The English appear to be of the overwhelming opinion that Scotland should remain as part of the union, while the Scottish are obviously a lot more divided. Personally, I think Scotland will opt to remain as part of the United Kingdom, but as a Welshman, I strongly support their independence. My reasons for this are several.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland happen to be smaller than England. Their cities are smaller, their economies are smaller, but who’s to say that just because we don’t know yet how they would manage to stand on their own two feet that they shouldn’t be given the opportunity to try? A small nation is not an ineffectual one. No one would say that Belgium, the Netherlands or even Luxembourg shouldn’t exist as countries, even though they are dwarfed by neighbouring France and Germany and whose cultures aren’t actually that dissimilar from their neighbours. Let’s not forget that even though Scotland and Wales share the same island as England, they are essentially conquered nations and not a natural part of the country. Just because Britain is an island, doesn’t mean it should be one country.
The composite parts of the United Kingdom are unique in their maintenance of national identities whilst combining them to make a larger country. However, everywhere except England considers itself a separate entity. I can’t help but think this has something to do with size; England is a much bigger country to whom the inclusion of these extra pieces of land just means that their own country is larger, whereas to Scotland and Wales, dwarfed by their more powerful neighbour, they feel like they’re being told what to do, how to govern themselves and how they should be living by a government they didn’t elect. Alex Salmond’s argument about this is, I believe, a sound argument: Scotland is currently being governed by a coalition between two parties they did not elect. Scotland never votes for the Conservatives, yet they’ve spent half of the last century being governed by them. They now have devolved power at Holyrood, but the decisions made in Westminster still cascade down and affect Scotland. Salmond, the SNP and their followers want to cut that tie entirely and it’s not difficult to see why.
In the long-run, the day-to-day life your average Scotsman will not change after a separation from the UK. The patriotism of ‘Britishness’ that has so recently arisen due to the national pride in hosting the Olympics may seem like a new thing in England, but Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland have always felt their own patriotism. From childhood, national identity was instilled in us as part of who we are, but we’ve always been aware of being dominated by a larger power. The position has arisen for Scotland to opt out and I wholeheartedly believe that they should take it. There’s no doubt there will be teething problems, that it will take a while to govern itself properly and stabilise its own economy, but just because it won’t happen perfectly straight away doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say. Good luck to the Scots I say, and I hope they prove me wrong and vote ‘Yes’. And then maybe, just maybe, a referendum for the Welsh will follow too.