On September 18th citizens of Scotland will vote for or against independence from the United Kingdom, undoing three centuries of unity.
Whilst this union has seen hostility and violence, one question seemingly missing from the mainstream media is why a single percentage point makes the difference.
Even the United States, the butt of many European jokes, ensures significant pieces of legislation for constitutional amendment are passed only with a supermajority (two-thirds) of the US Congress followed by ratification of three-quarters of the state legislatures – currently 34.
More than a Scottish problem
However the division of the four-nation union will be handed to a simple majority of 51 percent.
The excitement of becoming independent will no doubt have swayed many Scottish votes later this month. First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond has enjoyed openly criticizing the British government in attempts to push forward the steady rise in support for a Yes vote, which for the first time has exceeded 50 percent in the polls.
But why should a slight majority be allowed to decide such a huge resolution? This isn’t a bill easily retracted should it fall short of expectations. This will affect the whole of the UK’s economy, defense, foreign relationships and even citizenship practice.
Just another tale of economics
The major parties of the United Kingdom have said they will not agree to a currency-union with Scotland. There is also a debate over the gas and oil wells in the North Sea. Currently under control of the British government there is dispute of ownership given the alignment with Scottish territory.
The revenue from the North Sea oil and gas produces around £7 billion ($11.3 billion) each year, whereas the Scottish parliament is given an annual Block Grant of £32 billion ($51.6 billion). And although they will save on the cost of supplying tax funds to the central government, there will be a significant shift in spending for public services, such as the National Health Service (NHS), and tax codes while the new government tries to sort out its finances.
A Yes vote will also leave Scotland in a difficult position within the European Union. While they will be given the chance to reapply as an independent nation, this will not be a quick process with the other 28 member states, including the rUK, needing to agree first. However Spain’s position could present a problem for the northern territory. Voting in Scotland’s favor would promote their defection to Catalan. The Spanish, concerned with an independent Catalan, would not be willing to offer the Scots help in their EU application.
That would leave Scotland independent from the United Kingdom, and also from the rest of Europe. With limited numbers on their imports and exports as well, promises by either side that this is the best or worst route for Scotland is completely unfounded; none can honestly predict the outcome of a Yes vote for either Scotland or the rUK.
Holyrood and Westminster (the homes of Scotland’s & Britain’s respective parliaments) are in the middle of political battle. And with the media sensationalizing all the arguments, those who have to actually make the decision are losing out on the facts.
Returning to the main point…
51 percent of Scotland dissolving the union is maniacal and irresponsible. At minimum, 60 percent should be deciding to change the status quo.
Moving away from the economical and political ramifications the debate is centered on, one aspect that has been thoroughly ignored is the military personnel in the army, navy and air force.
What happens when a Glaswegian soldier is told he must choose between his home country and the brotherhood he has formed with men and women from England, Wales and Northern Ireland? The role of Trident, the UK’s nuclear program currently based in Scottish shores, has been discussed but little has been said of the men and women who have been fighting for and defending the British Isles.
Time to discuss all these issues is needed. A period for thought is paramount: how will this decision impact not just the lives of people in Scotland but also the lives of those who at present, are still countrymen and women. Only when this time has passed should a large majority be allowed to decide the conclusion of the centuries-old union.
Why should just a few people get to decide the fate of everyone in the Kingdom?