On September 18 2014, voters in Scotland will be asked to decide whether or not Scotland should remain a part of the United Kingdom. They will provide a yes or no answer to the question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?” Cases for and against independence are presented below.
This article originally appeared in Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Sustainable Democracy 2014.
Yes, Scotland should be an independent country
By Stephen Noon, chief strategist at Yes Scotland
A Yes vote will give us the powers we need to build a more sustainable future. This has been an important driving force for many in the Yes campaign and in ‘Green Yes’. As the Scottish Greens argue, a Yes will open the door to“transformational change in our economy, our society, and our politics”.
Across the Yes movement, we know that Westminster cannot deliver a greener Scotland. MPs are elected with no element of fair voting, peers sit without the consent of the people and the system as a whole is focused on very different priorities. As UK politics tack ever harder to the right, it is increasingly hard to imagine any government forming that delivers the sort of change Scotland needs and deserves or fully protects the things most of us think are crucially important.
A Yes vote in 2014 opens up a range of new possibilities for Scotland, with the election in 2016 being the point we choose the first independent government with new powers to set Scotland on a better path. We will have a written constitution and can choose to decentralise power beyond Holyrood.
We can have an economy built on local businesses, with renewables and community ownership given high priority, and progress measured on quality of life and the quality of our living environment. We can deliver progressive taxation and a living wage, reversing the UK’s relentlessly rising inequality – and will be able to get rid of nuclear weapons. These are big opportunities that come from that Yes vote.
No, Scotland should not be an independent country
With less than six months until the referendum, the choice facing the Scottish people is clear. On the one hand we can have the best of both worlds – a strong Scottish parliament, with the guarantee of more powers, backed up by the strength, security and stability of the larger UK; or we can take a leap into the unknown with all the risks that separation brings.
As part of the UK, we have achieved so much on environmental issues – in policy, in research and in our communities. We have led the world in facing up to the challenges posed by climate change. Being part of the UK means we can do more in the future. Scotland has huge renewable energy potential, but this is backed up by investment all across the UK. If we go our separate ways, the investment needed to realise Scotland’s renewable potential would be put at risk. It’s a risk we don’t have to take.
Under devolution, powers have developed around marine planning to best respond to the challenges we face in Scotland and throughout the UK. We believe that the best way to take on the challenges we face in future is through the flexibility and partnership of devolution, not separation.
The Scottish parliament, regardless of which parties are in power, has shown itself to have a commitment to Scotland’s environment. We can always do more, and there will continue to be debates over how Scotland can become more sustainable in future, but the challenges we face demand political will, not separation.
We can better bring out the best of Scotland by working together across the UK. We have achieved so much together on environmental issues. Working together in the future we can achieve so much more.