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Scottish independence vote was a good call

Last week, Scotland put practical concerns over national pride and voted to remain part of the United Kingdom.

Fifty-five percent of Scottish voters opted to remain part of the UK after with an 85 percent voter turnout, Scottish voters made the wise choice of electing to remain part of a mutually beneficial political and economic union.

The desire for Scottish independence is more than understandable; Scots have a culture, accent, and history that is distinct from England. The Scottish parliament has also pursued a much more liberal agenda than the English parliament; has not taken the austerity measures the rest of the United Kingdom has; and still offers free university tuition to all students.

Many Scots also rallied behind the ideas of removing British nuclear submarines from bases on the Scottish coast and less involvement in unpopular military action in the Middle East.
These compelling political and social motivations moved 45 percent of voters to support separation, but they did not trump economic concerns.

On average, Scotland has a lower life expectancy, and its significantly higher than average weekly pay for full-time workers is dependent on oil and gas revenues, according to the BBC (which has been accused of bias by many independence supporters). Scotland has numerous health and social burdens, which would place a great deal of stress on the finances of a social democracy, the likely model to be adopted by an independent Scottish state. Scotland would have difficulty facing these problems without the financial support of the United Kingdom’s economy and financial institutions.

While Scotland’s oil provides a potentially major source of revenue for a newly independent nation, reliance on a single source of fossil fuels is not a financially sound or sustainable solution. Betting a nation’s revenue stream on a single commodity is a dangerous move, especially in the current climate of growing calls for the reduction of fossil fuel use and backlash against their impact.

On top of these concerns, the Royal Bank of Scotland decided that, were Scotland to seek independence, they would relocate their headquarters to England. This move would be a devastating blow to the Scottish financial sector and would underscore doubts regarding Scotland’s independent economic strength. Uncertainty about Scotland’s ability to function as a fully independent economic state would undoubtedly have made relationships with European Union states difficult, in particular given the increasing push for alternative and renewable energy sources by these nations.

A Scottish state whose economic strength relied on the sale of fossil fuels would be supported somewhat hypocritically by those with serious ethical reservations about oil and by those committed to environmental improvement.

Scotland’s desire for independence is understandable, but ultimately impractical. However, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged to work with those parties supporting separation to better address Scotland’s needs, although it has yet to be seen if the promised further devolution of powers to Edinburgh will occur.

This vote may have wound up getting Scots more of what they want without sacrificing what they already have. Scotland has made the well-reasoned choice of staying part of the UK, valuing economic stability over cultural pride.