SCOTLAND VOTES 'NO', STAYS WITH THE UK
Scotland voted to stay with the United Kingdom
NEW DELHI: It is official. Scotland has voted to stay with the United Kingdom, with the “no” vote (55 percent) triumphing the “yes” vote (45 percent) to reject Scotland’s independence, in a referendum that had threatened its 307-year union with the UK.
With the results in from all 32 council areas, the no vote polled 2,001,926, votes compared to 1,617,989 yes votes.
The no camp won in a majority of authorities; overwhelmingly in areas it was expected to do well including Edinburgh, Aberdeenshire and Borders, but also in some areas that seemed to have been tilting toward the yes campaign such as alkirk, Inverclyde, Eilean Siar and Clackmannanshire.
The yes camp, however, did well in some key areas, winning 53 percent in the largest city of Glasgow, 54 percent in West Dunbartonshire, 57 percent in Dundee and 51 percent in North Lanarkshire.
Whilst the UK remains intact and Prime Minister David Cameron’s position secure, the referendum has been more of a victory for the yes camp than the results indicate.
The only reason Cameron agreed to the referendum was to silence the pro-independence camp, who were demanding greater autonomy and powers for the Scottish parliament. At the time, Cameron had rejected a mid-way solution, gambling on the prospect of a referendum that was certain to go to the pro-union camp with an overwhelming majority.
However, as the yes camp led by “Yes Scotland” and the no camp led by the “Better Together” campaign began working in the lead up to the referendum, the verdict suddenly did not seem so certain. Polls showed a narrow margin between the two camps, as 4.2 million people, that is 97 percent of Scotland’s adult population registered to cast their vote on the future of their country. A Poll of Polls by independent research organisation ScotCen showed the no vote at 51 percent, only slightly ahead of the yes vote at 49 percent. A YouGov poll that showed the yes camp narrowly ahead of the no camp spooked global markets and saw the pound sterling dip by 1.3 percent.
The world debated whether Cameron, fairly unpopular in more-liberal Scotland, had made a mistake. Rumours on Cameron’s position as the British Prime Minister circulated, as he would be labelled the “Prime Minister that broke up the United Kingdom” and, expectedly, there would be repercussions associated with that tag.
The Cameron was clearly worried about the shift in vote is evinced by the fact that, suddenly, concessions were offered to Scotland. The British Prime Minister offered more powers to the Scottish parliament over tax, benefits and health, and tied the devolution to a timeline. Referring to his own unpopularity, Cameron said, “If you don't like me – I won't be here forever. If you don't like this government – it won't last forever. But if you leave the UK – that will be forever."
The concessions however, are a major victory for the yes camp, with First Minister Alex Salmond whose Scottish National Party is a leading supporter of the “Yes Scotland” campaign, emerging as a key political leader. Most importantly, the concessions that were denied to Scotland have been made, which in itself, is a big victory for the yes camp.
Further, the yes camp has grown significantly in Scotland, helped in part by Tory dominance in London since 2010. It is reasonable to expect that it will gain further strength. The yes camp also clearly led the better campaign, with the #VoteYes hashtag outdoing it’s #VoteNo rival, and the “Better Together” campaign shooting itself in the foot by running a controversial ad that bordered on being sexist. The yes camp pleaded to notions of a distinct Scottish heritage and culture, and quite successfully at that.
Where the yes camp failed was in being clear about what an independent Scotland’s future would look like. Its campaign centered on the fact that an independent Scotland would have control over Scotland’s oil fields, which was effectively countered by the no camp’s projections that Scotland’s oil reserves were in fact dwindling.
What about Scotland’s currency? Would an independent Scotland pursue a currency union where interest rates, taxation and spending policies would continue to be dictated by the rest of the UK? Would it adopt the pound which would mean that banks in Scotland would have a new lender? Or would Scotland institute a new currency, which analysts say would take a minimum of five to seven years to set up?
What about joining the European Union? Wouldn’t joining the EU perpetuate the same economic structures that a more liberal Scottish government would want to change? How would Scotland pay off its debt? Would it have to decrease corporate tax, sell assets and raise foreign capital?
To be fair to the yes camp, economic questions were difficult to answer given that the conditions and details of Scottish independence had, in case of a yes vote, to be worked out with Westminster. The lack of clarity, however, was presumably enough to spook even the most nationalist of the Scots.