These past few weeks there has been a string of news pouring out from the United Kingdom regarding the Scottish independence referendum of 2014. For residents of Scotland and the United Kingdom, history was made. Unfortunately, this seemed to be interesting but irrelevant news for those in the United States since not enough people were really concerned with it.
Though the United States is not directly affected by whether or not Scotland and Great Britain are independent from each other, its citizens can relate to the referendum because it is a nation that gained independence from Great Britain in 1776. This makes one wonder, what would the United States presently be if, like Scotland today, independence from Great Britain had not been gained all those years ago? As citizens of a globalized world, it is important for us to understand all that is taking place around us. This seems to be one the greatest moments of history in our generation, which has gone by unnoticed by the young adults of the United States.
On March 21, 2013, the Scottish government announced that a referendum would be taking place. Campaigns were quickly launched and the people of the United Kingdom decided their voices would be heard. Those in favor of a “Yes” vote were not shy about sharing both their economic and patriotic opinions and those in favor of a “No” vote made it clear they did not want Scotland to gain independence from Great Britain. There was also a strong social media presence gaining awareness for each side.
The official referendum took place on Sept. 18, 2014 and the question was “Should Scotland be an independent country?” The “No” side won with 55.3% of the vote.
This outcome brought out multiple emotions from the people involved. In the United States people passively accepted the outcome and went about their lives, but in the United Kingdom however, there was an out pour of strong, passionate opinions from its citizens.
Alice Stelfox, a resident of Glasgow, Scotland, voted in the election and was pleased with the outcome.
“I was hoping that people would vote no as I feel we are better as one nation. We would not have the BBC and I don’t think that we have enough business to support ourselves as many businesses were going to move into England so that they could remain as a UK company,” said Stelfox in an email interview. One of the many factors supporting the ‘Yes’ campaign was that there is a lot of oil available in Scotland, but the oil will run out one day and the financial support it provides will be gone, according to Stelfox.
“There was a lot of controversy around it. Scotland already has better benefits than the rest of the United Kingdom such as free prescriptions and having our university fees paid for by the government. Therefore, I was happy with the country as it was,” Stelfox said.
In Great Britain, many residents were also hoping for the union to stay alive.
“I’m honestly not really sure why the Scottish were attempting to gain independence from Great Britain,” said James Dancer in an email interview. A resident of Blackheath, London, England, Dancer was hoping for a “No”-winning outcome regarding the independence referendum.
“People seem to think that the respective economies would be benefitted and both Great Britain and Scotland would end up thriving and succeeding but really, all the independence motion would have done is start a long political argument over the financial and economic settlement,” Dancer said.
If Great Britain and Scotland had ended up becoming separate nations, many investors and traders in the financial market would have panicked and thought to sell UK shares. Now investors have less reason to sell shares, resulting in no effect on the economy of the UK.
Also in an email interview, Rachel Simpson, resident of Preston, Lancashire, England expressed her opinion about not wanting Scotland and Great Britain to go their separate ways.
“I was really hoping for a ‘No’ vote. I love Scotland and it being part of the UK. We wouldn’t be the same union without them,” said Simpson.
Most media outlets report what political experts have to say about the split or which economy would benefit most but nothing about how the citizens are feeling. They talk about the dedicated campaigning for their sides and the riots that have occurred after the voting outcome.
None, though, have reported on what matters most. Not only are individual citizens of the United Kingdom and not just the economy directly affected by the outcome of this referendum, but it should also remain in the interest of people worldwide as well in order to be fully informed on history as it is being made.
Published October 1, 2014