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Lecture 8

INST 352 Lecture 8: INST352 Lecture 8: Voting on a Political IssueExam


Department
Information Studies
Course Code
INST 352
Professor
Gigigan
Lecture
8

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INST352 Lecture 8: Voting on a Political Issue
Graham is returning to Edinburgh, Scotland, after nearly five years working in Australia. While he is
proud of his Scottish heritage and has kept up with family, friends, and news from his homeland, he
has somewhat lost touch with Scottish popular and political culture. Returning in July 2014, he is well
aware that a significant political event is about to occur: on September 18 a national vote will
determine whether Scotland is to move toward independence from the United Kingdom. On the face
of it, it seems like a good decision to him why wouldn’t being a separate nation be superior to
being a peripheral part of the United Kingdom? Yet in the midst of moving a long distance and
starting a new job, Graham has not thought very much about this national referendum or the
complicated issues behind it.
While Graham is preoccupied with the mundane tasks of setting up his flat and getting accustomed
to a new workplace, he becomes more aware of the debate surrounding the vote for Scottish
independence. Everybody is talking about the upcoming referendum. It is also a daily topic on the
televised news programs, but the few minutes typically devoted to the referendum strike him as
superficial and anecdotal. He decides to subscribe to a news feed about the issue, but initially finds
the flood of reports a little overwhelming.
During his first week of commuting by bus to work Graham read the latest month’s issue of The
Scots Independent newspaper on his smartphone, and was unsurprised at its strong support for a
Yes” vote, given that the paper was founded to support that idea. In the paper, Graham reads that
Scotland does not receive its fair share of wealth or influence in the United Kingdom. He also learns
about the potential for a greater share of revenue from North Sea oil wells that could flow to
Scotland. And wouldn’t Scotland be better able to manage its own budget? Graham quickly scans
through the comments that readers have added to the newspaper’s online forum, but finds a mix of
people for and against independence, with few details to guide his understanding of the issue.
Graham also wonders about the bias of The Scots Independent paper, and whether there might be
strong counter-arguments to some of the points it makes for example, who would determine how
the oil revenue would be split, and how much would go to a new Scottish government? An issue of
The Economist he reads in the lunchroom at his workplace suggests that dividing up the oil profits
will be complex and contentious, and that pro-independence estimates are probably optimistic at a
time when both the North Sea reserves and energy prices in general are declining. Graham is also
finding that a surprising number of Scots have doubts about the wisdom of splitting from the United
Kingdom. On the Scottish blogs he read while in Australia hardly anyone posted a comment against
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