The independence referendum for Scotland has been given the date of September 18, 2014. Anyone over the age of 16, who resides in Scotland is eligible to vote, which includes members of the armed services serving overseas registered to vote in Scotland and any British living in the country, but excludes all Scots living in other parts of the United Kingdom.
This is a rather unfair representation of the electoral process, especially since so many Scots are not inclusive of the voting pattern, and so many British, probably with not as much Scottish leanings, are, however. But most of the prominent players of both sides of the argument, surprisingly, look at it as a fair way to carry out the referendum.
Voters are to be asked matter-of-factly “Should Scotland be an independent country?” with two choice of answers – a yes or a no! Yes Scotland is the pro-independence campaign and Better Together is the pro-Union campaign, arguing against an independent Scotland. Furthermore, on the official party agenda, the Scottish Greens have backed independence but Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have opposed it.
Saying “No” to the Referendum
Support for the referendum is at an all-time stagnant low as usual, according to a YouGov poll for The Times. The poll reveals that 54percent would vote a “No” if the referendum were held tomorrow. On the economic side of things, a 49percent has outlined their fears of a faltering economy post-plausible independence for the country.
The History behind the Referendum
Scotland and England were united by the Acts of Union in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. A 1979 referendum proposal produced no change, but a second Scottish devolution referendum, with Labour in power, did result in granting Scotland some independence towards its parliament scripture.
The Scotland Act 1998 created the Scottish Parliament, first elected on 6 May 1999. The SNP did not originally propose a referendum completely, it merely opened up the debate once more, inclusive of the “no change” policy in the white paper for a proposed Referendum Bill, post the “National Conversation” in August 2007.
Interested in, rightfully, gaining more powers for the Scottish Parliament, the SNP decided to include the debate as an option for party supporters, in their party manifesto, during the 2011 elections. After an outright majority in the elections, the SNP won the mandate to hold a referendum, which have since then been supported by the British government, offering to carry out the entire legislative process.
Scottish farmers benefit from the Union greatly because, as their country is a member of the EU, they receive millions in subsidy annually, owing to the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP). An instant full subsidy payment, as pro-independence campaigners are suggesting that farmers will receive, is looking doubtful actually because if recent EU trends are to be believed, new members have had their agriculture subsidies levelled out.
Border control issues are a cause for concern here if Scotland were to become independent because the Scottish Parliament wants to opt out of the Schengen Area, like the present, and instead operate a Common Travel Area much like Ireland is doing at the moment, with more common immigration policies, common to the United Kingdom, in place.
Meanwhile, on the currency-front the SNP is interested in keeping the pound sterling post-independence, as well as permit the Bank of England to set interest rates, dictate monetary policy and function as the country’s central bank. Pensions could be affected too, as a result of the lower-life expectancy rate in Scotland and with respects to welfare, abolishing some of the policies such as the “bedroom tax” could have serious repercussions.
The bedroom tax, taxes social tenants with spare rooms in their houses, and reduces their claims on housing benefits, but with the grave issue of overcrowding in housing still amongst us, abolishing it would not be a wise decision. Politics-wise, the SNP has been granted with much independence over the years, and it doesn’t seem like a negative response to the referendum will have much effect on how the party is perceived nationally.
The three main parties in England haven’t been fairing very well in Scotland so perhaps this opportunity should instead be used to further the agenda of the Scottish parliament. It is crucial that issues such as the West Lothian question is addressed, and work begins on crafting more powers for the parliament, apart from the regular holding governments to criticism, passing bills and legislations to benefit Scotland.