Sep 18, 2014

The Scottish Referendum

Today is a day that will make Scottish history.

Back when Neal was filling out his application for grad school, he turned to me and said excitedly, "Dani....we will be there for the referendum!" To which I blinked. "The what now?"  I struggle to follow American politics, let alone those in other nations. I'm a little ignorant when it comes to global affairs. But I'm working on it! So he explained.  A referendum to vote on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom has been in the works for years. On September 18, 2014 (TODAY!), Scotland citizens vote either "yes" or "no" to a simple question with a not-so-simple answer: Should Scotland be an independent country? Both "Yes Scotland" and "Better Together" campaign groups have been rallying like crazy over the last year, and it's been in our face from the moment we stepped out of the Edinburgh airport. After we signed our lease, our landlord said "Oh, and I left you a bit of reading on the coffee table". It was a booklet on Scottish independence. I quickly realized what the blue and white "YES" pin on her jacket meant.

I try to imagine what it would be like if my home state, Kansas (rock chalk!), were voting to secede from the United States. The craziness that would ensue. Scotland has been part of the UK for more than 300 years, longer than the US has been a country.

I am by no means an expert on the referendum. I've listened to the arguments on both sides and these are a few of the points each has to make: (I repeat..I AM NOT AN EXPERT!)

Better Together:
  • There are strong cultural and family links within the UK
  • Scotland is economically stronger as a part of the UK
  • Scotland will be able to flourish more globally from an economic standpoint if it has the stability of the UK
  • Scotland has more influence on international affairs as part of the UK
  • Uncertainty of how Scotland will be treated in relation to the European Union
  • Unlikely that the UK would accept a currency union with an independent Scotland

Yes Scotland:
  • Democracy and self-determination; Scotland's population will possess full decision-making power in regards to the political affairs of its nation
  • Nuclear disarmament; Scotland could address the issue of removal of Trident nuclear weapons
  • "It's Scotland's oil"-- Scotland has oil and gas reserves worth up to £4 trillion
  • Re-industrialization of Scotland via renewable energy
  • Protect the NHS as the UK is moving toward privatized health care 
  • A "cultural reawakening" by the opportunities and confidence brought about by Scottish independence


Notice his hat :)

 We seem to see a lot more "YES" propaganda than "NO THANKS", which is why I only have taken pictures of "yes". But, the last Ipsos Mori poll shows 50% said they would vote no, 45% said they would vote yes and 4% were still undecided.  The vote is open to those 16 years of age and up (which I think is awesome). Can you imagine the responsibility and weight of casting a vote like this? I get the chills every time I think about it.

A bakery in Edinburgh has been selling cupcakes as an informal poll. The question mark is for undecided voters. The final poll from the bakery showed: YES - 43.5% NO - 47.7% UNDECIDED - 8.8%

I've only been here a few weeks, but if I were able to vote with the little knowledge I have on the subject, I would vote "YES."  Scotland's future should fall in Scotland's hands. It won't be smooth sailing--it will take a good while to become a solid, established government. But what an opportunity! Anyway, my opinion really doesn't matter at all. It's up to the nation I've already fallen in love with! The results will be announced tomorrow morning.

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