The Scottish Referendum: The Aftermath

We have voted. We have the results: a No win by just 10 points. Here is a very useful page of maps and statistics showing the results. These are my thoughts on the campaign, the outcome and the future.

As a Yes voter, I have been quite disappointed over the past few days as with every day since my decision to vote Yes, my resolution had been increasing. Having read many, many articles, blog posts and various social media statements from both sides, I am now feeling better. I can see that we will have to work hard for our future, as we would with a Yes vote, anyway, and I have had the opportunity to look back over the campaigns in a more objective manner than I would have done at 7am on Friday.

The No campaign came across as rather confused and poorly organised in general.
I have seen people surprised (eg. here) with the outcome of us possibly getting more devolution.
I know some people who were actively fighting for a No vote because they wanted ‘devo-max’ but to remain in the uk as they saw that as more productive.
And I know a lot – a lot – of people who were barely vocal of their reasons for voting No. Every now and then I saw “No Thanks” pictures, or jokes about Alex Salmond. I am sure that these people did have valid reasons for their vote, at least I hope they did, but by not making them known, it summarises the entire No campaign in my opinion. The worst thing really though about their campaign was Alistair Darling. It seemed like the only reason he was chosen as the ‘face’ of Better Together was because he had eyebrows that nearly rivalled Salmond’s. His debating skills were weak at the best of times; resorting to some kind of dumb blonde act or else drawing attention to issues that were not very important.

The Yes campaign had other issues. I have heard people say that Yes claimed to have no Conservative party in an independent Scotland. I didn’t hear this claim first hand, so I am not sure whether this was blown out of proportion by the one who spoke or the one who repeated it. Of course it is nonsense, along with other such claims, and I have not seen any of these coming from the people at the top. It is an important point though, if you are representing a group (which in a way you are just by having the Yes or No sticker on your profile picture) then you do need to be careful about the ways in which you express your and the group you represent’s opinions.

Another point of confusion was the worrying amount of people who said, “but I don’t like SNP” or Salmond or whoever it is exactly that they had a problem with. This vote was not for a party. I was (and still am) fighting for a better democracy. I could see this attitude among Yes and No voters alike. For my part, I like the SNP, but I was not voting for them with my Yes vote, nor was I voting against the Conservatives of Westminster. But whatever I, the individual, vote, it is important to remember that I am not the most important person. My vote does not weigh the same as 5 votes from another town. That is true democracy. It can be hard to accept, but we must do so, or risk losing our democratic rights. I don’t think that people should stop fighting for what they believe is right, but there is a big difference between that and being ungracious in defeat or victory.

I don’t like some of the pettiness that I have seen on the Yes side. There are promises we have been made, and I would be surprised and pleased if they were acted upon, but if ‘the 45’ consistently point out all the ways that Westminster are failing us, it will only encourage ‘the 55’ to resent us, then if and when we do end up with independence – unless the final vote is unanimous (and really, would it ever be?) – the No voters who have been so since this referendum would possibly feel less at ease in our new country. And that is not what an independent Scotland would be about. We need to show the strength we have as a nation and hold ourselves together, despite differing opinions (which we can do very well when the opinions are slightly less life-changing) and agree that nobody voted for a worse Scotland so let’s work with what we have for now. And perhaps our time will come.

I think it is unfair to say that Alex Salmond divided us. He didn’t. Yes, there was heat on both sides, but he didn’t create an environment where people don’t all agree – that already existed, he created an opportunity to have a whole nation’s voices heard. Within this opportunity, people were inspired and became more knowledgable about politics. Not even just in Scotland.I have seen people say how impressed they are with the 97% registration and 85% turnout and in the next breath accuse Salmond of dividing a nation. Of course there has been some hostility and it may take people some time to get past but it is very apparent that the Scottish people want to work together as ‘One Scotland’. Most people agree that the majority of votes were for change, but saw different paths towards it. If we want to see that change any time soon, then we do need to work together.

So, the referendum. Was it a good thing? This massive decision that ‘divided the nation’ nearly in half? Of course it was a good thing! It created a more aware and politically motivated public body. People who had never done more than vote for talent show winners (whether due to age or choice) have campaigned and taken part in intelligent debate across the same dinner table where they used to discuss the weather in a very British manner! We, as a people, have changed, and for the better. I expect to continue to see these changes develop as time goes on. If we were not different from the English before, we most certainly are now. Before any English people tell me how racist I am and how they are also very passionate about the running of their country – of course you are! I am saying that the process that Scotland has gone through has seen a widespread mindset of determination, which is only beginning. Had the English been in a similar situation, they would doubtless be equally moved. It is purely circumstantial. Naturally, it did affect the English too; many had an opinion and I felt so much support from my English friends and family for our referendum to work out to benefit us all, whichever way it went.

I love that SNP’s server broke down with the amount of people joining (nearly 5000 the last I heard, of which I was one). Scottish Green Party have also benefitted from over 1200 new members since the referendum results. If you would like to join either party, here are the links (you may want to wait a while for SNP to get their website back up and running and for the surge to settle)

https://my.snp.org/join
https://www.scottishgreens.org.uk/join-donate/

I would encourage you to join as you will be kept up to date and be able to go to local meetings etc
If this is not for you then both have the option to give a one-off donation.
Annual membership starts at £5 (under 18s, students) for the Scottish Green Party and £12 for SNP.

What do you think?