Scottish Referendum

Anthony Rosa

On Thursday, September 18th Scotland will vote on whether to leave the United Kingdom and become a sovereign entity. If the majority of Scotland’s populace votes yes, it will end a 307-year alliance with the UK. The primary cause of the referendum is undoubtedly the political cleavages that Scotland has with the rest of the UK. Scotland is fairly far left and tends to support more liberal policies while countries such as England have center right regimes.

The “vote yes” faction of the debate claims that an independent Scotland will be able to economically sustain itself without the help of British taxpayers, while continually providing its current civil services such as free university tuition. These claims are partially backed by the fact that Scotland has some of the biggest wind and marine energy reserves in all of Europe. Plus, they own a substantial share of North Sea oil and gas.

The “vote no” side of the debate is not as confident in Scotland’s economy. They are worried that without UK taxpayers, taxes and pensions will skyrocket. Also, if Scotland leaves the UK, they will have to leave the GBP. A move to the Euro could be theoretically possible, but countries such as Spain have made it clear that they will do their best to block Scotland’s admittance into the EU. This is due to Spain’s fear of fragmentation issues in their own country.

For more insight on the issue, I went to AP Comparative Politics teacher Mr. Hollenbeck.

Anthony Rosa: What is your prediction for the referendum’s outcome? 

Mr. Hollenbeck: “I don’t know. It’s so interesting. For the last year I would’ve said that the referendum would fail, and it has just gained so much momentum lately, in terms of the yes vote, that it’s anyone’s guess. I think there’s this modern trend towards this process of fragmentation…but if you nail me down I’m going to say that the Union stays.”

AR: What has caused the sudden surge in Scotland’s nationalism?

Mr. H: “Its been building for about thirty years. The Scots are to the left of mainstream British politics and ever since neoliberalism got implemented by Thatcher in the 1980’s, the Scots have grown disillusioned with that kind of governing. They believe in a bigger and more supportive role of the state.”

AR: The vote yes faction seems fairly hubris in the idea that Scotland can economically sustain itself without the UK. Do you think it makes economic sense for Scotland to leave the UK and GBP?

Mr. H: “No, it does not. I don’t think a credible case can be made that, economically, they are going to be better off. I just think that there are too many global examples where the smaller sub unit attached to the bigger country doesn’t too better. I don’t think they’d do better, there’d be a lot of bumps.”

AR: How will, if at all, the referendum affect the United States’ economy?

Mr. H: “I think it will be minimal. It won’t have a huge impact on us by any stretch. This, to me, is more about if Britain continues to be a partner. In our special relationship, from an ally standpoint, I just think having a more United Kingdom would be favorable to the US.”