Scotland rejects independence

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The No side prevails in historic vote

Author: syndney mcwilliams – contributor

The temporary victory of the “No” vote. / Jingyu Zhang

The temporary victory of the “No” vote. / Jingyu Zhang

The 307-year-old union that is the United Kingdom remains intact today, as Scotland rejects independence in a historic referendum. On Sept.18, Scottish citizens began lining up at the polls before they opened at 7 a.m.

4.2 million Scots were eligible to vote and almost everyone wanted a say in their potential country’s future. The polls closed at 10 p.m. and the counting of the ballots began – an entire nation, and much of the world, held their breath.

After the much-anticipated vote, the world finally had an answer. Scotland will remain a part of the United Kingdom.

The Scottish National Party won a majority in Scottish Parliament in May of 2011. It was then that serious talk about independence began. In October of 2012, the leader of the Scottish national party, Alex Salmond, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, along with others, signed the Edinburgh Agreement, which set up the outline for the referendum. The agreement also granted constitutional legitimacy to the vote, so no one could disregard the final outcome. So began two years of campaigning.

The Yes and No sides both put forth convincing arguments as they tried to win supporters. The ‘yes’ side assured the people of Scotland that if they became independent, they would have the resources to support themselves economically. Such resources included their vast wealth of oil, predominantly in the North Sea. Having control over this oil was a major selling point for the Yes side. The Yes side believed that an independent Scotland would create more jobs for people and they already started making plans for better healthcare and improving situations for people on pensions and people with children. They believed that Scotland and England disagreed too much politically and they would be better off as just neighbours. They wanted to be able to take Scotland’s future into its own hands, and to be able to choose their own government.

Even though the Yes side had made a convincing case, the No side prevailed by invoking a fear campaign similar to the one that the no side used in the Quebec Referendums. They played on the fear of the unknown and all the bad things that could happen if their country decided to become independent. They would need to have a currency Union to use the pound and it did not seem like that agreement was going to be made. People were convinced that separating would throw their country into depression because they would not have the recourses to support themselves, and major businesses and banks were threatening to leave.

So what helped No prevail? The No side was successful for many reasons, the first being that people are scared of the unknown. Unfortunately, as often is the case in these situations, undecided voters air on the side of caution; voting for what they already know and swinging the final result. Another factor that helped no prevail was that their voters actually voted. The Yes side was expecting a huge turnout in Glasgow and although they won in that area, not enough people voted to turn the tides into a Yes victory across Scotland.

For the first time in UK history, 16 and 17 year olds were given the chance to vote, allowing a younger demographic to have a say in their country’s future. But, allowing them to vote did not have a dramatic impact on the outcome. Although they were the most pro independent age group with 71 percent of them voting Yes, in the end it wasn’t enough to change the majority.

Even though the vote was No, there will still be side effects seen from the referendum. The union between Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland that makes up the United Kingdom will never be the same again. In the last weeks of campaigning, the Westminster government promised to devolve more power to Scotland that would allow them to have complete say in issues that only affected them. In turn, some English citizens are demanding that Scottish MPs not be allowed to vote on matters that only concern England. Making agreements will take many months.

Have we heard the end of the pro-independent movement in Scotland? Absolutely not.

As Dr. John Conway, a professor at the University of Regina, said, “There will always be another referendum as long as the Scottish National Party continues to believe in independence”.

For now, the answer is clear, though; the United Kingdom still stands. Only time will be able to tell how a rejection of Independence, right now, will truly affect Scotland’s futu

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