Scottish Independence Essay

Scottish Independence

Since the SNP came to power four years ago there has been a wave of nationalistic fever sweeping the country. Independence is on their agenda. Sooner or later there will be a referendum. But why exactly should we be independent? Would our tiny, economically challenged country really be able to stand on its own two feet against the big players in the global market? For over 300 years we have been part of Great Britain’s success but now in a time of economic hardship, people have a growing desire for independence! Increasingly people see autonomy as a panacea for all our difficulties. This is something I do not understand or agree with.

To begin with let’s see why our country can’t afford independence. The credit crunch emerged when our flagship banks were forced to write off bad debts after their reckless handouts to people who could not repay their loans. This forced the government to use public money, our money, to keep the banking system afloat and resulted in decreasing our budget by billions of pounds. So what is our tax money going towards now? Instead of paying for continuous improvements in healthcare, housing and education we are now investing in unstable banks. Is self-government really what we should be thinking of when it is clear to me that a £3.6 billion debt is something that a six million population can never support? Our country feels the effects of the recession massively and would be swallowed in debt if we decided to reject the help of Britain.

It is not only the recession but also our decreasing oil which we must be concerned with. Our country heavily relies on the oil industry to make most of its profits but when that’s gone independence won’t be easy. For the last forty years the oil industry has made up a large portion of British income but with supplies decreasing what will we do then? In 2007 our oil industry had an estimated net worth of £250 billion but with this income depleting we could not possibly look at self-rule as a serious issue. People may say the oil will tide us over in the short-term but the reality is in the long-term our oil isn’t going to last. So what will we do when our twenty years or so of oil has dried up? Let’s face the harsh reality! With depleting oil supplies and an economic position like ours independence cannot be an option.

Through being a part of Great Britain we have managed to become one of the top financial powers in the world but some are still trying to fix Scotland when in fact it isn’t broken. People think we should have more control over our own country and demand the rights to matters such as immigration. However we do have control over our country as we decide on matters like health, education, transport, housing, environment and local affairs. Isn’t that enough? Our devolved parliament has been working effectively, efficiently and independently since 1998 with no major issues so why should we change that? In many ways a devolved Scottish parliament has benefited us for example we introduced the no smoking ban in public places almost a year earlier than the English did. Our government saw a problem with the health of our nation and took firm steps to resolve this issue. Our very own Labour party agrees that “Devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has strengthened the Union.” It has allowed us to take decisions and we should be content with that.

People complain that our devolved parliament doesn’t have enough power yet we have Scottish MP’s sitting in Westminster deciding on English issues when no English MP’s are sitting in Holyrood. The Scottish parliament has only Scottish MP’s deciding on its affairs but down in Westminster England have Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and English MP’s deciding on theirs. How is that fair? If anyone should be complaining it should be the English. Scotland has its own devolved parliament but also has 258 Labour seats down in Westminster deciding on British and English issues. To me we are lucky to have as much power as we do being only a tenth of the population of Britain. We already have a strong position in Britain so why wreck that by becoming independent.

Scotland’s strong position in Britain is not the only reason against autonomy. The fact that people simply don’t want independence is another vital argument. This of course is being ignored by the SNP who are still foolishly campaigning for Scottish independence explaining that independence is going to help Scotland “prosper” but I must ask why then are only 37% of Scotland voting for independence in polls? It’s fair to say that not enough people want independence. The fact that the SNP are in power now is an indication not that Scotland wants independence but is angry with the labour party. In 2007 John Mason won the Baillieston by-election. However, in 2010 labour came out on top again with Margaret Curran winning. Even in the 2010 live debate Alex Salmond didn’t appear much to his unhappiness claiming that without him the Scottish public weren’t represented. However taking my local by-election as an example I must ask why we voted a Labour candidate over a SNP MP if we are such a SNP nation. The top 3 possible prime ministers were there though fighting it out but Scottish independence wasn’t even brought up as a possibility during the debate. Even in politics today the SNP are only a minority government, holding only six seats in Westminster indicating that their campaign for independence does not hold much support throughout the Scottish nation.

If the SNP’s irrational campaign for independence does succeed one day Scotland would be looking at a whole different range of problems. The separation of Britain would provoke competition, bad relationships and more racism. The Scottish attitude seems to be an unnecessary hatred of the English but wouldn’t the division of Britain encourage a more serious issue of racism. The truth is that many people in Scotland do not want independence but use England as a scapegoat for all our problems. I believe we are lucky to have our own identity but be part of a stronger nation. Why would we want to change this? A campaign for Scottish independence in this day and age is unjustified and unnecessary. Let’s not make Scotland more vulnerable because of some nationalistic pride.

Social issues would not be our only problem; Scotland would encounter numerous other issues if we were to become independent. Problems with passports or currency what would be done about them? What would be the solution? Tell a six million population to apply for a new passport and exchange all of their money to Euros. Also problems like defence or immigration and the other issues which affect the whole of the British island which are now dealt with in Westminster. How would separate independent states decide to split these responsibilities? The assumption that independence is achievable with the costs and problems involved is something the Scottish taxpayer would have to bear the burden of.

In conclusion, when I ask my Mom, an average working person in Scotland, what her take is on independence her reply is that we can’t afford it and it’s just not the time for Scotland to be fighting for independence. I could not agree with her more. A campaign for our own government might be realistic if we didn’t have the problems that we have today. In a time when the economic climate is fragile Scottish independence is an unsupported waste of our energy, time and money.

Sources: Why Scotland should not be independent
£3.6 Billion Debt – BBC.co.uk (NEWS)
£250 Net oil worth (2007) – Wikipedia
“Devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has strengthened the union” Labour party - opendemocracy.net
258 Labour seats and 6 SNP seats – BBC.co.uk (NEWS)
37% for independence – BBC.co.uk (NEWS)