Posted in Europe on January 12, 2012
Right now in my home country of Scotland there is debate over whether our country should become independent from the United Kingdom. As someone who has spent the majority of the last year in other countries, and who is most likely going to be based outside of Scotland in the near future, I’m not sure I have as much right to talk about this issue as someone who lives in Scotland 24/7. Still, I am Scottish, I pay my taxes, and I represent Scotland everywhere I go. So I’d like to raise the issue here and ask you, a past or potential visitor to Scotland… What do you think of Scotland? Would you be more inclined to visit Scotland if it became independent, or do you really care?
The reason I ask is that Scotland becoming independent could have some advantages and disadvantages for visitors coming to the country. For instance, the Scottish government has made indications that they would adopt the Euro instead of the British Pound should independence become a reality. Would this make things easier for you as a visitor? I suppose if you are going to a lot of countries who already use the Euro then this would make things a lot simpler, although you’d still have to exchange them for pounds should you be planning on visiting England too…
From a Scottish travellers point of view I think there could be both positives and negatives. On one hand, having a British Embassy or Consulate in just about every country I could possibly travel to is a big plus of being a British Citizen. I know this only too well after the problems I had with having my passport stolen in Amsterdam in 2010. Being British certainly has it’s benefits. With Scotland having a minuscule population in comparison to the rest of the British population combined, would we be able to generate enough funds, or have a large enough population to really merit such an extensive help & support network around the world?
Then there is also the issue of identity. I very much feel Scottish. When people ask me where I’m from as I travel I say Scotland. It’s only if people don’t know where Scotland is that I say Britain. Most Scottish people I know are the same. Which brings me onto my next issue…
When I first started travelling back in 2006 I was surprised by the amount of people I met who had never heard of Scotland. This was particularly so outside of Western Europe. I couldn’t understand it at first. I guess you assume you know where most countries in the world are, most people will know yours, but of course it doesn’t work like that. Then I realised Scotland is a small country. We have a population of around 5 million. When you compare that to around 50 million people living in England, we are tiny! This makes me worry slightly. Without the United Kingdom, would be really command any weight anywhere? Would we be presented with the opportunities we have as being part of the UK. I’m not saying we wouldn’t, I’m simply asking the question.
Another worry I have is that there are some people in Scotland, and particularly members of the Scottish National Party, who for the record I think have done a very good in job in Scotland so far, but are so consumed with taking power they haven’t actually thought about what they are going to do if Scotland was to go independent! I remember listening to Nicola Sturgeon, the 2nd in command of the SNP, answering questions on what she would do with the banks (owned partially by UK tax payers), the military, and other basic questions that would need to be answered. She couldn’t give a direct answer to any. It was like they were just thinking of the benefits without really thinking of the consequences or potential problems that could come about should the plan actually go ahead. It was almost like she didn’t really believe it herself that Scotland would become independent if I was being completely honest in my perceptions.
For local Scottish people there is a genuine argument for Scottish independence. We have oil, the ability to produce a lot renewable energy, a huge amount of tourism for a country so small, and we have major exports of things like Whisky to emerging markets such as China. I am by no means a unionist, but I’m also not a nationalist either. Like a lot of Scottish people, I kind of don’t know if I see the point in going independent? Do we really have such a bad deal already? We are no longer running about in our kilts fighting the English. Isn’t it time to move on?
What do you think? Whether you are Scottish or not, maybe you have an opinion? I know some Canadians reading this may do with the debate going on right now in Quebec? What do you think?