Braveheart: 2014 Edition

Braveheart: 2014 Edition

Last October, Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond agreed to a referendum for Scottish independence in autumn of 2014. Scottish citizens ages 16 and above will have the chance to vote for or against Scottish independence, as Cameron removed the option to vote for Scottish inclusion in the United Kingdom with greater autonomy. Ironically, this referendum vote will occur on the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, one of the greatest battles during the Scottish Wars of Independence and the climactic battle in Braveheart (thank you, Mel Gibson).

Labeled the “Yes Scotland” campaign, supporters of independence for Scotland, include the Scottish National Party, Sean Connery and Alex Salmond. These large names, though, have failed to garner majority support for Scottish independence as current polls are showing a mere 30% of citizens are supporting the Yes Scotland cause. Cameron’s refusal to allow a middle ground for greater Scottish freedom within the United Kingdom forces a divide between two extremes, and many citizens are reluctant to completely cut ties with the United Kingdom.

With the possibility of several uncertainties following approval of independence, it is not surprising that many individuals choose against complete autonomy. A split from the United Kingdom would require great shifts in the economy to function independently. Furthermore, while acceptance to the European Union is expected, it is not necessarily automatic. Should Scotland be accepted, they would need to be offered the same special dispensation that the rest of the United Kingdom in order to avoid falling under the Euro. Not only is there uncertainty regarding Scottish currency, there is doubt to whether or not revenue from North Sea oil will be substantial enough to support Scotland. A split from the United Kingdom would also require splitting this revenue and the nuclear base of Clyde with the rest of the United Kingdom.

On the other hand, Scottish independence would allow greater power for the Scottish government in creating policies designed to suit the values of the Scottish people. For many, it is an issue of representation and the ability to take action tailored to the needs of the Scottish people specifically. Also, many of the Nationalists argue that Scottish revenue goes towards the good of the United Kingdom, and the Scottish people receive little reward for this sacrifice. Nationalists also argue that the Scottish economy is very well suited to function independently, with at least 40 years of revenue coming from oil and new ventures into renewable energy and tourism. Scottish independence could lead to greater business growth and incredible new opportunities for Scotland as an independent force.

With two years left until the final vote, it should be fascinating to observe the campaigning strategies of both factions and see if there is a sway within the opinion of the Scottish people.