Although there are not many certainties, we can make some predictions about the future if the Scottish vote for independence on September 18th. We are unlikely to witness a disaster, but we will all feel their loss.

What we must bear in mind is that the immediate future of both Scotland and the rest of the UK will not necessarily be indicative of their long-term future. Independence is likely to produce some teething problems and some uncertainties, particularly in Scotland. Issues such as a currency union and EU membership pose difficult questions about what an independent Scotland will look like. However, it could also be the case that Scotland becomes an immediate economic success. Changes in economic policy could mean the emergence of a new-look market, which could be enticing for foreign investors. The long-term prosperity of an independent Scotland is not necessarily guaranteed though, as the case of Ireland demonstrates.

Scotland and the UK will both lose GDP (as a whole) and influence in the world. This is predictable because smaller and less wealthy states are obviously at a disadvantage in terms of power. It may not seem of interest to Scotland at this time, but it could prove costly in the future. They may be unable to project the power necessary to promote their interests in the international community. An inability to secure EU membership would further add to this problem. The central question that the Scottish people have to ask themselves is whether their current issues are worth sacrificing this influence and power for. Despite this, the UK and Scotland will both still be rich nations and their influence will not have dwindled to nothing. Independence will probably not, therefore, be devastating for any of the nations in the union.

One of the most important issues, if not the most important, is the perceived disconnect between Westminster and the people of Scotland. This perception takes two forms. Firstly, it is believed that the needs of the Scottish people are put below those of others, particularly Londoners. Secondly, it is believed that most Scots hold left of centre political views, but are governed by a right of centre party few of them voted for in 2010. In fact it is now a well known joke that there are more pandas in Edinburgh Zoo than Conservative MPs in Scotland. The latter of the two perceptions is easier to prove than the former, but both of these beliefs are defensible.

The fact that London is continuing to grow disproportionately faster than the rest of the UK is furthering the disillusionment. In addition to this, privatisation and Trident have been hugely detrimental to Scotland’s relationship with Labour and the Conservatives. Although Labour’s support in Scotland has not fallen to the level of the Tories, they have not reversed many of the unpopular decisions of their opponents. This has cost them greatly. Not even the hugely significant devolution they gave to Scotland in 1998 could negate the independence calls. This is perhaps the greatest sign that Scots feel disconnected by Westminster; the country’s largest social democratic party cannot dominate the politics of a supposedly social democratic nation.

Even though a disconnect may well exist, it is a defeatist attitude to believe that this problem cannot be addressed. The ‘Yes’ campaign have devoted a lot of their efforts to convincing Scotland to believe in itself, to have faith in what the country can achieve. There is no reason why the ‘No’ campaign could not promote their own message in this way. The Scottish people should believe that they can reform the way in which the UK is governed. Leaving the union is the best way to stop them doing so.

A point I think particularly worth highlighting is that the whole process deserves to be commended. Nationalism and secession are extremely difficult issues to deal with, as we have seen around the world over many decades, but are also extremely important. The fact that it has been dealt with in a democratic and peaceful fashion is a testament to two things. Firstly, it is testament to the advancement in understanding of self-determination, as an issue, by those involved in the process. Secondly, it is testament to the amicable relationship between the people of Scotland and the rest of UK. Perhaps these two things should be on the minds of the Scottish people next month.

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