5 Days to go: Scottish Referendum – Vote with Your Mind

A year and a half after the referendum for Scottish independence was put forward, a vote will be cast. September 18th will see the Scottish population vote with an absolute yes or no. Any Scottish citizen aged sixteen onwards is allowed to vote and a simple majority of votes cast will determine the outcome. Although denied a vote, the rest of the UK will find Scottish independence harmful but the effects of independence would be even more detrimental to Scotland itself. Currently, according to YouGov, the country is divided almost exactly in half. This will be a down to the wire situation. At this point it’s important not to let a panicked or rushed decision without thoroughly thinking the consequences through.

1. Independence may result in isolation

As a United Kingdom we are a very strong part of the European Union with Scotland making up approximately 8% of our entire population. If Scotland separates from the UK there is no guarantee that they will be allowed into the EU as an independent state which would leave Scotland extremely vulnerable. One of their arguments for independence is the cessation of nuclear weapons being built on their soil. However if Scotland remains apart from the EU they have very little in terms of their own firepower. As an independent state they have the potential to thrive if they are let back into the EU with the same opt-outs that the UK currently benefits from but this is a huge gamble. From the point of view of many Scots there are no positives which will directly affect them but the fall-out will, at least indirectly, affect everyone.

Rights; The Laird of Oldham

Rights; The Laird of Oldham

2. Independence will burn a hole in the pockets of Scottish home-owners

The economy is a massive obstacle which stands at the very heart of this debate. The economy in the United Kingdom is the best it has been for years. So why pull away from it now? The Scottish people need to realise that leaving this economy is not beneficial for them. It would mean leaving the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority. Not only would Scotland no longer share financial risk they would also have to borrow money from other financial services and without the credibility of the United Kingdom behind them would almost certainly face much higher interest rates.  Most importantly, this will affect potential home-owners and mortgages as well as creating a huge liability for loss.

3. There’s no plan for an independent Scottish economy

Consequentially, Scotland hopes for a union of the two economies post-independence.  They want to keep the pound sterling and remain a part of the Bank of England. From the point of view of the rest of the UK this seems ludicrous. It’s an expectation equivalent to asking for a divorce but hoping to keep a shared bank account even though you earn significantly less than your partner.  It is not a viable option. Independence would mean a whole new economy for Scotland which in itself would cause financial chaos especially for those with lower incomes. It would, in turn, affect the value of the pound sterling which has already been up and down in the last week in anticipation of a potential separation. People are panicking. Independence for Scotland would mean a possible 10% drop in the value of sterling and at a time when we are just starting to rebuild a thriving economy, this would hit us hard. If you really think about it, separation is bad for everyone’s pockets. So Scotland faces higher prices from voting yes. Whereas voting no means they can continue to spend as they do with even more autonomy. Think about it, the cons outweigh the pros of voting yes 100:1. It’s an awfully big gamble.

4. There’s no guarantee that Scottish healthcare will maintain current funding

In keeping with the anticipated economic union, Scotland also wants to create an energy union and maintain a single energy market. Considering that 90% of North Sea oil fields are present within Scottish territory this would be advantageous for the rest of the UK. But Scotland also benefit from sharing their resources with the UK in regards to trading and revenue. Without a single energy market the Scottish would face significantly higher energy bills and lose a lot of trading power which they would need in order to continue to profit from their oil supplies. In terms of union Scotland also wants to create a personal union with the UK and remain a part of the monarchy. It appears that Scotland wants independence but still want to reap the benefits of being a part of the UK. So why do they even want independence? A major point of debate recently has been the cuts facing the English NHS. Scotland already maintains a separate National Health system but they believe that the cuts and privatisation in the rest of the NHS will prevent them from providing the high level of care they currently pride themselves on. Recent reports have shown that the spending on these services in Scotland has been huge and although they have guaranteed the continuation of free healthcare post-referendum it remains unclear how this will be funded. It seems that pro-independence arguments are certain that the possible NHS privatisation in England will affect the funding for the Scottish Health Service. If Scotland becomes independent they will definitely lose the funding from the UK’s NHS budgets. Therefore, voting for independence appears to be a lose-lose situation.

5. The entire initiative is unreasonably counter-intuitive

Finally, imagine that Scotland is currently entirely independent from the UK. It is a tiny country bordering England but gaining nothing from it. Imagine there is no shared economy but that there are separate energy markets and hundreds of thousands of jobs south of that border. Imagine if things were the other way round and a smaller country had the opportunity to benefit from a larger one whilst still being autonomous and become a part of the EU, a guarantee to be a part of a great economy and a powerful member of a huge union? Seems like a no-brainer. So why leave? Scotland may want more independence but you cannot ask for independence and still expect to be fully supported financially or in any other way. Independence means going it alone and that is simply not the way forward for anyone who wants to reap the most from what our current union has to offer. So use your heads and vote wisely.

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About the author

Rachel Quaife

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I'm currently about to go into my third year studying for a BA in English Literature. Whilst reading is wonderful and writing about that reading equally as great, writing about the issues of the world has always been my passion. Words can be inspirational and should be used as such.