[GUEST BLOG] Emma Artley ’16 witnesses historical Scottish independence vote while studying abroad in Glasgow
Emma Artley ’16 (pictured below), an economics major from MacLean, Va., is currently studying abroad with Centre College in Glasgow, Scotland, and had the chance to be part of a rare moment in Scottish history. On Thursday, September 18th, the people of Scotland participated in a referendum vote to decide their country’s potential independence from the United Kingdom. Artley shares what it was like to be in Scotland during this exciting time.
On Friday, September 19th all of Scotland held their breath in hopes of the most important day in their country’s history. Restlessly they waited for the results of the historical vote on whether or not Scotland should be independent from the United Kingdom. Though the people of Scotland have voted “no thanks” to independency, and will continue to be one of four nations of the United Kingdom, the locals of Glasgow would add, “for now.”
Six other Centre students and I have had the remarkable chance to study at the University of Glasgow during this historical moment. Glasgow, a beautiful and eclectic urban spotlight of Scotland, was the heart of the “Yes” campaign. For the weeks building up to the vote, the city center and streets were swarmed with campaign stands and people sharing their dreams of independency; people gathered draped in the nation’s bright blue flag and played the bagpipes so all could hear. However, unlike Glasgow, most cities and rural towns of the Highlands were evenly divided. Like any political referendum, families and friends were torn based on opinions.
As a foreigner who admits to having little knowledge of Scotland’s political and economic views, I was constantly conflicted on where I stood on the issue. As an economics major at Centre, I knew logic and reason were crucial to understanding why Scotland would benefit by continuing to be part of United Kingdom’s strong and stable economy. However, as a young woman in today’s society, I shared the people’s passion for activism and desire for new beginnings.
The week leading up to the vote, I met countless individuals who shared their views with me. It was an open discussion for all. You could walk by someone on the street or sit next to someone at a pub and the debate would be a natural conversation. In general, I observed from my conversations and the overall atmosphere that the “Yes” side was rooted in the ideals of liberty brightened by youthful spirit. The young population of Scotland believed that in the long run the nation could prosper socially, economically and politically with independency. On the other hand, people who voted “no” to independence reasoned their opinions based on economic and political concerns. In general, a more highly educated, older population led the “no thanks” campaign, and they had the numbers to win the majority vote.
Through defeat of the referendum has come an awakening of spirit and tradition and new hopes for the future of Scotland. Scotland’s voice has been heard and beauty has been seen. Beyond the Highlands and gorgeous landscapes comes the warmth of the Scottish people. Their passion, hopes and desires are what make this country beautiful beyond words. Centre has truly blessed me with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live through this historic event with the people of Scotland.
photo: Rebecca Barefield ’16 , another Centre student studying abroad with Artley, waves the Scottish flag on a day trip to the Isle of Seil located off the coast of Scotland.