A miserable morning dawned on Friday, along with the news that Scotland had voted against Independence. I knew that before I had even gotten out of bed at 06:30am to check, because as I lay in bed, with the window open, the silence was broken only by the odd car on the road outside. Had Yes carried the day there would have been noise. Those cars cutting slowly through the heavy dawn mist would have been honking their horns. Or most have them would. You would have felt it. Well, I did feel it, and it wasn’t victory I felt, but defeat. The optimism that was so palpable only the day before, had simply gone, and cold reality stood grimacing in its place. I had intended to stay up and watch the results of this historic vote as they came in. But after Clackmannanshire, the first result to be announced, voted No to independence, I had a bad feeling that perhaps it just was not going to happen afterall. So I went to bed to try to snatch some sleep. I’ve slept better.
Well, the BBC confirmed what I already knew, that Scotland had voted against independence, by 55% to 45%. I personally don’t believe that the vote was rigged, as some now contend. There was no need for anything quite so dramatic. The Yes campaign had failed to convince enough people, mostly I think this was down to the economic argument around currency and whether we could retain the Pound etc. Westminster was hardly going to say ‘oh, of course you can, old bean!’ even if that had been the case if the result had been for independence. All they had to do to cast doubt and create fear and uncertainty on that front was to say that there would be no currency union. Then there was the ‘Vow’ of more powers for Scotland if we voted to stay in the Union. That was enough to persuade many not to take the final step toward full independence.
The Yes campaign may have lost but the shock waves have still come. The political landscape has indeed changed overnight. The staggeringly high turnout for the referendum vote, and how close the result was, has shown people, many of whom had never voted in their lives, whether they voted Yes or No, that they did and can change the outcome. They did, and can have an effect. That cannot be underestimated. The SNP has now more than doubled in size in just over five days, to become bigger than the LibDems, and Labour will surely suffer at the next general election. They may end up with something else in common with the Tories – the same number of MPs in Scotland.
I personally, if you can’t tell already, was in favour of independence, and voted accordingly. Not because I am a staunch, flag waving, Braveheart watching nationalist, but because Westminster no longer represents the interests of ordinary people in Britain, be they Scottish, English, Irish, or Welsh. Never has a government shown such naked disregard for the people it purports to represent, and never has there been such little opposition from the opposition party as to be more like consensus, and that is something that I and many others wanted to change.
So on Friday I went to Edinburgh, and to the Scottish Parliament building. It was a pretty depressing sight. A lone piper played and disappointment hung heavily in the air. The train home was as quiet as the grave too.
On Sunday I returned to Edinburgh and wandered along to the National Gallery, outside which a large crowd was milling around. This turned out to be the rallying point for the People’s Climate March. The air of optimism seemed to have returned to some degree, along with the sun.