Our family is divided about Scottish independence. Here is my Dad’s view:
I’m coming in late on this Devo Max debate.
One thing is for certain. Whatever the Westminster Gov provide as extra powers for Scotland, the Yes crowd will say it’s not enough, we’ve been shafted/lied to/blahhhh.
Back in the day, the SNP (Scottish National Party) was reluctant to give a date for the great referendum because they thought they would lose badly. They procrastinated for years until they could do so no more. Alex Salmon wanted Devo Max (more powers for the Scottish parliament) to be added to the ballot paper as a third option, but David Cameron refused. He wanted to rid the Scots of their divisive whinge in favour of Independence and believed that when faced with a stark Yes or No the latter would romp home.
Due to a lacklustre campaign from the Better Togethers the Yes crowd edged ever closer to the ultimate prize. Their propaganda and use of social media was infinitely superior. If anyone came out publicly for the Nos, they received a barrage of hate tweets. NO posters were torn down in the countryside and bricks thrown through windows that displayed a No sticker in Glasgow. Wherever the TV cameras went a gaggle of Yes supporters overwhelmed them.
When Milliband brought a selection of his MPs up to plead for the Union they were howled down by gangs of Rent A Yell Yeses. By the final night of the campaign Salmon had raised the hopes of the young to fever pitch. The political questions he refused to answer remained unanswered. This was raw emotion manipulated by a clever orator.
I was convinced that this tsunami of hope would prevail and the union break asunder in messy confusion. It didn’t because the No voters who had kept a low profile for obvious reasons came out in their thousands. I was surprised and, it has to be said, relieved.
Since then the devastated losers have been blaming everything from vote rigging to the fear factor (whatever that is). They don’t accept that people considered the offer from both sides with some seriousness and came to a balanced decision.
Getting back to Devo Max. It wasn’t Gordon Brown’s idea, that the frightened leaders in London leapt on like drowning sailors onto a raft. It was always in the mix. What was missing were the details, which is why Alistair Darling was given such a hard time from Salmond in the TV debate when the subject came up.
It is true that the Gov panicked at the eleventh hour and threw Devo Max into the ring before the last round. For most it was too late. Others chose to trust Westminster to honour their pledge. Did it make the difference of 10%? I doubt it.
For years the English and Welsh have been pissed-off that Scotland receives more from the public purse than they do. After this pledge to the Scottish people they will be doubly furious, which is why Cameron is promising more autonomy and extra goodies to them at the same time. That’s politics.
The Scots won’t be let down. Cameron has made a number of terrible decisions during his premiership, but he’s smart enough not to add a betrayal of the pledge to that list.
The separatists have won although they lost. This is no longer a united country. It is England, Ulster and Wales (maybe) with a divided Scotland hanging on by its fingernails, squealing about “our oil” as if the sea belongs to us alone. The Canadians went through this with the referendum in Quebec and it has taken years to mend the wounds.
Angus Wolfe Murray
I observed the referendum from a rehab clinic in the middle of the Scottish borders. I’d like to share an observation from Stobo when talking to my Dad’s mechanic. He was a Yes voter but he told me that whenever his neighbour put up a NO banner in his field it would be burned down.
The other thing is that Scotland is divided into 32 voting districts. In 28 of these districts a majority voted for the UK while only 4 districts voted for independence (including the major cities of Glasgow and Dundee). If it had been a normal election using “first past the post” voting principles, the result would have been a landslide for NO: 28 seats. The separatists would have only have got four.
Devolution brings greater accountability. Will enough of the people of Scotland hold their leaders accountable for their decisions and use of public funds? Or will the majority switch off and allow the rhetoric to carry them along? If the latter, England would do well to cut its losses and give Scotland a long leash and no safety net. The signs are not good: overspending on capital projects, cancelling historic tax debts and agitprop. Running a country should be a sober, serious exercise. Will it be treated thus?