| by Victor Cherubim
( January 9, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Speaking on the “BBC One Andrew Marr Show”, David Cameron said Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister and Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) was attempting to transform the debate (Scotland’s Referendum) into a competition between “me and him,” as he very shrewdly and politically shrugged off an invitation to participate in a televised debate.
The breakup of any country is a “Big Issue”. More so of the United Kingdom which has been united since 1707. The Act of Union passed in England 1706 and ratified in Scotland 1707 put into effect the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, into a single United Kingdom, named Great Britain, (previously separate states, with separate legislatures, but with the same monarch).
The two countries had shared a monarch since the Union of Crowns in 1603 when King James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne from his double first cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.
Supporters of independence will always site examples of small, independent and thriving economies, such as Switzerland, Norway, but some will argue that Scotland does not come within this category.
Others will maintain that unlike South Sudan, Kosovo and Timor –Leste, although these states may call themselves independent, they are no comparison to Scotland, in terms of economy, governance or security.
Arguments for and against
As the Referendum in Scotland is approaching, some months from now, (Thursday 18 September 2014), the arguments for and against, is gaining momentum.
The Scottish Government’s White Paper on Independence according to the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has provided a “compelling case”, as she challenges the “No” parties to the Referendum to offer an alternative vision for Scotland.
Drew Smith, Scottish Labour constitutional spokesman states: it was Labour who delivered the Scottish Parliament when in power, who played a key role in the ongoing enhancement of its powers through the Colman Commission. They want to bring forward their proposals on strengthening devolution.
The Liberal Democrats have long been proponents of “Home Rule” for Scotland within a federal Britain.
Ruth Davidson of the Tory Party wants strengthening of devolution with further power for the Scottish Parliament, with the establishment of a Commission headed by Lord Strathclyde.
There is a cacophony of voices on this issue.
The Referendum Question
Voting in the Referendum is on a single question:
“Should Scotland be an independent country”.
Voters will have a straight choice between “Yes” or “No”.
Eligibility to Vote
For the first time and for this vote only, 16 and 17 years old will be able to cast their vote.
People born in other parts of the U.K., some 413,924 persons, who are now resident in Scotland; (approx.367, 000 from England, 32,000 from Northern Ireland and 15,000 from Wales) are eligible to vote.
People born in Scotland who live elsewhere in UK, some 790,784, who live elsewhere in UK.,
(approx.753, 000 in England, 23,000 in Wales and 15,000 in Northern Ireland) are not eligible
British, Irish and other European Union citizens who are resident in Scotland will be able to vote. Commonwealth citizens, who either have leave to remain in the UK or who do not require such leave, also qualify.
Ways to vote
There are three ways in which to vote – either in person at the polling booth, postal voting or by proxy voting by the nominated person.
Is Scotland’s vote important?
The focus so far has been on sharing debt, the use of Sterling as common currency, the European Union and whether pensioners and savers will be affected by the separation. Scotland is going hammer and tongs, with the Commonwealth Games ahead of the vote.
The key question which is not on offer, is whether the rest of the UK “would suffer enormously” if Scotland voted Yes for independence?
How does Scotland affect us?
What people in Sri Lanka may want to know is what has not been said in the public domain.
Students from various parts have been flocking to Colleges and Universities in Scotland for over two years due to the exorbitant fees in England, also perhaps in preparation for the vote. School fees at Eton College are at £33,270 per annum, whilst at the best Public School at Loretto, in Edinburgh, at a measly sum of £28,590 an year, with added amenities. Regrettably, I would still prefer Eton.
The issue is not independence, but it is prestige, power and promotion of Scottish culture and way of a thrifty lifestyle for the Scots. But for the English, the oil wealth of Scotland has been creamed off over the years, possibly, no one will own up. The English have become too comfortable in their ways. There is an opinion that it is too costly to continue give the annual subsidy to Scotland and have so many Scottish MP’s in the House of Commons, deciding English issues.
There is a further opinion that should Britain ever leave the European Union, with
perhaps, Scotland remaining in the Union, it would suit England in many ways.
Separation through not promoted is paradoxically, in England’s self interest at present. No one will ever own up to it. What is possible is a return to the status quo prior to 1707, when both Scotland and England were under the same monarch.
David Cameron is adept at playing poker. It is heads you win, tails you lose. This has been his strategy all along. If he gets a “No” vote in Scotland, he will walk through in England at the polls in 2015. If he has to contend with a “Yes” vote in Scotland, he will be laughing all the way to the bank.