Better Together, After All: Scotland Votes ‘No’ To Independence From UK

On September 18, 2014, the nation voted ‘no’ to independence from the UK.

Scottish citizens chose between “Yes Scotland!” or “No, thanks” in a ballot to decide the fate of a long and fairly fruitful relationship. But the situation was (and is) far more nuanced than a yes or no question, as either decision carried heavy economic implications for Scotland and Britain.

The ‘No’ vote won by a wider than expected margin at 55.25% to 44.65%.

Here’s each side of the argument, and what the potential outcomes were.

Yes Scotland: It’s not me, it’s you

Those that voted “yes” for independence hoped the single life will bring their nation more autonomy. Specifically:

  • Scotland wants to decide how to spend their own budget and wealth
  • With oil reserves and a growing economy, the nation is believed by many to be self sustainable
  • Scotland is generally less than fond of England’s war mentality, and hopes to opt out of building nuclear weapons and involvement in wars like Iraq
  • Scots want to get the government they vote for, without outside say (Scotland votes left of the UK, but is conservatively lead)
  • Scots believe that their nation is fundamentally different from England socially and politically, and staying together would hinder both sides
  • Independence would allow Scotland to create a better, more progressive society for future generations with more equal pay and job creation

No, thanks: We’re better together

Britain and many Scots didn’t want to break up with their other half, under the belief that it would hurt all parties economically (and probably emotionally, too). Specifically:

  • There’s concern over currency: Would Scotland continue to use the pound, join the unstable euro, or create a new currency?
  • Many doubt the reliability of Scotland’s oil reserves — compared to similarly sized nations, the revenue may not be sustainable
  • Since Scotland on its own is quite small, England may be better suited to handle taxation and defense
  • The UK government believes that Scotland would have suffer financially, requiring bail-outs by English banks
  • Scotland could suffer from diminished credibility by disassociating with its wealthier and more politically involved partner
  • In the event of a “yes” vote, various companies and banks might have relocated, costing Scots thousands of jobs

[contextly_auto_sidebar id=”MT7QR598Jd7pVnRTIkpjYJzbPtqsbowG”]If they broke up: If it  had chosen independence, Scotland would have in many respects stay the same. So long as the UK agrees, it could have continued to use the pound, share open borders with Britain, and keep the Queen as head of state — sort of like shared custody.

Scotland would have also likely be obligated to share with England a portion of the UK’s debt and a share of North Sea oil.

With independence, Scotland would probably have aimed to become a progressive and more modern non-nuclear state. This could mean relocating the U.K.’s weapons, even though England has limited space.

Now that they’re still together: UK leaders were desperate to keep their significant other, so they’ve promised all sorts of changes granted Scotland reconsiders the divorce. They offered the Scottish parliament much greater power of taxation and policy-making, though the government will remain in Westminster.

The ‘no’ vote, according to many, will give Scotland the best of both worlds, as they will remain a key member of the still-powerful UK while also moving toward more autonomy under the umbrella of that partnership.

It’s yet to be seen just how many changes will be made, and if this will satisfy the 44 percent who chose ‘yes.’ Unfortunately for them, this was the last chance for a long time for Scotland to assert independence: According to the Scottish Government, such referendums can happen but once in a generation.

We measure success by the understanding we deliver. If you could express it as a percentage, how much fresh understanding did we provide?
Jennifer Markert