The people of Scotland chose to stay with the United Kingdom last week after a highly publicized campaign to become an independent nation polarized the country.
The vote, which ended with 55 percent of Scots voting no and 45 percent voting yes, prompted nearly 97 percent of the country’s electorate to register to vote, according to BBC News. This is a record in Scottish history.
Courtney Galbraith, an LDS missionary who recently returned from Scotland, said she believes the choice to stay was mainly an economic one.
“I know a lot of people wanted independence, and at the same time I think they voted no because their economy couldn’t have lasted,” she said.
Galbraith was referring to the financial and economical problems that could have occurred had an independent Scotland not been allowed in the European Union, a risk many were clearly not willing to take. There was also a lot of uncertainty about how they would deal with the issue of currency—whether they would create their own national currency, try to use the Euro, or even the pound sterling currently used in England.
Ed Carter, a BYU professor with a degree from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, agreed with Galbraith.
“To me it is the financial and economic implications,” Carter explained. “It can be fairly difficult for a small country like Scotland to get through difficult economic times.”
Carter said he does not believe that those who voted for independence did so out of animosity so much as national pride.
“People feel pride in their heritage,” he said. “People who live there consider themselves Scottish rather than British.”
Scotland has been part of Great Britain since the early 1700s when a treaty was signed by the Scottish parliament. While Scotland still retains much of the ability to control things such as education and healthcare, it must align with the United Kingdom on matters of foreign policy, social security and other important matters.
“Scotland is much more politically liberal than the rest of the UK, but has often been led by a conservative government in Westminster,” said Robert Noorda, a former BYU student currently living in Scotland. “Now, many Scots feel they should have a more representative government.”
Regardless of sentiment, the campaign for independence has been put to rest for the time being due to the democratic process. However, the issue is is still alive.
“I don’t think over the long term that it’s over,” Carter said. “Probably for politicians in Scotland it will be a way for them to get popular support.”
For now Scotland will continue to remain a part of Great Britain, and very little will change. But many BYU students may live to see a similar campaign in the future.