To be independent (or part of the United Kingdom) is the question for Scotland on September 18.
Yes or No
If the people of Scotland vote “Yes,” then the actual independence day is scheduled for March 24, 2016. A lot of messy details will need to be sorted out, including repeal of the 1707 Acts of Union that created Great Britain. Scotland would need to negotiate entry into a host of organizations, such as the European Union, NATO, United Nations.
A “No” vote will still see Scotland gain more autonomy within the United Kingdom, such as the ability to set income tax levels. But if the vote is close, the independence issue may persist, starting a referendum cycle—the much-feared “never-endum.”
The Country and Its Voters
The latest polls show that the vote could be extremely close. Leading up to the vote, arguments have become increasingly passionate and often threatening. For example, Scottish nationalist “cybernats” went after J.K. Rowling (of Harry Potter fame), heaping online abuse on her after she donated to the pro-U.K. campaign. Rowling lives in Scotland and will be one of the estimated 4.3 million eligible voters on September 18.
With less than a week to go, there are still hundreds of thousands of undecided voters. Many of these voters are keeping their heads down, not wanting to endure “cybernats” insults or scaremongering from either side.
Why Scotland May Vote No
As a political geographer, I am aware of pre-election marketing hype and how actual elections often turn out dramatically different from predictions. This happens in the United States all too often. However, I predict that the “No” votes will win for the following reasons:
- Uncertainty. The “Yes” forces have left many questions unanswered about the future of an independent Scotland, such as paying for retirement benefits.
- Businesses. Many large employers do not favor independence.
- Independence Lite. While some Scots want independence, they also want to keep the British royal family and the currency. Is this really independence then?
- English Voters. There are some 477,000 voters born in England; most of these will vote to remain part of the United Kingdom.
- Celebrity Votes. Most British celebrities want Scotland to remain in the union.
- Older voters. Voters over 60, more than 20% of the electorate, do not favor independence; many have already cast their vote via post.
- Female voters. More than half the electorate—women—doubt the promises of Scottish nationalists and worry about the economic uncertainties of independence.
All will be revealed on or after September 18.