The UK’s position in Europe
The United Kingdom (or UK) has sunk an awfully long way since the 19th century. But it remains the world’s sixth-largest economy and the second-largest in Europe behind Germany. This position confers all kinds of useful benefits on the UK, like low interest rates, a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, leadership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and a major role at G20 conferences and in the WTO.
So Scotland shares these advantages as part of the UK as long as it chooses to remain. But the pro-independence Scottish National Party believes that Scotland will emerge a wealthier nation than it is today by separating from the UK.
The springboard for the referendum
The landslide victory of the Scottish National Party (or SNP) in the Scottish government elections in May 2011 was the moment when the referendum was placed firmly on the political map. The pro-independence party is led by Alex Salmond, the current first minister of Scotland, active since May 2007.
To be or not to be an independent country?
The referendum on September 18, 2014, is an opportunity for people in Scotland to have their say about the country’s future. The government of the United Kingdom is making a positive case for Scotland to stay in the UK.
Accordingly, each of the main UK Westminster parties is attempting to court wavering voters with plans for increased decision-making power. The three parties—the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, and Labour—are promising greater income tax–raising powers and the potential devolution of control over housing benefits, the work program, and other taxes, including air passenger duties and capital gains taxes.
But the Salmond-led Scottish National Party is calling for separation.