As anyone who has ever met me will know, I am far from a staunch, patriotic Unionist. I am, however, extremely concerned about the very real possibility that by this time next week, Scotland will no longer be able to call itself part of the UK.
As the referendum – lovingly dubbed #IndyRef on twitter – has drawn closer, we’ve all watched the campaigning on both sides heat up, with Westminster’s major party leaders (and the slightly less important Nigel Farage) rushing northwards in panic to plead with the Scottish people on the UK’s behalf. Everything from scare tactics about the economy to Gordon Brown’s DevoMax compromise to outright begging has been deployed from the ‘No’ campaign in the run up to tomorrow’s big vote, and yet, we won’t know if any of it has been to any effect until the votes have been cast and counted.
This is probably the biggest challenge to the constitution the UK has ever seen, so no wonder everyone’s talking about it – my question, though, is how many people really understand the impact a ‘Yes’ result will have.
One of the biggest weapons in the ‘No’ campaign’s arsenal is the uncertain future of Scotland’s economy in the event of independence. There’s been a lot of talk about whether an independent Scotland will be allowed to use the pound sterling as their national currency, and some, too, about large employers like Lloyds Banking Group, RBS, BP and Standard Life relocating their business to London if Scotland decides to call it quits with the UK. Now, as unemployment is already a problem in Scotland – though, granted, less of a problem than elsewhere in the UK – one would assume that the people voting tomorrow wouldn’t want to risk losing the few jobs they have by making some of their largest employers relocate. If the Bank of England decides to stop Scotland from using the pound, as they’ve hinted they will, the fate of Scotland’s economy looks very bleak indeed, especially as Spain and Belgium – facing similar mutinies from within their own borders – will surely try to block any appeal from the Scots to join the Eurozone.
And that’s not all. An independent Scotland would not receive any tax income from Westminster – how, then, I wonder, will they possibly be able to continue to allow students free tuition? How will they afford to subsidise free prescriptions, and on that note, how will the NHS survive at all? It seems that Alex Salmond and his ilk are playing a very risky game with their country’s – and, of course, their party’s – future.
I understand that a lot of Scottish citizens keenly feel that there is a democratic deficit in the UK today, and I’m inclined to agree with them – I was too young to vote in 2011, but I certainly wouldn’t have voted for the Tory/Lib Dem coalition we’re stuck with now – but even so, the underdog spirit which is driving people to vote ‘Yes’ will not a country make.
Like the rest of the UK, I can only sit and wait in anticipation for tomorrow’s result to be announced, but I hope – for the sake of Scotland as much as for the sake of preserving a historic union between nations – that voters will think very carefully before they cast their votes tomorrow. After all, there will be no coming back from a ‘Yes’ result, and gambling the future of a nation on the slimy promises of the SNP seems a dangerous risk to take.
– Lana Wrigley, A2 Politics