So, we’re nearly at the end of the indyref campaign period, and as folk queue outside polling stations these are the big things I’ve taken from the campaign:
- Politics without politicians – despite the No campaign’s desperate efforts to characterise the debate as ‘The SNP vs. everyone’, the most encouraging thing about Yes is that is has garnered support from a remarkably wide section of society.
It’s been said better a thousand times elsewhere, but this is A New Thing® for most people and is not going to go away, whatever the result of the referendum. It’s what happens when people feel they can actually make a difference. Contrast with the meagre and declining turnouts for general, local and – especially – European elections.
- Is this what democracy looks like? All three (four?!) Westminster parties singing from the same hymnsheet, telling us what’s best for us? We should strive for an end to detached, prescriptive governance, designed to ensure compliance and suppress free will and political diversity.
That politicians are seen to “jet in” to tell people how to vote before buggering off again says volumes. And they wonder why people are disengaged from politics? (but are oh so happy for them to continue being so)
- Rash promises made without consultation or due process – playing sections of society off against each other, provoking those who would seek to pitch benevolent, generous English against ungrateful, sponging Scots.
The frantic appeasement offered in the dying days of the campaign is an insult to the people of the UK (for all would be affected) and democracy in general.
- Heart vs. head – The fact that the conventional wisdom that Yes would be led by the heart, appealing to base nationalistic instincts, all Braveheart and shortbread, with No the rational option, backed up with facts and figures, was completely turned on its head.
While both campaigns put up various figures and illustrations to support their view, it was the No side that found theirs wanting on more occasions than not, and indeed the Yes argument was pretty robust for any willing to look beyond the accepted narrative as given by the media and establishment anyway.
No also managed to contradict themselves in spectacular fashion, with Ian Wood’s much-trumpeted oil reserve figure of 16BBOE being a complete change from the UK Treasury’s standing assessment of 24BBOE, and indeed Mr Wood’s previously quoted figure of the same.
Similarly, the No campaign would vigourously try to claim that an independent Scotland would be forced to use the Euro and/or join Schengen, whilst simultaneously claiming that entry to the EU would be impossible or take decades. Which is it? Again, anyone seriously looking into this would quickly see though the nonsense, but it seems a lot of people are happy accepting this level of BS, and our loyal media were not exactly falling over themselves to analyse and dismantle such nonsense.
In the end it was No that resorted to the desperate, emotional appeals to ephemeral notions of ‘a family of nations’ and ‘best of both worlds’ as their main weapons in the days leading up to the 18th, while Yes were reduced to tirelessly restating the same rebuffs to the many falsehoods and half-truths that had been floating around for months, hoping that the media would actually pick up on them for once. Whodathunkit, eh?
And, in a nutshell, the three things I see as the most important to arise from a Yes vote:
Representation – the best chance of the people of Scotland receiving representative governance, built on the already fairer part-PR model of the Scottish Parliament, but to extend much further with constitutional rights and obligations enshrined in law.
Equality – the best chance of reversing the recent trend of concentrating wealth amongst the already wealthy, eradicating extreme poverty and bringing an end to the demonisation of the less fortunate. A big ask? Well, you can’t shoot for the moon if you’re sitting chained in the basement.
Nuclear proliferation – removal of the useless, wasteful hypocrisy that is Trident from Scottish territory (and potentially from the rUK), freeing up £billions and showing the world that responsibility and resolve need not mean the perpetual empty threat of the use of weapons of mass destruction.
All the rest (currency, EU, NATO etc.) are just procedural and technical issues.
Some recoil in horror at such statements and I’ve discussed as much with no voters who take the “How can you possibly be so flippant, these are important issues!” but the point of government and politics is to sort that kind of shit out, it’s not a job for a referendum. I assure you, as someone who had plenty time to consume everything and all about the referendum (read: I was unemployed for large stretches of the campaign!), I didn’t come to these conclusions lightly.
Nothing in these areas should scare sovereign nations with experienced and talented statemen and women, collaborating with other states as equals, and it’s all but inevitable that a great deal of uncertainty will fade away in the days and weeks following a Yes vote as rational thought and self-interest replace campaign rhetoric and political posturing.
Independence is a start, not the end. Here’s to the future.