The acts of union between Scotland and England were passed in 1706, taking effect on May 1, 1707. This move was aimed at securing Scotland’s economy which was left shattered after it launched an ambitious but failed plan to create a colony in what is now Panama.
Although political, social and cultural discomfort existed for centuries, the first indication for a growing desire for independence was expressed in the 2011 parliamentary elections when the Scottish National Party (SNP) won by a majority.
Later, the separation movement was furthered in October 2012 when British Prime Minister David Cameron signed an agreement, ensuring that the Scottish parliament (aka Holyrood) could hold a referendum. This is called the Edinburgh Agreement.
Now, to put it simply, there are people who want independence and there are those who don’t.
First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond is leading the ‘Yes Scotland’ campaign, which supports independence. He is currently the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP).
While there are dozens of reasons pro-independence campaigners cite for making their case, the following three remain the most important.
- Government of their own choice:
The ‘Yes Scotland’ side wants the Scottish parliament to have greater financial and legal powers.
“Under the current constitutional arrangements, the Scottish Government has responsibility for devolved economic policy areas. However, responsibility for most important economic and social policies is reserved to Westminster,” claims the Scottish government.
“Remaining under the Westminster system restricts Scotland's ability to meet future challenges and opportunities.”
- Securing Oil Funds in North Sea:
One of the strong cases for the independence movement is that with control of its share of North Sea oil and gas revenue, Scotland could easily stand on its own feet – in fact – become a wealthy nation the likes of Norway.
BBC’s Andrew Black quoted Salmond who believes that “earmarking a tenth of revenues - about £1bn a year - could form an oil fund similar to the one operated in Norway.
- Creation of more jobs:
According to the Scottish government website:
“Independence will allow us to use our own resources and shape our own fiscal and economic policies for Scottish needs and circumstances. This will ensure greater economic security and opportunity in the future and the creation of more job opportunities.”
Alistair Darling is leading the ‘Better Together’ campaign, which supports staying with the U.K. He was the British Chancellor from 2007 to 2010.
- Keep the currency strong:
Better Together argues that independence means new currency, which essentially means higher mortgage bills.
“Today the UK pound is our currency and are mortgages are backed by the Bank of England. If we leave the UK and have to join the Euro or set up a new currency from scratch it would cost us with higher mortgage bills and will make it more costly to trade with the rest of the UK,” the campaign states in its fact sheet.
- Influence and impact:
“As part of the UK we are on the UN Security Council and we have 270 embassies and consulates around the world helping Scots companies and travelers. We are one of the big nations setting the agenda in the EU. The UK has been voted the most culturally influential nation on earth.”
- Protection of he U.K. armed forces:
Scotland benefits from the full range of the U.K. defense capabilities and systems. Independence would change that.
“The nationalists’ proposal to spend £2.5 billion to cover defense, intelligence and cyber capabilities, is only about 7% of the combined UK budgets for defense, intelligence and cyber, and less than countries such as Denmark and Norway spend on defense alone,” claims Better Together.
What does the future hold?
If Scotland votes NO, there are chances that there wouldn’t be another such referendum – at least for another generation.
If the answer is YES, then Scotland will be an independent country in full control of all important policies which include defense, tax revenue, fiscal and foreign and immigration.
After a process of negotiations over matters like border closures, national debt and new currency, the transfer of power over from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament will officially take place.
The poll of 1084 voters excluded undecided voters and YouGov said the numbers represented "a statistical dead heat."