The End of Britain? Scotland and the SNP’s drive for Independence

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As the Eurozone’s money woes continue, and Gaffadi’s death marks a new beginning for Libya’s, one story from Inverness has seemingly missed the headlines this week.

Indeed, the very lack of coverage on such a important topic, especially when compared to the attention given to the EU Referendum vote in parliament, probably sums up why, in essence, the headline exists. Scotland is fed up of being overshadowed by England and Alex Salmond, with his Scottish National Party (SNP), wants independence.

Alex Salmond hopes to see the political map redrawn

At the SNP’s party conference, it was announced that the party would be campaigning for full independence at the forthcoming referendum – though the exact date of such happening remains unknown. After the party’s parliamentary election win earlier this May, with a landslide victory resulting in the first Scottish majority government, it was more a when than if to when the campaign would start.

So what does this mean for Scotland and the rest of Britan? Well, for the moment, not much. This is only the announcement of a ‘Yes’ campaign for the referendum; it is believed that referendum may not come until the end of the current parliament’s 5 year terms, so it is at least 3 years away.

This is a campaign for everyone who lives in this country, regardless of where you come from.

Angus Robertson
SNP Campaign Chief

Nevertheless, this move for independence is unprecedented territory. Indeed, it would be foolish to underestimate the SNP’s desperate want for independence and the plan of action that they have in place to woo the Scottish public. The SNP isn’t looking to win the referendum from support from minority groups. Instead, it aims to appeal to all Scottish people from all political backgrounds by – as Angus Robertson, the campaign chief, said – “reaching every household, ever voter in Scotland”. This isn’t a small battle for the SNP, but a full mobilisation behind this proposal.

Indeed, as John Swinney, the finance secretary, addressed his party at the conference, it became clear the extent of the SNP’s challenge on Britain. Swinney rhetoric criticised successive government administrations for their handling on the economy and declared that Scotland was “’subsidising the rest of the UK.”

Scotland contributes more to the UK in tax revenue than we get back in the UK public spending.

John Swinney
Finance Secretary

He went on to claim that an independent Scotland would be the world’s 6th wealthiest country if it gained its share of the offshore North Sea resources; a somewhat ambitious claim to say the least. The issue of the North Sea resources will be a contentious one by itself with a international convention determining that 90% of the UK’s oil and gas reserves falling under the Scottish border

Full independence is therefore the SNP’s ultimate aim. It has a back-up plan though; a position nicknamed ‘devolution max’. This is the position where the Scottish Parliament would gain full fiscal autonomy – essentially, tax powers – but defence issues and foreign affairs would stay united under Westminster control. This is definitely the SNP’s plan B though.

EU Membership will be just one of the issues to be dealt with

It’s still a long road until an independent Scotland is achieved and there will be many big issues to contend with – currency, EU membership, North Sea Oil, to name just a few – before this dream will be realised. But the SNP wants independence; the question remains whether Scotland does.

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