Scotland “is a fantastic mix of stunning landscapes, wildlife and wonderful local produce, combined with a thriving arts and culture scene, and topped off with a colorful history of epic battles and historic castles”.
It may be a small country with a population of just over 5 million however it has had a disproportional influence on the world. For example, 28.9 million American citizens claimed Scottish heritage.
Additionally the country has produced many important figures such as William Wallance, Alexander Graham Bell, and David Livingstone. Even James Bond was Scottish through Sean Connery. Scotland has been in a union with England since 1707. However, a referendum to be held in autumn of 2014 will decide if Scotland will stay in the union or become a fully independent country.
Scotland received increased powers over decision making through devolution in 1997. The Scottish Parliament was created with powers over domestic taxation and other issues. These changes hadn’t eased the calls for full independence. In 2011 Alex Salmond’s Scottish National Party won a majority in the British Parliament and has always pushed for a referendum on independence. British Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister of Scotland Salmond agreed on the terms of the referendum in October. In 2014 Scottish voters over 16 will be asked a single yes/no question on whether Scotland should leave the United Kingdom. If the “Yes” vote wins, Scotland could be a fully independent country by 2016. However, there are many pros and cons, risks and potential surrounding independence.
The most vital difference would be that an independent Scotland would be chief of its own natural resources and economy. Control over revenues from North Sea oil long has been a uniting cry for Scottish nationalists, and some experts believe that, in the short term, increased oil revenues would reimburse for the loss of economic support from London. However, it is important to remember that these oil supplies will eventually run out and Scotland will have to look elsewhere to pay the bills.
Scotland has seen how well Ireland, despite its current economic struggles, has done since its independence from the UK. The Scottish believe that they can emulate their Celtic Tiger success while avoiding the mistakes the emerald isle made.
Obviously you can’t put a price on national pride and the desires to be an independent nation, especially in a country as passionate as Scotland. Scotland has always had a difficult relationship with London. Even the Act of Union itself was agreed through bribery. As the old Scottish expression goes “We are bought and sold for English gold”. This anti-English feeling has never truly left Scotland. Most Scottish see themselves as Celtic and therefore different from England. Scottish independence seems natural.
However there are huge concerns and risks in Scotland’s bid for independence. There is a gap between public spending in Scotland (£40bn) and revenue raised there (£27bn). An independent Scottish government would have to choose between cuts in public services or higher taxes. Scotland would also have a lot of defense and security challenges to face alone. Experts also believe Scotland would have much less influence in international institutions such as the EU or UN as an independent country than they currently have as part of the UK.