For many people, the situation across the pond evokes images from Braveheart: men in kilts fighting against the tyranny of the English and shouts of freedom ringing throughout the highlands. Although this might be a romanticized version of the situation, the importance of Scotland’s potential secession is just as significant as it was back in the 13th century, when the Scots first fought for their independence from England.
As many of you know, the push for independence has fallen short of its mark. Alas, the Scots will most likely remain in the United Kingdom for many years to come. However, the outcome still raises questions about the possible outcomes that a “yes” vote could have brought forth.
For those who are a bit behind on the whole Scottish situation, here is the synopsis: Scots generally believe that they should have greater control and self-governance. Although they have seats in Parliament, Scotland’s members are, as a majority, liberal and far outnumbered by conservatives in Parliament.
The Scots believe that Parliament’s actions are too far removed from their own public opinion. While they battle against a powerful conservative opposition, it is hard for Scotland’s collective voice to be heard. This drags Scotland into political situations that fail to benefit or align with their own viewpoints and decisions. Scotland already maintains forms of self-governance through its own legal, social and health care systems. Although this doesn’t prove that Scotland could survive as its own nation, it definitely supports the fact that an independent Scotland might have been possible.
In my opinion, I was a bit disappointed in the outcome. The end vote finished with 55% in opposition to independence and the other 45% for a free Scotland. This outcome is too close for my liking, considering that 45% of any population holds a lot of power. Polls also suggested that the majority of individuals voting for independence were between the ages of 19 and 45 years old. This opens up questions about the path that Scotland will take in coming years.
The results of the referendum only illustrate that almost half the population is now royally ticked off, which makes me wonder how this region of the United Kingdom will work together in the near future.
One only needs to imagine the United States being split in the same way and the problems that it would cause in our own country maybe Texas would be a better example. My personal hopes for Scotland were that they could have taken a similar path to the one that St. Olaf’s mother country, Norway, has taken for decades. Both Scotland and Norway have populations around five million people and have large reserves of oil located throughout the North Sea. Considering the liberal inclination of the Scottish people at this point in time, taking on a socialist stance in government is possible, and Norway has proven that a socialist government can thrive in today’s global society. The parallels between these two countries are uncannily similar, and only increase my support for an independent Scotland.
The rest of the United Kingdom seems to base its arguments on historical ties and the continuation of the United Kingdom, even if it means less autonomy for certain people. I firmly believe that if a country like Scotland feels forced into others’ political battles and policies, it should be an independent nation, despite all the challenges that might await the new country.
With that said, it is unlikely that a push for independence will happen again for decades, with support dwindling after this defeat. The whole situation might bring the United Kingdom closer than ever before, but only time will tell.
One thing I am sure of is this: Scottish pride will remain intact despite this setback. Kilts will continue to be worn, and the white and blue of the Scottish flag will fly high.
Someday we might even look back and see this as a huge step in the path toward Scotland’s independence. I close now with the words of William Wallace portrayed by Mel Gibson in Braveheart, “Alba gu bràth!” “Scotland forever!”
Cole Hatsky ’18 email@example.com is from Iowa City, Iowa. He majors in English and Norwegian.
Graphic Credit: ETHAN BOOTE/MANITOU MESSENGER