Pro- Union or Pro- Independence?

With what can only be described as one of the most historical propositions in Scottish politics to be presented to Scots in over three- hundred years, Scottish Independence is a topic on everyone’s lips. Having been part of the United Kindgom for over three hundred years, the outcome of this event is likely to alter the country, over the coming years, forever.

It is apparent that the majority of Scots remain undecided as to whether they are pro- independence or pro union. Many are still not convinced by the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) proposals. One Twitter user tweeted “I hear a lot of SNP buzzwords, exaggeration and speculation, but no answers to attract economic questions to do with #scottishindependence”. It is clear that the SNP must be most specific in what they hope to achieve if they wish to convince the Scottish public that independence is the way forward.

One issue which remains to be clarified by the SNP is where Scotland would be left in terms of European Union (EU) membership if the country becomes independent. The Conservatives have accused the SNP of “not bothering” to attempt to verify or deny if Scotland would be required to reapply to the EU. Since Scotland has been part of the EU for over forty years, there appears to be little logic in Scotland leaving to then have to join the queue to become part of it again. For Scotland to expect to automatically be a member of the EU if it becomes independent would be “fairy island” stated former foreign secretary David Milliband.

In written form, ‘The foreign policy implications of and for a separate Scotland’ document states that “Arrangements for Scotland’s EU membership would need to be in place simultaneously with independence” suggesting that the SNP party must make it clear as to where Scotland would stand in the EU long before the elections take place. Van Rompuy, President of the European Council claimed “Nobody has anything to gain from separatism in the world of today which, whether one likes it or not, is globalised”.  It is likely to be important that Scotland’s position within the EU is clearly defined as soon as possible to allow voters to decide whether they are happy with the outcome or not and if it appears that a large percentage of citizens are unhappy, the SNP has time to take steps to ensure that people are content by autumn 2014.

Furthermore, it continues to be unclear as to whether Scotland would continue to be part of the United Kingdom if it becomes independent or if the UK would cease to exist. Article 1 of the Treaty of Union does not state that there would be a United Kingdom if Scotland becomes independent. Surely in times of economic crisis the country should pull together as one, as a union, to work together as opposed to splitting up and potentially making the situation worse. Prime Minister David Cameron stated “I passionately believe Scotland will be better off in the United Kingdom but also, crucially, the United Kingdom will be better off with Scotland”, which could influence voters as the current Prime Minister is supported by many people in Scotland.

Voters are still undecided as to whether they will vote for independence.

While some argue that Scotland has more of an influence as part of the UK than if it is independent, Alex Salmond, leader of the SNP party argues that “Scotland can be more successful” whilst separated from the UK. Twitter user Roy Thompson agrees stating, “Scotland has been controlled by Westminster long enough [it’s] time we were independent! #Scottishindependence.” By becoming independent many believe that Scotland will be able to slash business taxes which should enhance economic growth allowing Scotland to become a more prosperous country.

Having already introduced free prescriptions to Scottish citizens along with reducing waiting times in hospitals, many are optimistic of what the SNP can achieve if they are independent and able to make changes at a timelier rate. Nicola Sturgeon, the then Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, says that she hopes to achieve “a health service that continues to deliver fast treatment, as close to home as possible”, which will benefit the population hugely as people can be seen to at a quicker rate and therefore have more chance of a speedy recovery.

It is evident that voters remain split, many undecided, as to whether they will vote pro-independence or pro union. With many conflicting opinions from government bodies and the public alike, only time will tell which way the public is going to sway. It seems that the Scottish National Party are required to add specificity to their aspirations for the public to trust that voting for independence is the best thing for them and their country. Policies are required to be backed up with facts and statistics before the public will be convinced.

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