The Big Question: Scottish Independence

The Big Question: Scottish Independence

Partly as an indulgence on my part (I’m Scottish) and partly because it’s topical and you sort of can’t escape it, I thought I’d use ‘The Big Question’ to discuss one of the biggest questions that will ever be asked in Scotland: should Scotland be an independent country?

As a Scottish person living in Australia, I don’t actually get to vote — which I think is fair — but if I could vote? I’d definitely vote yes. Not because of any broad feeling of nationalism (I sorta hate nationalism in all its forms) but mainly because culturally and historically Scottish people are different. They have different ideas about how a country should be run. Currently, under a Conservative government increasingly moving towards the right, I can’t help but feel as though an independent Scotland makes sense for the Scottish people.

But I’m curious to see what you guys and girls think. The vote is happening this week — have any of you been following the news? What have been some of your thoughts? And does it inspire any of you to start thinking about the Australian republic that was shut down all those decades ago? Let me know in the comments below.

[polldaddy poll=8311964]


  • I’m not Scottish, so I don’t feel i have the right to voice an opinion on the matter.

    having said that though, I do hope the people of Scotland think it through & make an informed decision to do what’s best for them.

    best of luck to Scotland, no matter the outcome.

      • fence sitting isn’t my strong point. I’m an extremely opinionated & passionate person. but in this case, I’m going out of my way to show restraint coz I know a few Scots, some I met through this site even, who I just don’t presume to speak for.

        for what its worth, if there was a referendum on Australia becoming a republic, I’d be 70,000,000,000% vocally behind the YES vote. but, like I said…. I’m not Scottish, so Im not gonna insult Scotland by thinking my opinion on the matter is in any way relevant.

        • You’re not fence sitting though, you’re simply stating you don’t know enough to make an informed decision, but wishing them the best in making an informed decision.

          It’s a compliment.

          • I took it as a compliment, so thanks 🙂

            but I’m just saying, 99 times out of 100, id’ make a rubbish diplomat :p

            I’ve been keeping a close eye on this referendum debate, so I’ve got a pretty good understanding of whats happening & what the pros & cons of each side are, but I’m just not comfortable voicing an opinion either way, coz I’m not gonna be affected by this & I know a fair few people who are.

    • I feel the same way.

      The outcome of the referendum doesn’t affect me in the slightest, so I don’t really care one way or another. As long as they make the correct decision for their country.

  • I think that in 2014 that they should have the right to self-determinate. It’ll be tough for a while, but yes.

  • A friend of mine is from Britain and he is adamant that if Scotland achieves independence then it would cause a cascade around the world with various regions and territories agitating for their own independence and destabilise a lot of areas around the world. Personally I feel that is a load of crock because it’s taken quite a long time for Scotland to try and even attempt this independence vote. Sure the No camp is trying to argue that there was a Scottish monarch on the throne of England at one point so Scotland should remain part of the UK. However, by that same logic parts of Germany and France should technically be part of the UK due to various English royal families originally coming from France and Germany. The sheer amount of money and influence that is being thrown at opposing the independence vote is absurd.

  • From my experience travelling in Scotland I very much felt it would never be an entirely happy place until independent. But that was casual and brief observation from a tourist … so not worth a whole lot (and it’s none of my business).

    As an Australian republican, I’m embarrassed to still have someone else’s (not democratically elected) Queen as my head of state… but I know other Australians who wouldn’t have it any other way, so go figure ..

  • John Oliver did a pretty rad bit about Scottish independence. Clearly he has his own biases but probably the point that stuck out the most to me is that Scotland and England simply aren’t on the same wavelength for a lot of important political issues. If you’ve got a predominantly left-leaning country being run by a predominantly right-leaning country, there are going to be a lot of people who are not being fairly represented.

    Scotland seems capable of supporting itself. My only argument against Scottish independence would be if Scotland could not support itself (like Wales).

  • I think it should happen… but I really doubt it will.

    There’s too much between them, & separation will create a raft of problems.

    An interesting question is what happens to the royal family?
    Technically Scotland has its own royal family, does power revert back to them?

    • The Queen of England is also technically the Queen of Scotland so she’d remain queen of both countries. In fact she’s more right to be the Queen of Scotland than the Queen of England since it was James VI who united the 2 countries originally in 1603 when he took the throne of England.

    • Oh and if Scotland reversed the law preventing Catholic monarchs then the Stuart line could be restored which would put Duke of Bavaria on the throne

  • Im of the “If it aint broke dont fix it” crowd. im not a monachy fan but im not a republican either. For us here the only difference would be that the queen is nolonger our head of state, it would be the governer general which would be renamed president.

    • What the hell? So instead of having our nation run mainly by the prime minister who we sort of get to vote for (well his party anyway) we should get rid of the queen but appoint her puppet as the president? WTF?

      • Well, the point is that the governor general would no longer be answerable to the queen.

        I actually liked the republican model that we voted on at the referendum: the GG was to be appointed by a two-thirds majority of parliament, I believe. This would have ensured that the person in question would have to be above party politics to have any chance of being appointed. But it was largely voted down because people felt it was necessary to vote for this position… which would just turn it into another process prone full of campaigning, corruption and public distrust. Oh well.

        /end rant.

      • the gg isnt appointed by the queen though, they are appointed by the current serving prime minister. but yes thats how it would work as we would keep our current system of government. thats all it ends up being a name change and that the queen is no longer our leader (also there would a flag change as well and god save the king/queen would not be sung anymore

      • The republican model that turns the GG into the president assumes that said president would remain in a mostly symbolic role, similar to the president of Ireland.

    • Scotland would still be a monarchy, they have their own royal family. They aren’t voting to change to a republic. They just won’t be classified as part of the UK anymore.

  • As a typically right-leaning voter, and supporter of Australia’s position within the Commonwealth of Nations, I have to agree with you that if my perception of Scotland is correct, it does make a lot of sense for them to break away now.

    But then having said that, I’m not sure that modern Scotland is as left wing as I’ve always assumed.

  • Independence. Mainly to align with my previous false understanding that it already was an independent nation. Yes, I’m not smart. It was only in the last couple of years that I found out that Bombay is actually Mumbai now and has been for a while, it’s called “Hang Gliding”, not “Hand Gliding”, and elephants are indeed herbivores, not carnivores.

  • Also, I’d note that Scotlands ability to “look after itself” has typically been founded on their percieved abundance of natural resources – or specifically, oil.
    The problem is that North Sea oil rigs are considered very ‘old-world’ and at the very end of their life cycle by those in the O&G industry. It’s simply not realistic to expect Scotland to ‘do a Norway’ here. They will have to learn to innovate in other sectors.

  • And does it inspire any of you to start thinking about the Australian republic that was shut down all those decades ago?
    I was, and still am, a supporter of becoming a republic. But if Scotland were to vote yes, they would become a member of the commonwealth akin to Australia and Canada. It would take a whole separate vote to become a republic, similar to what Ireland already did and we tried to do.

    EDIT: Now with facts!

  • Don’t know enough about this to make an informed opinion, but I do think we should be a republic in Australia. I can understand Scotland’s desire to become one too.

  • The commonwealth games must have left one hell of a sour taste in their mouths for them to want to jump ship now! 😉

  • I fought for the stormcloaks in Skyrim and watched braveheart as a kid, so that is a yes from me. Though if they become a full blown republic before Australia I will be so pissed…….

  • Didn’t WA try to secede from the commonwealth in the 1930s? why doesn’t the Commonwealth just ignore/unacknowledged the referendum/vote like they did back than?

    • Because WA is a state within a federation, whereas Scotland is a country and nation within a sovereign state. (confusing terms I know).
      A state within a federation usually and especially in Australian context cannot legally secede without the full approval of all parties. WA signed to that.
      Scotland however is not bound by such laws.

  • Surely every country has the right to be independent. Whether they can or can’t is another matter, but I’m sure Scotland will do fine on their own.

  • I’m only going to post for the purpose of stating that I am not informed enough to form an opinion. I know that the current British PM is a bit shit and this is part of the reason for the current referendum, but I really don’t know why.

    Scotland seems to be in favour of it, so… why not. Interesting times.

    • Imagine over 90% of Australia voted for someone who wasn’t Tony Abbot. Then Tony Abbot became your PM. Then Imagine Tony Abbot was actually shitter. Then you have why Scotland aren’t a big fan of David Cameron.

  • As a descendant of Scottish ancestry I’m more than happy for Independence. Its not without a downside…. to quote Richard Dawkins tweet on the matter:
    “Of 59 Scottish MPs at Westminster, only 1 is Tory. Am I unduly pessimistic to fear that, if Scotland leaves, UK will go permanently Tory?”

  • When Scotland becomes independant, will the UK change the Union Jack? If so, will that affect the Australian Flag?

  • I hope the Scotland realizes that it is time to think about it`s people, not the effects the independence will have on others. When will this “care more about your neighbor then yourself” will end?

    Go for Independence…

  • I’d vote “No” if I were Scottish (SPOILERS: I AM NOT). So much at the heart of this seems to be the dissatisfaction with the current climate in which Scottish voters and English voters are leaning different ways. That’s fine, but like all political trends, it’s also a temporary situation. Breaking apart the union seems a fairly drastic means of tackling this.

    The deeper, more important issue seems to be how voters everywhere in the UK are fucked, not just Scotland. I’d rather see the government tackle serious electoral and constitutional reform across the entire country, not just focus on this current situation, which seems more a symptom than a cause.

    • My thoughts are pretty close to this as well. The other thing that’s concerning is how half arsed the approach seems to be at the moment. There’s so many intertwined issues that steam from splitting Scotland from the UK. They’ve been part of the UK for 411 years for crying out loud…. Do you just sweep that aside and say bugger you? To be fair though for those in favour of Scottish independence, this sentiment has been there for hundreds of years so it’s not like it’s just in relation to current events.

  • It’s not even a big question. It’s just a question. I mean how does being independent from England actually affect Scotland and their way of life? Are they offended to be associated with England? If you look at America and Braveheart(which I never actually saw but roughly know of), it’s about being “free”. But America’s constitution of the right to bear arms is one of the biggest problems that they have. Good for them for being free, but this is also the price you pay.

    If it’s so important to the people of Scotland, then they should do it. Simple. Australia is kind of the same… I think most people are happy with our democratic society the way it is. There are plenty of other bigger problems in the world.

    • It’s a bigger deal for Scotland than it is us. Scotland leaving the UK means a whole lot of businesses will presumably have to deal with different tax and trade regulations, the country may have to have a different currency (the UK doesn’t like the idea of supplying their currency to an independent nation) and they presumably will have to join the EU ASAP, and both economies will have to readjust (meaning lots of job losses, but hopefully creation).

      It’s doable, but it’s a big deal

  • Not Scottish, but still have British citizenship (half English, half Welsh if you really want to know).

    I have always thought a federal Britain was the obvious move – maintain currency union and foreign policy and military, create a new British Parliament in the approximate geographic middle of the country somewhere (Sheffield or Newcastle, maybe), make Westminster the English Parliament, and devolve health, education, law and order and all that local stuff to the constituent nations (which Scotland mostly does anyway).

    If this referendum was decided by a 2/3 majority to leave the Union, that would also be a good thing – when Norway voted to leave Sweden it was 95% in favour! 50% +/- a couple just isn’t a large enough majority to see this through without ongoing disagreement.

    That said, I’m a great believer in self-determination so if the Scots leave the Union I’ll raise a glass and wish them luck.

  • “I think most people are happy with our democratic society the way it is”

    A fairly bold claim by anyone’s standards… I know far more Australian republicans than I do “status quoers”…

  • Whichever side makes Australia have to consider changing our flag because i like new flags for countries.

  • My wife’s Scottish and can’t vote either @markserrels. Her general view is YES. She seems to see a great deal of virtue in Scotland becoming independent. But…it’s not a confident vote of YES. She still feels that it’s too big a risk. That there’s too many things that could potentially go wrong and that the country needs more time to prepare for the advent of independence, if that was at all possible. Right now, if it came to the crunch at the ballot box she would vote NO.

  • I get why they want to because they’ve been continually treated like shit by the arseholes in charge of the UK for 3 centuries now and its entirely fair enough that they want to get out of that situation. The thing is, so has everyone else in the UK and leaving is only removing themselves from the problem rather than solving the problem. It works well for Scotland but leaves the rest of the UK in the same situation, if I was in some magical position where I could influence what was going to happen, I’d be suggesting a massed push to get a generation of regular people into politics and give voters a legitimate alternative to the gaggle of elitist private school arseholes who have never known poverty and think a solution to ‘the homeless problem’ is to install fucking spikes in shop doorways so people can’t sleep there to keep out of the cold rather than trying to solve the problems that cause homelessness in the first place…

  • I voted no – not for any logical political reason – but because I’m a crab in a bucket, and Scotland can’t be independent unless we’re going independent at the same time.

    • Australia is independent. In fact, it’s EXACTLY the level of independence that Scotland is trying to achieve. It’d still be part of the Commonwealth and the Queen would still be head of state, but we would be able to self govern. They wouldn’t be ruled by a party they didn’t vote for, who have no interest in what would benefit Scotland as a nation.

      Imagine No matter how you voted, the English got to elect your government. Who were situated in England, and primarily thought about how best to govern England and Australian matters were an afterthought. Imagine you were paying for 10% of 1.6 trillion dollars to do up London and that money from all your resources went into the coffers at Westminster.

      Then how would you vote? 🙂

      • Scotland’s 10% of the population of England. I think the government would care how 10%, who contribute a substantial amount of the productivity of the country, would be doing. It’s like saying the Australian government doesn’t care what the population of South Australia and Tasmania thinks. And a quick google search suggests they produce marginally less than 10% of the GDP of the UK, which means their economic output to say in the government ratio is almost one.

        • I think the government would care how 10%, who contribute a substantial amount of the productivity of the country, would be doing.

          So would a great many other people. Scotland’s GDP includes the North Sea oil. We don’t see ANY of that money, and when asked if we could possibly have some devolved to Scotland, to be spent by the Scottish parliament on Scotland itself, Cameron replied “If you ask a stupid question, you get a stupid answer”.

          It’s like saying the Australian government doesn’t care what the population of South Australia and Tasmania thinks

          Because all governments treat people the same? I don’t quite get what you mean, besides the fact that Tasmania is part of Australia. Scotland isn’t part of England.

          You think they should care, but we have no control over our assets and no matter how we vote we can’t stop a Tory government getting into power. So they get their 10% no matter what we think, so why would they care? No matter what they do, they will remain in control of Scotland’s wealth.

          Scotland, unlike England, still has an intact health service and free education system. That doesn’t benefit the current government, only the Scottish people. So if it wasn’t worth keeping in England, why would that stop them from doing it in Scotland eventually? The devolved parliament in Scotland is doing it’s best to keep it public, but that will only last so long.

      • Well what’s the thing I’m thinking of
        the one where we had the referendum and decided “nah we like the queen”

  • If Scotland is more left-wing, then if they leave the UK, would that mean the right-wing would become an even larger percentage, and more likely to reelected? If so, bad for the rest of the UK… (unless you like right-wingers in power… but why would you?).

    • But a LOT of England do. Which is why a country that elected right wing representatives almost exclusively (A single conservative I believe) is ruled by a conservative government.

  • I don’t really care either way, as long as we don’t have to change our flag. But is it really the right economic climate for independence? Or is Scotland going to be an utter joke economically?

  • Sentimentally yes. Practically No. They’d need to work out a hell of a lot of stuff to be truly independent and that is going to cost a hell of a lot of time and money. Is it really worth it for such a geographically small area?

    • This. Im an Australian living in London with family in Scotland who are staunch no voters not because they are fans of England/Britain but because they dont believe Scotland would be better off as an independant country. It seems that the vote is good on a sentimental value but in terms of the economy and prospects for further generations it wont work. It’s interesting to see their point of view on the matter. I believe in a No vote but there are things that need to change. The Scottish Parliament needs to have better powers and more control over their country.

      • Sadly the only way to get that is a Yes vote. For Scotland’s parliament to be given more power (and let’s face it, they don’t have much as it is) it would have to be put to a UK wide referendum. Firstly, there is no way a conservative government would do that. Secondly, we wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a yes vote there.

  • If I was the English I would encourage them to succede (sp?). Then the next day invade them again. Put it beyond doubt for good.

  • I say Yes, if only to shake up the powers that be. Always interesting to see what happens when the rug is pulled under people complacent in power.

  • I don’t want to make an opinion for the Scottish people but their share of the national debt will be huge if they go i t alone which may cripple them a bit for a while.

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