British politics is more than complicated at the moment, you need only look at the news to see that whatever your sentiments about Brexit, it is undeniable that the UK is definitely suffering a massive difference of opinion...to put it very lightly. In Scotland particularly, Brexit has caused quite the upset with all 32 councils voting to Remain within the European Union, which of course is completely the opposite of how the majority in England and Wales voted. With Theresa May starting negotiations with the EU about how Britain’s exit from the union will unfold, it should perhaps not come as surprise that Nicola Sturgeon has called for another referendum for Scottish Independence from the UK, as an opposition against the Brexit vote and to regain a voice for Scotland. This will be the second referendum for Scottish Independence in 3 years (the first being in 2014). During Indy ref 2014, the result of the vote was that Scotland should stay a part of the UK, but that was under the guise of the UK being a part of the EU. Now that the UK have voted for Brexit, Scotland believes there is a call for another independence referendum because the conditions of the UK have changed. So, what is this referendum all about in a nutshell and why do they Scottish people want it?
What is the main argument as to why Scotland should be able to hold another referendum on independence?
- This vote in 2014 was to choose between the option of certainty and uncertainty. Certainty in that Scotland knew what remaining part of the UK would look like (they had been part of the UK since 1707) and the uncertainty of being a completely independent country whose future would be less set in stone.
- If another referendum is to occur, it would not be exactly the same – either result would pose uncertainties for the nation now. A vote for independence versus a vote for the UK outside of the EU and all the consequences that it entails.
What is Scottish Independence?
- Scotland, as well as England, Northern Ireland and Wales are countries which belong to the larger sovereign country of the United Kingdom, first established in 1707 when the Acts of Union was first signed.
- Since the UK was founded, Scotland has been under the rule of the UK government, though predating 1707, was an independent country.
- In 1997 Scotland’s powers changed drastically as they became devolved under Tony Blair’s New Labour government, and suddenly Scotland were able to make more decisions about its own future through its own governmental body.
- Despite devolution a lot of powers were still held by the UK government so Scotland held a referendum for complete Scottish independence away from the UK in 2014. The vote ended 44.7% for independence and a majority of 55.3% of remain winning.
- The UK had a referendum in 2016 about whether the UK should remain part of the Europe Union, the majority of Scotland voted to remain but the UK overall voted for a British exit of the European Union.
William Wallace, reflecting "who cast an Australian to play me?"
Who is/was pushing it and why?
The SNP (Scottish Nationalist Party) are of course the drive behind Scottish Independence. The 44.7% of people who voted for Scottish independence in 2014, voted for a plethora of reasons.
- Scotland was an independent country for hundreds of years before the Acts of Union was signed and thus has a deep tradition and cultural which is distinctly Scottish and different from being British.
- Not all decisions made by the UK government reflect the wants and needs of the Scottish people. Scotland is generally a left leaning country and the British government does not always reflect the Scottish vote, especially recently. Points of conflict range from trident, renewable energy, political change and many more. To take a look at why people voted for independence, read here.
- Now that the UK has voted out of the European Union, the referendum will bring back all the usual queries but with the added impact of those who were left aggrieved by the Brexit vote. There is common belief that when Scotland voted to remain part of the UK, that was under the condition that the UK would remain part of the EU. Due to the fact that Scotland as a majority voted to stay, it seems that once more the UK government stands to be going against all that is current the zeitgeist in Scotland.
Who is opposed to another referendum?
Of course again there is a lot of people against it, predominantly:
- Some remain voters in Scotland – Those who voted remain in 2014 and do not want to waste time and resources on another referendum after a decision which was seemingly already made.
- Westminster – Economically and politically it is not in the British government’s interest to dissolve the Union.
- Some European countries – countries such as Spain predominantly have come out and said they are against Scottish independence. This is very likely due to the Catalan independence campaign (the Spanish region of Catalonia also luting to become independent from Spain) and so would go against their own political agenda to advocate any independence referendum which could mirror their own.
What would an independent Scotland look like?
This is a very common question but sadly a question with no solid answers. Everyone’s idea for Scotland differs but the SNP have released a highly comprehensive manuscript, the White pages, which was released in 2014.
- The white papers
- Now, it is also a given that Scotland would try and reclaim a position within the European Union.