…and it has said ‘No‘ to the offer of independence. In the end it wasn’t that close; well, closer than most would have predicted a month ago, but in the last three weeks there seemed to be a genuine chance of a ‘Yes’ vote. However, as the results were checked and counted an apparent late swing back to ‘No’ left the final outcome as a bit of a letdown.
First things first – congratulations to the ‘No’ campaign on their victory. While I didn’t enjoy the oppressively negative style of their pitch, that was the choice they felt they needed to make. In fairness selling a negative such as ‘No’ can’t have been easy. Far more fun to promote ‘Yes’ with all the inherent hopes, dreams and aspirations. Yet, the negative outdid the positive on September 18th as perhaps many decided it a leap too far, from the devolved parliament we have at the moment to full blown independence. Interestingly data published in the last few hours shows that the demographic which won it for ‘No’ was the 55+ group, where over 70% backed the Union. With a more even split of this age-range a ‘Yes’ win would in all likelihood have ensued. However, such is democracy and I don’t deny the older generations their right to vote in whichever way they felt best – nobody should.
I suppose it’s now time for a confession of a sort. In truth I worried from the start of this process whether independence would be too big a step for many. Perhaps a halfway house like ‘Devo-Max‘ would have been a better road to go down i.e. get people used to more powers before offering them the lot. However, the UK Govt declined the chance to put Devo-Max on the ballot paper. The thinking presumably was that David Cameron wanted a straight Yes/No, with his bets firmly hedged for a convincing ‘No’. This would have meant no concessions and no new powers – just the status quo. That though all changed when it became clear the status quo wasn’t acceptable to many natural ‘No’ voters. So the Better Together campaign came up with ‘More Powers GUARANTEED’. This was underpinned by a joint pledge in the final days promising to honour this guarantee.
So where does it leave us? Well, the Union remains in tact, but in my view seriously wounded. Overall it feels like nobody actually won. The Independence movement didn’t get what they wanted, but they will get more powers in time. The Unionists got what they wanted, but only by compromising on giving more powers to Scotland. The upshot would appear to be a more general review of democracy in the UK is required. More powers for Scotland will undoubtedly raise objections from regions of England, and perhaps rightly so. However, as with us Scots the English regions need to put forward their case as we have done for over a century.
Ah well, after three years the one, and perhaps only referendum on Scottish Independence in my lifetime is over. Disappointed, yes, but not downhearted. A process has now begun which will surely see things improve for both Scots and the UK as a whole in the years to come. In time I believe people will look back on last night not as an end but merely as a beginning.
Thanks for reading.