The 18th of September is rapidly approaching. With it comes the exciting, historic, promising prospect of Scottish independence or the frightening dissolution of a 300 year old union, depending on how you look at it. Chances are if you haven’t encountered news of this somewhere along the way, you’ve been living under a rock; all talk has recently revolved around Scotland. The faces of Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling have been consistently emblazoned and plastered on newspapers and TV screens alike for the past few months and the upcoming referendum even has its own hashtag on Twitter. This would be the conscious uncoupling of the decade (Sorry Chris and Gwyneth) and people are already making break up playlists in anticipation. With a recent poll showing only a 1% lead to Darling’s No camp, the results are too close to call.
Many have commented on Westminster’s psychological warfare used to dispel any ideas of independence and to fundamentally destroy any challenge to its control. The No campaign have been using intimidation and fear as weapons against Alex Salmond’s Yes campaign, bandying around unlikely apocalyptic scenarios of horrendous, irreparable financial turmoil and fiscal woes. Whilst Alistair Darling has been strictly focusing on the future economic status of Scotland, it’s important to keep in mind that uncertainty is a natural by-product of change and progression. Scotland is actually very wealthy, currently bringing vast supplies of oil and resources to the table in the UK. As of this year, Scotland still has oil reserves exceeding £1 trillion. It’s unfair and wrong that under the current system Scotland are unable to keep their own resources but the notion that the money generated from Scottish resources goes directly to London is appalling.
There’s more to this referendum than the economy. Coming from the North of England, I can completely relate to Scotland’s disillusionment and frustration with the current London-centric government; being constantly overlooked is actually quite irritating. David Cameron’s recent promises and bribes of greater autonomy for Scotland only appeared as the Yes campaign was significantly gaining momentum. His offers of further devolution are massively weakened by the fact that they were fundamentally a desperate, panic-stricken afterthought. Too little, too late. Despite making up a significant chunk of the country, Scotland is hardly represented at the Houses of Parliament at all – holding only 59 out of 650 seats. It’s not really surprising then that Scotland are now seeking independence and, as a result, a chance to speak for themselves.
Having recently spent some time in Scotland, I can say that there was a tangible atmosphere of hope and of promise. There was a definite buzz in the air (and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t entirely from the copious vodka and Irn Brus). As Alex Salmond said, the prospect of Scots being able to hold their own destiny in their hands is, in itself, a brilliant thing and one monumental step towards democracy. The opportunity to take advantage of it is up to them. Whether or not Scotland votes yes on Thursday though, Britain will inevitably change; the government has to sit up and listen.