On the 23rd of June this country decided on a huge constitutional change and by this country, of course, I mean England. Scotland voted unanimously to stay (in terms of voting areas) and was the victim to tyranny of the majority of the U.K. During the campaign to keep Scotland within the union one of the main reasons that we were ‘Better Together’ was membership of the EU. With one referendum, Westminster has lost a bargaining chip.
There is huge disillusionment with politics in Scotland. They see themselves as being ruled by Westminster, in a city who are completely out of touch with Scottish identity. When the issue of greater devolved powers comes up, there is always a wave of nationalist support. It is easy to put the previous Independence Referendum result down to the ‘good old British value’ of sticking with the status quo and this leap into the unknown could well be the final nail in the coffin of the Union as we know it.
So why so soon after a referendum loss is this even an issue again? These votes are supposed to come around once in a generation. Well, as mentioned above, there was a resounding desire to remain an EU member. Nicola Sturgeon suddenly has a mandate to call a second referendum as the terms of the constitution will change dramatically and the Scottish people deserve a choice as to whether they will sign up to the new independent union. Also mentioned was the incredible disillusionment in Scottish society with Westminster. Don’t be fooled by the recent election results, there is an intense disliking of conservatism and disenfranchisement with Labour. The Tories did well rebranding themselves as the unionist party and cleverly distanced themselves from the Westminster party.
David Cameron kept his promise of greater devolved powers but some Scots see this as a patronising attempt to suppress nationalism.
There has been reports that Scotland could remain a member of the EU and guaranteed membership as an independent country. This opens the door to the trading block of the EU, the subsidies which come from it and the skilled labour from freedom of movement. This would quash any fears of uncertainty during a period of waiting in which Scotland’s membership was under consideration.
There is also the matter of North Sea oil. This could work either way for Scotland, as leaving may trigger the UK to declare Nicola Sturgeon a dictator and bomb Aberdeenshire and the Highlands. Oil money can carry an economy, we’ve seen that in the Arab regions but there is a debate over how long the oil will actually last. The prices are also highly erratic at the moment and are fluctuating too much to be a major source of income for the country. It would however, be a major bargaining chip when attempting to join the EU.
There were many arguments for and against independence in 2014 many of which are still valid and important to this debate. There were reasons that 55% of the country decided that remaining in the union was the better option.
Was the Better Together campaign built on scaremongering? One of the questions was whether Scotland would be allowed access to the pound sterling currency. Should this happen, this leaves them with two options: join the failing euro (which the UK wouldn’t touch with a barge pole) or create their own currency which many see as impractical. Sturgeon has floated the idea of joining the eurozone which would be a major incentive for the EU to allow Scotland membership.
So can Nicola Sturgeon succeed where Alex Salmond failed? Yes. She has the mandate, she has the nationalist support and she has the bargaining chip of membership. There is also the fact that remain are on the counter attack after the previous defeat and the chances of overturning the result are looking good. One thing can be for certain, Strugeon will only call a referendum she knows she can win. This time around Brexiteer politicians may even step aside as it only increases the margin of victory for leave (when deducting the Scottish results). The electorate has just shown it’s ability to ignore the pragmatic argument and this could mean that no matter how much fear mongering Westminster throws at the electorate, disillusionment and apathy could take over. It could be the case that not only Scotland but also Northern Ireland leaving the UK could define Cameron’s legacy as the breakup of the Union.