Yesterday’s referendum saw a turnout of nearly 90%, with 45% voting Yes and 55% voting No. A loss for the Yes campaign as far as the referendum itself goes, but it’s a resounding call for political change across Britain – one that the ruling elite ignore at their peril.
The Scottish people may well have rejected the notion of full independence, and by a larger margin that predicted, but there is still a great cry for change in Britain. As both sides recover from the largest campaign in British political history, leaders will now have to meet to decide how to move forward.
The result was largely driven, it seems, by the Unionist parties offering greater powers to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament should Scotland reject full independence. There have been no real promises or details of any kind yet, however the ruling parties will be expected to deliver, and soon.
The following is a post I made on Facebook this morning following the result.
Well, the morning after and I must say, I’m not sure if I know quite how to feel right now. My flatmate perhaps described it best this morning; “Jim, you just look lost.” He was kidding about, of course, but he really was right.
I am disappointed. I’m upset that the Yes vote didn’t win, I am upset that fear seems to have triumphed over hope for now. But outraged or angry? Nope.
I see a number of people, albeit a very vocal minority, shouting “fix” or calling for a recount. One person has even put together a petition for a revote. To me, this is counterproductive and contrary to the whole message of the Yes campaign. We voted in this referendum for democracy and the democratic will of the people must be respected. A four hundred thousand vote majority hands the result pretty much unquestionably to the No campaign and that is something we must graciously accept.
Yes, I’ve been fighting for a Yes vote all the way and yes, as my flatmate also like to point out, I was “a little emotionally involved” with the whole thing. Ever since the SNP got into power for the first time in 2007 and there was talk of an independence referendum I was right behind the idea of an independent Scotland, making her own decisions and her own way in the world. So a No vote comes as a little bit of a blow.
But I have never been prouder of the Scottish people than I am now. For the first time in our country’s history, the people took power into their own hands; there was a mass political involvement and mobilisation the likes of which I never thought I would see. The lowest turnout was 75% for the Glasgow area, this from a city in which some constituencies never see an electoral turnout of more than about 30% was an incredible result – one that made me immensely proud of my home city and its people.
This campaign has got everyone talking and politics has captured the minds of all who live here. An overall turnout of about 88%, some polling stations closing early because of a 100% turnout of voters in that area, shows that the Scottish people are getting interested.
After the European Elections which saw a turnout of about 35%, I really am not exaggerating when I say I never thought I’d live to see such an incredible mass political involvement from the people.
And 45% voting Yes? It may be a loss in terms of the referendum itself, but it, combined with the huge turnout, is a clear call for change across the whole of the United Kingdom. The people of Scotland are ready to see vast constitutional change across this country and they have proven that they are willing to get involved in that process.
So the question now arises of what to do next. The unionist parties jumped into the debate in the last week promising increased powers for Holyrood, despite being unable to give any idea of what these powers may actually be. It seems rather odd that the No campaign would fight so hard to keep the option of “Devo Max” off of the ballot paper and then decide to advocate it as it became apparent than Yes were gaining the momentum, but they made that promise. What’s more, the Scottish people seem to have bought into it and the mention of increased powers appears to have affected the polls.
The Unionist parties have shown the Scottish people the carrot on the stick, and now they will be expected to deliver. A number of Westminster back-benchers have said that they will fight tooth-and-nail against more powers despite what the party leaders have promised, which could well lead to tensions between Westminster and Holyrood while new powers are negotiated.
It’s now up to both sides, however, to come together, drop all differences and work together to sort things out. As we have seen there is a real feeling that something is wrong in this country and that it needs fixing, and it’s up to us all to sit down around the table and work out a plan to make things better and fairer on both sides of the border.
My one fear is that nothing changes. If nothing changes then the past few years have been for nothing and once again we will see our country slip into political stagnation and we will be forced to sit back as the governments in London do as the please without any consequence.
As for me, I don’t think it’s quite over yet. I know some people who have threatened to move away should we vote No, some saying they’ll go to one of the Scandinavian countries, but my life and my goals lie here. Yes, I will continue to support and fight for the increased devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament, but I will also continue my support for the full independence of Scotland.
Alex Salmond called this vote a “once in a generation” opportunity. Quite frankly, I don’t agree. I agree with Jim Sillars who said that Scottish independence is “inevitable”. Sooner or later, the Scottish people will realise that Westminster really isn’t working for them; be that through continued budget cuts, the squandering of oil and other resources or the extraction of the UK from the EU.
It may take 10, 15, 20 years, perhaps more, perhaps less, but I will not stop my fight for what I believe to be our one shot at real democracy in this country. I respect the democratic will of the people of this country, but when the next time comes around, you can be guaranteed I’ll be right up there.
Today is a sombre day for almost half of Scotland; we are tired after the months of solid campaigning, we are upset as the result and we feel lost; but I will not sulk, I will not be “ashamed” or “disgusted”, and I will not retreat away to the side lines. Now more than ever, we Scots need to stand tall and stand together, because only through working together at this point can we hope to achieve any kind of change.
Scots, we’ve shaken Scotland, we’ve shaken Britain and we’ve shaken the world. Yes, we’ve taken a knock back, but we still have the ability to keep pushing for change for the better. To all who campaigned on both sides, well done for campaigns well fought and well done for waking the people of these islands up to politics once more.
The momentum is now no longer with Yes or with Better Together, it’s with Scotland. Let’s use it.