Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
To the surprise of some, polls are indicating that Scotland could become an independent nation as there are predictions, especially on YouGov, that 51% will vote yes.
Pursuant to an agreement between the United Kingdom and the Scottish Parliament both governments after years long negotiations formed the referendum process giving Scots the ability choose between independence and continued allegiance to the UK. A simple question posed on the ballot will most definitely bring profound changes:
“Should Scotland be an independent country?”
On September 18th that question will be answered.
Several weeks ago polls were mostly of the showing that the No vote likely would prevail, but as days draw closer to the referendum date Yes votes are increasing steadily as speakers in Parliament migrated from Not Possible to Possibly, Probably or Definitely.
Irish Times reports that two years prior polls indicated a two to one majority in the No camp. But, the Yes camp contests these numbers as misleading, correctly predicting the increase in the popularity of their cause. In fact handbills and stickers favoring the Yes campaign are becoming increasingly visible in the streets. This can have the effect of showing an increase in momentum though it is not proven as the “No” supporters might be less vocal in expressing their beliefs.
The leadership of both camps are trying to change the inferences of the polls to their own cause. One aspect is the question of whether Scotland will be better off economically after independence shows a strong majority that Scotland would be worse however the numbers are closing rapidly but most likely will not change.
The No camp has played into this by touting the strength of the pound sterling against either a new Scottish currency or the Euro along with the consequences withdrawal of the economic investments. The yes camp portrayed the No camp’s suggestion as London’s attempt to whip up fear in the minds of voters for issues that are not entirely justified. The Yes camp mostly lead by Scottish Nationalist Party leader Alex Salmond has so far not definitively answered this question but this does not seem to have hurt him in the polling numbers.
Another example is the issue of nuclear weapons on Scottish soil. Polls have shown that Scots are against having such weaponry in Scotland and a nuclear ballistic missile submarine base, as part of the UK’s Three Pronged defense strategy consisting of land based missiles, submarines and aircraft. UK worries the loss of this base could have strategic consequences in its deterrence of the Russian nuclear threat.
In a nationally televised debate several weeks ago between Salmond and Alistair Darling, former Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2007 to 2010 who represented the Edinburg West constituency. Darling leads the pro-union Better Together campaign and proposed the loss of this base would cost Scotland 8,000 jobs while Salmond catered the unpopularity of nuclear weaponry by the Scots. While Darling probably was the better of the two in debating skill, the view of most in the population was the Salmond won the debate and the effect helped buoy confidence in the Yes camp, especially in nationalistic terms.
Regardless of the outcome of the referendum what surely is a sign of progress within the UK government toward self-determination in that it largely negotiated the means to hold such. As just a cursory knowledge of past attempts of independence and devolvement have faced with strong resistance and even military force especially noteworthy with regard to the Irish after World War I and to a much lesser degree in British colonial possessions, which have been a source of discomfort in English society.
For a primer on the politics and genesis of the referendum topics may be read HERE.
By Darren Smith
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