Thursday, February 16, 2012
Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities in the UK. For now. For a different opinion, see Renton's Rant in Trainspotting. Architecturally, it wears its history on its sleeve. It's got a castle, a palace, the Old Town and New Town. Its terrain is made of extinct volcanoes. It sacrifices itself every August to become the amazing madhouse that is the Edinburgh Fringe, a month of theatre, comedy, music and most types of performance. Living in Edinburgh Zoo are the UK's only two resident pandas. For now. As the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh houses the country's parliament, a modern building opened in 2004. The devolved parliament governs education, health, agriculture and justice. For now.
When the south wanted to secede from the Union in 1861 war broke out in America. When the governing party in the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish National Party, suggested independence from Britain a referendum was put on the cards. Current plans by the SNP are to hold the referendum in autumn 2014. Though I don't think it's fair to describe David Cameron as the Abraham Lincoln of the UK, he is urging Scots to vote against independence saying, "Together we are actually stronger." In response a spokesperson for First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, described Cameron's argument as a "threadbare case for an outdated nation."
What would Scottish independence mean? Will there be conversations about ownership of the North Sea oil (if there's any left)? Will Scottish Parliament look after a new Scottish military? Will you need your passport to go to Scotland from the rest of the UK (which you do not currently need)? Could it also mean an import tax on Irn-Bru and haggis will raise their prices in England, Wales and Northern Ireland? Will Scottish Pounds (which already look different from English and Northern Irish pounds) inflate at a different rate from Great British Pounds?
Will Scottish Gaelic be brought into the national curriculum? Currently only 1.2% of the population over 3 years old speak it. In Ireland, Irish is taught in most schools and teachers must exhibit a certain amount of proficiency to be employable. 21.7% of the Welsh population can use the Welsh language. Could a surge in Scottish nationalism revive the language (these facts come from Wikipedia, so make of them what you will)?
With the pandas on loan (sounds nicer than 'leased', which is the word the BBC used) to Edinburgh Zoo for at least 10 years, will China and Scotland develop a relationship separate from the one between China and the UK? What will that relationship be? What will the relationship between Scotland and the UK become?
Personally, I don't think I know enough of the reasons behind the SNP's proposed referendum for independence to take a stance on the issue. Historical cultural differences between Scotland and England aside, I understand that though the SNP proposed the independence referendum in 2007, they delayed holding it in 2010 out of concern that there wasn't enough support. In Scottish Parliament's General Election in 2011 the SNP increased its majority over Scottish Labour and the Conservatives. Perhaps this has brought more confidence to the SNP bringing the referendum forward again. I wait with interest to see what happens as 2014 approaches.
|Arthur's Seat, conquered last spring|
As an outsider on this issue, I would like to list a few things that I think make Scotland great.
- Robbie Burns
- David Tennant
- Neeps and tatties
Whether it's separate from the UK or not, I stand by Mike Myers when he said, "If it's not Scottish it's crap!"
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