Narrow margin of victory keeps one of the world's oldest unions intact
The people of Scotland voted on a referendum on Thursday, Sept. 18 to stay a part of the United Kingdom (U.K.). Over 85 percent of eligible voters turned out to decide whether Scotland would become an independent nation.
Following the outcome of the vote, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said, "It would have broken my heart to see our United Kingdom come to an end," he said.
In order to gain support towards the campaign in favor of staying, Cameron promised Scotland a larger political role within the U.K. Scottish Independence leader Alex Salmond has promised to hold Cameron and other British officials accountable for their pledges.
Leading up to the vote, the campaign for independence seemed to have more organized and excited supporters. However, Unionists insisted that they represented the "silent majority."
The side in favor of leaving the U.K. wanted independence largely for economic reasons. They wanted to have their own system of government that could get the economy rolling in Scotland, including creating more jobs and helping to equal out wages.
Main factors explaining why the Scottish voters ultimately decided to stay were the long term changes an independent Scotland would have to face. Leaving the U.K. would've resulted in a loss of revenues from oil drilling in the North Sea, as well as a loss of protection from Britain's army and nuclear weapons program. Scotland would've also had to abandon the pound sterling as currency.
President Obama openly vowed his support for U.K. unity, largely due to Salmond's vow to evict Britain's nuclear submarine bases from Scotland, which threatened London's role in Western defenses.
Independence supporters were disappointed by the conservative, ways of the current U.K. government. Had Scotland voted to become an independent nation, Salmond would have modelled the new political system around spreading wealth and government support, largely inspired by Scandinavian countries.
Junior Carter Tipton had very strong beliefs in favor of Scotland staying apart of the U.K. "I think it's a much better decision to stay a part of the U.K. just because of the wealth and the stability of the government, whereas I'm not confident that Scotland could govern itself well and afford all the medicine and health care that its people needs," Tipton said.
Of the turn-out for the vote, director of the Scottish Global Forum John MacDonald said, "There's just been an explosion in political engagement…and by and large, people have been incredibly well-behaved." MacDonald was thankful that everything was peaceful, whereas independence in other parts of the world would've resulted in violence. Following the voting results, small fights broke out across Glasgow, but no major violence occurred.
Had Scotland voted for independence, they would've been put on track for independence by 2016. But, unfortunately for Scots wishing to break apart from the U.K., the dream of independence could now be dead for a generation or more.
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