On Thursday, 18th September 2014, a big question will be asked: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’
Registered Scots will get the chance to make a potentially life-changing decision about the future of their country. The Scottish parliament has been part of the United Kingdom since the Act of the Unions in 1707, and now it has been given the chance to decide whether or not it should break away.
I spoke to eight people on campus to get their views on the matter. Lots of these people were international students on exchange, some with a cultural history of political unrest due to issues of independence. Some were American and two were Scottish, on opposing sides of the spectrum. It did not matter whether these people knew lots about the issue or if they knew nothing at all but it gave the chance to see the issue of Scotland’s Independence from a wider world view, however few our selection of interviewees was.
Harriet from Scotland: NO
“I am going to vote no because frankly we’re not in a stable position to go independent. It has been very poorly thought through, and when I read the white paper it wasn’t any more substantial than the paper it was written on. There’s a lot of things that haven’t been thought out: we’re not going to have a currency and it’s not going to be tied to anything and I can’t explain how dangerous a situation that is for Scotland at the moment. We currently spend more than any other country in the UK and we’re going to have the most unstable currency. I’m terrified about that. Our situation internationally is tricky, are we going to be part of the Commonwealth? Have our Embassy been worked out? I’m not against Scottish independence as a whole, but it has been so poorly thought out that it actually makes me scared. If Scotland goes independent, I’m not okay with that. I’ve lived in Scotland all my life – I was born and raised in Scotland, I go to university in Scotland and I love Scotland, it’s my home. I’ve been really annoyed by others from the UK telling me that my home isn’t my home and that they know what’s best for my home. Scotland remaining part of Britain is the best option because we have more weight as a united nation.”
Jonathan from India: YES
“I would vote yes, as even though there are some economic issues for Scotland things have been so politically divisive over the last few years. The government in England is run by the Tories but in Scotland, everyone votes a different way. Considering Scotland has the ability and resources to do what they need to do to be an independent country, I think that they should vote yes. Even though the first few years may be a bit of a struggle in terms of currency and figuring out their position in the European Union, I still think that it would be correct for them to vote yes.. I think there are similarities between Britain and India in the sense that separating from the British was necessary to grow as a country. However there were some benefits as they united India from individual kingdoms into one country. For Scotland it may have been a good relationship but they now need to be on their own to progress further.”
Jake from England: NO
“I would vote no. At the moment, there’s been a lot of people joking around about it. There’s a lot of mock animosity. I think a lot of people our age are not politically informed and it might be quite fun to think about now but when it came to the crunch, it would prove important that the UK stay together. I think the mocking from the press is clear coming from the school of thought that it is England that makes Britain Great. Ignoring this intervention from the media, I would vote no because it is in Scotland’s greatest interest. I think that England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Scotland work together well in terms of trade and at the moment, the pound is pretty good. I think that for Scotland to move away from a strong currency would be foolish.”
Dylan from Ireland: YES
“I would have to vote yes straight away because as I’m Irish the issue of independence is big for me personally. In this day and age I think that it’s right for a nation to have a deciding vote. Another nation having that vote is unfair. Even small things like the languages in Ireland and Scotland are practically the same. I’m also against the British colonisation in the past that both nations have experienced and I’m anti-monarchy. I think it would really send a message and it would open the debate about Wales and Northern Ireland. I think that Northern Ireland is a bit more of a complex question because you have the people from Northern Ireland who want to be part of the United Kingdom, those who want to be part of Ireland and those want to be their own country altogether. If it could be economically sustained or not, I don’t know but Northern Ireland should have the right to give it a chance and open up this debate, just like Scotland.”
Wally from Catalonia, Spain: YES
“I would definitely vote yes. I think both Scotland and Catalonia are nations that seek for more autonomy and both of us have had political and economic issues with the central government and we think that ruling ourselves will be better. I don’t think it’s that of an identity issue like, ‘I feel Scottish and I hate England’, it’s more simply the political issue. The problem is that both London and Madrid haven’t been able to answer to the regional aspirations, so these aspirations are just getting bigger and bigger. I think it’s very positive for any nation to have a sense of self-determination. But if the Scots or Catalonia lose, there will have been a great part of the population who want something different so if one thing is clear it’s that nothing will be the same and other regional movements will have to find their way through more autonomy.”
“I think it should be a no vote because I don’t think Scotland is strong enough economically to be independent right now. There was some noise about it when the last ‘Asterix and Obelisk’ book came out because it was set in Scotland amongst an ancient Scottish tribe. Since they were fighting against the Romans, apparently some Scottish people believed that France was routing for the ‘Yes’ campaign. It didn’t sway my opinion either way because actually these two characters were from a region in France that used to want to be independent. It would be interesting to see what would happen in terms of European peoples that want independence too if Scotland get their independence but I would still vote no in terms of the Scottish economy.”
Youyang from the US: NO
“I would vote no because I think that to withdraw from the European Union, which is real threat of Scotland’s independence, not only takes away currency and trade rights but also no one is entirely sure how secure Scotland’s imports and exports would be. It could be very destabilizing if you have to introduce an entirely new currency that doesn’t yet hold legitimacy which could cause rapid inflation or deflation. No one really knows what is going to happen economically and I feel that, especially as the nation is divided, it could create further problems for Scotland. Obviously America’s greatest historical turning point was the Revolutionary war so I think in those terms I do understand divorcing yourself from a colony but at that time we were thousands of miles away and our economy was completely self-sufficient.”
Conor from Scotland: YES
“I’m going to be voting ‘yes’. I think its very unfair for people to view the referendum in Scotland in terms of Braveheart cliches about independence and freedom and hating the English and they don’t have any clue about the inequality that’s rampant in Scotland at the moment and the anxiety of the people that want to change it. My Dad is a no vote because the way I see it, he’s upset about the uncertainty and there is a lot of uncertainty about the way things are going to go. There’s a lot of scare stories on a constant doomsday level from the media and he’s naturally gotten scared, focusing on the very possible but unlikely downsides, rather the really exciting likely possibilities.The Yes movement is not about nationalism its about democracy, it’s about dedication to social justice and a strong written constitution and insuring that the Scottish people get the government that they actually vote for. If you’re familiar with the way that the British parliamentary system works, we each send a representation down to Westminster, London and the share of the Scottish representatives that actually run the country is one out of fifty six and no one in Scotlands get the government they vote for constituency wise. We need for that to change. Scotland is an oil-rich country that can very much afford to stand on its own terms.”
If I could, I would vote yes. What would you vote?