Should Scotland Stay or Go? Yea or Nay?
In the blue (Pantone 300) Aye/Yea/Yes see you corner, is secessionista extraordinaire, Alex Salmond. He is the current First Minister of Scotland, a former member of the House Commons on behalf of a Scottish constituency, member of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and a former friend of the Westminster controlling Conservatives/Tories. Counted among his celebrity supporters are: Sean Connery (007), Gerard Butler (The 300) and various people from the Harry Potter movies including Robbie Cotrane and at least one X-Men , er X Man?, Alan Cumming aka Nightcrawler.
In the red (Pantone 186C) “Let’s Stay Together” corner, recovering from a loss in the latest debate, is Alistair Darling, Unionist leader in Scotland, fighting to preserve the Act of Union which created Great Britain. Some of the star wattage backing the last Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, under former Prime Minister and fellow Scotsman Gordon Brown, are Harry Potter & x7 author J.K.Rowling, various Harry Potter films cast members including Emma Thompson (whose mother was Scottish), former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson (he’s like the Scotty Bowman of soccer/football, which the UK appreciates so much they knighted him) and singer Susan Boyle.
Both men have a form of the name Alexander, but the Unionist has the traditionally Scots Gaelic version of the name. Kind of ironic right?
Scotland makes up roughly one-third of the UK in volume, but has the smallest population density. A public of 5 million people will be voting on whether or not to become the 116 largest country, bumping the Czech Republic (pop. 10.5 million) down from its spot immediately below the United Arab Emirate (pop 9.2 million).
This is not Hollywood’s vision of Scots independence, as portrayed by Mel Gibson (Braveheart) and Liam Neeson (Rob Roy). At stake are modern political and economic issues. Scots as a people are traditionally more liberal than others in the UK. Various people from former Congressman James Webb, to Arthur Hermann, author of How The Scots Invented the Modern World have argued that the Scots were not only major contributors to The Enlightenment, but helped create modern democratic western society. Natch. These are also the people who brought haggis, good whisky, bicycles, Old Lang Syne and golf to the world as well, so it’s not all theory and philosophy. Scots culture is unique from that of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – unique, but entwined, enmeshed and more than a little codependent.
Certainly, the outliers of Great Britain (Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland) do not feel as much love as England does. Just take the sports representation, a team fielded as The UK in the London Olympics sent on only English players. England – labeled Westminster politically – is the wealthiest and more populous part of the UK, which means that its more conservative policies dominate.
But that is not all a country needs to succeed as a sovereign state. While Scotland’s employment is at a record high, its major industries remain manufacturing and North Sea oil related business. Geographically, its been argued that 95 percent of the UK’s oil and gas reserves are in Scottish territories. There is some speculation that the North Sea oil resources are drying out, and it is not a sustainable long term industry. Does that leave Scotland with ability to be economic independent? Maybe.
This is no clear cut Battle of Hogwarts, the mythical wizarding school Rowling situated in Scotland. There is no clear cut good guy and bad guy. Both the pro and con sides have strong sentiment behind them and according to the BBC, it is hard to find anyone on the street who does not have an opinion on the subject.
If Scotland were to secede, the plan is to retain the UK’s currency. As The Times Paul Krugman points out, this means that the newbie country would not have the ability to bail its own banks out. It would be dependent on the EU and, even more so, the UK, the sovereign state it just broke up with. Additionally, Scotland would be withdrawing from the UK pension system, without the coffers to serve its pensioners.
Finally, if Scotland were to leave, what would Wales and Northern Ireland want to do?