It is a weighty decision, with far-reaching consequences. To what extent has Scottish identity played an emotional role in the independence question? Traditions are one thing. But there are multiple influences pulling here, as well. There’s a lot to consider. After all, the Scots have lived in union with the powerful English come what may for more than 300 years.
Better Together supporter Ron Cowie said: “Scots have their own identity. We always have had our own identity and I think it’s what you call the old saying you’ve got the fire in the belly, so we’ll always be Scots but we’re part of the United Kingdom and I think it should stay that way.”
Scotland’s second export behind energy products is whisky. Nine out of ten bottles made of it are sold abroad. The distilleries employ some 35,000 people. What impact might independence have on this?
The Scotch Whisky Association’s David Williamson said: “Scotch whisky has survived wars and revolutions. We have been making whisky for over 500 years, but it is a big decision.”
The GlenDronach family distillery has been making the spirit for two centuries. Alan McConnochie, a part of it for many years, said: “The result of the independence vote really will not affect us. It may increase sales because of the promotion of Scotland, worldwide. I’m sure that my English friends and colleagues will not boycott scotch. Why would you?”
The Shetland Islands are far from London, but not close to Edinburgh either. Oil is pumped out of the sea bed here, but the archipelago is also rich in fisheries and renewable energy. There is a strong Norse heritage, and so for many the question of Scottish identity is indistinct. Ale is the predominant drink here.
Owner of Valhalla Brewery Sonny Priest said: “There’s not much in Shetland that’s traditionally Scottish. There’s no… very little wearing the kilt or anything like that. We don’t seem to associate much with Scottish things.”
And what role does identity play for an immigrant who lives and works in Glasgow? One study has shown that 94 percent of immigrants identify more with Scotland than with the UK, feeling the Scots are more open to them than in the UK as a whole.
Olga Mausch-Debowska, a Polish Scot, said: “The EU is very important for me and I think that Scotland will be better off being alone and being part of the EU, than as a part of the UK. And there’s always a danger that we will separate from the EU being part of the UK.”
Eligibility to make the historic choice for the Scottish future includes some four million people, whether
British, Irish, other European Union or qualifying Commonwealth citizen, but they must be living in Scotland now.