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  • This is the Guardian's guide to Scottish independence. For the non-Brits.

  • It’s a long and complex story but let's begin by answering the most fundamental question.

  • Where is Scotland anyway?

  • The country of Scotland is right here, at the top of the island of Great Britain, the

  • crazy hat worn by the bearded troll who appears to be looking west, toward Ireland and laughing.

  • On Thursday the 18th of September, the people of Scotland will vote to decide whether or

  • not it will become a country in its own right. But wait, I hear you ask. Didn’t you just

  • call Scotland a country? Isn’t Scotland already a country?

  • The definitive answer to that question is: sort of.

  • Technically Scotland is a country within a country known as the United Kingdom. Scotland

  • may have its own church, its own legal system, its own professional soccer league and its

  • own dietary idiosyncrasies, but it’s still part of the UK, which also includes the countries

  • of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scottish people have British passports.

  • Scotland did used to be a separate country, with its own king, James VI. Then in 1603

  • Queen Elizabeth - not that one, this one - died without leaving an heir, and the nearest relative

  • they could find turned out to be her cousin James. He became James I of England, while

  • still keeping his job as James VI of Scotland. If you think that’s confusing, you ain’t

  • heard nothing yet.

  • England and Scotland maintained a monarch-sharing arrangement for over a century before the

  • Acts of Union in 1707 made the two nations a single entity, with one parliament, located

  • in London. Scotland went along with this largely because it was almost bankrupt, thanks to

  • something called the Darien Disaster, which happened way over here and is, frankly, another

  • story for another time.

  • Let’s have a stirring musical interludel before we skip ahead, Way ahead.

  • Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh (etc)

  • In the 1970s speculation about devolution, the notion of returning a measure of power

  • to the Scottish government gave rise to what used to be known as the West Lothian question.

  • For most people in the UK today the real West Lothian question is:

  • What is the West Lothianquestion?’

  • The West Lothian question named after the Scottish constituency of the MP who first

  • asked it. To paraphrase, he basically posited a world where Scotland had its own regional

  • parliament, but also continued to send representatives to the British parliament in London. How could

  • it be, he asked, that Scottish MPs could vote on laws that affected only England, and yet

  • had no vote on matters that affected Scotland? That would be totally crazy! You weren’t

  • really meant to answer the West Lothian question; it was just there to demonstrate that a Scottish

  • parliament couldn’t logically exist, and that if you tried to set one up the universe

  • would disappear, or something.

  • But then in 1998, after a referendum on devolution, they did set up a Scottish Parliament, with

  • its very own brand new building. I know, but it’s meant to be really nice on the inside.

  • Devolution is not the same as being a separate country. The British parliament merely devolved

  • certain powers to Scotland, rather than transferring them, and it reserved to the right to overturn

  • any law made in the Scottish legislature.

  • In 2011 the Scottish National Party - a party that campaigned on a pledge to hold an independence

  • referendum - won a landslide in the Scottish parliament. The SNP leader - this man, Alex

  • Salmond (you don’t pronounce the L, like with the fish) - became Scotland’s First

  • Minister, and promised a referendum within the election cycle. In 2012 British Prime

  • Minister David Cameron finally agreed to a legally-binding referendum, saying: “This

  • United Kingdom can never hold a country within it without its consent.” What he meant was:

  • “I’m allowing this because it’s certain to fail”. Polls consistently showed that

  • only a minority of Scots would vote for actual independence.

  • A Yes Campaign was set up, and also a No campaign, which isn’t called the No Campaign, because

  • that would sound a bit negative. Instead it’s called Better Together, which is arguably

  • worse.

  • Those is Yes camp include Alex Salmond and the SNP, and also the Scottish Green Party,

  • the Scottish Socialist Party, possibly Rupert Murdoch, Sir Sean Connery and both of the

  • Proclaimers.

  • The No camp includes all three main political parties, Harry Potter author JK Rowling, Susan

  • Boyle, one of the Dr Whos, not to mention a majority of the people in the rest of the UK, who don’t

  • get a vote.

  • Those conspicuously offering no opinion include Andy Murray, Billy Connelly and the Queen.

  • Recently the no camp's comfortable lead has eroded and a lot of questions that nobody

  • had ever answered satisfactorily have suddenly become interesting to people.

  • Questions like: if it were independent, what would Scotland use for money? What about Scottish

  • passports? Would Scotland be able to join the EU? Or NATO? And what will they call the

  • rest of the UK if Scotland leaves? At the moment theyre are literally calling it

  • the rest of the UKor rUK for short, which gives you an idea how much thought has

  • gone into the whole business.

  • The real question is: will Scotland be better off as an independent country,

  • And the real answer is nobody knows... because it’s the future.

This is the Guardian's guide to Scottish independence. For the non-Brits.

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スコットランド独立国民投票2014の説明|ガーディアン・アニメーションズ (Scottish independence referendum 2014 explained | Guardian Animations)

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