News - September 25, 2014

Meanwhile in… the (still) United Kingdom

In the news: Scotland is to stay part of the United Kingdom. In the referendum on independence, 55 percent of the Scots voted against independence.

Commentary by Hannah Barnes, MSc student of Environmental Sciences, from England 

‘I am glad they are staying in. It would be sad if Scotland became independent. I have no idea what the UK would be called then – the United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not of Scotland? It would be a pity, mainly from the point of view of tradition. We have been a union for more than 300 years, so just to throw that away… I was also worried about the exchange rate between pounds and euros. All my money is in pounds, so what if the pound lost a lot of its value? Luckily the exchange rate has been the highest in two years since it became known that the Scots are staying in the union. 

I was not very impressed by the reasons given for Scotland to become independent, either. One argument in the Scottish nationalist campaign was that funding is not fairly distributed within the UK – Scotland doesn’t get enough, they said. But that argument could be applied to various regions at different times. In the nineteen eighties, for instance, the north-west of England, where I come from, had cause for complaint because the mines were being closed. But things are very different now. What is more, Scotland actually has some financial advantages. In England you pay 3500 pounds a year to go to university – one reason why I came to the Netherlands. But for the Scots, university is free in Scotland. 

In the end, though, 45 percent of the Scots did want independence. Scotland is now going to get many more powers, and some people say that is a kind of bribery. But if so many Scots insist on gaining independence, I don’t know how it will end. After a number of concessions, will they say, ‘OK, it’s alright now’? Or will they carry on their campaign for independence? I don’t know what that would mean for our future.’