It is quite shocking to most that Scotland is claiming independence after all this time. The sudden uproar for independence leads most minds to connect to history class; to the imperialistic nature of countries dominating a so-called sovereign land, inevitably causing wars and independence movements, and etc. Their fight for sovereignty is making headlines at every major news source as a piece of the British Isles is taking steps to fight for its citizens as well as establish itself as a country, and possibly even a force to be reckoned with.
The major debate of whether to become independent has to do with the economics behind it all. Should Scotland really take on the vast complexities of being its own country? With its own economic costs, and possibly no control over currency, as opposed to staying under the radar and the way it has been for hundreds of years? However, the argument persists that smaller countries do it better- look at Switzerland and Belgium as prime examples for Scotland to look after.
These economic basics are the big push for Scotland to want independence in the first place: to have a say, control their finances, trade, taxes, and etc. regardless of their designated seat in the UK. The devolution process, or in other words, the decentralization of Britain’s powers, is what most are claiming the independence stems from as well.
During the referendum campaign, the parties signed a pledge to devolve more powers to Scotland, if, and only if, they rejected independence. The Scottish government is expected to fight for a “devo max” -which basically means an extreme and far-reaching devolution- package of powers, likely to include total control over income tax, corporation tax, and control over welfare. This established a sense of “hands tying,” that we have learned about extensively in class, as well as establishing a reputation. Their wants were made public, legitimizing their intent, or threat, if you will, for independence and for more say in their governmental functions; thus enforcing Britain to work with the Scots, not against them, behind them, or without them.
According to Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of Britain and Leader of Labour Party 2007-2010,
“…Scottish voters deserve to know to the fullest extent possible about how new powers as ambitious as possible will be delivered as soon as possible within the UK…so we are demanding a tight timetable with tough deadlines and streamlined procedures…to kick off a plan to deliver the enhanced devolution that we want.”
A vote to Scottish independence on September 18, 2014 was held and a narrowing 55 percent vote of “No” won the debate. Ultimately, this will lead to more debate about the state of the UK and continued unity with Scotland- and what powers they are expecting and receiving.
Ed Miliband, Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of Opposition, Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, and David Cameron, Britain’s Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party, issued a statement promising to give governments in England more powers as a result of the referendum for independence. And as requested, a timetable pledging immediate devolution relating to income tax and housing benefits was delivered.
This touches on many points made in class about how to divide up indivisible resources. That resource being territory and those that inhabit it. Being in the United Kingdom is where Ireland has been for hundreds of years, and abruptly leaving could create more messes than promises for the Scottish folks.
A key point to take away from this is how a peaceful bargain was made between both Britain and Scotland’s officials. Neither had the intent on pursing war nor anything else equivalently costly, as most would expect independence movements to be. Each made moves to proceed with caution and to do so with the masses in mind.
Whether the UK will decentralize more, and to when and where, is up for future debate. For now, we can rest in peace knowing that the UK can resolve their matters fairly painlessly. If this pledge to devolve goes ahead, as it most likely will, it is likely to lead to pressure on the government to create a more federal United Kingdom, in which more responsibility could be handed over to Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions. Whether the later territories will follows in Scotland’s footprints, will most certainly depend on the terms of their agreement.