want to cut corporate tax rates, cut the Scottish Air Passenger Duty, and make investments in high-speed rail. All of which are not possible with the current powers held by the Scottish Parliament.
Opponents to the referendum point out that the U.K. presence on the global stage would be in jeopardy if the already small island was divided between two countries. The military would have to be divided up, leaving the U.K. with a less credible deterrent and would lose about 10 percent of its national GDP. Scotland, on the other hand, could potentially drop off the global scale of powers, being just 42nd in the world for total GDP.
Too many of the details are still too unclear to make too much of a credible prediction about the future of an Independent Scotland. Who would be burdened with Scotland’s debt? Who would have rights to the north sea oil? Would businesses migrate to Scotland seeking lower tax rates?
Those questions might need realistic answers soon, if the vote for Scottish Independence moves any closer “yes.”
[Image: William Wallace, Credit: Wikimedia Commons]