THE SCOTTISH REFERENDUM 2014: A Nation Decides

The referendum ballot boxes have been counted from an unprecedented electorate turnout of 84.51% and Scotland has decided to remain within the United Kingdom. The No campaign (against independence) gained 55.3% some 2,001,926 votes cast, whilst the Yes campaign (for independence) gathered 1,617,989 votes or 44.7% in the polls. From the 32 council voting regions only 4 had a majority Yes result (Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire & Dundee).  Personally I’m surprised the winning margin of votes was more than 10%, all along I thought there would be a narrow Yes decision for independence. My husband on the other hand felt a narrow No majority would prevail, so we are both glad the outcome was more decisive. I write this within a few short hours of the final result being declared, and I am personally relieved at the outcome. Having taken a brief look at the TV news reactions and social media forums (Twitter & Facebook), I’ve come to a few interesting conclusions I’d like to share with you.

Yes 4 No 28 Why?

In my last post I mentioned that Lady Scotland does not forget her Them (England) and Us (Scotland) arguments easily, and that old rivalries can simmer for decades or even centuries. It would seem the polls have endorsed that feeling emphatically. From social media referendum chatter I’ve seen the mention of Ravenscraig Steelworks, coal mining, ship building & poll tax (first practiced on Scotland by a Tory government in the 1980s). Many of these issues are decades old arguments but they still influenced the voters of Glasgow and North Lanarkshire, where the people were directly affected by the demise of these local industries. I’m not exactly sure how Dundee comes into this sphere, although I have a vague feeling a car plant debacle may be involved somewhere. Anyway, what is clear is that the ills of a fractured society from yesteryear still reverberate to this day, and remain influential in voting trends regardless of the ”nature” of the vote. I’ve also seen the notion that the outcome is a victory for the English Tories, and that “wealthier” Scots who voted No to remain within the UK, have effectively “spat in the face of the little man”. Throughout the world there has always been an element of “those who have” and “those who have not” and although most definitely not fair, is a sad reality. This Scottish referendum has heightened the feelings of injustice within her society, not only between the English power masters and a poor little nation, but also between the Scots themselves. The idea that “rich” Aberdeen voters are any less patriotic in voting No than the hard-pressed “poor” Lanarkshire guy who said Yes is absurd. But I have a feeling that many in the four Yes vote regions will think along these lines. I’ve said that the referendum created a schism in Scotland that will not go away easily, and initial views suggest I am not wrong in that viewpoint.

There Are More Questions Than Answers

The No vote success north of the border hasn’t given David Cameron and his “English Tories” any victory, in fact the whole process has opened up a “can of worms” that will be hard to contain. In the days leading up to the referendum vote, an increasingly worried Prime Minister frantically tried to ensure a No success, by promising a greater level of autonomy for the Scottish Assembly. He will have to be seen to honour those “last minute” guarantees or he will look a fool. However, what about England, Wales and Northern Ireland? Giving Scotland a larger share of the money distributed by Westminster will not go down well with Wales and Northern Ireland, who will be concerned their share will go down! At present Westminster votes involve all four nations’ MPs but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland vote alone on many issues regarding their own nation. So England has a more dilute influence on her own decision making powers than the other three. That can’t be right either, and so the “West Lothian” question arises, whereby English MP’s vote on issues involving England to the exclusion of the others. This spectre would undoubtedly terrify the Labour party in opposition at present who rely heavily on their Scottish Labour majority. It would raise the possibility of a future Labour government being able to make largely general decisions but being incapable of influencing more specific issues of government. At present they have 41 MPs from Scotland, and to lose that leverage in decision making with more devolvement for England is unthinkable. So the referendum question may have kept Scotland within the UK, BUT it will undoubtedly be a catalyst for a major upheaval, in how political decision making is achieved in the country as a whole.

A Parliament of Contradictions

Ever since the three smaller sized “home nations” gained their own voting Assemblies the winds of change began to blow. With the Scottish Referendum that reasonably amicable gentle breeze has become a full force gale that will not be appeased. With this vote Scotland has demanded to be heard, and her voice has sent shock waves that now reverberate throughout Westminster. Wales and Northern Ireland have been woken and will now demand the same courtesy that Scotland is getting. England may well decry the feelings of being “second class citizens in their own land”, something the Scots have felt for centuries. Considering the issues surrounding prescription charges and university tuition fees (to name a few) England can easily feel aggrieved. This could raise the prospect of an English Assembly residing in Westminster, with a clear majority Tory influence and a hint of UKIP thrown in for good measure, deciding on English issues. In my mind this is possibly an even worse outcome than Scotland going independent after all.

Although there are three major political parties in the UK, only two of them are real game changers, Conservative (Tory) and Labour. Sorry Liberals but it’s true, whatever clout you think you may have in the coalition. Labour was mainly created to represent the working class demographic from the factories, local industries (steel, coal, ship building etc), and the British majority who did not have land, titles or wealth. Sadly the industrial heartland that fed the Labour fire has all but vanished from the landscape. The majority remain without the “perks” of the upper classes, although with home ownership land issues may be slightly less relevant these days. Many however in the 21st century still suffer from the economic hardships brought about by successive governments both Labour and Tory. I know several “Yes” referendum voters who brought up the lamentable “bedroom tax” as a factor in their decision making. But people the length and breadth of the UK are suffering because of this legislation, not just the Scots.

All For One And One For All

The Scottish referendum has decided that Scotland will remain as part of the United Kingdom, and I strongly feel we are far stronger together than apart. The land of my birth has more say in her affairs today than in my youth, and with more devolved power will continue strengthen. To my mind this is an undisputed fact: each home nation needs the other three to act as a moderator in decision making. Only then can the voices of everyone have ANY chance of being heard, for any nation with an unchallenged party majority cannot be a healthy one, in today’s uncertain and dangerous times!

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