“A Very Momentous Issue:” Scotland to Vote on Independence

Vermonters of Scottish descent are watching Thursday's vote very closely

The unity of the 307-year-old United Kingdom is in question, with around 4-million voters in Scotland expected to vote Thursday on whether to start the process of breaking ties with the crown to become a fully independent nation.

The "yes" side is made up of Scots who want to control their own affairs, many believing revenues from offshore oil reserves could help fund Scotland's interests. The "no" camp fears severing from the U.K. will make Scotland weaker economically and unable to benefit from all it shares with England.

"It's a very momentous issue," said Donald DeVoil, who was born and raised in Scotland and now lives in Montpelier, Vermont. "It's going to be very close."

DeVoil, who teaches courses on geography and mass media at the Community College of Vermont, said he supports the idea of independence. He, however, does not have an official vote in the matter since he is not a resident of Scotland. "I would vote yes; not without some qualms," he told New England Cable News.

DeVoil said in Scotland, the referendum is a very personal, emotional debate. "My mother and my uncle, for example, are barely talking to one another at this point because the strength of feeling is very strong," he said. "It's a very important issue."

"I think there are both sides on my family, too," added Jane Reinecke, another Scottish-born U.K. citizen now living in Vermont and working for the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation.

Reinecke told NECN that initially, she wondered why anyone would want to risk breaking 300-plus year old bonds. But now, she said she sees both sides. Reinecke said she knows her people are passionate, with many wanting to chart their own futures when it comes to politics, the economy, environment, and other major issues.

"It's the people that live there that have to make this decision. And either way for them, it's a cry for change," Reinecke said. "Whatever the outcome is tomorrow, I hope for that change that Scotland needs to have a bright future."

"We forget that the Declaration of Independence was all about secession," said Rob Williams with the pro-independence think tank Second Vermont Republic.

Second Vermont Republic has proposed the provocative, but narrowly-held idea, that Vermont should break away from the U.S. Williams said interest in the secessionist movement has picked up steam as the Scottish vote garnered international attention. "I think what the Scots have done is kind of reminded all of us in the West of our political heritage with regard to secession and the importance of that conversation," Williams said.

As for Donald DeVoil and Jane Reinecke, they said they'll be watching Thursday's results very closely, well aware that regardless of how the vote turns out, the debate over Scottish independence will surely continue. 

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