Thursday 18th September 2014 sees a nation vote on Scottish Independence. One of the members of the United Kingdom considers its future involvement in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Scottish Independence and what it could mean
Whilst I am an Englishman, (part of the union) I don’t have a say in the matter and many would say rightly so. It is the future of Scotland, not England but it is our United Kingdom. And there is history of the drive for devolution.
As a tourist though the impact of the vote could be quickly noticeable. I’ve often visited Scotland in the past and love the place, who wouldn’t?
With the diverse range of attractions in Edinburgh, the magic of Dundee and Tayside, the Highlands, whiskey, the amazing west coast drive from Stranraer to Ayr (highly recommended) as well as Nessie (the Loch Ness Monster).
If I’m honest I’ve spent most of my visits in Edinburgh. I’ve seen the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, the statues of a dog and of Arthur Conan Doyle. I’ve even tasted the local brown stuff (whiskey).
One thing I haven’t done though which I wish I had is visit the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This year it is on between 1st – 25th August. To be honest the issue which has made it difficult for me to go in the past has been concern over the cost of accommodation. If only in the past I’d known about online hotel searches through sites such as Venere.com then I wouldn’t have a problem.
If Scotland does vote for independence (current opinion polls indicated they will not) then it could change how we visit.
At the moment there are no border controls between England and Scotland. What if a Scottish Parliament set up immigration controls, now that would be crazy for us English.
I suspect immigration between our 2 nations is unlikely however there is a more pressing issue which would affect all visitors. And that is the issue of currency.
At the moment it is very easy for me. My British pound is accepted in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as legal tender. Scotland do have their own bank notes, labelled with “Bank of Scotland”. These are however legal tender within the UK but you may struggle to convince a cockney from London to accept them!
The argument now is that the leader of the Scottish independence campaign, Alex Salmond, is saying that a devolved Scotland would continue to use the pound. Whereas the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron is saying they won’t be allowed. Scotland also would not be immediately eligible to join the Euro either.
That is a big problem for Scotland and they’d have to develop their own local currency for what is in reality a small nation. Without the backing and support of the Bank of England this could be a rapidly devalued currency.
Whilst I am glad that the UK did not join the Euro, the benefits of the countries involved (no currency exchange fees and risk) is something which all of the countries of Great Britain also enjoy with each other.
For me, taking a trip to Edinburgh is like taking a trip to London. It is relatively easy to do, no passport or money issues. We speak the same language (sort of) and tend to be bound by the same legal system.
If there is a successful vote for Scottish Independence then there will be an impact for all us tourists. I also wonder if it will change “Great Britain” to just “Britain”? So for all these reasons and many more, please Scotland stay with us. We love you.