Student Views: Scottish Independence

Yes to Independence
by Jenna Niblock

This time last year, when the talk of a referendum on Independence began to gather pace, I was pretty much against it. The reasons being I was unsure how Scotland would survive in the current economic climate, a climate which has seen a double dip recession and tough austerity measures all over Europe as a result of the 2007-2008 banking crisis.

Watching the trouble in Greece and Spain where people have been hit the hardest by austerity it was worrying to think if we became Independent we could end up in the same situation. I have now come to realise that as part of the UK we already are.

Today I see Independence as the only alternative to stop us suffering the effects of austerity measures.

 People in Scotland are suffering hard from these measures: they are facing public sector cuts, benefit cuts, hospital closures, wage freezes, unemployment, and homelessness all brought about by a Government that they didn’t vote for.

With the recent announcement from the Government at Westminster of a further £18-billion in cuts to welfare it looks like the United Kingdom are in for many more years of suffering. For me the UK Government are not doing enough to help the ordinary people in this country. They talk about us all being in this recession together, yet they continue to attack the poorest people in the country while the richest people continue to get richer.

Nobody can know if an Independent Scotland would be better off going it alone, but can it really be any worse than the way we are living at the moment?

Independence will at least give us a chance to make our own decisions about things such as welfare, tax, health, immigration and employment. So far the SNP have made some good policy decisions that have helped the Scottish people. The most important certainly to me is that they did not follow suit with Westminster and bring in tuition fees for students.  The fact that they also plan to scrap Trident if we become Independent is another important factor for me, spending billions on nuclear weapons while people struggle to feed their children is just wrong.

 We have to look towards the future and I believe that if we do not break away from the rest of the UK then the future is going to be bleak.  There has been talk of this recession continuing for years to come.

If we vote for Independence in autumn 2014 then we have the chance to change our own futures, and maybe even become a prosperous economically stable country.

No to Independence
By Kenneth Stevenson

If you are leaning towards a Yes vote in 2014, here is a task for you: think of a single way in which Scotland is guaranteed to be better off long-term if independent.

I will hazard a guess that a Tory-free government is the first thing most of you thought of. But now ask yourself this: what makes you so sure an independent Scotland will never vote in a Tory or right-wing government? Sure, the Tories only polled around 13 per cent in the last Scottish Parliament election but 50 years ago they got well over 40 per cent of the Scottish vote in general elections. Electoral outcomes change over time and there is no evidence to suggest the Right cannot rise again in Scotland- it is a myth we are more socialist than England.

The same logic can be applied to foreign policy, Trident, welfare and any other policy areas nationalists claim will be radically revised. The referendum is a vote on the constitution, not SNP policies, so all future governments elected in an independent Scotland will not be bound by nationalist preferences.

Put simply, going independent would be a shot in the dark. There is not a single way in which an independent Scotland is guaranteed to be better off long-term. Nationalists know this and that is why they alter their argument to reflect changes in the country’s political mood as the years go by. Escaping the clutch of the London Tories is at the heart of their present ‘case’ but what was their motive for secession when Churchill was leading the war effort or Attlee was creating the NHS and welfare state?

To paraphrase The Newsroom’s Will McAvoy, if 10 Nobel Prize-winning economists walked into Alex Salmond’s office and presented unquestionable evidence that Scotland would be worse off independent, he would ignore it. Nationalists see independence as an end in itself and do not care about the ramifications. They are being deceitful by suggesting their anti-Toryism is why they support independence.

I believe you should vote No in 2014 as devolution has delivered the best of both worlds. The Scottish government has autonomy in a significant number of policy areas, while the UK provides us with collective security and international clout. It also ensures Scotland and England remain economic partners rather than competitors for jobs and investment. The Tories might be a nuisance, but that’s democracy for you.

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