Could Scotland once again be an independent nation? They will if the Scottish National Party has their way. Just a few years ago, Scottish independence was a long shot, now, the argument appears to be in a dead heat.
According to The Guardian:
Last October, the yes/no split was 37% to 63%, suggesting that the traditional two-to-one balance against independence was holding in the referendum context. But then the nationalists began to narrow the gap. In February, Westminster’s three unionist parties made a heavy-handed intervention on the question of the currency, warning that an independent Scotland could not count on keeping the pound.
This backfired, and by April, the poll of polls was running at 45%-55%. The race was looking increasingly competitive, before opinion congealed and then froze. Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games and the first debate, which a Guardian/ICM poll established Alistair Darling had won for the no camp, came and went without materially affecting the picture.
The last debate between the Scottish National Party and the British Labour Party produced a strong win for the SNP. A Guardian/ICM poll taken immediately after the debate showed 71% of respondents handing victory to Alex Salmond, the SNP’s pro-independence spokesman. Whether a debate win translates to actual votes is another issue though.
“The eyes of the world are indeed focused on Scotland,” Salmond told the audience in an emotional opening statement, urging Scots to vote for full independence. “This is our time, our moment. Let us do it now.”
Scotland’s health service would be better off under independence, he argued, questioning whether the British government would give Scotland more devolved powers in the event that Scots reject independence.
Scotland already has its own parliament with control over policy areas such as education and health.
The debate (an interesting watch if you have the time to spare):
The pro-independence movement has outlined an entire proposal on what Scottish independence would look like, complete with snazzy infographics. In their proposal, they cite three reasons to pursue independence:
1) To create a more democratic Scotland
2) To build a more prosperous country
3) To become a fairer society
But don’t worry, Scotland would still be a constitutional monarchy with the Queen being the head of state.
An independent Scotland might have implications beyond the UK though. As the Washington Post points out, Scotland is home to Britain’s Trident Nuclear program. Who would get custody of that program in the event of a divorce is not entirely clear:
But if Scotland votes “yes” in an independence referendum next month, the submarines could become nuclear-armed nomads, without a port to call home. Washington’s closest and most important ally could, in turn, be left without the ultimate deterrent, even as Europe’s borders are being rattled anew by a resurgent Russia.
Former NATO secretary general George Robertson, a Scotsman, said in a speech in Washington earlier this year that a vote for independence would be “cataclysmic” for Western security, and that ejecting the nuclear submarines from Scotland would amount to “disarming the remainder of the United Kingdom.”
The pro-independence campaign promptly accused Robertson of hyperbolic scaremongering. But the possibility that Britain could become the only permanent member of the U.N. Security Council without a nuclear deterrent underscores just how much is at stake far beyond these silent bays and verdant ridgelines when Scotland’s 5 million residents go to the polls Sept. 18.
As mentioned above, Scots will head to the polls September 18th to decide whether or not to terminate the over 300 year old marriage with England.
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