On Sept. 18, Scottish exchange student Thomas Salam proudly wore his kilt around campus to support his home country as the Scottish referendum vote was underway. Scotland conducted a vote asking its citizens a straightforward question: Should Scotland be an independent country? Scotland’s overall consensus was “NO”.
“I am very happy with the outcome because I don’t think Scotland is ready to become an independent country yet because they are too involved in other foreign affairs,” Salam said. “In 5-10 years it would be good for Scotland.”
Salam stayed current with news and events occurring in Scotland by communicating with his family members, following his BBC news app and through social media.
Salam says that many people gave him curious looks as he sported his kilt at Queens, but not many students inquired about it. The questions most Queen students ask Salam are not about the Scottish referendum but rather, “Can you repeat yourself?” This is followed by, “Where are you from,” Salam said. Professors, however, took an interest in Salam’s Scottish roots by asking him about the vote, very intrigued about his opinion on the matter.
The vote was conducted to determine whether or not Scotland should separate from the United Kingdom (UK). Scotland became a part of the UK after the Acts of Union between Scotland and England was passed in 1706. Scotland was in need of financial support from England, and England wanted to make sure that Scotland did not choose a different monarch. The Acts of Union took effect on May 1, 1707. The UK consists of Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland.
Out of an 84.59% turnout, 55% of Scotland voted no for independence.
Independence would have resulted in the Scottish Parliament gaining new powers in areas like the economy, taxation, welfare, energy and defense, and control over key national assets like the postal system. They would have been able to decide and pass their own laws without consulting England, keeping the Scottish people at the center of their consideration. Scotland would also have gained full control over the huge shares in oil that they own. This would have brought stability when oil prices fluctuate and, for investment, would ensure that future generations also benefit from oil and gas reserves.
The “no” voters were pro-union. They were unsure about Scotland’s future after independence. They did not like the uncertainty and instability risk factors that would be presented if they were to separate themselves from the rest of the UK. Doubting that Scotland could make it as a self-governing nation, they cast their votes against independence. Being part of the UK offers more economic security for Scotland since they are a part of one of the world’s largest economies. The other largest factor to influence the “no” vote was that Scotland costs more than it generates, making the Scottish people financially worse off after independence.
Overall, Scotland voted no to independence, leaving them with a best of both worlds situation: A strong Scottish Parliament that has real decision making power as well as the strength and stability that being a part of the United Kingdom provides them. This unity is powerful, and without it, Scotland’s global presence and influence would substantially decrease.