On Scottish Independence

Tomorrow, Scotland will vote on its independence. It’s an issue that I’ve closely followed over the past couple of months and one that I have a deep interest in. I’m not Scottish, but I think that it’s important and deserves attention. According to polls, it’s a pretty close call. If the “Yes” camp wins, it would be the first time in a while that a developed country has split up. If it doesn’t win independence, it will probably still cause some major changes in the UK. I also believe that this issue has some serious consequences on separatist movements in other countries. Whether the vote is “Yes” or “No,” the contest is so close that it will surely serve as an inspiration to places wishing to gain independence.

If Scotland votes “Yes,” then I support Scottish Independence. I believe that if a country wants to be independent, then it should be independent. A lot of commentators on both sides have compared the issue to a marriage, and I think it’s a good comparison. Sometimes, no matter what you do, you cannot save a marriage. You just want different things and if you can’t work out your differences, you’re both better off going your separate ways. An even better one might be that of a business partner wishing to leave a business to start a new venture. If the existing business isn’t going in a direction you like, isn’t it logical to want to strike out on your own?

Of course, a lot of people are quick to point out that maybe Scotland won’t fare that well on its own. I think the question isn’t really “Can Scotland become a successful independent country?” It’s more like, “Will the UK and the rest of the world allow Scotland to become a successful independent country or will it stand in the way?”

Scotland has the building blocks to become an independent country. Like most of Northern Europe, is rich in natural resources (and not just oil and gas). It has vast stretches of agricultural land, and historically it had a strong manufacturing industry. It has a very strong financial services sector and can continue to do so if institutions stay reasonable and don’t pull out due to a “Yes” vote.

Scotland also has a fairly skilled and well-educated population, which are helpful tools in any successful economy. It also runs many of its own affairs due to devolution, so it’s not exactly starting from scratch as far as running an independent country is concerned.

Scotland can certainly create a strong, healthy economy for itself if it manages its affairs wisely. A “Yes” vote doesn’t imply that everything will be perfect, but it has the potential to be a strong country if it does the work to make it so. However, countries do not exist in bubbles and in this part of the world, other countries can have a huge effect on each other’s economic success. Scotland may become independent, but it will never stop being interdependent. It will need trading partners and political alliances. In this regard, other countries can definitely hamper its success.

Whether Scotland becomes independent or not is up to the Scots. The rest of us don’t have any say in the matter, and truthfully, I don’t think we should. If they want to be independent and believe they would be better off as an independent country, that’s their choice. The real question is, are the rest of us going to accept it and wish them well? Will we cooperate with an independent Scotland? Or will we collectively shun the country for choosing to be autonomous? I think the latter would be a shame, not only for Scotland but for us as well. The “Yes” camp has demonstrated its willingness to become a cooperative trading partner with the UK, Europe, and the rest of the world. I think that saying “no” to that would be cutting off our noses to spite our faces, so to speak.

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