Before I start, I want to say this is not an article bashing the rest of the United Kingdom, including England. I live and work in England, am marrying an English girl, and many of my friends are English. The aim of this article is rather to argue why I feel Scotland can grow and prosper as an independent state.
I’ve been a supporter of the Scottish National Party (SNP) my whole life. The SNP is currently the largest political party in Scotland, and forms a minority government in the Scottish Parliament. While they’re a centre left party, and stand for a lot of different policies, their main goal is the pursuit of Scottish Independence. In this post, I want to explain the main reasons why I feel Scottish Independence is important for Scotland and why I believe the SNP can deliver on their main agenda.
So lets start with the basics. Scotland was an independent country from 843, with the unification of the Scots and Picts, through to 1707, with the Act of the Union. Since then Scotland has been one of four countries in the United Kingdom. However, in 1999, Scotland received devolved powers for a new parliament in Holyrood. With the SNP coming to power in 2007, the question now is can Scotland take the next step and become a fully functioning independent state again?
Here, I want to list the main reasons why I think Scotland should take its independence back:
It is Already a Country
First and foremost, Scotland is its own country. It has its own culture, people, and history. Just because the Scottish aristocrats sold the country three hundred years ago, does not mean that in this modern world, the Scots can’t govern themselves again. This doesn’t mean we wouldn’t still be British – we are part of the British Isles remember – but we we are also European too, as members of the European Union. You can be British, European, but still belong to a independent Scotland.
For unionists, the main argument against Scottish independence is the Barnett formula – a rule that Scotland receives 10 pence of every pound made in the UK, while only having 8.3% of the population. In my opinion this argument is flawed. Firstly, the the Barnett formula does not take into account the North sea oil. Unionists call this an old argument, however, this is because it’s such a key point.
The Scottish GDP is actually 96% of the UK average, without including the oil industry. That is £25,600 per person. If you take the oil industry into account, it’s £31,000 per person. Put another way, Scotland is not only funding itself per person, but actually making more than the UK. No wonder the UK has such a large deficit, while the Scottish public sector budget is actually in surplus.
A Place on the International Stage
Independence would give Scotland the recognition it deserves. I recently read this interesting article written by a unionist changing his mind. Living abroad, he was shocked at the worldwide belief that Scotland was part of England, and being propped up by our southern neighbors. If Scotland were to become independent, it would emphasize our greatest individuals, businesses, and achievements. Instead of having them blended with Westminster politicians.
Lose the Daft UK Spending
While the UK’s position as a “power of the world” has dwindled in the last fifty years – and especially in the last ten years – it unfortunately still spends money like a superpower of the world. This can be seen with it investing in nuclear weapons for the next 35 years at a cost between £20bn to £35bn. This is a substantial amount of the deficit, that the current UK government is trying to save through cuts to schools/universities, hospitals, police, and other public services. If Scotland was independent, how much of this could Scotland invest elsewhere?
Oil is not Scotland’s only major industry. Two of the UK’s largest industries outside of oil is tourism and tax on whiskey. I could give you three guesses on where this is driven from, but you’re only going to need one. Furthermore, for the next fifty years, renewable energy is seen as a key industry worldwide. Scotland has a strategic position for wind, hydro, and tide powered energy. With over 40 years of North Sea oil still available, the profits could be poured into renewable energy – instead of being sent to London.
So there’s obviously a case for Scottish Independence. But will it ever happen? The likelihood, is probably not anytime soon. For Scotland to even get the chance to vote on its future of independence, the SNP would need a majority government to pass this through. The way the Scottish electoral system is currently set, this will not happen in the short term future. Never-the-less, the Scottish elections are on this summer, I strongly recommend you to go out and vote for the SNP.
Image credit to Maria Navarro on Flickr (Creative Commons)