The Scots who want to preserve the United Kingdom won in a historic referendum that would have destroyed the union had the pro-Independence campaign won.
Scotland has been a member of the UK for three hundred years.
It is economically vital to the UK, not only because of the Scots’ contribution to the kingdom’s productivity as a people, as leading industrialists, shipping magnates, bankers and agriculturists.
Scotland’s North Sea oil supplies almost 70% of the UK’s oil requirements. Scotland’s seas have some of Europe’s largest oil reserves.
If Scottish nationalism was originally largely a sentimental issue before the 1970s, the discovery of oil in Scottish waters fueled the nationalist campaign for independence. To those who say Scotland as an independent country would be economically hard up, the nationalists reply that “It’s Scotland’s oil” that makes Great Britain great.
Without Scotland Britain could not have become a great world power. Scotland’s political union with Britain ended the cruel cycle of war and peace between the Scots and the English. After unification, the United Kingdom’s leadership based in London could more serenely embark on imperial projects because the need to protect England from an enemy kingdom in the north had disappeared.
Great Britain’s leading role in the Industrial Revolution was boosted by Scotland’s industries in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Scotland’s shipbuilding, mining and wool industries were major components of Great Britain’s global power. And though Scottish heavy industries have declined, Scotland is a world leader in science and technology.
Militarily, Scotland is also immensely vital to the UK. There is an area in the northern Atlantic that makes it difficult for the navies of northern European countries to sail to the Atlantic Ocean without having to reckon with the British Navy. This is the so-called “GIUK gap” formed by Greenland, Iceland and the United Kingdom.
Scotland is the country within the UK that forms the southern end of the GIUK gap. This gives the British Navy the power to control the English Channel and the Strait of Gibraltar. This means Great Britain’s ability to block the forward movements of any other power toward the British Isles and the Mediterranean.
Scotland has also contributed statesmen to the political leadership of the UK. Among them are Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Alec Douglas-Home and Ramsay MacDonald.
Had the pro-Independence campaign won, London’s political stability would have been shaken. Both the Conservative Party and its main rival, the Labour Party, are against Scotland’s separation.
The future of an independent Scotland could be uncertain. It’s loss of UK membership would mean that it would no longer be part of the European Union. If it wants re-enter the EU it would to apply for membership and meet some qualification requirements that it may not be able to meet. It would also cease to be a part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The “No” votes only won about 55% of the referendum vote. That almost one-half of the Scottish population are for the independence of their country means that the “Yes” side will not rest and will continue its drive.
The difference has been narrowing through the decades. But perhaps the number of pro-Independence Scots would decline if the UK’s central government –now a Conservative one—keeps its promise to expand the autonomy of Scotland.
UK Primer Minister David Cameron had promised to work for more autonomy, including devolving London’s authority over taxes and social welfare to the Scottish Parliament.