Should Scotland become an independent country?

scotland independence borders nationalism brexit united kingdom separatism
Numéro 1

Learn the ropes

What is the current status of Scotland?

Today, Scotland is part of the United Kingdom alongside with Northern Ireland, Wales and England. It became one of its ‘countries’ in 1707 un der the Acts of Union, which merged the Kingdom of England with the Kingdom of Scotland to become an unique state.

Until 1999, Scots were represented in the British Parliament. But, a referendum was organized in 1997 in which Scots gave their consent for a creation of a political body – a parliament. The Scotland Act 1998 established the Scottish Parliament and specified the powers which are reserved to the British Parliament. The Scottish Parliament is responsible for all other matters, including education, justice and policing, rural affairs, transport and economic development.


What is the history of the Scottish independence movement?
The Scottish independence movement grew in the late 19th century and focused mostly on Scottish home rule. The movement amplified with the discovery of oil in the North Sea, at the east coast of Scotland. It resulted in a devolution referendum in 1979, meant to determine if Scotland wanted to establish a devolved parliamentary assembly. The results were in favor of devolution (52% to 48%), but the outcome was considered invalid because of the turnout. The second devotion referendum was held in 1997 and it resulted in the creation of the Scottish Parliament.

A referendum on Scottish independence was held on 2014, after years of pledging by the Scottish National Party, the ruling party at the Scottish Parliament. After a long campaign by “Yes Scotland” (“YES”) and “Better Together” (“NO”), 55.3% of Scots voted to remain in the United Kingdom.

Source: The Independent

Why do we talk about it today?

Despite the ‘NO’ answer to the 2014 independence referendum the Scottish movement for independence did not fade out. On the contrary, the independence movement grew stronger after the Brexit referendum in 2016 in the United Kingdom. Scotland was one of the countries voting for the remain in the European Union (62% to 38%).

The political instability linked to the UK withdrawal from the European Union reinforces the calls for a second independence referendum by the Scottish National Party.

Sources: The Independent, NBC News

Numéro 2

Choose your side

The idea behind the Rift is simple: for each topic of debate, we provide you with an expertise based on a pro-con approach, written by competent and legitimate experts. We want to help you make your own opinion, and guide you on first steps to civic engagement.
What is your opinion before reading the article?


8 reasons for Scottish independence

Kirstein Rummery scotland independence nationalism separatism

Kirstein Rummery

Professor of Social Policy and board member, Women for Independence

I was neutral in the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence. Yes, it would have been interesting, but the risks looked pretty high for me and my family. Since then, the research I’ve done both as a feminist academic concerned with equality and social policy, and as a citizen concerned with women and disabled people’s rights have convinced me that Scotland and her people would be better off independent from the UK. Here’s why:

1. Since devolution, Scotland has demonstrated that it can make better social policies for itself than the UK can. On issues like the NHS, education, housing, and social care Scotland achieves better outcomes.

2. The Scottish Parliament is more cooperative and works better in partnership than the UK Parliament. It has a fairer voting system, and thus better policy making. Everyone is involved in developing and implementing policies, so they work better.

3. Scotland is wealthier and fairer as a result of devolution, but it can’t do everything it needs to do. To achieve things like gender equality in pay, making the economy greener and more sustainable, it needs to control all the levers of government.

4. Scotland is a small, progressive and outwardly focused nation. It voted against Brexit, but is being taken out of the EU. It has an ageing population and needs immigration to build and sustain its economy, but is tied to UK policies that act against its interests.

5. Independence would give us the chance to rewrite our constitution and place important values like gender equality and the right to services and support at its heart. Our present UK constitution is hundreds of years old, unwritten, and not fit for purpose – and cannot be rewritten. Scotland can, and deserves to do better for its citizens.

6. Scotland pays more in tax than it receives back from the UK government, yet the myth persists that Scotland is ‘subsidised’ by the UK. 

7. Independence would give Scotland the chance to address gender inequality. We could invest more in childcare, which would see a return of around £5 for every £1 spent. It wouldn’t magically create a greener, more gender equal economy, but it would give us the policy levers to make it greener and fairer.

8. Constitutional change in Scotland would inevitably lead to change in the rest of the UK, which would lead to better economic and social policy outcomes for everyone.


“Better Together”

hugh pennington university of aberdeen scotland independence scottish nationalism separatism

Hugh Pennington

Emeritus Professor of Bacteriology, University of Aberdeen

When asked to take part in “Better Together”, the 2012-14 campaign against the secession of Scotland from the UK, I accepted without hesitation. Being a scientist was central to my decision. Anton Chekhov said “There is no national science just as there is no national multiplication table, what is national is no longer science”.

My views on nationalism have been moulded by living in Scotland for 50 years and, in particular, by being an examiner and chair assessor at Queens University, Belfast, both during and after the Troubles and being a member of an advisory group for the United Nations World Food Program, set up to ensure that food donated to it was safe to eat. We took no account of national regulations but used our science-based expertise. The rules we applied are global and are used everywhere from Australia to Austria and Peru to Poland.

Globalisation challenges traditional concepts of “independence”. Sir Neil MacCormick, son of one of the founders of the main proponent of Scottish independence, the Scottish National Party (SNP), and a University of Edinburgh law professor, grappled with this issue. Eventually he favoured a neo-nationalist post-sovereignty, utilitarian position for Scotland – independence in the EU -rather than a fundamentalist, existential, autarkic version of it, leaving one union for another, and becoming a small fish in a big pond rather than staying relatively bigger in a smaller one.

Techno-nationalism (invention – chauvinism that celebrates the inventive citizen) thrives in Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, has said “Lets make sure that the innovators, entrepreneurs and inventors working across our country today will be just as familiar to future generations as John Logie Baird, Alexander Fleming and James Watt are to ours.” But Baird developed his TV system in England, Fleming discovered penicillin in London, and Watt only became an entrepreneur in Birmingham. So the Union has served both Scotland and England well.

The 1707 Union Treaty left Scots law untouched, and education, religion, prisons, lunacy and public health, and agriculture and fisheries in Scottish hands. It is reasonable to say that how these things have been run in recent times provides a guide to what might happen after independence. The announcement that a Public Inquiry (which will involve many lawyers and cost millions) will soon be established by the Scottish Government to investigate infection control issues at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital campus (opened in 2015) in Glasgow and massive delays in opening the new Children’s Hospital in Edinburgh does not induce confidence.
Health should trump constitutional issues. The Treaty of Union should stay unrepealed.

What is your opinion now?

13 thoughts on “Should Scotland become an independent country?

  1. I live in England, and hope to see Scotland being successful, with policies that Westminster will be pressed into copying (Rather like English Labour are already promoting)

  2. ‘Better Together’ have yet to provide a cogent reason for staying in the Union that couldn’t be equally well done, or better by being independent.
    I see professor Pennington has decided to use this platform to re-inforce the current SNP Baad message of the BBC (all seven days last week) on the Scottish Heath Service. He completely fails to explain how Unionism or Independence would make a difference either way. It is a medical situation, not a constitutional crisis. Perhaps the Prof should bring his expertise in his own field into play for the good of the SNHS, and leave constitution matters to the lawers.

  3. You personally would not be happy being run by a neighbour; having control over your purse, spending your money on things which have only the faintest help to you and then charging you interest for that, you leave the home of your family to live independently, the normal position for every country in the world is Independence. Why would you want to be shackled to an agent which has consistently over 300 years mismanaged the Scottish economy to the extent of practising ethnic cleansing (the Clearances) , absentee landlords, & asset stripping

  4. How. dare that man imply the Scottish people who want an independent nation are nationalists, the worst nationalists in the UK are a true reflection of the type of people who are described as nationalists.
    I would love to have a debate with Mr Pennington on what nation of the UK had truely become what people would describe as nationalist.
    There could not be a better time in modern history to have that discussion

  5. Independence is our last chance to escape the UK madness. Scotland cannot save the good people in England from selfish inhumane Tories. We can only say get yourself over the border and become Scottish and leave Tory England to destroy itself.

  6. This is more than ever, a no brainer. If you take away the divisive manipulative tactical implantation of false information in order to create loyalties to something that never existed, then there is absolutely no reason to stay in this rotten crumbling union (that never was). This harsh uncaring society is so unnatural to Scottish people. We are naturally welcoming and inclusive, and proud of it. Now is finally the time 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

  7. Penningtons remarks were just an utter embarrassment weren’t they? Absolutely nothing to say about the benefits of the union, just a lot of nonsense spouted about a water borne infection that may or may not have been connected to a Glasgow hospital.
    If he really wants to compare what the Scottish NHS is like these days, compare it to the English/Welsh one or compare infection rates now compared to when the London parties were in charge.
    There is really no comparison, The Scottish NHS is the best in these Islands.
    He made no reference to the democratic deficit, Brexit, Trident or any other subject that is close to Scottish peoples hearts.
    Bring on Indyref and Independence so people like him with no imagination or hope for a better country can be proved hideously wrong.

  8. Have heard or read nothing to persuade me to change my mind, I voted SNP since I was 18 and will continue to so until we are free . 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

  9. The professor states that John Logie Baird and Alexander Fleming both developed their fields of technology and medicine down in England ,is this because England is given the funds and resources where as Scotland is not ,his argument itself is prove that many bright minds come from Scotland but don’t get given the means in which to develop underfunded ,in an independent Scotland this would not be the case

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