by KATIE POGUE
BOLOGNA — The success of the “Better Together” campaign in the Scottish independence vote resulted not so much in cheering, but in an audible sigh of relief from Westminster. Much of the international community, the United States included, let out the breath they had been holding since the polls narrowed towards a “Yes” vote victory. In the end, the “No’s” prevailed, but the question remains: Did Scotland miss an opportunity? Is Scotland really “Better Together?”
Far from dying out, the Scottish independence movement is regrouping and looking for its next strategy. The refusal to let the vote stand indicates the strong roots of the movement that stretches beyond the long history of independence before the Act of the Union in 1707. Independence remains about self-representation: control of their own economic future and role in the international sphere, without the dictating hand of Westminster. Devolution reads as placation. All of the United Kingdom, across party lines, stands dissatisfied with the Barnett formula dictating the level of public spending in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Island.
The Scottish National Party “Yes” campaign failed to address key economic concerns raised by the British government. Future pro-independence campaigns must focus on the economic benefits. While Scotland would certainly experience an economic downturn in the short-run, Westminster’s alarmist response to possible independence speaks to Scotland’s economic vitality. Additionally, attempts to market Scottish independence as intentionally destroying the international status quo denies Scotland’s right to assert its own position on nuclear deterrence and international conflicts.
With British Prime Minister David Cameron’s open animosity to the EU and his own self-proposed referendum to exit the EU in 2017, it is no wonder England fears a divorce with Scotland. Without EU membership and in the face of a fully separate Scotland, England would face an array of consequences. While Westminster questions its role in the EU, it is the rise of small independent and prosperous states within the EU, such as Ireland and Slovenia, which give Scotland hope.
Scotland seems tired of playing little sister to its aggressive older brother, progressively dragging her further down a path with which she wants nothing to do. On issues like nuclear power and engagement in international conflict, Scotland wants to make its own decisions based on its own ideals. It should have the right to.