The Scots hit the polls today to vote on whether the country should stay in the UK or become an independent Scottish nation.
Voters will answer a straightforward “Yes” or “No” to the referendum question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”
Putting American voter turnout to shame, 4,285,323 people – 97% of the electorate – are registered to vote in what is expected to be the busiest day in Scottish electoral history.
A vote for independence would mean Scotland, with its population of about 5.3 million, splits from the rest of the United Kingdom, made up of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. But a vote against independence doesn’t necessarily mean the status quo will continue. Promises of further devolution to the Scottish parliament have made by all the main parties.
The Yes campaign argues that the Scottish people should be able to decide how their money (and future untapped oil resources) is spent. They’d rather sustain welfare spending than waste money on England’s nuclear weapon program and getting involved in wars. Also, since Scotland consistently votes to the left of the rest of the UK, they would never have to deal with another Conservative government telling them to cut this and privatize that.
The No campaign is more about the fear of the unknown, highlighting the risks of independence to the Scottish economy. These include the uncertainties over what currency the country would use in the event of a yes vote, doubts over the reliability of oil reserves, how the country will pay for its public services, uncertainties around Scotland’s continued membership of Europe, and the threat to jobs if businesses pull out of Scotland. Plus, the shared history of the union and the institutions that bind it together, blah, blah, blah.
As for British Prime Minister David Cameron, who foolishly agreed to the referendum back when support for Scottish independence was much lower, he’s reportedly had enough.
“I have to say that after the events I’ve been facing over the past few days, assassination would be a welcome release,” Cameron said.
The vote will be seen as a huge failure for Cameron if the Scots choose to go independent. But one good thing has come out of the referendum debacle for Cameron – a budding new friendship with former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
“We’re actually good friends,” Cameron said of his former rival, who has since become his ally in the political battle to keep Scotland from seceding.
The Prime Minister said he and his predecessor also have regular phone chats, having put aside their political differences in recent months. Well, that’s sweet.
The Prime Minister also reiterated that he will not resign in the event of a Yes victory.
“My name is not on the ballot paper,” Cameron said. “What’s on the ballot paper is ‘does Scotland want to stay in the United Kingdom, or does Scotland want to separate itself from the United Kingdom?
“That’s the only question that will be decided on Thursday night. The question about my future will be decided at the British general election coming soon.”
Unless, of course, he’s assassinated first….
Update: Scotland voted No (55%), so no need to assassinate David Cameron just yet.