Scottish Independence: What You Should Know

By Evangel Penumaka on September 16, 2014

In just a few days Scotland will be holding a referendum which asks one question: should Scotland be an independent country?

Voters will be able to choose “yes” or “no.” If the yes vote wins, Scotland will then become an independent country, separate from the United Kingdom which it joined in 1707.

It might seem puzzling why Scots are pushing to break ties after all these years of the United Kingdom seemingly working well.

However, the formation of the Union did not necessarily mean that Scottish nationalist sentiment disappeared. It may have been marginalized at times yet groups have campaigned for the transfer of powers, if not independence, from the UK many times.

The 1997 devolution referendum marked a significant step in this road to independence as it lead to Scotland being able to legislate for the first time since joining the Union.

While the UK Parliament still controlled certain areas of policy, devolution gave the Scottish Parliament the power to make decisions in matters concerning local affairs, such as education and health. Devolution, however, was not enough for many and served to illustrate the stark political differences between Scotland and Westminster.

This is the root of the problem today and what many in the Yes campaign cite as one of the most important reasons for a yes vote. There are many areas where Scots do not agree with the more conservative policies of Westminster, such as taxes, nuclear weapons and immigration. Independence will therefore allow the country to make its own decisions without having to negotiate or compromise with Westminster.

Yes campaign rally at Inverness, Scotland (http://www.yesscotland.net)

There is also the matter of culture. From music and dress, to holidays, literature and language, there is a distinct Scottish culture and history separate from that of the other countries in the UK, something which Scots are fiercely proud of.

It is also important to note significant changes in Scottish identity. Surveys following the devolution referendum found that there was a decline in those identifying with a dual Scottish-British identity, as well as a rise in those identifying as Scottish rather than British.

Leaving the Union means leaving the comfort and safety it offers. It will mean several years of challenges and uncertainty. But a yes vote can also bring numerous opportunities. The country will be able to form its own policy in areas of immigration, defense and security, independent of the UK, for the first time in over three hundred years. Its government will be better able to provide for its people in all policy areas.

The referendum marks a unique opportunity and it will be interesting to see how Scotland decides to navigate this path.

By Evangel Penumaka

Uloop Writer

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