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Scottish independence: Yes or no?

Al Jazeera asked people across Scotland what they think about the prospect of splitting from the United Kingdom.

| Politics, Europe, Scotland, Elections

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond delivers his final independence speech to supporters [EPA]

By

James Stittle

The people of Scotland will be asked on Thursday whether they want to become a sovereign state and split from the rest of the United Kingdom. Al Jazeera asked Scottish citizens and others from the UK, what they think about the prospect of independence, and whether they are for or against it.

Alan Waldren: 'I am completely positive about it'

Alan Waldren is a bagpipe maker from Stirling [James Stittle]

 

Alan Waldren, 43, a bagpipe maker and restorer from Stirling, says the negative campaigning of the "No" vote eventually confirmed his support for a "Yes" vote.

"I am completely positive about it. The Norwegians have the same five million population as Scotland and [Norway] is geographically a little ragged country on the western fringes of Europe. They have a reserve of £450 billion and Britain is £1.2 trillion in debt, so the figures prove we would be better being in the same boat as the Norwegians, or the Swedes and the Finns, than we would be being connected with London.

"We got told if we break away we will have to reapply to join the European Union. Having been a member for 40 years, why should we have to reapply for it? If we stayed within Britain, and UKIP keep getting stronger, then David Cameron says the UK would have to have a referendum on pulling out of the European Union. If you want to stay in Europe, it might as well be as an independent Scotland than as part of Britain."

David Torrance: 'A fascinating proposition'

David Torrance is a political commentator from Edinburgh [James Stittle]

 

David Torrance, 36, a political commentator from Edinburgh, finds the issue of Scottish independence "a fascinating proposition".

"I think it's only become credible in the last decade, provoking a wide-ranging existential debate about the UK. Unionists and nationalists alike have had to dwell on points of detail and justify themselves like never before.

"I am more attracted to federalism, which die-hard nationalists would dismiss as just unionism, but no one would accuse Canada, the US or Switzerland of being heavily unionist or centralised countries. I like to think I sit somewhere in the middle: a Scotland with much more autonomy within a federalised UK.

"It's also worth noting that even if Scots do vote for independence some decisions will still be made in Westminster. The white paper last week kept repeating ad nauseum that everything controlled by Westminster would go to Edinburgh, but that's not true in terms of monetary policy, a UK wide energy market, university research funding or the monarchy. So even after independence, assuming it happens, decision-making will be split between London and Edinburgh.

"In reality, I think the debate's about which decisions are taken where. Both sides actually accept that some things are best done in London and some are best done in Edinburgh, they just differ as to the degree."

Kathleen Morgan: 'It's a bit of a mish-mash'

Kathleen Morgan is a retired social worker from Glasgow [James Stittle]

 

Kathleen Morgan, 67, a retired social worker from Stepps, Glasgow, is unsure of her position but says she will "probably vote 'No' but on the basis we've got devolution".

"I am very proud to be Scottish and if this had been a few years ago when the economy was better, I may very well have gone for it. Right now, I think it's a bit of a mish-mash, economically speaking, and our two leading banks, the Bank of Scotland and the Royal Bank, haven't come out of it very well.

"So on balance I would probably vote 'No' but I would certainly want Scotland to have more power. We've got our own legal bits and our own health system, which is running better than the rest of the UK. Financially, I think the SNP are in a difficult circumstance so I think that's where my mind is at for now."

Blair McNeil: 'A fantastic opportunity'

Blair McNeil is a creative from Loch Lomond [James Stittle]

 

Blair McNeil, a 42-year-old creative person from Loch Lomond, makes no apologies for his stance, saying it is "a fantastic opportunity to separate ourselves from a criminal government".

"Criminal in the sense that they are more prepared to help bankers than to invest in children and the future. I feel it is America and the English government that are the biggest threats in the world today. They go to great lengths to create enemies around the world. Blowing up people for resources is a very dangerous way to be going around the world.

"I am fortunate enough to have lived in many different countries. It's allowed me to see my country for what it is, an ill-educated, downtrodden nation with a lack of investment. Scotland has a huge amount of potential and a huge amount of natural resources.

"We just need a kick up the arse and to seize the opportunity to branch out and go it alone."

Linda Murphy: 'To me it's division'

Linda Murphy is a retired civil servant from Cumbernauld [James Stittle]

 

Linda Murphy, 67, a retired civil servant from Cumbernauld is staunch in voting "No", saying "whether you call it independence or separation, to me it's division".

"Division has always been a bad thing in history - whether it be north/south of Ireland, north/south Korea, Israel/Palestine - it causes conflict. Separation causes more problems. I also think that financially it's a bad time. The sheer cost and the logistics of it - I just don't think people have taken all this into account.

"Scotland has been officially joined to Britain for 300 years and we haven't lost our traditions, independence, customs, culture or law, so I don't know exactly what it is we are trying to obtain by trying to gain independence now.

"To me, the future of the world should be about unity - whether it's for Britain or other countries. Unity is the answer, get the borders down and get people together."

Azad Murdochy: 'I have mixed feelings'

Azad Murdochy is a hotel owner in Edinburgh [James Stittle]

 

Azad Murdochy, 57, the owner of the Braveheart Hotel in Edinburgh, says, "I have mixed feelings. I love Scotland and I am proud to live in Scotland. When it comes to the independence, we have a parliament now that has some power, but we could have more power. But with independence, we will lose out on feeling part of the UK, and for that reason I am likely to vote against it.

"Britain's got huge powers, it has vetoes, it has a United Nations seat and we would lose all that and it would be difficult and take a long time to get that back and have a Scottish member in the UN.

 

Alasdair Forbes: 'I see potential'

Alasdair Forbes is a recent graduate from Inverness [James Stittle]

 

Alasdair Forbes, a recent Gaelic graduate from Inverness, says, "My basis for supporting independence has always revolved around the idea that no one is better at governing a country than the people from that country. You care most about where you're from, and you know most about where you're from, so it doesn't make sense for somewhere else to dictate what happens.

"The 'No' side are trying to throw up doubts and fears, but I feel that they are mostly invalid and have been contrived out of nothing. The 'Yes' side acknowledge those things but there is so much more going for it, they focus on the positives.

"The fact no other country has ever regretted post-independence fills me with a lot of confidence especially when you look at what we actually have going for us. There are very few concerns when looking into history. There is a lot of other countries that have done the same thing and been worse placed than we are. Practically, and in theory, I don't see an issue; I see potential."

Donna McColl: 'We have to go for it'

Donna McColl is a financial analyst from Glasgow [James Stittle]

 

Donna McColl, 42, a financial analyst from Glasgow, says "I believe it will be the only opportunity in my lifetime and in any Scottish persons lifetime and I believe we have to go for it.

"I am a Rangers fan which is a big Unionist thing and I know a lot of Rangers fans who are totally against it and believe we should remain part of the Union and have the Queen as our monarch. But for me, I have faith in the SNP and I always have, although I know independence isn't just about the SNP, its just a door to get in.

"I think there's a really good chance that it won't go 'Yes' because there is a lot of undecided people and they most likely won't vote so there might not be a very big turnout, but at the same time there is a lot people that believe that it's an opportunity for Scotland and I think we can do it."

Ian Bowie: 'We have been better together'

Ian Bowie works in finance in Edinburgh [James Stittle]

 

Ian Bowie, 43, who works in finance in Edinburgh, says: "Tourism and the Tartan army aren't going to see Scotland become an economic force".

"From the SNP's perspective I just don't think they have a viable solution for the economy. They will go on about the resources we have; the oil, the gas, but they will all invariably run out and then what are you going to do?

"History shows that we have been better together. Britain is much stronger together than splitting up into small principalities. I was against devolution as well; I felt that the Scottish parliament was nothing more than an expensive parish council. I didn't feel the need for Scottish people to have that kind of representation when we have another government in London which is doing a relatively good job or as good a job as they can in current circumstances."

Andrew Rainnie: 'I am tired of the same old practices'

Andrew Rainnie is the founder of DiscoverGlasgow.org [James Stittle]

 

Andrew Rainnie, 32, the founder of DiscoverGlasgow.org, says he will vote "Yes" for independence.

"Like many people I am tired of the same old practices in Westminster. While I think the SNP should not underestimate the initial struggle that would face Scotland, in the years to come we could reap the rewards of better education and lower crime rates that the independent Scandinavian states are now enjoying.

"I am still to read all of the white paper but I like the way the SNP are running on a campaign of hope, whereas the coalition government are doing what they do best, running a "No" campaign based on negativity and fear mongering."

Charles Wilson: 'Misplaced patriotism'

Charles Wilson has spent his career working in the press in Scotland and England [James Stittle]

 

Charles Wilson, 78, spent his career in newspapers and edited a number of titles including The Times and The Independent in London, and The Herald, The Evening Times, and The Scottish Sunday Standard in Glasgow. He retired as managing director of the Mirror group in London and chairman of The Scottish Daily Record. He sits on a number of charity boards and continues to do newspaper consultancy work.

"I grew up in Glasgow and moved to London in my teens to begin my career in newspapers. I spent six years back in Scotland in my 40s and then returned to London to work on The Times.

"I feel fortunate to have divided my life between Scotland and England and in the course of my work been able to observe social, economic and political affairs and attitudes in both countries.

"I have a deep sympathy for and understanding of those Scots who, driven by national pride, believe that their quality of life and their sense of personal and national identity would be improved by an independent Scotland.

"However, I think they are wrong. They are suffering from a blend of self-delusion and misplaced patriotism that blinds them to the realities of the 21st century, and they will be outvoted by Scots who appreciate the true values of the United Kingdom."

WELSH - Dale Lovell: 'It could lead to economic benefits'

Dale Lovell, 33, cofounded an online marketing provider in Wales [James Stittle]

Dale Lovell, 33, the cofounder of Content Amp, an online marketing provider, from Llandovery, Wales, feels his home country, "in terms of nationalism and national identity is probably closer to Scotland than any other UK country".

"If Scotland gains independence, there will undoubtedly be more calls for greater power in Wales to the Welsh Assembly. But in Wales we have been joined with England since the 1536 Act of Union - nearly 500 years of sharing the same laws and rights, which is something that most Welsh people would be keen to keep in place.

"If Scotland does become an independent country then ties between England and Wales could be strengthened as politicians for the UK government would be keen to pander to the Welsh vote. It could even lead to economic benefits; some of the underinvestment in Wales could finally be improved upon in a bid by the government to avoid boosting any calls for Welsh independence; Would the trident nuclear fleet move to Wales? Would tech investment and new infrastructure focus on East-West, rather than over the border with Scotland. Would Welsh tourism receive a boost?"

IRISH - Donna Patrice: 'It needs to be discussed'

Donna Patrice is an actor/producer from Ireland [James Stittle]

Donna Patrice, 30, an actor/producer from Galway, Ireland, says she is proud that Ireland has its independence.

"I feel in the last few years that our country has kind of gone to pot and the bottom line is I am an Irish person who is now living and working in the UK and I think that speaks volumes. There is a huge emigration rate back home. A lot of people, particularly in my age bracket, are living in the UK, US, Canada, and Australia due to the lack of work.

"I think for Scotland its something that needs to be discussed at length, I can see why people very much want independence especially as an Irish person, but also you have to acknowledge that you are going to lose some of the benefits of being part of the UK. Initially my gut reaction would have been to say you should absolutely go for it but having watched what has happened in Ireland in the last few years I am definitely more wary."

ENGLISH - Holly Lander: 'A lot of things need to be worked out'

Holly Lander is the co-owner of an art gallery in London [James Stittle]

Holly Lander, 32, the co-owner of the Atomica art gallery from London, says it is right that Scots should be allowed to vote for their right to be independent.

"I can completely understand how some Scottish people feel distanced from Westminster and the policy decisions of a government no body voted for. I know plenty of English people who feel distant and from our current coalition government; feelings that are only strengthened by growingly out-of-touch politicians and decision-makers. There is very little faith in the people in power and growing feelings that a wealthy few will continue to prosper at the majority's expense.

"It will be interesting to see how it shapes up if the 'Yes' vote is successful, there are a lot of things that would need to worked out first and I can see it being a long process that will take many years."

Source: Al Jazeera

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