Thursday 18 September 2014

Scottish Independence Referendum

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Today, the people of Scotland are voting in the Independence Referendum, in answer to the question "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Yes or No?

It's a very simple choice which sits atop a multitude of complex issues. To remain part of the Union within the United Kingdom (of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) or to be an independent country.

The No campaign, Better Together, have stressed the advantages of remaining a part of the Union and the fearful consequences of leaving it. This has been seen by some as a very negative tactic. The No campaign is backed by the leaders of the three main political parties in the Westminster Parliament in London.

The Yes campaign is mainly influenced by the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) in the partly-devolved Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. In a more positive campaign, the Yes camp have argued that an independent Scotland will be amongst the 20 most prosperous countries in the world and will be able to deliver a fairer society for all its citizens.

Seeing as how this is a wildlife blog, the Independence debate has not been very fertile ground from an environmental or ecological standpoint, hence the lack of posts about it. So how does one choose where to put one's cross on the ballot paper?

It is not a party political decision, as both sides of the debate are represented by numerous parties. However, the European Union is a bit of an issue. An independent Scotland may not be immediately allowed to rejoin, although there is reason to believe that the UK, in lurching to the right, may leave the EU anyway. Up to this point, the EU and its Habitats Directive have provided some environmental protection for endangered wildlife within the British Isles.

Scotland is well set to generate its energy needs from the remaining oil under the North Sea as well as longer term renewable energy from wind, solar, wave and tide. The UK's leanings are more to fracking and nuclear, which may be less unsightly in the short term.

Sadly, neither side have championed free cake for all, nor tax breaks for submitting dragonfly records.

It's a conundrum, right enough.

I am impressed by the level of engagement of the Scottish populace. This is an issue that has brought everyone into the debate. It will be interesting to see what percentage of voter turnout is achieved, as I suspect it will be in great contrast to that normally seen in local and general elections. It certainly feels more democratic than anything I have so far experienced.

Good Luck, Scotland. Choose wisely.

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