The issue of Scottish independence has been in the news a lot recently, with debates over the question that should be used, whether it should be a single question, or one just on independence and another on more powers for Scotland instead. However one issue that I have found particularly interesting is who should be able to vote?
This issue came up the other day and I was surprised that so many people I was talking to thought that the rest of the UK should be able to vote on Scottish independence. Perhaps even more surprising is that two of the people were Scottish.
It had never occurred to me that the English, Welsh or Northern Irish should have a vote on the matter. I know it will affect these people but the right to determine their own future should solely remain with the Scots. If they want independence, they should have it. However I think if they vote against it then the issue of both the West Lothian question, and differing policies on Universities, prescriptions etc. need to be addressed. If Scotland wants independence, it should have it, if not it should not be subsidised by the rest of the UK over and above what is given to other regions, although this is another argument for another time.
The key problem I see with the rest of the UK voting on Scottish Independence is what happens if Scotland votes in favour of independence and the rest of the UK goes against. It would be ridiculous to suggest that Scotland would then have to remain part of the UK, despite not wanting to. The other possible situation, that isn't a mutual agreement, is that Scotland votes to stay and the UK votes to get rid of Scotland. Again I don't think it is acceptable to kick Scotland out and so any vote in this sense would just create resentment among the rest of the UK.
The best solution is to allow Scotland to decide on their own future, although debates about the question and allocation of oil revenues and debt should be agreed on far before any vote takes place.