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Scotland made measurable progress in setting a date for a historical confrontation: a referendum that would enable the Scots to declare independence from the United Kingdom. Following a statement from and debate with Scottish Secretary Michael Moore about the situtation, the pro-independence Scottish National Party "announced its preferred timetable for a referendum: Autumn 2014," according to the BBC. The process is over 300 years in the making, so there's no huge rush. But it's also very very complicated. Moore didn't mince his words in expressing his Edinburgh-based government's ambitions to be free of British rule. "It is essential that the referendum is legal, fair and decisive," Moore told Parliament. "As a government, we have been clear ... that we will not stand in the way of a referendum on independence. But neither will we stand on the sidelines and let uncertainty continue." Leaders in London aren't quite as eager to resolve the issues. "British Prime Minister David Cameron, who wants to keep the United Kingdom intact, says that delay creates uncertainty that is damaging investment in the Scottish economy and wants a referendum 'sooner rather than later,'" Reuters' Adrian Croft explained on Tuesday.

Despite the expected difference of opinions, however, it appears that Scotland has a chance of actually getting what it wants and in a fairly peaceful process. The New York Times's John F. Burns provides some historical context: "The smoldering issue of Scottish independence has ignited again, this time in a political context that appears to give Scottish nationalists at least an outside chance of gaining popular support for the end of Scotland's constitutional ties with Britain in a referendum among Scottish voters within the next two or three years." Anyone who's seen Braveheart will understand that in past rows between Brits and Scots over the kingdom, "smoldering" could be easily replaced with "exploding." Here's to a peaceful resolution this time around!

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