By Emma Buchman
It seems that the United Kingdom is in need of a major tea-time break this week. It waits along with the rest of the international community for the referendum vote on Scottish independence next Thursday, Sept. 18. The vote will obviously be cast by Scottish citizens, many of whom are not quite as enthusiastic about sticking with the United Kingdom as many British officials had originally anticipated.
Contrary to popular American belief, Scotland is an independent country. It has its own parliament, its own flag, all that jazz. However, it belongs under the umbrella-government of Great Britain, which also governs the countries of England, Northern Ireland, and Wales.
There are two facets that contribute to this critical decision: reasons based in logic, and reasons based on emotion.
An NPR article by Ari Shapiro gave a basic summarization for Scotland’s political reasons for secession: “Scotland wants more control over the oil and gas in the North Sea. Scots bristle at regulations from London. People in Scotland, who tend to be more liberal, feel that the conservative-led coalition government in London doesn’t adequately represent them.”
As many Scots have pointed out, Americans should be able to relate to this scenario to its own experience with the British government during the Revolutionary War. While this remains true, this does not discount the fact that Scotland is physically attached to half of the United Kingdom. Also, time and history do not offer the same solution to them as they did to the American colonies.
A more political concern is that 41 seats in the U.K. Parliament held by the Labour Party (Britain’s hard-left party) were voted in by the Scottish. If Scotland leaves the U.K. this will disrupt the election cycle and force the rest of the United Kingdom to adjust to a new cycle and possibly new representatives.
Additionally, it will force all of the parties involved to strategize and re-evaluate their constituencies. While part of this seems to present the most problems to Labour Party officials, the stress and chaos that will surely occur from Scotland’s leave is a major concern to the whole of Great Britain.
As far as economic repercussions are concerned, economists are divided on the issue. According to “Time Magazine,” some economists argue that Scotland’s separation from the UK (and therefore the pound), will exacerbate the already delicate economic crisis taking place throughout the European Union. Others argue that because Scotland’s market is so small, a monetary conversion will not be noticed by many big-time investors.
Most reports I’ve found don’t support Scottish independence for the same reason that I do: sentimentality. While reflecting his time on a televised panel on the BBC show “Question Time,” journalist David Mitchell admitted that there was something he wishes he could have said to Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) since 2007. “I’m British, I care about this and I’ve a hunch I’m not the only one.”
Essentially, many British journalists consider themselves just that: British. Not English, Scottish, or otherwise. They belong to a collective group of great countries. No matter which country they were raised in or wherever they currently reside; each country has given them precious memories that will not be the same if Scotland cuts itself off from its shared identity.
Personally, I do not have much of a place to give my opinion. I have a feeling that my 1/32 Scottish heritage isn’t enough to get me to the polls next Thursday. However, as a lover of British culture and a hopeful future British citizen, I do care very deeply about this vote, and I very much hope that Scotland chooses not to leave th UK.
Being so involved in British culture through film and movies makes me appreciate Scotland as its own country: fierce, brave, and strong. Never mind that seceding from the UK will bring unnecessary economic strain to the entire international community; one doesn’t need separation to prove one’s individuality. In fact, being so intimately involved with countries like England makes Scottish culture more unique. It plays off of the cultures that surround it, cooperates with them to make something greater than either could have achieved on its own.
As each day passes, it seems more likely that Scotland will separate from the United Kingdom. While this is not the outcome that many of us would prefer, perhaps it will enable Scotland to show off its pride and self-sufficiency.