Scots Vote Nay, will Stay in UK

EMILY BEAMAN | THE SPECTRUM
EMILY BEAMAN | THE SPECTRUM

A 300-year-old union stood firm Thursday as Scottish citizens voted not to separate from the United Kingdom.

The referendum showed 55 percent voting against independence and 45 percent voting for it.

The vote concluded a drama that has sat on the back burner for years before coming to a boiling point in recent weeks, with polls showing a near-dead heat heading into Thursday.

Reactions varied around the world and on campus.

Why the vote?

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond stood behind his National Party’s stance that the union between the UK and Scotland had run its course.

He and pro-separationists cited many factors that should have led Scots to vote “yes,” including Scotland’s North Sea oil and gas reserves.

The taxes generated from the reserves would make Scotland wealthier, especially if they did not have to share profits with the rest of the UK, as Scotland does now.

“What (‘yes’ voters) really want is a better means of living,” said Bruce Maylath, a professor at North Dakota State who earned his doctorate in English at the University of Minnesota.

Maylath, who was interviewed before final numbers were released, said “yes” voters wished for a “better, more stable livelihood,”

“And that’s the paradox here. Ironically, in the world today, that depends on stronger and quicker and better ties with other places all around the world.”

Too many questions

A vote for independence would have cause some uncertainty.

Questions included, among other things, whether Scotland would be able to retain the British pound, the UK’s health care system and admittance into the European Union.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters Friday he vowed to go forward with a “balanced settlement, fair to the people of Scotland — and importantly, to everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well.”

“Some Scottish independence proponents are saying that’s like bribery,” Maylath said. “Still, now that he’s promised those things, I think if the ‘no’ vote prevails, I think he will be bound to those promises and more powers will devolve to Edinburgh.”

Sticking it out

David Silkenat taught at NDSU from 2008 to 2013. He has since taught at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

He thinks the silent majority helped fail the referendum.

“On the ground, you saw much more evidence of ‘yes’ support than you did of ‘no,’” Silkenat said. “Yesterday during the referendum, I saw tons of ‘yes’ material. That being said, ‘no’ won in Edinburgh.”

Maylath uses an American comparison for those trying to liken the situation to something more domestic.

As a native Michigander, he uses the Upper Peninsula’s numerous, semi-serious bid of secession.

Like people of the Upper Peninsula, Scots also “take pride in their local identity.”

The state would be called Superior, with Marquette as its capital, but the proposition never made it pasted legislation.

“One of the reason the Upper Peninsula really can’t separate from the rest of Michigan,” Maylath said, “is (because) they could never afford to economically.”

Because Scotland once had a strong manufacturing sector that has shrunk so much since the 21st century, “Scotland experienced a lot of the same problems as the Rust Belt states did here,” Maylath said.

Implication

Although the vote failed, Scottish independence seekers had their message heard loud and clear.

Tristan Brougham, an international student from Cornwall, England, said he is for Scottish independence during the vote Thursday.

“I believe the Scottish should vote ‘yes,’ as I am for the evolution of large government,” Brougham said. “(This is) because that redistributes the power for a select few in parliament and gives it to smaller, more localized governments which will be more representative of the people.”

Cornwall has recently become “a principality in our own right, and therefore, have taken the first steps toward our own independence also,” Brougham said. Northern Ireland and Wales may follow suit.

“There was also lots of evidence yesterday of supporters from other independence-seeking areas of Europe pledging their support to Scotland,” Silkenat said.

On Nov. 9, Catalonia, an autonomous region in Spain, will hold a referendum to see whether its people wish to become a separate country.

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