Like the Scots, Fordham is divided on independence

At this moment, Scotland is voting on whether to gain its independence for the first time in over 300 years, or remain in the United Kingdom. Recent polls have indicated that the vote is split nearly 50-50, and the implications of this vote are enormous.

A “Yes” vote would essentially end the United Kingdom. A “No” vote would preserve the Union and the Tory party’s reign in Scottish politics. Even if Scottish citizens opt to remain in the union, this campaign by Scottish nationalist Alex Salmond will surely bring more concessions to Scottish members of Parliament and cause major political upheaval within the Tory and Labour Parties. Now the question is whether Scotland will place its trust in the familiar or the unknown.

Even celebrities are divided. David Beckham, Susan Boyle, David Tennant, Mike Myers and J.K. Rowling have all shown support for the “No” vote, while Sean Connery, Vivienne Westwood, Gerard Butler, Alan Cumming and Andy Murray favor a “Yes” vote on Scottish independence.

Fordham students and faculty are also split on the issue, with a slight preference towards the status quo.

Austin Thomas, FCRH ’15 thinks that “the independence campaign is based on historical conflicts” from hundreds of years ago that are not relevant to contemporary Scotland.

Andrew Friere, ’17 believes that Scotland would be able to stand on its own, but worries that there would be short-term instability. Moreover, he claims that “if Scotland leaves, England will be forced to make concessions to Northern Ireland and Wales, which would end the UK as we know it.”

That being said, there are some who sympathize with a Yes vote on independence. Ian Tolmie, FCRH ’15 said that “Scotland should have the right to self-government,” and cites the fact that Scotland with its abundant natural resources should not be limited by Britain’s declining economic power.

Angela Gonzalez-Curci, FCRH ’15 “sympathizes with the historical reasoning” for independence, even though she naturally does not like instability and worries about the European economy if Scotland votes yes.

Dr. Johnathon Pettinato, a Fordham history professor who has written about the British identity, wants to see Scotland remain in the Union.

“I do not believe Scotland will vote yes on the independence bill,” Pettinato said. “Banks would likely leave Scotland… and the Scots would have a smaller voice in European politics without being in the UK.”

Pettinato also feels that England would see its influence in military and fiscal discussions diminish significantly, which could have negative repercussions for more  than just England. He echoed David Cameron’s emotional claims for sticking together.

“It would be sad if Scotland broke from the UK,” Pettinato said. “Scotland voluntarily joined the Union to gain economic benefits over 300 years ago…,and without Scotland, there would be no real British identity.”

That being said, Pettinato admits that there are strong economic and historical arguments for Scottish independence.

One thing that all agreed on is that Cameron made an overconfident political move in allowing this Yes/No vote to occur.

The vote for Scottish independence is probably the biggest world news story today, so Fordham students naturally have opinions on it. After researching both sides and finding flaws in each official campaign, I personally support Scotland’s independence movement thanks to beautiful articles like this and this. But regardless of political stance, the Fordham community should be commended for having strong opinions on this matter. All that’s left now is to see what the future holds for the United Kingdom and Scotland.

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