The possibility of Scottish independence is a recurring nightmare that Scotland may never be rid of. Now that the United Kingdom has chosen to leave the European Union, leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Nicola Sturgeon has made clear her agenda to fight for independence.
There many groups of people that will be affected if it is allowed to go to a referendum let alone if it were to lead to independence. Mother of three, Hilary Smith, finds herself conflicted. She was born and raised in a city called Dundee in Scotland but she very recently moved to Doha, Qatar. Nevertheless, she is still extremely fearful of the ramifications of an independent Scotland and if you have any ties to the United Kingdom you should be too. There was a time, when she wanted independence because she believed that it was possible for the great country to prosper alone. But now with the futures of her children in mind, she cannot help but look at the facts and come to the conclusion that independence would be a terrible choice.
1. National Health Service (NHS)
The National Health Service (NHS) is undoubtedly a privilege that is often taken for granted in the United Kingdom. Free health care, provided by the government, is not guaranteed in the majority of the rest of the world and it is only through their close relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom that Scotland able to benefit from this service. Between 2014-2015, the NHS in Scotland was operating at a budget of £11.4 billion. If you have ever lived in the United Kingdom, you will understand the good and bad sides of the NHS but overall appreciate that the United Kingdom struggles to maintain the running of free health care services as it is. By fighting for independence, the large majority of the population are making an assumption that Scotland would be able to sustain this kind of budget. But the facts show that they would not be able to provide this service for free without the contributions made by the rest of the United Kingdom. If the new government for an independent Scotland did chose to keep a public health service, there would be losses in other aspects of Scottish society and this choice of free health care would all be dependent on the agenda of the party in power. For the future generations of Scotland, it is important to consider how the country has all benefited from free healthcare and whether or not independence is worth taking away this valuable service.
2. Higher education
When attending university in Aberdeen Hillary Smith directly benefited from the free higher education promised and provided by the British government. She states that "My children, have grown up with the promise of free university and it is my wish that this promise is passed on to the generations to come." It would be impossible for the government to provide this service to the whole population without the funding they receive from the rest of the United Kingdom. Furthermore, the funding for the research done in many of these prestigious facilities comes directly from funds allocated by the British government. Many students around Scotland rightfully ask: Who would cover these costs if we were to leave the United Kingdom?
3. More opportunities for jobs
Being a part of the United Kingdom means more opportunities for jobs within England, Wales and Northern Ireland without having to acquire a work visa. Hilary has worked in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England and explained how smooth the transition from country to country which is enabled by the union was. As a result of Brexit, there is no certainty that Scotland will have as much access to Europe as they previously did and so now is not the time to be isolating themselves even more. She is very worried that by leaving the United Kingdom they will be further restricting the opportunities of the younger generations.
4. NATO, G7 & Security Council
The United Kingdom has an extremely influential role in the international world. So for those of you who are not concerned by the financial incentives to remain in the United Kingdom, you may instead consider the opportunities Scotland has for representation in organizations like NATO, the G7 and Security Council by remaining in the United Kingdom. An independent Scotland would not have any involvement in these international bodies. Sure, there is the possibility to apply for NATO but there is no guarantee they would be accepted and organizations like the G7 and Security Council are far out of Scotland's reach as an independent country.
5. British Pride
As old-fashioned as it may seem, there are still many who hold a strong sense of British pride. Scotland, has held the rest of the United Kingdom at arms length due to their fierce patriotism. But still, there are those who still value British traditions and want to remain a part of the kingdom ruled by their honorable Queen. Smith talks of her summers in the Lake District, Christmases in the North and weekend trips to the beautiful castles in Wales. She emphasized how proud she is to be able to call all these places her home and even more proud of their long history as a nation. She is not alone in this belief and tried to make sense of the dilemma faced by Scots by saying that, "The generations to come deserve to live in a nation like ours today, it is not ours to take away from them without serious consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of leaving."
6. Shouldn't abandon those who need help in the UK
The future of the United Kingdom is highly uncertain following Brexit but Scotland cannot abandon the rest of the United Kingdom because they no longer provide access to the European Union. For centuries Scotland has relied on taxes and support in policy-making from the rest of the United Kingdom for their own gain and it is not right for them to leave now. By leaving, they will be condemning the United Kingdom to a future of even more uncertainty and instability. It is important, now more than ever, for the countries of the United Kingdom to stand united against the rest of the world. If Scotland doesn't show the rest of Britain that they are committed to this union then they cannot expect the fair representation they believe they deserve when they do inevitably lose the independence vote.
7. The referendum is dividing not just the UK but Scotland too
Back in 2014 Referendum, the whole country was divided by those supporting the 'Yes' campaign and those supporting the 'Better Together' campaign. Scotland cannot allow their country to fall apart and be so divided over an issue that has been resolved twice before. Now is the time to stay strong as a united Scotland and Kingdom. There is no doubt that this rivalry between those fighting for an independent Scotland those wanting to remain will continue until the whole population understands the consequences of leaving the United Kingdom and realizes that they are better together.
An extremely impassioned Hilary stated that is "deeply fearful of the consequences of an independent Scotland, not just for my children but their children and the future generations to come." By voting yes in a coming referendum Scotland will ensure their isolation and this is not what they want. In order for the country to prosper they must stay in the United Kingdom. Newly independent countries suffer from inexperienced governments and struggle to achieve any real progress. They already have a very good political system in place with the British government but what they lack is proper representation in Parliament. Rather than fighting to cut all ties with the rest of the United Kingdom, they should be fighting for more power and influence in Westminster. Another referendum is unnecessary, what is necessary is a change in how much control there is over Scottish domestic affairs. Instead of risking the futures of the generations to come Scotland should be fighting to make great and preserve the United Kingdom.
If you are interested in this topic and wish to discuss this issue with me further please do not hesitate to contact me. I am willing to speak with any concerned Scottish locals or expats who are fearful of the future of Scotland.