The question on the ballot will read, “Should Scotland be an independent country?” On September 18, 2014, Scottish voters go to the polls to vote on independence. A national referendum is on the ballot to decide whether Scotland will become separate from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Tempest in a teapot
Surprised? In fact, this is big news that has been brewing for awhile. The result could have a massive impact on the whole of the U.K.’s 63 million people, who reside in a space smaller than California. The population of Scotland, which covers the upper third of the U.K., has a population of 5 million. A good number will go to the polls, including residents from the age of 16, as the voting age has been lowered in time for the referendum. A simple majority vote would be required, regardless of the turnout. British citizens not residing in Scotland will not be given a vote.
Been there, done that
From the Middle Ages until 1707, The Kingdom of Scotland was an independent sovereign state. However, the Treaty of Union formed with the Kingdom of Britain was controversial and there have been calls for devolution over the past 400 years. In fact, two referendums held in 1979 and in 1997 got a “yes”, the latter resulting in the creation of a separate Scottish Parliament with limited power. After gaining a majority vote in 2011, the Scottish National Party has gained stature and the question is being re-visited.
Follow the money
Economically speaking, could Scotland be a separate nation? What else besides exporting whisky and plaid kilts, you might wonder? In a word, oil. Scotland sits on most of the U.K.’s North Sea oil and gas reserves. The proposal calls for Scotland to receive a 90 percent geographical share based on the division of territorial waters. An article in the Financial Times on February 18, 2014 claimed that Scotland’s per capita GDP is bigger than that of Italy or France.
Celebrities muck in
Scotland says that other small countries, such as Norway, do a fine job of managing their own North Sea reserves. Prime Minister David Cameron points out that proof that you can doesn’t mean you should, but clearly, some Scots feel bullied by London politics. Photo opportunities mounted for the Union side as David Bowie won the Brit Awards’ best male artist award, sending a message read by Kate Moss, “Scotland, stay with us.”
How Scottish are you?
“Yes Scotland” is the official campaign slogan in favor of independence. “Better Together” is the campaign for a keeping the union. On the question of citizenship, Scotland would propose to accept application from anyone with a Scottish parent or grandparent, a proposal which mirrors current British guidelines. The question as to whether a Scot could retain dual citizenship with Britain is a question not yet tackled.
A wee dram from the Highlands
There are plenty of questions on the table, as there would be in any break-up. Sexy ones like the currency, the flag, the national anthem, the monarchy and the price of a single malt whisky come to mind. Then there are the questions that responsible voters should ask. A Guardian news report offers answers. Calling its summary “Indy Lite,” this tutorial explains that Scotland would retain its Commonwealth, NATO and EU status, retain the pound sterling, cooperate on defense, but potentially control its own taxation, education, pensions, other matters.