Scottish Not British


The United Kingdom may be one kingdom smaller when Scotland holds a referendum on September 18, 2014 regarding their withdrawal and independence from the coalition of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. As revolutionary as this might seem, independence referendums are actually not uncommon.

Many former Soviet-controlled states declared their independence through this method. One might also recall the failed Quebec referendums of 1980 and 1995.

The most recent successful attempt was the establishment of South Sudan in 2010, in the wake of their bloody civil war.

Catalonia, a region of Spain, may follow suit after Scotland with their own referendum on November 9, 2014; however, the Spanish government has stated that it will not allow such a vote to be held.

The initiating event for the Scottish referendum came back in 2011 when the Scottish National Party, a political force strongly in favor of independence, won the majority in the Scottish Parliament with a total of 69 seats. Their leader, Alex Salmond, was utterly triumphant, claiming “just as the Scottish people have restored trust in us, we must trust the people as well.”

The last of the major obstacles in the way of a vote was gone.

However, Salmond faced strong opposition from Prime Minister David Cameron, delaying the announcement of the referendum until March of 2013.

The referendum would allow 16 and 17 year-olds to participate as well as those of legal voting age, who would then all be asked a single question: shouldn’t Scotland become an independent nation? Yet the date was set so far in advance that those in the UK put the impending crisis on the back-burner.

Now that the time is nearing, Britain is beginning to panic, particularly as recent polls show a surge of support for independence.

Scotland’s longing for separation existed well before the SNP’s popularity and the referendum announcement, and for the most part their reasons are justified.

England wasn’t particularly kind to its neighboring lands of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales throughout history; the animosity between English and Irish is notorious, but plenty of Scots continue to resent their former oppressor.

The history of Scotland and England can be tracked by squashed rebellions and economic dominance. The massacre of highlander clans has often been argued as attempted genocide by English monarchs in the 17th century.

Scotland had always considered itself separate people, but the idea of Scottish nationalism resurged in the aftermath of World War I under the influence of journalist and poet Hugh McDiarmid, who went on to become one of the founding members of the National Party of Scotland–a precursor to the modern Scotland National Party.

History aside, the Scottish are simply very different from the rest of the United Kingdom: Scottish voters are more left-leaning than the British people as a whole, public sector reform is less developed, and the welfare state is more generous.

The SNP frequently draws comparisons to successful countries like Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, demonstrating that small European states continue to thrive. Leaving England, with its anti-European Union politics, in favor of embracing peaceful internationalist ideals is a message that appeals to many Scots, particularly among the younger generation.

If Scotland votes yes on its referendum, the UK will lose a third of its land mass and a tenth of their population. Other European countries watch with trepidation, worrying that a Scottish success could invigorate other separatist movements in Spain, France, Belgium, Italy, and elsewhere.

The course of these next seven months will invariably determine the fate of Scotland and the whole of the United Kingdom.

Emma Paquette
One of those quiet advocates that the world add just a few more hours to the day. Even if I don't live in the District, I'm close enough to pretend that I do.
Emma Paquette
Emma Paquette

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