Scottish voters next week, will be heading to the polls to decide on the future of their country’s independence.
The Yes campaign is fronted by Alex Salmond, who, along with the Scottish National Party, has been instrumental in gaining support for the referendum and for independence. The campaign has also been supported by figures such as Sean Connery and Dame Vivienne Westwood, who are hoping to see an independent Scotland.
The supporters of the Yes campaign claim that independence will allow Scotland to unleash its full economic potential. They argue that the large supplies of oil make Scotland a rich country and that that money needs to be harnessed solely into Scotland. Additionally they argue that the abundance of oil and gas are just a bonus to the booming Scottish economy which includes strong manufacturing and tourism businesses. The Yes campaign suggest that the figures indicate that Scotland is the second richest area in the UK after London.
Their argument reasons that this money should all be invested into Scotland, rather than being shared out across the UK, and, if this is done, Scotland will be better off.
The Yes campaigns argues that if Scotland is independent, it’s parliament can ensure that all policies are catered towards Scotland, rather than being included in policies which they claim are directed at regions in the south of England. This would mean that Scottish businesses could be better supported, and money can be directed into their own social services in the manner they support.
Currently Scottish public spending is greater per person than the rest of the UK. The Yes campaign claims it will prioritise the welfare of its people, for example investing more in the NHS and avoiding the privatisation of services such as this, while spending less on the military and defence.
University in Scotland is currently free for all Scottish students. This is one specific policy that the Yes campaign say they want to maintain. Currently the majority of the EU are also allowed to study in Scotland for free. However the rest of the UK are forced to pay the full fees for an education in Scotland. The Yes campaigners claim that gaining independence will allow them to continue this policy, but researchers suggest that this would fall foul of European discrimination laws, meaning that either the rest of the UK would also be granted free tuition, or students from the EU would be forced to pay.
The campaign in part centres on the romantic notion of an independent Scotland that is able to cater to its own needs and does not need to defer to another country. It invokes patriotism to garner support from across the country. They highlight Scotland's success economically, as well as in events such as the Commonwealth games, to demonstrate that Scotland does not need to be linked to other nations.
Conversely the No campaign has coined the phrase “better together,” suggesting an alternative form of patriotism that looks at the success of the union.
However the decision of voters should not be based on the romantic connotations of independence or of a union. Voters must look at whether independence would be best for Scotland, or indeed whether it is feasible. None of the 140 states that have gained independence since the second world war have returned to their parent country. While undoubtedly the debate will continue long after the votes have been counted, and the process will be a drawn out affair, whatever the outcome, Thursday's vote will be instrumental in deciding the future of the United Kingdom and of Scotland, and needs to be thoroughly considered by all voters.