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The proposal for Scottish independence should not be dismissed out of hand as an issue of nationalists and Anglophobes; it is a serious proposal supported by many and independence from a larger nation has worked out for smaller countries in the past. The common arguments for independence usually run along the lines of economic benefit, cultural and political differences and plain old national pride. In my opinion Scotland seceding from the United Kingdom it is demonstrably the wrong path for it to take, however if in the referendum the vote is pro-independence then Scotland’s right to self determination must be respected.
To secede from the United Kingdom would be a very big step for Scotland, so entwined are the two countries due to their 250 year history. Scotland would have to go through applying for EU membership, UN membership, creating its own diplomatic embassies and links, a military and a true independent government. Now this alone should not and will not solely persuade anyone that Scotland should not go for independence but it should be considered as a factor and a point for staying in the UK, perhaps with more devolution of powers.
How Scotland will perform economically separate from the United Kingdom is a question which cannot be answered simply depending on factors, both out of their control and to be decided at a negotiating table. The main piece of negotiation will be done around whether Scotland gets its geographic proportion of the North Sea oil, 90%, or per capita, around 10%, and indeed how this should affect the amount of debt the nation takes on. One thing which is obvious is that even if Scotland get the most favourable terms it would not receive an AAA credit rating, a small economy with a large fraction of their revenue coming from a depleting natural resource, a large sovereign debt and a deficit at, by current predictions, 10.6%. Scotland would be a less stable economic power.
A lot is made of the differences in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland but the truth is the fact that they share a lot more principles than they don’t and as a single nation have more economic and diplomatic power to put forward their shared opinions than they would as separate nations. Scotland and the rest of the UK occasionally disagree on matters of foreign policy but in a far greater amount of cases the United Kingdom’s position is supported by all the members. Essentially we are greater than the sum of our parts in these matters and we should treasure that.
There are some who do support independence purely from a point of nationalism however, pointing to their own proud history and arguing that Scotland should self govern again so that Scottish taxes can be spent in Scotland. I hope people can see this small minded thinking for what it is, the same logic that could have my home village of Milborne Port demand all taxes paid be spent solely in Milborne Port, if you’ll forgive my rhetoric.
It should not be considered to be in Scotland’s interest to become Independent. If the Scottish people choose independence on the referendum of 18th October 2014 then I wish them the best of luck, however I really hope they do not.