By: Alexandra Fasulo
October 30th, 2012
In the near future, Scotland faces two important issues: allowing younger citizens to participate in the scheduled 2014 Referendum and the impact of this Referendum’s results if Scotland becomes an independent state. Tensions involving these issues have plagued the country and hopefully a compromise between the opposing parties will be reached soon.
British Prime Minister, David Cameron, recently announced that 16 and 17 year olds will be permitted to participate in the 2014 Referendum on Scottish Independence. This new development on the referendum will replace the request for a devolution max, “devo-max,” which would have been a question on the referendum involving transferring more power to the Scottish capital Holyrood, just short of independence.
Instead, the referendum will contain a simple “yes” or “no” question, asking Scottish citizens if they want complete independence from Great Britain. Alex Salmond, the Scottish Prime Minister, was not pleased with the removal of the devo-max option. Polls show that the addition of 16 and 17 year olds will not help sway the vote in the direction of the Scottish National Party. Only 26% of teenagers in Scotland are in favor of complete independence from Great Britain.
Salmond is under the impression that England will gladly play “kind neighbor” with Scotland after a successful referendum. He has stated that he expects British regulators to continue to supervise Scottish banks and bail out the Royal Bank of Scotland, even if independence is achieved. Salmond also wants to continue to use the British pound as Scotland’s national currency. However, Cameron states he has yet to be approached by Salmond for these arrangements.
Another dilemma facing Salmond’s independence plan is the question of automatic European Union membership. Salmond assumes that if Scotland were to secede from Great Britain, it would remain a member of the EU without question. In order for Scotland to acquire the answer to this question, England would have to file a report with the European Commission. However, England has stated that they have no interest in pursuing something they do not believe will occur.
The President of the EU, Jose Manuel Barroso, recently made a statement that an independent Scotland would be considered an entirely new state and would therefore have to apply to become an EU member state. However, senior members of the European Commission believe that Scotland would not have to applyHowever, Salmond’s assumptions have been damaging to his credibility; some Scottish newspapers have branded him an “EU liar.”
In the meantime, Salmond has been making offensive statements towards the British, calling them “fundamentally unattractive” and “thugs and racists.” Salmond’s nationalist party, the SNP, feels that the profits England reaps from the Scottish offshore oil deposits could be considered “international larceny.” Alex Salmond is the first Prime Minister from this extremist Scottish Party, and is determined to bring about a referendum on independence for the second time in Scotland’s history.
England’s Conservative Party has said that they want Scotland to be independent from Great Britain. The British Labour Party, however, would lose a substantial amount of parliamentary seats. The Labour Party of Scotland has been pursing a “No” campaign, emphasizing Scotland’s glorious history being a part of Great Britain. Cameron has stated that he is determined to keep the British “family” together. Additionally, the successful London Olympic Games this past summer strengthened the arguments of those who oppose separation.
For now, the referendum is set to take place in autumn of 2014. England argued that this would give Scotland substantial time to articulate their arguments, where others wanted the referendum to happen within a year due to the uncertainty damaging the Scottish economy. However, Salmond and Cameron signed the Section 30 Order in Edinburgh and concluded, “A statutory order to be legislated at Westminster, granting Holyrood powers to hold a single-question independence referendum by the end of 2014.” The two leaders have stated that they will work together for the best interests of Scotland and England. Now the goal is for Salmond and Cameron to stay on good terms between now and autumn 2014.
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