The right to determine and control your own destiny is a human right. The very same statement also applies to the pursuit of sovereignty in Scotland by a considerable percentage of the population, including the majorly elected Scottish devolved government. How is it that one can assert the contrary with even a trace of self-assurance? The push factors for independence in Scotland are overwhelming, and it goes far beyond the traditional arguments of cultural nationalism.
I believe that the results of the 2014 independence referendum, which put the pro-independence campaign at a mere 44.3%, were due to the hollow promises made by the leaders of the three largest British political parties at that time. The three men in question, then Prime Minister and Tory leader, David Cameron, Leader of the Labour Party and the Opposition, Ed Miliband, and Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, all made a pledge to effect devo-max for Scotland. The situation since the independence referendum has changed greatly, but unfortunately, change has only come about in a negative light. All three of the aforementioned leaders are out of the equation, and so far, full fiscal autonomy for Scotland has not been successfully delivered.
Now, however, the Scottish people are faced with another difficult obstacle, by being dragged out of the European Union against their democratic wishes. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon proved to be the only leading figure in British politics to have a sense of direction in the aftermath of the rather traumatic E.U. referendum. Arguably, since then, Sturgeon has remained the sole bearer of logic. It is of the utmost importance to protect Scotland’s place in the E.U., and I applaud the First Minister for acting out her duty by defending her people’s decision and declaring the necessity of a second independence referendum. This contrasts rather interestingly with Northern Ireland’s Arlene Foster, who has shown time and time again that she resolutely stands by the right-wing traditionalist minority – perhaps not the most attractive or ideal feature in a leader. What Foster does not seem to realise is, power always belongs with the people.
In the space of a week of Brexit being declared, Sturgeon met with senior officials of the E.U. to discuss Scotland’s future in the organisation, including the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. Quite rightly, the First Minister was met principally with sympathy and understanding, with the exception of Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, who fears secessionist movements in his own country. Until independence can be achieved with the consent of a majority of Scottish voters, further negotiations cannot take place. However, numerous experts have come out and supported the claim that Scotland can legally be admitted to the E.U. as a ‘successor state’ of the U.K., with or without the approval of Spain. In addition to this, a recent poll conducted across six E.U. countries and Norway has affirmed that a strong majority support the membership of an independent Scotland in the E.U., including 71% of German respondents. Though nothing is yet clear, what is certain is the U.K. will soon no longer be a member state of the E.U., thus Scotland will no longer be part of this organisation either. However, an independent Scotland would definitely have E.U. membership on its agenda – in my opinion, that is a much better deal.
The ‘Better Together’ campaign led by the notorious former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, was a movement unsurprisingly driven by fear and lies. Modelled heavily on the ‘Non, Merci’ campaign which succeeded in preventing Quebec from parting ways with Canada in the 1995 referendum, it obsessed over the issue of an independent Scotland’s potential currency. The Westminster government, in a manner which I can only describe as unnecessarily disrespectful, made it clear that they would refuse to allow an independent Scotland to use the British Pound. The more appropriately named ‘Bitter Together’ campaign used the fear of the Scottish people in their advantage, and scaremongered their way to a tight victory. Opinion polls in the days approaching the referendum indicated that there was indeed significant uncertainty, with unreliably changeable outcomes and an enormous undecided percentage. In a YouGov poll carried out for the Sunday Times, just over a week before the referendum, the pro-independence side was winning by a margin of 51-49%. However, the Scottish people were fed vicious lies, and unfortunately, they made their decision based on fear, and not on hope. Though as former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond stated, the “dream shall never die.”
Although I feel Scots is a component of my overall cultural identity, as my maternal grandmother came from the district of Maryhill in Glasgow, my support for Scottish independence has nothing to do with my ethnic heritage. I see the many benefits that can come into fruition with independence, particularly the possibility for the Scottish people to determine their own future without any obstruction from an out of touch government 525 kilometres away. Who better to govern Scotland than the people who live in Scotland? The common argument spouted by unionists is that Scotland would become ‘Skintland,’ as was coined in an article by The Economist, however, that is simply not true. As was publicised by the ‘Yes Scotland’ campaign in the run-up to the referendum, the Financial Times estimated that an independent Scotland would be wealthier than any other country in the U.K., and in the world’s top 20 wealthiest nations. The truth of the matter is, the people of the other U.K. countries, especially those of England and Wales, think very differently to the people of Scotland. One must simply glance at the political map of the general election results last year to see it is so.
The potential for Scotland is truly profound, and the central government in London know this. The democratic wishes of the Scottish people are not of Westminster’s concern, this is evident with the presence of weapons of mass destruction on the River Clyde, despite the majority of Scots being staunchly opposed to it. It is clear to see that Nicola Sturgeon and her 54 SNP MPs put their country first with every decision they make, even in these times of great turbulence. With just hours after Theresa May having been inaugurated as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I am of the firm belief that Nicola Sturgeon, in all her reason and political prowess, can push for a better deal for Scotland – a second independence referendum.