Just a little more than a week from now, voters in Scotland will decide whether to stay with the United Kingdom or become a completely independent country. For the past two or three days I’ve been thinking of writing about this, but really couldn’t think of what, exactly, I wanted to say. Then it hit me that there was little I could say that hasn’t already been said. With that in mind, I decided to just write my thoughts without necessarily going into all the reasons for the referendum. Anyway, you can find all the pros and cons of Scottish independence by reading the various articles at the BBC or The Guardian, or any number of other sites. Besides, I don’t live in Scotland anyway, so it’s likely no one there cares what I think, but I do live in the UK, and I also care very much what Scotland decides. After all, it will affect all of us living in the UK to one degree or another.
I have a particular fondness for Scotland; it was there that I first set foot in the United Kingdom 38 years ago while in the U. S. Navy. I had been assigned to a submarine that operated out of Holy Loch, and I quickly fell in love with the people and the town of Dunoon as well as the magnificent scenery. It wasn’t like many towns near a military facility where the residents at best tolerate the sailors and at worst can be outright hostile. Instead, the people of Dunoon were welcoming and friendly. I also discovered why fish and chips are so popular – although I’d had them in the US once or twice, I failed to see the charm. When I tried them here, they were completely unlike any I’d ever had. There is simply no comparison; these people know how to do fish and chips. And the haggis. When I returned to the states, I tried in vain to find haggis, but found it’s illegal to import it into the US.
Fast forward to the present time, and I find myself living somewhat near the Scottish border. Consequently, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Scotland a couple more times since moving here. Time has done nothing to diminish my fond memories.
Merely a month ago it seemed unlikely that the vote for independence would be successful, but over the past week or two, the polls are showing a slight lead of those who wish to break away from the UK. I have mixed feelings about this, because I don’t think it will be good for Scotland or the rest of the United Kingdom. On top of that, it’s probably going to be very expensive for both.
If Scotland votes for independence, things may change here. Depending on Scotland’s immigration policy, there could be guards and ID checks on the border between Scotland and England, because the United Kingdom has taken steps to limit immigration into the country, whereas Scotland will actively be seeking more immigrants.
There are other issues, too, such as which currency Scotland will use; the UK government has made it clear there won’t be a sharing of pounds sterling, so will Scotland go to the Euro? Issue their own currency? Although there has been discussion of this, I’ve read of no firm plans for what Scotland will finally do.
How will Scotland defend itself? Scotland has said that all military personnel serving in Scotland at the point of independence would be eligible for service in the new Scottish defense forces, but naturally, the UK has put the skids on that idea. And I think the UK is right on this; they signed up for service in the British Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, or whatever, so they are part of UK forces, not Scotland’s.
In the past week, the UK pound has weakened amid fears that Scotland will opt for independence. Also, there is the ongoing question of Scottish membership in the European Union, and what will be required of Scotland regarding free movement of people with other EU nations; whether Scotland will be required to convert to the Euro, and the list goes on. So far as I can tell, Scotland has few, if any, firm answers to any of these questions. And anyway, speaking of EU membership, Scotland wants independence from the UK, but wants to immediately join the EU and subject themselves to Brussels? Doesn’t sound to me like much independence is gained there.
Actually, they seem to be taking much for granted, and it seems the Scottish pro-independence movement would have sorted these things out long before now, but these are all issues that, as I mentioned before, you can find at the two links above. So enough of that.
Personally, I hope Scotland surprises me and votes to stay within the UK. At this point, I’m doubtful though. I just hope they’re sure they want this, because it won’t be easy to come back, if they even can at all. Westminster is now offering Holyrood more incentive to stay. Scotland will have more autonomy than before.
With that being said, if Scotland votes to leave us, then I wish them well. And hey, it won’t ultimately be an inconvenience to me – just another stamp in my passport. It’ll just be a shame I have to carry a passport to Scotland.