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Published On: Sun, Sep 21st, 2014

Scottish referendum: Implications for the UK and beyond

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Scottish referendumFrom 2011, when the British prime minister Mr David Cameron gave a nod to a Scottish referendum on whether to stay inside the United Kingdom or go their separate way, following the overwhelming victory of the pro-independence Scottish national party of Mr Alex Salmond in the parliament, the 307-year old union binding the English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish together, stood on the knife edge until last Thursday, the 18th of September, when the Scottish voted 2,001,926 to 1,617,989 to stay in the United Kingdom. With a slim margin of less than half a million, the United Kingdom was saved from a political quake that would not only have shrank her at home but would have considerably diminished her abroad because no one would likely take serious a country that was so badly shredded at home. However, it would have been argued conversely that only a thorough-going democratic state would have allowed a mere 7% of its population to decide its fate. (the Scots are only 7% of the total of the UK)

However, with the high pitch fever of the referendum gone and the UK intact, the implications of the vote both for the UK and the world would continue to reverberate. In spite of the victory for the union of the United Kingdom, the country would never be as it is before, even though, changes in the country have started unfolding since 1999, when the Scottish and Welsh parliaments were established to cater for health, education and other local issues, taken from away from the formerly almighty British Parliament in London. As the feverish campaign for Scottish referendum were in full gear with possibility of a yes vote for independence, Britain’s three major parties scrambled more desperately to dangle further devolution of power to the Scottish if they agree to stay in the union, a move that Mr Salmond the first minister of Scotland and the arrow-head of its pro-independence campaign, called a “bribe”. As is tradition to principled persons who lost “worthy” causes, Mr Salmond has announced he would step down as head of the party and leader of the government.

However, notwithstanding the loss of the referendum, London should do a real introspection to examine while nearly half of all Scots wanted to opt out of a union that has lasted so long. The complaints about the unabashed pro-business elites in London which panders on every whim of Big business, means that a liberal state in the western sense may have run its full course at home, with imitations abroad of a liberal State running even a greater risk of rancorous implosion.

The Scottish did not so much complain about their separate identity as they did of the harsh policies of London, which has seen their social and economic well being taken a nose-dive. At the heart of their campaign for independence is to take charge of their affairs and improve their well being.

This is not specifically Scottish or even British. Most people around the world would hope to take charge of their lives, which many believe are gambled with recklessly by insensitive elites congregating in distant capitals. For most of the world and even us, at the Peoples Daily, we commend the Scots for having made a bold statement and at the same time, staying in their big family of the United Kingdom.

For most African states, themselves creatures of British Colonialism, London has blazed the trail and shown conclusively that there is nothing sacrosanct about the State, except the continuous will of its overwhelming majority to live in common. Contrary to elite recalcitrance that the State is indissoluble and indivisible, only a general will lubricated by social justice, equality and fairness can hold or validate a state or else those who refuse to give their people a legitimate voice like London did to the Scots will have to travel the uneasy road that leads to the former Yugoslavia, where more than half a dozen independent states emerged from a union formerly believed to have been made from a granite.

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