Independence now or later?
The unavoidable referendum which will decide Scotland’s future in the United Kingdom will commence in September. Polls across the country have suggested a tight gap between the pro-Union’s and those who seek independence. A ‘Yes’ majority would seal Scotland’s independence for the first time since the Act of Union in 1707, an act which formed the United Kingdom, developed the British identity and began the historic British Empire which covered a quarter of the globe. A ‘No’ majority would see Scotland’s continuation within the United Kingdom.
Conclusions have been played across the media of the political and economic changes in an independent Scotland, however, few have considered the implications this referendum would have, even if Scotland decide to stay in the union.
Scotland and England have taken different political paths, England is known for being more centre-right, while Scotland has taken the centre-left approach since the Thatcher era. Today there is only one Conservative Member of Parliament representing a Scottish constituency. The creation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 centred on local Scottish issues, has led to the rise of the social democratic Scottish Nationalist Party who currently hold a majority in the Scottish state parliament, six Members of Parliament and two Members of the European Parliament. If Scotland decide to stay in the United Kingdom, there is always the prospect of a future rise in the SNP which could damage the UK’s credibility.
History has shown a decline in empires and imperialism and a rise in self-governed nations based on ethnic identity, nationalism and democracy. Colonialism reached its peak in the 19th century, when virtually the entire world (with exceptions of China and Japan) was colonised. European colonialism however rapidly declined along with the British Empire during the 20th century. There was increasing agitation and violence in the European colonial empires as subjected peoples demanded their independence leading to a rise in nationalism. Most colonies were granted or won independence from the imperial powers. Today, only a few remnants of the great colonial empires survive, mainly as self-governing dependencies such as Bermuda. Scotland is no colony, MPs in the de facto government of Westminster represent Scottish constituencies in equal matter to those constituencies in the rest of the UK. Nevertheless, what makes Scotland significant is its historic national identity.
A superior perspective to explore the nationalism threat against British rule would be the desired Home Rule of Ireland dating back over a century ago. The lengthy struggle for an Irish government concluded with the birth of the Republic of Ireland in 1921. This was a result of Irish national’s determination that fought for decades on all fronts against British rule. The Home Rule campaign for Ireland could be considered a similar one to Scotland, nevertheless, the Irish nationals fought a bitter battle for years and, unlike the current campaign from the Scottish nationalists, they won support from the leading party at the time, the Liberal Party. Former Prime Minister, William Gladstone saw the campaign as the reconciliation of Irish nationalism to the British state. Yet again, this faced serious opposition by the Conservatives and the Home Rule Bill was rejected on three occasions.
Economic independence for Scotland currently seems to be the consequence of the Scottish dream. Alex Salmond and the independent campaign has not devised an independent currency for Scotland, therefore they desire enter into a formal currency agreement with the government of the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, all the major parties, the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats have ruled out any possibility for a currency union with a future independent Scotland. This has led to uncertainty and angst about Scotland’s future economy with some leading firms such as insurance giants Standard Life openly expressing concern and the possibility of relocating their headquarters to England if independence occurs. BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest money manager, commented recently saying independence would “bring major uncertainties, costs and risks”.
As a Unionist myself, I enjoy the rich, luxury and all mighty British identity. My ancestors descend from all over Britain. On my father’s side of the family, my Welsh grandfather moved to England after his serious injuries from the Second World War, while my mother’s side has descendants who migrated from Scotland and Ireland.
I have set a short historic argument to suggest Scottish pursuit for independents could eventually become a reality due to the Scottish identity. Economically, independence today seems costly, however, a loss in the referendum would not be initially a defeat, only a setback. The Scottish Nationalist Party will still be hold a majority in Holyrood, yet seeking full sovereignty of Scotland from Westminster.