A much closer call than I'd expected.


I feel I represent a completely polar opposite political opinion to b_b. I got an hour's sleep last night so I could follow the coverage and results as they came in. I'm Scottish but unfortunately couldn't vote as one of the criterion was residency, and I'm based in England. My family voted No, and when the result came in at 6:10 this morning, I was very pleased but maintain that it's early days. I'll be following where things lead from here.

My greatest concern was the Yes vote. I'd encourage everyone to watch Gordon Brown's speech for the No campaign. Fundamental issues were not been addressed by the Scottish National Party. The Royal Bank of Scotland were not going to support a fully independent Scotland, a pound sterling union was out of the question, and EU membership - whilst a practical certainty, in my opinion - was unconfirmed and the waiting time was anyone's guess. Unless the plan was to barter in Irn Brus and virgin daughters, there was little foresight into basic economic concerns such as what currency would be used. I respect b_b's opinion, but would have been disgraced as a Scotsman knowing that an entire country could be enthralled by such romantic images and experimental notions. You don't have to go back too far to see what happened with assignats

What has interested me is the difficult task of ordering some kind of demographic information on who voted Yes and who voted No. Everyone in Britain was expecting a close call overall - and 55 majority, whilst statistically significant in a referendum is going to be bitterly close for people in both camps. What I expected however was much larger disparities within the 32 council districts themselves. My expectation was to be able to divide it on geographical lines. I did not expect a district like Inverclyde, so close to the major Yes bastion of Glasgow, to have an approximately 1 petcent difference in votes (0.8% IIRC); neither did I expect the Shetland and Orkney islands to be so mild in their rejections, nor Edinburgh to exert seemingly so little influence on Fife. These are just three examples. This morning, as the Fife vote was pending, the BBC predicted that Fife's vote would not be like Edinburgh's because of a larger portion of economically deprived people. This is certainly true and Edinburgh is an affluent city, but I also feel that the class explanation is too simplistic. It's well known that Scotland is a very left-leaning country (and I know many people who were very concerned about the Conservatives assuming total parliamentary power in the UK with an independent Scotland. I won't really go into this but I'd recommend people look into the huge Labour vote turnout in Scotland and the West Lothian Problem if they're more interested in the political relationship between Scotland and England). The values of equality and social justice are very highly valued by people across the board. To turn this into a them vs. us situation on the basis of wealth seems to me ignorant of sociopoltical values held throughout Scotland. My natural conclusion would be that this was ubiquitously a HIGHLY personal vote that defies easy categorisation on geographical / class / ethnic bases, but am extremely interested in some kind of psephological analysis in the future.

If my interpretation is even close to the truth, I am somewhat worried about how entrenched this makes any animosity between the two sides. The referendum has been celebrated for its pacifism, turnout, and fair democratic proceeding, but there will be tensions. And without an easy distinction as to where to focus campaigning and political education, that may continue.

Another interesting facet to this is Cameron's involvement. There is some speculation as to his confidence in the No vote. Some believed that he allowed the referendum to take place because he felt that few people would support an independent country that, as I have briefly noted, failed to take important considerations such as the currency, consitution, debt, and so on. In the final days of the run-up with polls become increasingly uncertain, the stress on Cameron was obvious.

But if we assume that at some point he had deeply believed in a No vote, he has succeeded today and the interactions between the SNP and Conservatives - as the right parties representing North and South - will be intriguing. Already Salmond has said that he is STEPPING DOWN as the leader of the SNP. With many more people believing that much of the Yes vote was a vote for Salmond in lieu of the Independent Scotland - as an ideology, state, way of life - this is a prime opportunity for Cameron to utterly sideline one party on his side of the spectrum, something that will be a smart move when the threat from UKIP is a new concern. Another political event that will be worth watching out for is the potential rise of Gordon Brown, like a particularly corpulent Phoenix from the ashes of his unpopular Prime Ministership. His rousing comments preceding the referendum may give him new life as a left-wing figure in Scottish politics.

However, talks in Westminister will begin soon about further concessions to the Scottish Parliament. This autonomy may include the right to modify major things such income and inheritance taxes. I withhold any opinions on these issues and feel they need to be dealt with pragmatically as they arise.

At an international level, I echo BLOB_CASTLE's sentiment. Foreign governments must and will react to this precedent. I reject the more frequent comparisons to Catalonia and the Basque regions in Spain and France. The nature of these movements has been more vitriolic than Scotland's national movements. Closer to home, Wales, Northern Ireland, Cornwall, and even metropolitan areas such as Manchester may not see total independence, but are hopeful for more federalist measures in the wake of Cameron's commitment to them (based on his speech in the early hours of the morning). Nascent movements such as that of the Frieseland in the Netherlands, which has seen some nationalist representation in the Dutch Paliament may also take note, but I don't clAim to be an expert in this matter.

Finally, and despite my weariness about the entire Yes campaign, I have the utmost respect for Salmond for acknowledging the precautions in the Edinburgh Agreement, for a binding and honest result in this referendum on Scottish independence. I can't say that if my own 'side' had been defeated in such a controversial matter today that I'd have been able to show the same level of grace.

posted by veen: 1461 days ago