Strong Case For 'Independent Scotland'

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INTRODUCTION
On 26th November, 2013 The Scottish National Party (SNP: a political party in Scotland) released white paper titled “Scotland’s Future: Your guide to an Independent Scotland” which enumerated and answered different questions related to the independence of Scotland so that people of Scotland can have a reasoned debate before the 18th September 2013 referendum in which the Scottish electorate will vote yes or no to the question “SHOULD SCOTLAND BECOME AN INDEPENDENT COUNTRY.”

TERMS USED IN THIS ARTICLE

⇒ European Union (EU): The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 28 member states that are located primarily in geographic region of Europe. 

  • The EU operates through a system of supranational (a type of multi-national organization where negotiated power is delegated to an authority by governments of member states) independent institutions and intergovernmental negotiated decisions by the member states.
  • Institutions of the EU include the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank, the Court of Auditors, and the European Parliament (elected every five years by EU citizens).
  • The EU's de facto capital is Brussels.

⇒ UK’s Trident Programme: The UK Trident programme encompasses the development, procurement and operation of the current generation of British nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them.

  • Trident itself is an operational system of four Vanguardclass submarines armed with Trident II D-5 ballistic missiles, able to deliver thermonuclear warheads from multiple independent reentry vehicles. It is the most expensive and the most powerful capability of the British military forces.
  • Operated by the Royal Navy and based at Clyde Naval Base on Scotland's west coast, at least one submarine is always on patrol to provide a continuous at-sea deterrent. Under the terms of the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, each will be armed with a maximum of eight missiles and 40 warheads, although their capacity is much larger.
  • The UK Trident programme was announced in July 1980, and patrols began in December 1994. Since 1998, Trident has been the only British nuclear weapon system in service. Its stated purpose is to provide "the minimum effective nuclear deterrent as the ultimate means to deter the most extreme threat." Trident replaced the earlier submarine-based Polaris system, which was in operation from 1968 to 1996. Work on a potential replacement for the Trident system has begun, although no final decisions have been taken.

SCOTLAND : Location and Its Present Situation?
located in Europe and presently combined with England & forms the combined part what we call United Kingdom. This union of Scotland and England took place on 1st May, 1707.

WHY DID SCOTLAND JOIN ENGLAND IN THE FIRST PLACE
In the period of 1690’s, England had monarchy i.e. a rule of king and not rule of law. Scotland was the immediate neighbor of England. England’s monarch i.e. King wanted Scotland to accept him as the ruler of Scotland also.
Scotland in the same period was trying to colonize the Isthmus of Panama which failed miserably & it resulted into a heave economy loss on Scotland.
So, in order to get out of the economic misery, Scotland agreed to be a part of England.

WHAT IS THIS REFERENDUM ?

The current referendum is a voting mechanism by which citizens of Scotland will vote on the important question that whether Scotland should be an independent country or not. It’s like a mass voting aimed at not forming a government but to answer the fact of independence of Scotland.

IMPORTANCE OF 18TH SEPTEMBER : Day of Voting?
⇒ The said date i.e. 18th September has no particular significance. It has been chosen after a much debate considering the local holidays of England and Scotland & also considered winter season.
⇒ But the Year i.e. 2014 in which voting is going to take place is of importance. It is the 700th Anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn which is famous for Robert the Bruce's famous victory over the English army.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO VOTE ?

⇒ Anyone who is above the age of 16 years and lives in Scotland will be able to vote.
⇒ That means that Scottish people who are currently living in England won’t be able vote.
⇒ But the people elsewhere from Britain who are currently living in Scotland will be able to vote.

WOULD THE INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND BE ABLE TO USE ‘POUND’ AS CURRENCY
⇒ Experts say that it is highly unlikely that UK will allow independent Scotland to use its currency. 
⇒ Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also said that Scotland "could not force the UK into a currency union against its will".

WHAT ABOUT THE EURO ?
⇒ Scotland is very much willing to join European Union (EU).
⇒ But EU’s membership is conditional considering the fact that any country joining EU has to accept EURO as its currency.
⇒ So, Scotland can’t join EU without opting for EURO.
⇒ So, it is likely that Scotland may have to accept EURO as its national currency.

HOW WOULD THE UK’S NATIONAL DEBT BE SHARED IN ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND ?
⇒ Total debt of UK is around 1 Trillion Pounds.
⇒ Scotland will likely take on a share amounting to between £100bn and £130bn.

WHAT ABOUT THE DEFENCE SET UP OF UK ?
⇒ The Scottish government will want Trident out of Scotland by 2020.
⇒ UK is likely to use the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for Scotland whereby Scotland can’t ask question to any defense vessel coming to the shore of Scotland. Also Scotland won’t be responsible for giving any help to these defense vessels.

WHAT HAPPENS IF IT’S A YES VOTE
⇒ SNP will gain majority in Scotland.
⇒ It will lay out the terms of independence and resolve.
⇒ It will declare Independence Day in March 2016 and hold elections to an independent Scottish parliament in May.

WHAT HAPPENDS IF IT’S A NO VOTE
⇒ Everyone will abide by the rules and Scotland will not become independent.
⇒ Also, SNP says that this voting system is a once in a generation event.
⇒ So, it will be repeated after some gap which may be a generation gap.

ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND
⇒ Britishness is dying. Scotland has its own parliament, its own laws and legal system. National feeling and self-confidence are high. It is time to take the next step.
⇒ Semi-independence is unsatisfactory. Fiscal powers and economic control remain at Westminster. Independence will allow Scotland to cut business taxes (like Ireland) to promote economic growth.
⇒ Other small countries like Norway and the Republic of Ireland are more successful and more dynamic. An independent Scotland will have the tools to match them.
⇒ Independence would give Scotland clout where it matters: a seat at the UN and in the EU Council of Ministers. Scottish interests, eg. fisheries and agriculture, are poorly served in Brussels by UK ministers.
⇒ Relations between Scots and English are deteriorating. Independence would free Scotland from dependency and England from resentment. An amicable no-faults divorce is better than a bickering marriage.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND
⇒ The Union has served both countries well for 300 years. Devolution is a young experiment, and it is too soon to judge it.
⇒ There is a gap between public spending in Scotland (£40bn) and revenue raised there (£27bn). A Scottish government would have to choose between higher taxes and cuts in public services.
⇒ Scotland has more influence in Brussels as part of the UK than it could have as an independent state.
⇒ The integrated British economy is more capable than an independent Scotland would be of meeting the challenges of globalisation. Likewise, having independent defence and security structures would overstrain Scotland's resources.
⇒ Scots should recognise that devolution has put England at a disadvantage, and should press for reforms to the way Westminster works. Satisfying English grievances would put the marriage back on an even keel. Divorce is unnecessary and would be painful.

IS INDIA GOING TO GET SOMETHING IF SCOTLAND BECOMES INDEPENDENT
⇒ SNP, the major political party in Scotland has declared that a special post-study work visa will be worked out for international students coming to study in Scotland.
⇒ UK has currently cancelled all post-study work visa which is not good for our Indian students willing to work in UK after the completion of their study.
⇒ So, an independent Scotland will prove beneficial for Indian Diaspora.

Practice Questions
Q1
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