This isn’t 1776, where a group of rebel colonies rise up in anger against England, then fight and break away in order to form their own country. This is 2014, the year in which Scotland, fed up with England, decided to sever ties with the United Kingdom. Like the colonists during the pre-revolution, there was a split between those who wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom, and those who wished to see an independent Scotland.

Violent outbreaks and riots lead up to the announcement of the final vote of 55-45, where the votes favored Scotland staying a part of the United Kingdom. This result has allowed most of the financial world to remain relatively unimpacted, while the people of Scotland have been rocked by this event. Is it for the better that Scotland remained a part of the U.K., or will it continue to have a negative impact on the relationship that Scotland and England share?

This referendum has been a long time coming. Scotland has had many problems with England, dating back to the 13th century, when a war for independence was fought. Since that time, Scotland and England have had centuries-long rocky relationship; the distaste for one another has manifested itself in sports rivalries, chants at soccer games (“We hate England more than you”) and not to mention physical brawls over years. There are even claims that those who signed the Act of the Union, which united Scotland to the rest of the United Kingdom, were bribed to put their names on the document.

In recent years, two things occurred to rally Scotland toward a referendum for independence: oil and currency. Those who supported Scotland’s independence believe that Scotland’s share of the North Sea oil and gas reserve will be able to provide funds and stabilize their economy and they are tired of England taking the tax and profits from it. They believe that whichever government controls the North Sea company has an advantage. The problem of oil control leads to issues of currency strength and what the effects would be on the European Union if Scotland became an independent country.

The second part of the current problem is currency. Scotland wants to keep their pound as a formal currency union. As their pound essentially has the same exchange rate as the rest of the United Kingdom, this would not cause too much of a problem. However, if Scotland left the Union and the gap in the rate of exchange grew, it could cause trading and stability problems for the U.K.

The big concern for economists was that if Scotland separated from the U.K., the financial repercussions would have a negative impact on the rest of the world. Now that Scotland is staying a part of the United Kingdom and the prospect of the British leaving the European Union, economist and financial experts can breathe a little easier. The preservation of the United Kingdom keeps the international economy stable during a time when the European Union needs to get back on its feet.

While it may be a relief to the international business community, England should not be so fast as to believe they are in the safe zone. National pride in Scotland is only growing, especially in the wake of this event. There is an extremely high chance that in the near future, Scotland will call for another referendum, and England, the rest of the United Kingdom and the financial world need to be aware and be able to handle the repercussions and entertain the solutions of the economic problems an independent Scotland would cause.

Scotland itself needs to decide as a nation on whether or not they want independence. In the aftermath of the voting campaign, there were riots in the streets and violent outbreaks across the country. Glasgow, Scotland, in particular, was a scene of violence and mayhem after the independence vote results. Young girls holding Scotland flags were attacked by the opposing side, who also destroyed property. There were even reports of pro-England supporters performing the Nazi salute; 11 people were arrested out of over 200 people at the demonstration at George Square.

Is this the way to react to a difference of opinion? Destroying property, attacking young people, causing mayhem and madness — just because someone has a different thought than you? We live in a modern day and age where people should be guaranteed the freedom of speech and have that right protected — not be attacked by someone twice your size or have your home destroyed.

What makes the matter worse was that news about Glasgow was that it largely reached the public through social media sites, rather than through conventional media outlets. For having so much coverage and debate over the vote, the aftermath of the election was not covered closely, leading to mass riots and trouble for Scotland. This divide only further serves to separate the people pro-independence from the rest of the United Kingdom.

Scotland has reached a turning point in its history. And, even though they did not achieve the independence that so many of them wanted, they were able to make their voices heard. England may think that they are in the clear, but in order to keep Scotland happy and a part of the United Kingdom, they need to rethink some policies and their treatment of their neighboring country. While a unionized Scotland is good for the rest of the world in terms of economics, financial stability and military defense, it is not good for the people of the country in the long term. As the tension between the two different groups grows, so do the chances for a peaceful reconciliation.

About The Author

--- Senior | Executive Editor Emeritus --- Finance/English

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