The final countdown has begun for the future of Scotland, as the 18th of this month marked the ‘1 year to go’ milestone for the country. With First Minister Alex Salmond stepping up his campaign, we take a look at the pros and cons surrounding Scottish independence.
So, let’s get started. How does the First Minister think that independence will benefit the country? Primarily, the YesScotland campaign argues that decisions about the future of the country are best made in Scotland, not over 600 miles away in Westminster. The SNP party argue that, ‘as an independent country, we can speak with our own voice, choose our own direction and contribute in our own distinct way.’
The party argues that independence would leave the Scottish population better off financially, as currently, Scotland receives 9.3% of UK spending but contributes 9.9% in taxes. The SNP’s big argument about Scottish finances comes from the old oil card. Apparently the North Sea oil and gas is worth around £1.5 trillion and it is ‘one of the best assets for the future’ – regardless of who really owns the oil….
…having independence would put Scotland in a better position…
The SNP have also argued that countries like Norway and Northern Ireland have thrived under their own control, becoming dynamic and successful countries. They argue that Scotland is more than capable of seeing a similar kind of success through independence. It’s also believed by the YesScotland campaign that having independence would put Scotland in a better position when it comes to the UN and European Union. With interests in fishing and agriculture, Scotland would be in a position to represents it’s own individual needs.
The party still maintains that up here in Bonnie Scotland we will still have the Queen as our Head of State, still get to watch the BBC on telly and will still get to pay for our Irn Bru and shortbread with the British pound, the only major change will be that as a country, the decisions will be made here. Sounds simple and effective enough – right? Or is it?
…‘united we stand, divided we fall’…
Let’s just take a peek into some of the disadvantages arising from a potentially independent Scotland. Apart from dismissing that whole ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ argument, many agree that as part of the UK, we benefit from excellent defence, a strong currency and greater employment opportunities.
According to an Icelandic study carried out by academics, if independent, Scotland would require shelter from other countries, which would cost a massive amount of money. The report from Iceland said that ‘like all Nordic states, Scotland would be at a deep strategic disadvantage vis-à-vis the main potentially problematic actor in the region, namely Russia.’ Would this ‘strategic disadvantage’ send us running back to join England again?
…having independent security and defence would massively eat into Scotland’s budget…
In addition to this, many of the SNP’s arguments have been criticised, such as their belief that Scotland would have more power independently in the EU and UN. Others would argue that Scotland is far more powerful as part of the UK when it comes to global decision-making. It’s also believed that having independent security and defence would massively eat into Scotland’s budget – rendering their plans to make the population richer non-existent.
Whatever the Scottish people decide on the 18th of September 2014, I personally hope that voters do thorough research before heading off to cast their votes. With 16 year olds able to vote in the election, it’s important for the younger generation in particular not to be influenced by older friends or family members. Make the decision based on what you think would be best for the country – not because your parents have encouraged you to vote a certain way. As the UK holds it breath, it’s still unclear how the UK will look a year from now.